Not Just Fender-Benders
You’re a safe driver, always obeying traffic signals. You slow down when you see a yellow light, you yield when there is a yield sign, and you come to a complete stop before making a right turn at a red light or stop sign. However, one day when you check your rearview mirror, you realize the person behind you is traveling too fast to safely stop! That driver strikes your vehicle from the rear and you find yourself involved in an accident, even though you stopped and all of your lights were functioning properly.
We hear stories like these every day, and we are committed to helping car accident victims collect the money they’re owed and get their lives back on track. If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a Houston rear-end collision, contact an experienced law firm to seek compensation for your injuries.
Below, we provide some general information regarding Houston rear-end collisions and resulting legal claims.
Houston Collision Statistics
With more than three million vehicles registered in Harris County, it’s not surprising that over the last decade, the Greater Houston metropolitan area had the third-largest population growth in the country! Sadly, it’s also no surprise that many rear-end accidents take place on our roadways. Nearly 70,000 crashes take place on Houston roadways every single year. Many of these accidents result in severe injuries and even fatalities.
Houston Rear-End Accidents
There are 16,000 miles of roadways in Houston. The average speed limit on Houston roadways is 70 miles per hour. However, many area drivers exceed 80 miles per hour, and police issue fewer speeding tickets than one might expect.
For Houston drivers, particularly those who travel during rush hours—which is estimated to extend from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on most weekdays—this means that there are more opportunities for them to be involved in an accident. The statistics of those who are using roadways during these times to get to work are staggering.
Consider this data from the U.S. Census Bureau:
- More than two million residents live in Houston.
- More than 67% of Houston’s population over the age of 16 works full-time.
- The average commute time in Houston is 27 minutes each way.
- More than 75% of those who work in Houston drive to work.
Remember, the public transit system in Houston is not as robust as that of many cities of similar size, which restricts Houston’s ability to reduce roadway congestion. Drivers waste thousands of hours annually on Houston roadways, which often makes them feel impatient and frustrated. This can lead to more dangerous rear-end accidents.
Cautious Drivers Face Rear-End Accident Dangers Everywhere
It is easy to feel invincible on Houston roadways. After all, you are a cautious driver, you make sure you always pay attention, you wear your seatbelt, and you obey the rules of the road. If it were only that easy. Some of us never think about how many times we face the risk of being involved in a rear-end accident.
A few of the most common Houston locations for rear-end collisions include:
- Parking lots – Stop and consider what happens in parking lots. Take a shopping center like the Galleria—there are 13,000 parking spaces, 30 million visitors each year, shopping carts, people who work in one of the two hotels, office towers, or retail establishments. Stopping for pedestrians, stopping to allow another vehicle to pass by, and waiting for a parking spot are all potential ways a rear-end accident can occur in a parking lot.
- Middle of the road – This may seem counterintuitive—after all, who stops a vehicle in the middle of the road? You might be surprised. Perhaps you have even done it before, stopping for a pedestrian or a car in the front of the line slowing down to make a turn. Few of us ever anticipate a vehicle coming to a stop in the middle of the road, which can result in more rear-end accidents.
- Freeways – Houston is home to 10 freeways. Heavy congestion and merging traffic both contribute to the stop-and-go nature of these heavily traveled roadways. It should come as no surprise, then, that when a driver moves suddenly, accelerates too fast, or stops suddenly, a rear-end collision can occur.
- Stop lights – This one’s no surprise. The most common rear-end accident scenario at traffic lights is a driver stops, and the driver behind does not stop. It is even worse when a driver stops, and the driver behind starts moving before the front vehicle moves across the intersection.
Unfortunately, as you can see, most rear-end accidents occur when a driver is not paying attention to what is happening in their immediate vicinity. These accidents can be caused by inattentiveness, speeding, or because vehicle passengers or mobile devices distract the driver.
Victims Can Suffer Serious Injuries in Rear-End Accidents
Often, there’s a belief that those involved in rear-end accidents are not as seriously injured as victims of other kinds of car accidents. However, this is a myth.
Victims can—and do—suffer these serious injuries in rear-end accidents:
- Soft tissue damage – Whiplash and other soft tissue damage often occur when a car is hit from the rear. Even if a driver is wearing a seatbelt, the seatbelt’s give may allow the driver, and any passenger, to be shoved forward. Drivers may experience headaches, dizziness, and excruciating head and neck pain from soft tissue damage.
- Back strains and sprains – Some victims of rear-end accidents only feel pain following the accident when they move. The Cleveland Clinic has a great description of these injuries, which can occur when a car is rear-ended. Some victims will face long-term pain from a strain or sprain.
- Disc damage – A couple of days following a rear-end accident, you may notice numbness, tingling, or weakness. If you experience pain in your arms or legs, these symptoms may be signs of a herniated or ruptured disc, which can occur during a rear-end accident. You may not have symptoms immediately following a rear-end accident, but regardless, you should seek medical attention ASAP! Let the doctor know that you were in a rear-end collision, and make sure they check you for these injuries, because the symptoms often lag behind the accident.
- Spinal and compression fractures – Imagine being in a rear-end collision and suffering excruciating back pain immediately after. This could indicate that you have suffered a spinal fracture or a compression fracture in a vertebra. These types of injuries are painful and often take months to recover from. Some victims require surgical intervention to repair the damage that occurred during the accident.
In general, a rear-end collision typically occurs at low speeds, but this does not mean that a victim will only suffer minor injuries. After all, even when you are sitting still and another vehicle strikes you going “only” 10 or 15 miles an hour, there is a forceful impact. Seatbelts and airbags protect you, but in doing so these life-saving safety measures can also result in injuries.
Never forget that your car accident is unique. Your age, health, and the type of vehicle that struck your car will all play a role in determining the severity of your injuries. Never minimize the importance of seeking medical care immediately after a rear-end accident, even if you feel fine! You could overlook symptoms of a serious injury because of the accident, which leaves most victims in some form of shock.
Houston Rear-End Accidents and Liability for Damages
There is no doubt that Houston roadways are dangerous. This does not change the fact that plaintiffs must prove who is responsible when they are involved in rear-end accidents. Many people assume that if someone was hit from behind, then the person who struck them is legally liable. This is not always the case. To clearly determine fault, you must seek guidance from an experienced car accident attorney.
Texas drivers have specific responsibilities following any roadway accident. After a rear-end accident, the involved parties must notify law enforcement, share contact and insurance information, and seek immediate medical attention to ensure that they do not have any hidden injuries.
However, there is another step to ensure your recovery: You should also contact an attorney who understands Texas laws and has experience handling Houston rear-end accident claims. To succeed in your rear-end collision accident claim, you need to know your rights, and you need to avoid any small mistakes that may jeopardize your legal right to compensation. Protect your rights and learn more about your options by taking advantage of a free case evaluation from our firm right now!
Insurance Company Adjusters and Rear-End Accidents
Drivers who have never been in an accident before often hold the false belief that insurance claims are straightforward processes. They expect they’ll get reimbursed for the damage to their vehicles and the costs of treating their rear-end accident injuries once they file a claim with the insurance company of the responsible party. Outline your out-of-pocket costs, receive reimbursement, easy as pie, right?
Do not fall for this! Insurance companies are not there to help you following an accident. In fact, they will do everything possible to avoid paying your claim! There are several tactics that they may use after an accident in which their policyholder is at fault, including blaming the accident on you!
Some of the other common tactics that insurance companies use include:
- Good guy/bad guy – You might get two calls from two different adjusters. One may claim that you are lying about your injuries, while the other may act friendly and sympathetic. Do not fall for these tactics. Call your rear-end accident lawyer immediately and refer all future insurance communications to your attorney.
- Quick settlement – Another common trick is to offer you a fast settlement, particularly if your initial medical exam shows signs of a potentially serious injury. They may present this settlement as a final offer, and it is probably much less than you expected. Again, do not accept this offer without first consulting an attorney, because it is not the final offer, no matter what the insurance company tells you. There is always room for negotiation.
- Bury you in paperwork – Victims of an accident often find themselves adrift in a sea of paperwork, and may simply sign forms without thinking about what they actually mean. After all, you are focused on your recovery, and you figure the more you cooperate, the more likely you are to recover maximum compensation. But beware: these documents are not always required. Some documents may have language that minimizes your ability to collect compensation, disclose prior medical history, or have you accepting full or partial responsibility for the accident. Never sign any documents without first reviewing them with competent legal counsel.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that working cooperatively with an insurance company is your best option for recovering financially after a Houston rear-end accident. It is not going to work that way. Insurers hope you don’t work with a lawyer. They’re counting on you to be confused when it comes to your legal rights to compensation. Insurance companies also know that you are facing some financial challenges due to your lost income, and they’ll pressure you to swiftly settle for less than you truly deserve.
Houston, We Have a Problem
We all know Houston is one of the deadliest places to drive in Texas. High speed limits, several entrances and exits from shopping plazas, perpetual construction projects, speeding drivers, distracted drivers, tailgating, and impatience all contribute to Houston’s accident rates. Whenever you travel on Houston roadways, you stand a chance of being the next victim of an accident.
When you travel through numerous intersections in the normal course of your day, travel roads with high speed limits, or have to deal with roads that are clogged with rush-hour traffic, the chances of a rear-end accident are high.
Know your rights, and make sure you do not jeopardize your opportunity to recover financially following an accident. Do the right thing for yourself and your family. Let a car accident lawyer help you secure compensation following a rear-end accident in Houston. Most offer free consultations. Often, you don’t even need to schedule; simply give us a call and a legal professional will evaluate your case!
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.