Pasadena, Texas Car Accident StatisticsFederal statistics show that traffic accidents are on the rise. Moreover, local studies show that accidents are increasing in the Houston area. These developments can result in dire consequences. For instance, more than 35,000 people died in traffic accidents in the United States during 2015. That bumped up from nearly 33,000 in 2014. It also constituted a 7.2 percent increase in fatalities from 2015, which was the largest rise since an 8.1 percent about fifty years ago. Moreover, the Department of Transportation estimated that in addition to causing fatalities, traffic accidents injured roughly 2.5 million persons in 2015. The DOT estimates that the number of police-reported crashes rose from six-million in 2014 to 6.3 million in 2015, an increase of 3.8 percent. No one possesses a crystal ball to show when or where a traffic accident will take place. They happen in all places, at all times—not just on Interstate 45. Whether you’re on a major route like Pasadena Boulevard or a side road like San Jacinto Drive, accidents are always possible. If a traffic accident injured you in the Houston area, consult with a Houston personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible to explore your options. For a free case evaluation to see if Texas law might entitle you to compensation for your injuries, contact the lawyers of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, at 800-898-4877, or send us an email through our online contact form
Traffic Accidents Can Strike AnyonePeople who have never suffered through a traffic accident of any kind may easily believe that such a thing will never happen to them. However, many accidents trends are increasing:
- For occupants of passenger cars and light-trucks, fatalities in 2015 reached their highest level since 2009
- Fatalities for SUV occupants in 2015 increased by 10.1 percent from 2014.
- Almost as bad, fatalities for van occupants rose 9.3 percent from 2015.
- Among motorcyclists, traffic fatalities increased 8.3 percent in 2015 from 2014.
The Roads Aren’t Getting Safer—Even in PasadenaCompared to 2015, the last year for which the government provides full statistics, the preliminary numbers for 2016 look even worse. In October 2017, the Department of Transportation reported that 2016 traffic fatalities rose to more than 37,000 traffic deaths in 2016, a 5.6 percent increase from the more than 35,000 traffic deaths recorded in 2015. Even though miles traveled increased by 2.2 percent, those numbers still yielded a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up 2.6 percent from the rate of 1.12 in 2015. The same trends apply in Houston and its surrounding suburbs. A recent study by the Houston-Galveston Area Council found that traffic accidents in the area increased 62 percent from 2011 to 2016, while the accident rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven also was up, rising almost 39 percent. It really doesn’t matter if you consider Pasadena a fairly safe place to drive. Accidents are on the rise, and everyone has seen or heard about them on Southmore Avenue, Spencer Highway, and Strawberry Road, or even just fender benders while trying to park during the Pasadena Strawberry Festival. Whether you are headed to work or taking a weekend drive to Armand Bayou Nature Center, every trip carries some risk—accidents are waiting to strike.
Steps You Can Take to Avoid AccidentsYou can’t control the actions of others, so you can’t eliminate the risk of accidents, but you can control your own actions and thus reduce your own risks. If you don’t think it’s worth the effort to take such steps, consider that according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, someone dies in a traffic accident every 12 minutes. Furthermore, traffic accidents injure someone every 10 seconds, and a crash takes place every 5 seconds. Why bet that those statistics will never involve you when you can take steps to reduce your risk? Driving safety experts generally agree on those steps. Take, for example, EHS Today, which advises:
- Enter traffic carefully. Take note of other drivers’ blind spots, as well as of objects that might obstruct other drivers’ vision, including road signs, buildings, or other vehicles.
- At traffic lights, never forget that someone could run the light. Take care to look for red-light runners before you proceed into intersections.
- When driving around large commercial trucks, take care not to make moves that the truck’s blind spots might hide—particularly on their right-hand sides and to their rears.
- Avoid distractions. This can include everything from adjusting your stereo system or climate controls to setting your navigation system, from eating or talking on a cell phone—even hands-free—to taking both hands off the wheel, which you should never do.
- Maintain your vehicle. Always ensure that safety equipment functions properly, including your brakes and brake lights, position lights, and headlights. Properly inflate your tires.
- When backing up, don’t rely solely on mirrors or cameras—their blind spots can hide people, vehicles, and objects. Turn and look to make sure your way is clear.
- Be sure to leave a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you should you need to brake suddenly.
- Don’t make aggressive moves that could cause an accident or trigger road rage in another driver—another sure way to spark an accident.
The Legal Process Involves Many StepsThe first step in pursuing a claim for a personal injury is whether to hire a lawyer. The severity of the injuries may render this decision easy. An accident involving little property damage and no apparently consequential physical injuries might seem easy to handle through insurance companies. However, many personal injury cases go beyond that level, and hiring an attorney generally is a wise move. Furthermore, even if your injuries might appear slight at first, complications can manifest later. Even in cases with no apparent major injuries, consult an attorney and protect your rights.
The steps that follow hiring an attorney include:
- Filing a complaint: Your attorney might file a court claim for damages, known as a complaint, or initiate contact with the other driver’s insurance company. Either way, at this point, settlement negotiations are likely to begin, especially when insurance companies are involved.
- Discovery: Assuming you reach no quick settlement and the defendant (the person you sue) files an answer to your complaint, discovery—when both sides of the lawsuit collect evidence for use at trial—begins. They are permitted to seek evidence from each other, including depositions. In a deposition, the other side’s attorney asks you questions about the accident and your injuries, as well as other relevant matters. Your attorney will join you to protect you from improper questions.
- Pre-trial motions: Your attorney and the defendant will probably file pre-trial motions, some seeking to exclude evidence, but others seeking to dismiss the case or for summary judgment, both of which can resolve the case in favor of one side or the other. After both sides file such motions but before the court decides them, one side or the other, or perhaps the judge, might call for mediation of the claims. Settlement negotiations also are likely at this point.
- Trial: If mediation or settlement talks fail, your case will go to trial. Each side presents its evidence, and a judge or jury will decide the result. Most personal injury cases settle before this point because of the high costs of going to trial for both sides.
Questions You Should Ask Your LawyerIf traffic accident injured you, you want to have the lawyer representing you who will do the best job possible. You should look for someone who knows the intricacies of car-accident injury cases. Most people have little to no experience with traffic accidents that involve substantial damage claims. When you do suffer such injuries, though, hire someone who knows how to handle such claims, and knows how to evaluate the true value of your claim. Before hiring an attorney, you will want to know how long the attorney has practiced personal injury law, how often the attorney handles traffic accidents similar to yours, and the attorney’s experience with traffic-accident injury cases. Once you establish your satisfaction with the attorney’s competence to handle your case, you might also want to know about the attorney’s case-management style. Ask how your attorney will handle your case. Will the attorney handle your case personally, or give it to another attorney in the firm? Who will serve as your routine contact person? Will you receive routine updates, or only when something significant takes place? Who should you try to reach with questions, and how? You need to know your case’s strengths and weaknesses. What is the value of your claims? Do you stand a good chance of settlement? Will your case go to trial? How good are your chances at trial? Your attorney may not offer solid answers for these questions, especially early in the process, but the answers should factor into your decision about whether to pursue your case.
What Will My Case Cost Me?For many people, almost as important as knowing your chances of recovering compensation—and maybe more so—is knowing what that process will cost. Find out whether your attorney will charge a contingency fee—and if so, what percentage. If your attorney will charge an hourly rate, learn the rate and whether it varies depending upon which attorney performs the work. Ask whether you must pay a retainer fee up front. Ask what expenses your attorney will charge you for, if any, what kinds of expenses that might include, and a range for how much that might add up to. Furthermore, find out if you will owe attorney’s fees or expenses if the attorney fails to recover compensation for you.
If You Suffered a Traffic Accident Injury in the Pasadena Area, the Attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, Can HelpIf a traffic accident injured you in the Pasadena, Texas area, consult with a Pasadena personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible to explore your options. For a free case evaluation to see if Texas law entitles you to compensation for your injuries, contact the lawyers of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, at 800-898-4877, or send us an email through our online contact form. Remember, you pay nothing at the time we take your case, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won compensation for your damages.
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