Our car accident attorneys help victims in the Hurst and Dallas-Fort Worth areas get the settlements they deserve.
The World Health Organization designated the years from 2011 to 2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety, aimed at preventing traffic deaths and injuries projected to take the lives of 1.9 million people around the world annually by 2020.
Texas is among the most deadly of all states. In Texas, car crashes killed 3,721 people in 2017. There were 14,299 serious crashes in Texas in 2017 with 17,546 people sustaining a serious injury.
A good Farmer's Branch / Carrollton / Dallas-Fort Worth car accident attorney is experienced with all types of motor vehicle crashes and has worked with clients that have been faced with catastrophic injuries including:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Serious fractures
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Facial injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Psychological damage
Most of these crashes could have been prevented. Driver negligence is a common cause of preventable traffic crash deaths and injuries, along with defects in the manufacture or design of cars or their components and various road hazards.
In Texas, we need our cars to maintain our mobility, freedom, and lifestyle. Having a car is more than a convenience for many Texans; it is a necessity. But driving on Texas highways can be risky, both in congested cities like Dallas and Fort Worth and in rural areas with limited lighting. You may be the most careful driver in Texas, but still be injured because of someone else’s bad driving. Car crashes take a huge toll on human life, and cause immeasurable human suffering—both emotional and economic—to families who have lost someone they love or whose breadwinner has been injured or killed. Accidents are frequently caused by driver negligence, when another driver loses focus due to a distraction, disregards traffic laws, or engages in some dangerous form of driving behavior. If driver negligence could be eliminated, countless injuries and fatalities would be prevented.
One way to deter negligent driving behavior and other forms of liability for injuries on a Texas road is to hold everyone who causes an injury or death on the road accountable to the victim and his or her family. If you or a member of your family suffered an injury or death in a highway crash because of another’s wrongdoing, consult with a Dallas-Fort Worth personal injury lawyer. You may be able to recover financial compensation for your monetary and personal damages and at the same time help to deter the kinds of behavior that caused your loss so it is less likely to happen to someone else in the future.
Causes of Highway Crashes
Motor vehicle crashes on Texas highways have multiple causes, but among the most frequent are distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, speeding, aggressive driving, defective vehicles and components, and unsafe road conditions.
Distracted Driving Crashes in Hurst / Dallas-Fort Worth
Texans are always be on the run, and with so much to do and so little time to do it, many are in the habit of multitasking. While multitasking may work at the office, it can be deadly on the highways. A person driving a car should only be driving the car with attention fully focused on the road and those sharing it. Performing other activities while behind the wheel is distracted driving, and is a recipe for disaster on the road. Distracted driving is among the leading causes of car crashes in Texas and the nation.
Distracted driving continues to be a problem in Texas because data indicates drivers are not changing their behaviors. For the last four years, one in five crashes have resulted from distracted driving, a ratio that has not changed during those years, TxDOT aims to raise awareness and educate drivers about the dangers associated with distracted driving and encourage them to put away their cellphones while behind the wheel. The “Talk. Text. Crash.” Campaign, along with “#EndTheStreakTX” and “Heads Up, Texas” focuses on safety measure drivers can take to make traveling our roadways safer for themselves and others.
In 2018, there were 540,561 motor vehicle crashes on Texas roadways. Of those, 95,572, or 18%, were caused by distracted driving (driver distraction, inattention or cell phone use). The 95,572 distracted driving crashes resulted in 394 deaths and 2,340 serious injuries.
Since Sept. 1, 2017, state law prohibits drivers from reading, writing or sending electronic messages on mobile phones while driving.
Distracted driving includes various activities that cause the driver to look away from the road: at the top of the list of the most dangerous distractions is texting or emailing, followed by talking on a cell phone, rubbernecking, changing the station or volume on the radio, eating or drinking, personal grooming, setting the GPS, reading, disciplining children, handling pets, retrieving fallen objects, and talking with passengers.
Using a hand-held electronic device increases the likelihood of getting into a car crash by four times. Texting increases the probability of a crash by a 23 times. A driver who is distracted may drift into the path of a car coming from the opposite direction, may neglect to signal or check blind spots when changing lanes, turn the wrong way onto a one way street, enter a highway ramp going in the wrong direction, ignore a traffic signal, or fail to notice a bicyclist or pedestrian on the road or shoulder. Even a few seconds of diverting one’s attention from the road at a high speed can cause a serious collision.
Aggressive Driving and Speeding
Driving far above the speed limit increases the likelihood of losing control of the car, and it also increases the energy of the impact when the car crashes, making death or catastrophic injuries more likely. Speeding contributes to one of every three highway crashes. High speed driving is often aggressive driving. Aggressive drivers may weave in and out of traffic, cutting others off or zooming up on other vehicles from the rear and tailgating in their impatience. They may engage in angry and rude behavior, using obscene gestures and yelling profanities, failing to signal, and staying more focused on their road rage than road safety. Excessively fast driving, and aggressive driving is reckless, and when it causes an crash and someone is hurt or killed, the at-fault driver may be liable to the victim for damages sustained in the accident.
Drunk or Drug Impaired Driving
According to figures from the Texas Department of Transportation, alcohol and drug use—including recreational, prescription, and over-the-counter medications—are incompatible with driving and cause untold suffering to victims of the many serious crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers. In 2017, drunk driving crashes killed 1,024 people in Texas, and injured more than 10,000 people.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Various dangerous conditions on the road can cause crashes. These may be the fault of a construction company doing work on the road, the government agency responsible for road maintenance, a truck that has dropped cargo or has left tire treads on the pavement after a blowout. Examples include the following:
- Objects on the road
- Absence of signs or confusing signs
- Poor road design
- Unsafe construction area
- Objects or debris on the road
- Detached treads
- Lack of a level shoulder
- Pooled water
- Ice and snow
- Black ice
- Winding roads without lane divisions or pavement markings
- Ruts, cracks, depressions, or uneven pavement
As a crash victim, you’re entitled to make a claim for compensation for your injuries against the person who caused the hazardous road condition or failed to either repair it or post warnings. But road hazard cases are especially difficult, because they often involve complex issues, including government immunity, causation, and civil engineering. You should discuss your case with a Dallas-Fort Worth car crash attorney who has considerable experience in handling dangerous road condition cases.
What You Need to Do Following a Hurst / Dallas-Fort Worth Car Accident
When you’ve just been in a car accident, you may feel shaken and confused, so it may take a couple of minutes to get your bearings. If you’re able to stand and move around, there are steps you can take to ensure that you are able to recover compensation for any injuries or damages you may have incurred. But first, consider your safety and that of those around you.
- Check to see if anyone has been seriously injured and needs an ambulance. If so, call 911. Others should get as far off the road as possible, away from traffic.
- Call the police to report the crash.
- Take photos of the crash scene, showing the damage to your vehicle and the others involved.
- Make note of the plate numbers of all vehicles.
- Exchange insurance information and driver’s license numbers with all drivers.
- Do not apologize.
- Do not discuss your physical condition with anyone, including other drivers and police.
- Do not talk to anyone about who caused the crash.
- Get the name and badge number of the police officer who arrives at the scene. Ask for the police report number and instructions for obtaining a copy.
- Report the crash to your insurance company without providing details other than date, time, and location.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible. You need to be checked out, even if you are not sure that you’re injured. Tell the doctor you were just in a car crash. Some injuries don’t become obvious right away, so you may need to return for follow-up treatment.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly and keep all follow-up appointments.
- Call our law firm to make an appointment
- Do not engage with any insurance adjuster. Do not give a recorded statement. Do not sign anything. Refer the adjuster to your attorney.
Why Avoid an Insurance Adjuster?
Insurance companies have a contract with consumers; you pay your bill and when you need to file a claim, you expect them to honor your claim. However, insurance companies also have contracts with shareholders of their company and their interests are much different from yours; they are interested in maximizing profits. Insurance companies often try to get injured people to make mistakes when they are questioning them about the crash.
What may seem like an innocent question could be used later to deny your claim. For example, if an insurance adjuster asks “how are you doing?” and you simply answer “fine” believing they are just passing the time of day, they could use that one-word statement against you if you file a claim for injuries. While you pay premiums in good faith expecting to be treated fairly when you file claim, an insurance adjuster's primary role is to find ways to minimize the amount the insurer is required to pay.
What options do I have if the person that hit me does not have insurance?
Texas has a large number of underinsured drivers on our roads every day. This can be disastrous to a person injured by their careless or reckless driving—as often the injured person is unable to pay for medical treatment or recover any of their damages from the negligent driver if they do not have insurance.
But, being hit by someone without insurance does not necessarily mean that you cannot recover. First, simply because someone says they do not have insurance or does not produce insurance at the scene does not guarantee that they do not, in fact, have insurance. A good personal injury attorney should be able to track down possible sources of insurance.
Negligent Owners and Employers
There often might also be other sources of insurance. For example, you might be able to recover from the owner of the vehicle if they negligently entrusted the vehicle to the driver. Negligent entrustment occurs when a vehicle owner permits a driver to drive their vehicle that they knew, or should have known, was an incompetent, reckless or unlicensed driver.
Additionally, investigation needs to be done to find out if the person that hit you was in the course and scope of their employment at the time or was driving a vehicle owned by their employer. If this is the case, it will often allow an injured driver to seek recovery for what was taken from them from the insurance for the employer. Sometimes, the employer can be responsible due to its own negligence—for example, failing to maintain the vehicle properly, failing to properly train the driver, negligently hiring the employee as a driver—but an employer can also be held “vicariously liable” for the actions of its driver under a doctrine referred to as “respondeat superior.” Respondeat superior means “let the master answer,” and when it applies, an employer can be held responsible for the negligent acts or failures of its employee that occur during the course and scope of the employee’s employment. Commercial insurance policies are often larger and can allow an injured person to recover for what was taken from them through no fault of their own if there is no other insurance, or the other available insurance is insufficient.
The Most Important Insurance You Need to Buy: Recovering from your own Insurance—UIM and PIP
Also, you may be able to recover from your own insurance even if the other driver was at fault. Texas drivers can purchase what is referred to as Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) and Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP) to protect themselves.
UIM will cover you if you are hit by a driver that has no insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover all of your damages. This is maybe the most important insurance you can purchase for protecting yourself from the negligence of others.
The number of uninsured drivers on the road in Texas is staggering with estimates of between fifteen and twenty percent of all drivers on the road on any given day being uninsured. That means that, realistically, you have approximately a one in five chance of being hit by an uninsured driver. According to the Texas Department of Insurance and as reported by the Dallas Morning News, Dallas County leads the state in the number of uninsured drivers. It is no doubt then that having UIM coverage can literally be a life saver.
In fact, the Texas Legislature thought UIM and PIP coverage to be so important that it requires insurance companies to offer it to you and requires them to obtain a rejection—in writing—from their policy holder if the policy holder chooses not to purchase UIM or PIP coverage. This is important to know as many insurance companies will try to gloss over these types of coverage and not offer them to their customers or explain the coverage sufficiently. If you are injured in a wreck, we will send a letter to your insurance demanding that they produce a copy of the signed rejection letter that you signed if the insurance company is contending you do not have UIM or PIP. We have often been able to get our clients UIM and PIP coverage after a wreck—even though the insurance company initially contended that there was no such coverage and no premiums had been paid—because the insurance company was unable to produce a rejection letter as required.
If you have UIM insurance, the minimum policy amount sold in Texas is $30,000.00, although you can purchase more, and we would advise that you purchase as much as you can reasonably afford. UIM will pay you for your damages if you are in a wreck with an uninsured driver AND the uninsured driver is at fault. UIM will also pay you if you are in a wreck with a driver who is at fault but does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries.
As an example, the minimum amount of a policy of bodily injury liability insurance that can be sold in Texas is $30,000, so often this is what other drivers on the road will have. Let’s say a driver with a minimum limits policy runs a red light and t-bones you as you are driving home from work. You suffer a broken wrist, a herniated disc and other smaller problems. After an ER visit, surgery, physical therapy, radiology, and other treatment, your medical bills are $120,000.00. The at-fault driver’s insurance company only has to pay you the thirty-thousand dollar policy which still leaves you with $90,000 in unreimbursed medical bills—not even considering any lost wages you likely have or compensation in recognition of the physical pain, impairment, and mental suffering you have no doubt suffered through no fault of your own.
If you did not have UIM, and there is no other insurance then you are facing down $90,000.00 in medical expenses that are your responsibility, despite the fact that you were minding your own business and suffered these injuries through no fault of your own.
Alternatively, if you had UIM coverage, then you would be able to make a claim against that policy for your additional damages. UIM polices cover damages for medical expenses in the past and future, physical impairment in the past and future, physical pain in the past and future, mental suffering in the past and future, lost wages and lost earning capacity, and property damage.
Another type of insurance that can be useful when you are facing unforeseen medical bills from a personal injury is Personal Injury Protection Coverage, referred to as PIP. Just like UIM, PIP is a mandatory coverage in Texas unless the policy holder specifically rejects the PIP coverage in writing. PIP provides coverage if there are injuries in a car wreck regardless of who was at fault. Texas requires that the minimum policy amount for PIP coverage be $2,500.00. PIP coverage is typically $2,500, $5,000, or $10,000. If you are in a wreck you can obtain this money for your reasonable medical costs, funeral and burial expense, lost wages, and other needs. Because PIP coverage does not depend on who was at-fault, it can be extremely valuable coverage to have as you can obtain the money quickly to pay for outstanding medical expenses or lost income. The process to obtain other types of insurance proceeds is often lengthy and requires fighting with the insurance company to determine who was at-fault in the collision. Even when fault is clear, insurance companies often will stall paying benefits under the pretense of investigating the claim and will often deny claims if there is any excuse to deny liability—no matter how weak. So, having PIP coverage can be extremely helpful in allowing you to recover money quickly to cover smaller medical expenses or lost income.
In our world today, insulating yourself and your family from risk and financial ruin should be top of mind. Our firm is experienced in fighting insurance companies to obtain full recovery for what you have lost due to the careless actions of others—through no fault of your own.
Please feel free to call our firm if you have any questions about UIM, PIP, or other types of insurance coverage or you would like our firm to review your current coverage to determine that it is sufficient.
What if I am partially responsible for causing the car accident that injures me?
Oftentimes, it is not always immediately clear who or what actually caused a car crash that results in injuries. Many times, people ask us if they can still recover if the other driver was at fault—but they feel they were also partially responsible for causing the crash. The answer, as more explained fully below, is that it depends on the particular facts of your car crash. The attorneys at our firm are happy to meet with you for free to examine the facts of your accident and give you an opinion on who was at fault, and what, in our opinion, your chances of making a recovery are.
The state of Texas does allow you to recover for your injuries from an at-fault driver even if you are partially at fault. Texas utilizes what is referred to as modified comparative fault or proportionate responsibility. Essentially, if your car wreck injury resulted in a lawsuit that went to trial, the jury would examine all of the evidence and determine what percentage of responsibility each involved party has for causing the accident. If it is determined that you, as the person bringing the lawsuit for your injuries, are more than fifty percent at fault, then you would not be able to recover anything from the other driver. If you are found to be less than fifty percent at fault, then you are able to recover a percentage of your damages equal to the percentage of fault place on the other driver. For example, let’s say you are in a wreck where a driver pulls out in front of you as you are driving through an intersection. The jury though decides that you are partially at fault because you were speeding when you came through the intersection and places twenty percent of the fault on you, and eighty percent of the fault on the other driver. The jury also determines that the total amount of all of your damages as a result of the wreck are $100,000 (just to keep the math simple—we’re lawyers, not mathmeticians).
The Judge then, after the jury’s verdict, would render a judgment against the other driver—owed to you—of $80,000 as this is 80 percent of your total damages.
Conversely, if you were found to be fifty-one (51) percent at fault, then you would not be able to recover any portion of your damages from the other driver. This is why it is very important to hire an attorney experienced in this area of law that knows the best arguments to make and most effective way to present the evidence so as to ensure that you are not found to be more than fifty percent liable—precluding you from making any recovery.
Most car accident injury cases do not go to trial, but the above analysis will still inform any negotiations and ultimate settlement amount, so it is important to understand and be able to argue persuasively.
Many times, in addition to our experience focusing our practice on injury cases, we will also utilize focus groups to determine how typical jurors are seeing the facts and what arguments, methods, and evidence are the most effective to ensure that you make a full recovery of what you are owed for the reckless or wrong acts of another driver on the road. Focus groups are an invaluable resource that many law firms do just not use—but our law firm does. In fact, we have continuous access to a dedicated focus group facility so that we can constantly be fine-tuning our clients cases to give them the best recovery possible and ensure that every aspect of your case is presented in the optimal way. We also enlist jury consultants, focus group experts, and others to ensure that your case is developed and presented as effectively as possible. Focus groups are extremely effective for settlement purposes as well—from determining what a fair settlement amount is to obtaining focus group clips to provide to obstinate insurance companies to give them a reality check on the true value of a case and how a jury will likely react to the facts. A focus group can also give insight into what arguments and evidence will be most effective in persuading an insurance adjuster to pay an amount that represents full justice.
If you have been in a serious wreck, you only have one chance to make sure that you are paid everything that you are owed for the damages you have suffered and will continue to suffer through no fault of your own. Make sure you hire a law firm that has the experience, resources, and dedication to make sure that full justice is obtained on your case—a case whose outcome will likely affect the rest of your life.
Why Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney to Represent You?
Research has shown that crash victims who are represented by skilled car accident lawyers typically walk away with significantly more money in their pockets that those who attempt to negotiate their own settlement with the insurance company after a car wreck. In fact, a former high-ranking adjuster for one of the largest insurance companies in the world, Allstate, reported that the settlement value, according to their research, typically went up by approximately three times on average if an injured driver obtained a lawyer. In fact, this adjuster reported that many insurance companies have trained a special team of adjusters that are specifically trained to try and settle cases quickly before an injured customer can wise up and retain an attorney. These adjusters are, reportedly, given “empathy training” so that they can more easily make their customer feel like they are their friend and are trying to help them out. This tactic no doubt saves insurance companies millions, and likely even billions, of dollars each year. It’s so popular, it even has a name: “swoop and settle.” In Texas, you can settle your claim and lose your rights with just a phone call.
Simply put, an unrepresented driver is an easy target for well-trained, well-funded, and unscrupulous insurance company that only cares about their bottom line. You, as the injured person, only have one shot and making sure you recover what is just to recover for any medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, impairment, mental anguish and other damages you have suffered, which were thrust into your life through no fault of your own. Importantly, you cannot come back to the insurance company and ask for more money if you find out down the road that your injuries were more severe than you thought and you are going to need further treatment like a surgery. Once you have settled, that is forever, so it is important to ensure that you get a recovery that is enough to compensate you for all of your damages. It's important that you call a trusted Farmer's Branch / Carrollton / Dallas-Fort Worth car accident attorney for an appointment today. There is never a charge for this consultation, and car wreck cases are handled on contingency. You don’t pay unless we win your case.
Samples Ames PLLC is a member of the American Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Dallas Trial Lawyers Association, Tarrant County Trial Lawyers Association, The National Trial Lawyers, the American Association for Justice, and the Tarrant County, Denton County, and Dallas Bar Associations, just to name a few, and has the skills and experience to deal with an insurance company who is trying to minimize the amount they should rightfully pay. We also are willing to go after other drivers who may have been responsible for your injuries after a car crash. If you contact us today at (817) 605-1505 or (469) 466-2600, we will be happy to review your case and determine the best way to proceed to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Since we charge no fee unless we are successful in obtaining an award for you, you have nothing to lose.