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Top 5 Car Safety Tips for Accident Prevention

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Car accidents are a leading cause of injuries and deaths in Texas and throughout the country. In 2020, the Texas Department of Transportation stated that there was one reportable crash every one minute and seven seconds. There were 14,656 serious injuries and 3,896 deaths from traffic accidents in 2020 alone. As a motor vehicle driver, use the following top five car safety tips to decrease your risk of getting into an accident.

Keep Your Vehicle Well-Maintained

Do not underestimate the importance of keeping your vehicle properly maintained. The parts and equipment of your car are what keep it in safe operating condition. Neglecting routine vehicle maintenance, such as checking the tires, fluids, windshield wipers and lights can lead to dangerous equipment breakdowns or malfunctions on the road. A tire in need of replacing could have a blowout in transit, for example, causing a rollover accident. Learn about your car’s safety features and how to use them, as well, such as autopilot features and lane departure warnings.

Practice Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is a technique that can help you be a more prudent driver. It is a driving style that allows a motorist to more easily identify and predict – and, thus, avoid – hazards. Defensive driving goes beyond simply obeying traffic laws and into a greater overall awareness of the road and foreseeable hazards, allowing the driver to make fast and well-informed decisions.

To practice defensive driving, always pay attention to your surroundings. Mark where other motorists are around you, as well as how they are driving. Rather than assuming that the drivers around you are safe and will obey the law, assume the opposite. Be constantly alert to the possibility of a driver near you breaking the rule and putting you in danger. Defensive driving can allow you to react more quickly to changing roadways situations, decreasing your risk of getting into an accident.

Avoid Distractions

Distracted driving is a serious problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distractions are responsible for 3,142 lives lost in 2019. This represented 9 percent of all fatal car accidents that year. Driver distractions, such as cell phones, food and drinks, passengers, and personal grooming, take a driver’s attention away from driving and increase the risk of a car accident.

It is important to avoid anything that might take your eyes, hands or attention off of the driving task. This includes emotional distractions, such as driving angry. Keep children seated and avoid driving with pets to minimize distractions.

Be Aware of Blind Spots

Many drivers underestimate the importance of scanning the road with their eyes or overestimate the capabilities of their mirrors. Every vehicle, no matter how it is designed, has blind spots. Always be aware of your blind spots and do what you can to minimize them by being cautious when changing lanes.

Use your turn signals, travel at a safe speed and only change lanes when you have confirmed that it is safe to do so with your own eyes, not just your mirrors. Be aware of other drivers’ blind spots, as well, especially when driving near a big rig. Do your best to avoid driving directly next to another vehicle while traveling at the same speed.

Never Drive While Impaired

Finally, never drive while impaired. While this refers to the most common form of impaired driving – driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – it also means driving while impaired by drowsiness or anything else. If your ability to stay awake and alert, pay attention to the road, and physically control a motor vehicle is compromised or impaired by anything, including prescription medications or a medical condition, do not drive. Driving while impaired significantly increases the risk of a car accident.

Posted by admin at 9:23 pm

How Is Fault Determined in Bike vs. Car Accidents in Texas?

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Automobile and bicycle accidents take place relatively often in Texas, especially in bustling downtown areas such as Dallas and Houston. In Texas, the fault-based insurance law requires injured accident victims to determine fault before filing insurance claims. This is because claims are filed with the insurance companies of the at-fault parties. Find out how fault is determined in a bicycle vs. car accident so that you know how to pursue financial compensation as a victim.

Similarities

Bicycle and car accident investigations in Texas use the same processes in many ways. Both investigations begin at the scene of the crash and extend into interviews with eyewitnesses and other evidence analyses. The goal of an investigation is to determine how and why the crash took place, such as whether one party violated a traffic law or broke a roadway rule. An investigation of either type of accident will rely on evidence that may be available, such as:

  • Police crash report
  • Admissions of guilt by either party
  • Evidence from the accident scene (skid marks, road hazards, etc.)
  • Photographs and videos
  • Traffic camera footage
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Accident reconstruction
  • Opinions from experts
  • Medical records

This list of potential evidence can apply to a bicycle accident as well as an automobile accident. Investigators used by the police, an insurance company and/or a personal injury law firm will search for signs and evidence of fault to piece together how the crash took place. In many cases, fault will go to the person or party who broke a rule, such as running a red light or failing to yield the right-of-way.

Differences

There are certain variances, however, in how a bicycle accident is investigated compared to a car accident. For example, investigators may not be able to rely as much on property damage to determine fault for a bicycle accident. In a standard car accident case, the damage inflicted on both vehicles can establish the directions in which both vehicles were traveling, as well as their point of impact. This can allow accident reconstruction experts to determine how the crash took place, including which driver was in the wrong.

In a bicycle accident case, on the other hand, the damage to the bicycle is often so severe as to be inconsequential for investigative purposes. Bicycle damage may not clearly show where or how the bicycle was struck by the motor vehicle. Damage to the car, however, may be inspected for signs of which part of the car collided with the cyclist. If the front of the vehicle shows damage, for instance, this could be proof that the driver was in the wrong and struck the cyclist. Damage to the side of the vehicle, on the other hand, could show that the bicyclist ran into the motor vehicle.

Shared Fault in Both Types of Accidents

Both types of accidents come with the possibility of shared fault. In Texas, the statute that deals with shared fault in an auto accident case is the modified comparative negligence law. This law states that if an injured victim (plaintiff) contributed to the bicycle or car accident, he or she can still recover financial compensation – as long as the victim is less than 51 percent at fault for the collision.

If the plaintiff does share fault with the defendant in an accident case, his or her financial recovery will be reduced by the amount of fault. For example, if a cyclist is 15 percent at fault for an accident for failing to pay attention, but a driver is 85 percent at fault for running a stop sign, the driver would only be responsible for 85 percent of the cyclist’s damages. The settlement or judgment award granted to the bicyclist would be reduced by 15 percent.

If you get injured in a bicycle or car accident in Dallas, consult with an attorney for assistance determining fault, proving your claim and fighting for fair compensation.

Posted by admin at 9:19 pm

Can Passengers Be Liable for Car Accidents?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

When you picture a car accident insurance claim or lawsuit, you most likely imagine the driver of the other vehicle taking legal responsibility for carelessly or recklessly causing the crash. You may not consider the potential fault of a passenger within the vehicle. However, there are unique situations where a passenger could be held liable (financially responsible) for a car accident in Texas.

Do Passengers Have a Duty of Care?

Yes, vehicle passengers have certain duties of care. A duty of care is a legal or ethical requirement to act with reasonable prudence and safety. If a vehicle passenger does something that falls outside of the duty of care, he or she has been negligent. Technically, passenger negligence does not exist in a car accident case in Texas. Only a motor vehicle driver can be held liable for a collision. However, there are cases where a passenger could share fault for the accident with the driver.

A portion of fault for a car accident could fall on a passenger if the passenger breaches any of his or her duties of care, which include:

  • Not to encourage reckless driving, such as speeding or drag racing. This is an especially common problem among teenage drivers and their friends.
  • Not to distract the driver. Not to talk to, argue with, touch, hit or otherwise distract the driver from the driving task.
  • Not to do anything that could interfere with the driver’s ability to operate the motor vehicle, such as yank the steering wheel out of the driver’s hand.

If a passenger carelessly or intentionally acts outside of these duties of care, the passenger could be held at least partially liable for a resultant car accident. This means the passenger could be personally sued for the car wreck by any injured victims in the other car. The passenger would most likely share liability with the driver of the vehicle. In this scenario, the passenger’s auto insurance (or a parent’s insurance, in the case of a minor passenger) may step in to cover a portion of crash victims’ financial damages.

Are Passengers Covered by Car Insurance?

For the most part, a vehicle passenger who is injured in an auto accident in Texas is covered by the automobile insurance of the driver of the car. Passenger liability typically is not considered in a car accident case unless there is reason to suspect passenger negligence. In most car accident cases, the driver of the car (or his/her insurance company) will pay for the passenger’s injuries, medical bills and other losses – whether or not the driver was at fault for the accident. There are exceptions, however, in special circumstances.

If a passenger gives his or her consent (verbal or nonverbal) to ride in a car with a known dangerous driver, such as a driver who is known to be intoxicated or drowsy, the passenger may give up his or her right to obtain financial compensation from the driver’s insurance company after a related car accident. If an investigation finds proof that the passenger knew or reasonably should have known of the driver’s impaired state or reckless driving behaviors, this may undermine the passenger’s injury claim and exclude him or her from insurance coverage.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Dallas

Every car accident case is unique. If your car accident claim involves the potential liability of a vehicle passenger or an injured passenger who is seeking financial benefits, contact a car accident attorney in Dallas right away. An attorney can thoroughly investigate your car accident, look for signs of fault or causation, and collect evidence of passenger liability (if applicable). Your attorney will protect your rights and best interests throughout the legal process, taking the steps that are necessary to fight for the best possible case outcome on your behalf. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you every step of the way.

Posted by admin at 9:19 pm

Who Is at Fault for a Yellow Light Car Accident in Texas?

Monday, August 9, 2021

Car accidents are one of the main causes of serious injuries and deaths in Texas. Some of the most devastating vehicle collisions take place at intersections. At an intersection, it is a driver’s legal responsibility to pay attention to and obey traffic control signals. If you were injured in an accident at an intersection while you or another driver had a yellow light, fault can be difficult to determine. You may need assistance from a Dallas car accident attorney.

What Are a Driver’s Responsibilities at a Yellow Light in Texas?

If a traffic light is red, drivers must stop. A yellow light is a warning that a red light is coming. Its purpose is to give drivers enough time to stop before the red light appears. However, many drivers take it to mean the opposite – they use the yellow light as a chance to speed up and “beat” the red light. This dangerous practice can lead to a driver unintentionally running a red light and causing a catastrophic high-speed accident.

According to Texas Transportation Code Section 544.007, a driver must take a steady yellow light to mean that the green signal is ending and a red signal is to be given. This means that the driver should let off the gas or gently apply the brakes to come to a complete stop by the time the signal shows a red light. The driver should only continue to pass through the yellow light if he or she has plenty of time to make it through the intersection before the light turns red.

Who Is Liable?

Fault for a yellow light car accident in Texas will depend on the circumstances of the collision. If a driver should have slowed down at a yellow light to have time to stop before it turned red, the driver could be financially responsible (liable) for an accident caused by running the red. If, however, the driver still had plenty of time to make it through the intersection at a yellow light and another driver preemptively ran a red light, the other driver would be at fault.

It is also against the law for a driver to make a left-hand turn in front of an oncoming driver. Even if the light has turned yellow, the driver making the left-hand turn must yield to oncoming traffic rather than assuming an oncoming driver will stop. Cutting off an oncoming car could make the turning driver liable for a collision. However, if the driver turning left had a green turn arrow and an oncoming driver ran a red light, the oncoming driver would be liable.

How to Prove Another Driver’s Fault for a Yellow Light Car Accident

If you get injured in a side-impact crash, head-on collision, rear-end collision, or pedestrian or bicycle accident at a yellow light in Dallas, consult with a car accident attorney for assistance proving fault. A lawyer will understand Texas’ traffic laws, as well as who had the legal obligation to come to a stop at the intersection. If another driver ran a red light, failed to proceed through an intersection with caution, was driving drunk or was guilty of another reckless act, that driver is most likely responsible for a related car accident.

An attorney can help you prove that the other driver is at fault by collecting evidence such as an accident report and eyewitness statements. Then, your lawyer can negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company for maximum financial compensation on your behalf. If you passed through an intersection at a yellow light, your lawyer can help you refute the fault for the accident or settle your claim using the comparative negligence law.

A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options after any type of intersection or yellow-light crash in Dallas. Speak to a car accident attorney today for assistance with your specific car accident case.

Posted by admin at 9:40 pm

What to Do if You Were Wrongly Accused of Being At-Fault After a Car Accident

Friday, August 6, 2021

In Texas, the driver at fault for causing a car accident will have to pay for related injuries, medical costs and vehicle repairs. Fault for a car accident is not always immediately clear, however. If the other driver’s insurance company is wrongly accusing you of causing a crash that you believe was not your fault, there are steps you need to take to protect yourself from liability.

Collect Evidence at the Scene

The outcome of your car accident case in Texas will come down to evidence. Evidence refers to the information, documentation and tangible items that support the claim that you are making. If you are arguing that the other driver caused the crash, for example, you will need evidence that establishes the other driver’s fault. If you can, collect the following evidence while still at the scene of the accident or in the days following:

  • Photographs of the crash scene
  • Photographs of vehicle damage
  • Video surveillance footage
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Medical records
  • A copy of your police report

Call the police to report your car accident from the scene, whether the crash was major or minor. Even if Texas law does not require you to report the car accident, notifying the police can lead to an official crash report that contains important information about the collision. The police can interview everyone involved and examine the scene to help collect evidence of fault.

Do Not Admit Fault

Admitting fault is one of the most common mistakes made by drivers involved in car accidents in Texas. It is common for a driver to quickly apologize to the other driver as soon as he or she gets out of the car. Admitting fault right away, however, can mean you end up absorbing 100 percent of the liability for a crash even if someone else also contributed.

Never admit fault while still at the scene of a car accident or while talking to an insurance company’s representative. Admitting fault can halt an investigation before it begins, placing liability with you even if you did not actually cause the crash. If you believe you caused a car accident by pulling out in front of someone, for example, you may admit fault before an investigation can discover that the other driver was speeding and is also partially to blame.

Be Careful When Speaking to an Insurance Adjuster

A representative hired by the insurance company known as a claims adjuster will contact you shortly after your collision. Do not trust the claims adjuster, as he or she does not have your best interests in mind. The adjuster wants you to admit fault or make another mistake that can place liability for the car accident with you. Most attorneys recommend not talking to an insurance adjuster at all. If you do wish to talk to the adjuster, do not admit fault, agree to give a recorded statement, sign anything or accept a settlement before you have spoken to a car accident attorney.

What Is Texas’ Comparative Fault Law?

The law may entitle you to compensation even if you are found to be partially at fault for a car accident. Texas is a comparative negligence state, meaning that a plaintiff can still recover a monetary award even if he or she contributed to the crash. A car accident lawyer can help you establish the other driver’s portion of fault to maximize your financial recovery as much as possible.

Hire an Attorney

It is important to hire an attorney if you have been wrongly accused of being at fault for a car accident in Dallas. A lawyer can immediately investigate your crash and preserve and collect evidence of fault on your behalf. A lawyer can also help you refute allegations of fault using experts and crash reconstructionists. Your lawyer can take many steps to help you prove that someone else was to blame for the crash, making you eligible for financial compensation through that party’s insurance company.

Posted by admin at 9:38 pm

What to Do After Hitting an Illegally Parked Car in Dallas

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Parking illegally in Dallas can increase the risk of a car accident, as it may place the vehicle in an unsafe or problematic position. If you strike a vehicle that was parked illegally, you and the owner of the other car may share fault. Take the following steps after striking an illegally parked car in Texas to increase your odds of holding the other driver accountable.

Report the Crash

Although most collisions involving parked cars are not serious enough to require reporting to the police, you are legally obligated to call 911 as soon as possible if your car accident causes injuries, deaths or more than $1,000 in apparent property damage. If you struck an illegally parked car with enough velocity to meet these parameters, Texas law requires you to call the police right away to report the car accident.

Try to Locate the Owner

Texas Transportation Code Title 7, Section 550.024 states that upon striking an unattended vehicle, the driver of a car must immediately stop, locate the owner of the unattended vehicle and exchange contact information (name and address). If the illegally parked car is unattended, it is your legal responsibility to make a good-faith attempt to locate the owner. This may mean asking around in nearby stores to try to locate the owner.

Leave a Note in a Conspicuous Place

If you try your best but cannot find the owner of the illegally parked car, you can still fulfill your driver responsibilities by leaving a written notice in a conspicuous place on the unattended vehicle or securely attaching it to the car. This note should have your name, address and a brief description of how the collision happened. That way, the driver will have a way of contacting you when he or she returns.

Take Photographs

Before you leave the scene of the car accident, take photographs of the site and the damage to both vehicles. Photographs and video footage can provide strong evidence for your injury or property damage claim later.

Use your smartphone or a camera to document the scene in detail. Turn on the date feature to prove the time and date of the collision. Take photographs of the damage to both vehicles up close, as well as wider shots of the entire crash scene. Be sure to document the fact that the other car was parked illegally, such as pictures of a No Parking sign.

Collect Other Evidence

It is wise to gather any other available forms of evidence, as well. The more evidence you collect, the stronger your case against the other driver will be. If the collision took place in a business district of Dallas, go to nearby businesses and ask if they have surveillance cameras that may have caught the crash on tape. If anyone witnessed the collision, ask for their contact information so that you can collect eyewitness statements. If you were injured in the crash, go to a hospital in Dallas right away and request copies of your medical records. Finally, if you called the police, ask for your police report number.

Call Your Insurance Company

When you are ready, call your own auto insurance company to file an initial report of the crash. Most insurance companies require immediate reporting, so do not delay. Do not admit fault for the car accident during your conversation with an insurance claims adjuster and do not sign anything given to you by the insurance company. Your insurance company may try to devalue your claim or blame you for the collision. Instead of accepting a fast settlement that may not adequately cover your injuries and losses, contact a car accident lawyer in Dallas to discuss your rights.

Consult With an Attorney

A car accident attorney can help you prove that the other driver is at least partially to blame for the accident for parking illegally. Texas is a comparative negligence state, meaning that both you and the owner of the illegally parked car could share fault or liability for the accident. However, your percentage of fault will reduce the amount of financial recovery that you can receive for your medical bills and property damage. An experienced car accident lawyer in Dallas can help you prove your case to maximize your financial outcome.

Posted by admin at 9:36 pm

What to Do After a Test-Drive Accident: Who Is Liable?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Test-driving a vehicle is an important part of purchasing a new car. If you get into a collision while test-driving a car, however, the excitement of the buying experience can quickly turn into a nightmare. For the most part, the car dealership will be liable (financially responsible) for accidents that take place during a test drive. If you are clearly at fault for the accident, however, you may be found liable instead.

Stay Calm and Don’t Admit Fault

In the immediate aftermath of the car accident, stay calm and do not make assumptions about who caused the crash. Even if you feel like you caused the accident, do not apologize or admit fault. Absorbing fault for an accident can automatically place liability with you, even before an investigation. If you do not admit fault, on the other hand, an investigation may find another party or factor to be to blame, such as a vehicle defect.

Check for Injuries

Check to see if anyone has been injured in the test-driving accident, including yourself and the dealership employee in the vehicle with you, if there is one. If anyone is injured, call 911 to request an ambulance immediately. You should also report the car accident to the police if it appears to have caused more than $1,000 in property damage or if it involves illegal activity, such as a hit-and-run or drunk driver.

Notify the Dealership

If you were permitted to test drive the vehicle alone, without an employee riding with you, call the dealership to report the crash as soon as you can. Again, do not admit fault for the collision during your conversation with a representative from the dealership. Do not answer any questions about your injuries, either, until you have seen a doctor. Go to a hospital immediately for professional medical care. Request copies of your medical records for later.

Take Photographs

Before you leave the scene of your test-driving accident, take photographs using your smartphone or a camera, if possible. Taking photographs and videos while at the crash scene can provide important evidence during your insurance claim or injury lawsuit later. Take pictures of the entire crash site, including both vehicles and any relevant landmarks. Exchange information with the other driver and write down the names and phone numbers of any eyewitnesses.

Begin the Insurance Process

A car accident while test-driving a vehicle does not have special rules compared to a typical car crash in Texas. The state’s fault-based insurance law still applies, meaning that the driver or person most at fault for causing the collision will be liable for related injuries and expenses. Determining fault for your test-driving car accident, therefore, may take an investigation into who or what caused the crash.

You are expected to take proper care to avoid a crash while test-driving a vehicle. This responsibility involves familiarizing yourself with how the vehicle works and handles before driving. It also involves taking proper care while on the road, such as obeying all traffic laws and paying attention to other drivers.

If you fail to meet any of these requirements, you may be held liable for the accident, meaning your auto insurance company will pay for property repairs and injuries suffered. If, however, another driver caused your test-driving accident, his or her auto insurance company will cover damages. In addition, car dealerships carry fleet insurance policies on their lots. This insurance will generally cover collisions involving fleet vehicles unless you are clearly at fault.

Consult With a Car Accident Attorney

For the most part, you will take all of the same steps after a test-drive accident as you would after a standard automobile accident in Dallas. Your insurance claim may involve special issues, however, such as the dealership’s insurance company refuting liability. If you need assistance recovering fair financial compensation for the losses you suffered in a test-drive accident, consult with a car accident lawyer in Dallas as soon as possible.

Posted by admin at 9:32 pm

What Happens When a Medical Condition Causes a Car Accident?

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Texas is a fault-based car insurance state, meaning that you must determine who is at fault for your car accident before filing an insurance claim. If another driver broke a roadway rule and caused an accident, his or her fault may seem apparent. If a medical condition caused the crash, however, such as a seizure or heart attack, fault is more difficult to assign. You may need a Dallas car accident attorney to help you establish fault during this type of case.

Did the Driver Have Knowledge of the Condition?

Liability for a car accident caused by a medical condition comes down to one main question: did the driver know about the medical condition? If the answer is yes, then he or she had constructive knowledge of the potential for a car accident and can be held liable for the collision. If the answer is no, the driver may be able to use the sudden medical emergency defense to avoid liability. This defense states that the driver had no knowledge of or reason to know about an undiagnosed medical condition and that the dangerous event was completely unforeseeable.

What Is the Sudden Medical Emergency Defense?

With the sudden medical emergency defense, the driver may be able to avoid liability for your car accident entirely. This means you will lose that driver’s insurance as an option for coverage for your medical bills and property repairs. In this scenario, you would need to rely on your own auto insurance policy for reimbursement instead.

The other driver will need to prove the sudden medical emergency defense to establish that the loss of consciousness or capacity occurred without any warning while driving. The other driver (or his or her attorney) will also need to show that the medical emergency made it impossible for the defendant to pull over in a safe location before the collision. This will require an in-depth understanding of the medical condition.

If there is evidence that the driver knew about the medical condition that caused the car accident, such as an official diagnosis of diabetes, a heart condition or epilepsy from a physician in the driver’s medical records, the driver may be unable to use the sudden medical emergency defense because he or she reasonably should have foreseen the dangerous event.

In this case, the driver could still be financially responsible for the car accident despite the medical emergency because he or she should have known not to drive. Another form of proof that the condition was pre-existing is a restriction on the person’s driver’s license, such as being prohibited to drive at night due to poor eyesight. If the other driver was ignoring his or her license restrictions, this is evidence of fault.

Was the Driver on Medication?

If an investigation finds that the car accident was caused by the side effects of a medication that the other driver was taking for a medical condition, the driver could be at fault for the collision. All prescription and over-the-counter medications come with lists of potential side effects.

If the driver reasonably should have known that a medication that he or she was taking could lead to side effects that make it dangerous to operate heavy machinery, such as drowsiness, dizziness or confusion, the driver will be legally responsible for a related crash. It is a driver’s responsibility to understand the drugs he or she is taking and to avoid driving at dangerous times.

When to Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a car accident involving a driver who experienced a medical emergency behind the wheel, contact an attorney for legal advice right away. An attorney may recommend legal representation in a case involving a complication such as a medical condition, medications or the sudden medical emergency defense. You may need a lawyer’s help to prove that the other driver is liable for your losses.

Posted by admin at 9:31 pm

What Happens When a Car Accident Case Goes to Trial

Monday, August 2, 2021

The vast majority of all car accident cases in Texas settle, meaning the injured victim reaches a settlement agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. If your case does not settle, however, your lawsuit may go to trial in Dallas County. Although a car accident trial can seem daunting, with an experienced car accident attorney by your side, you can go through each phase of a court case with greater peace of mind. Find out what happens when a car accident case goes to trial in Texas to know what to expect.

When Will a Case Go to Trial?

There are two main ways to resolve a car accident liability dispute: an insurance settlement and a personal injury lawsuit. A settlement refers to out-of-court negotiations between the insurance company and an injured party (or that party’s attorney). If a case cannot settle, it may go to trial. A personal injury trial allows both sides of a legal dispute to state their cases before a judge and jury. It is then up to the jury to decide whether the plaintiff or injured party met his or her burden of proof against the defendant.

A car accident case may have to go to trial in Texas if it involves complicated factors that cannot be worked out during settlement negotiations. Common examples are catastrophic injuries, high-value claims, liability disputes, the comparative negligence defense and insurance bad faith. If the insurance company refuses to offer a settlement that is fair and reasonable based on the victim’s losses, a victim may have no choice but to go to trial in pursuit of a just outcome.

Steps of a Car Accident Trial

If your car accident lawyer recommends going to trial to obtain the financial compensation that you deserve, he or she will explain what to expect from each phase of the court process. Your lawyer will represent you and can attend every hearing or pretrial meeting on your behalf. In general, a car accident trial will involve the following steps:

  1. Discovery phase. This is a pretrial phase where both parties have the chance to learn what the other knows. Discovery involves an exchange of information, typically through depositions or requests for evidence. It allows both parties to prepare for the trial.
  2. Jury selection. Once the discovery phase has ended, the attorneys representing both sides of the case will ask a panel of potential jurors a series of questions to find 12 suitable jury members.
  3. Opening statements. On the date of the car accident trial, the trial will begin with opening statements from both parties. The opening statement is a summary of what the attorney plans on proving throughout the trial.
  4. Presentation of evidence. Next is the presentation of evidence, where both the plaintiff and the defendant will have the opportunity to present records, documents, eyewitnesses, expert testimony and other forms of evidence to prove their cases.
  5. Closing arguments. After all the evidence has been presented, both sides will give their closing arguments. They will discuss the evidence that was actually presented and try to persuade the jury to come to a certain conclusion.
  6. Jury deliberation and verdict. The final stage is the jury receiving its instructions and deliberating on whether or not the plaintiff met his or her burden of proof. If so, the plaintiff will be awarded financial compensation. If not, the defendant will be found not liable.

Keep in mind that your car accident case can achieve a settlement at any time before the court date. Throughout the pretrial process, your lawyer can continue to try to reach a settlement through negotiations with the insurance provider. If your case does end up in court, your attorney will use a tailored legal strategy to optimize your odds of success. For more information about a car accident trial in Texas, contact a trial attorney at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. for a free consultation.

Posted by admin at 9:27 pm

What Happens if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat Belt in My Car Accident?

Friday, July 30, 2021

Although wearing a seat belt is a legal requirement for all drivers and passengers in Texas, it is common for people not to buckle up on every ride. If you get into a car accident while you weren’t wearing a seat belt, however, it could negatively impact your personal injury claim. The Texas courts allow defendants to use the seat belt defense, meaning that your failure to wear a seat belt could diminish your financial recovery.

What Is the Seat Belt Defense?

The seat belt defense is an attempt by a defendant in a car accident claim to reduce or avoid liability for the plaintiff’s injuries and losses. The defendant in a car accident case is the driver or party allegedly at fault for causing the collision, while the plaintiff is the injured party. In the past, the Texas courts ruled the seat belt offense inadmissible. The Supreme Court of Texas changed the rules, however, in a 2015 ruling.

If a defendant’s attorney uses the seat belt defense, the attorney is claiming that the defendant should not bear 100 percent liability for the plaintiff’s injuries due to the fact that the plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. You may encounter the seat belt defense during a car insurance settlement, typically at the conclusion of the crash investigation. At this stage, the insurance claims adjuster may try to reduce your settlement based on the argument that you were not wearing a seat belt.

You or your car accident attorney may be able to negotiate a better deal, or else you will need to take the matter to court. In general, the seat belt defense will only be a valid argument if the defendant can prove that your injuries would have been prevented or reduced had you been wearing a seat belt. If the seat belt defense succeeds, it could diminish your financial recovery.

Texas Is a Modified Comparative Negligence State

Texas currently abides by what is known as a modified comparative negligence law. This law allows a plaintiff to recover compensation even if he or she is partially at fault for an accident. It is the opposite of a contributory negligence law, which holds that a plaintiff cannot recover any financial compensation if he or she is even 1 percent responsible for an accident.

Under Texas’ comparative negligence law, you can still recover a monetary award even if you were not wearing a seat belt in a car accident and this contributed to the extent of your injuries. However, your settlement or verdict will be reduced by the amount that you contributed to your injuries by failing to wear a seat belt.

For example, if you are found to be 15 percent responsible for an injury because you were not wearing a seatbelt, the defendant will be found 15 percent less liable for your losses. In this example, the courts would reduce your judgment by 15 percent. A $40,000 award would be reduced to $34,000, for instance, due to your comparative fault.

The “modified” part of Texas’ comparative negligence law caps your ability to recover financial compensation for a car accident at 50 percent of fault for the crash or your injuries. If your actions make you more than 50 percent liable, therefore, you would not be eligible for any financial compensation. Since failing to wear a seat belt does not cause a car accident, however, it is unlikely that you would be found more than 50 percent at fault for your injuries in this scenario.

When to Contact a Dallas Car Accident Attorney

It is important to consult with an attorney if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your car accident in Dallas. An attorney can help you protect your rights throughout the claims process, including during an insurance claim or injury lawsuit. An attorney will help you combat the seat belt defense and minimize your amount of comparative fault for the best possible financial outcome.

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