If you drive, you know the possibility of an accident is very real. Even with that knowledge, there’s nothing that prepares you for when it actually happens. It’s likely you’ll be in at least one accident at some point in your life, but when the crash results in serious injuries it can put your life on hold. That’s why our Midland car accident lawyers are prepared to represent crash victims and help them file a claim that puts them on the path to receiving the compensation they need to recover.
Car Accidents in Midland
Wrecks are not an uncommon occurrence in Midland. According to the Traffic Operations Division, there were 4,374 collisions in 2018. More than 100 of those accidents occurred at the intersection of Loop 250 and Andrews Highway. As a result of all the crashes, 1,746 people were injured and 17 died.
The majority of crashes in Midland are related to distracted driving. When a negligent driver is texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting something inside the car, their focus isn’t where it should be. Even taking your eyes off the road for a second can result in a crash.
Another common cause of accidents in our area is drunk driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol impedes a person’s ability to comprehend what’s going on around them and react appropriately.
To file a successful claim, you’ll need to prove how and why your accident happened. Our auto accident attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation that shows how the other driver acted negligently and how their actions caused the crash.
The Consequences of a Car Wreck
When you’re in a car accident, the physical injuries are often the most obvious consequences. Unfortunately, that’s not where the negative effects stop. Victims are also likely to suffer emotionally and financially. Let’s take a closer look at the outcomes of a wreck.
The type and degree of injury after a car wreck depends upon a number of factors, including the type of crash, the speed at which it happened, and the age and health status of those involved. The only way to recover fully from car accident injuries is to seek medical attention as soon as possible, so an official diagnosis and treatment plan can start. Seeing a doctor also improves your chances of maximizing your compensation because you’ll have an accurate record of your injuries.
The most common car accidents injuries we see include:
- Head and Brain Injuries. This includes concussions, lacerations, skull fractures, internal bleeding, and traumatic brain injuries. Depending on the injury, surgery may be required. Any time the brain sustains an injury, there’s the risk of cognitive or motor skill changes.
- Broken Bones. While minor breaks are often treated with a cast and rest, more severely broken bones may require surgery for reconstructive purposes. Physical therapy will likely be needed to recover full use of the broken bone—especially if it’s a limb.
- Soft Tissue Injuries. Sprains, strains, and tears happen when muscles, ligaments, or tendons are stretched or torn. These injuries can linger and be painful.
- Neck and Back Injuries. Whiplash and herniated discs are common injuries to the neck and back. Injuries like this are often painful and can inhibit a person’s ability to move.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. The structures that make up the spinal cord are delicate. Even a minor injury can result in nerve damage and pain. The more serious the injury, the higher the chances are for paralysis.
- Burns. In the event a car ignites after an accident and the victim is trapped inside, their burn injuries may be severe. All burns are painful—even minor ones; however, severe burns may require surgeries, skin grafts, and months in the hospital.
While physical injuries are handled first after a crash, you may realize you’re suffering emotionally as well. It’s not uncommon for car accident victims to deal with anger, guilt, fear, and sadness. As time passes, however, those feelings should go away. When they don’t, the person could be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD manifests in different ways for different people. Some of the more common signs and symptoms include an ongoing feeling of uneasiness, anxiety about driving or riding in vehicles, irritability or excessive anger, nightmares or trouble sleeping, and ongoing, uncontrollable memories of the accident.
Emotional trauma is treatable. Suffers should seek help from a trained counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. A primary care provider can help decide who to see. Treatments may involve therapy or medications.
Auto accidents are expensive. Even when a crash doesn’t result in injury, there’s still the matter of property damage to deal with. If your car can be fixed, it’s likely repairs will cost thousands of dollars. If you did sustain injuries, medical bills add up quickly. Even with health insurance, emergency room trips can be thousands of dollars, if not more, and the total cost goes up if you need surgery, inpatient care, or future care.
In addition to the costs of repairing your vehicle and treating your injuries, there’s the possibility of needing to take time off work and losing wages as a result. For families with only one source of income or little savings, the loss of one paycheck can cause serious financial stress.
When you file a car accident claim with the help of a lawyer, they’ll be able to determine what the accident cost you, so you can seek compensation that helps you recover as fully as possible. In addition to the economic expenses like hospital bills, they’ll also take into consideration what the accident cost you emotionally, which is referred to as pain and suffering.
Auto Accident Laws in Texas
After a traffic accident, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities. There are a number of state laws that could impact the outcome of your claim. Your lawyer will explain any applicable laws to you, so you have a comprehensive understanding of what’s going on with your case.
Reporting a Crash
Under Texas Transportation Code 550.026, drivers are required to report an accident to law enforcement if the vehicle cannot be safely driven from the scene or the crash resulted in the injury or death of any person. The accident must be immediately reported to either the local police department or the local sheriff’s office.
Once the crash has been reported, an officer will arrive and investigate the scene. They are required to make a written report if injury, death, or more than $1,000 in damage occurred. The report will be filed electronically no later than ten days after the crash.
Your lawyer will be able to access the report and use details in it to support your case. It’s likely the report will contain information like the time, date, and weather conditions when the crash occurred, the vehicles and drivers involved, and witness statements.
Statute of Limitations
States impose statutes of limitations on the amount of time a person has to go to civil court to file a lawsuit after they’ve been harmed. The deadlines exist because the value of evidence decreases as time passes.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. An exception may be made in the event your injuries were undiscoverable until sometime after the car accident.
Complying with this law is the only way to ensure your case will be heard. If you file after the date has passed, it’s likely the case will be dismissed and your right to compensation will be lost. When you work with one of our attorneys, they’ll make sure you meet all necessary deadlines.
The Comparative Negligence Rule
When a driver is entirely at-fault for a crash, it’s likely their insurance company will pay the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and other losses. Complications arise, however, when both parties are liable to some degree.
In Texas, a modified comparative fault rule is followed when both parties are found to share the blame. The judge or jury will need to determine how the percentage of fault is split up. Then, the plaintiff’s compensation is reduced by their percentage of the fault.
If, for example, you’re deemed liable for 10 percent of a wreck, you’ll only be eligible for 90% of the compensation. If you’re found to be at fault for 50% or more of the crash, you’ll be ineligible for any compensation.
Avoiding Accidents with Defensive Driving
While there are car accidents that arise from circumstances completely out of your control, there are safety precautions you can take to reduce your chances of getting into a crash. As you set out on the road, whether you’re heading to work or preparing for a long trip, remember to drive defensively to aid in the prevention of collisions.
Defensive driving starts with scanning the road ahead. Drivers have a tendency to space out and stare blankly at the car in front of them. Watching how traffic moves, however, can boost your reaction time and help you prepare for sudden movements—like if the car in front of you swerves or unexpectedly stops.
To maintain control of your vehicle, keep your hands on the wheels, eyes on the road, and mind on the task of getting to your destination safely. When you’re distracted, you’re more likely to get into an accident. As you’re driving, consider staying in the center or right lane, as accidents are more likely to occur in the left lane.
Driving defensively also means understanding your car’s limitations. You should know how your vehicle handles in inclement weather, its ability to accelerate or decelerate quickly, and how it rounds corners or sharp turns. If you know how your vehicle drives, you’ll have better control over it.
If you do find yourself dealing with an accident, you’ll need to assess potential injuries and damage, exchange contact information with the other driver, notify the police, take photographs, and get in touch with a lawyer.
Buckingham Barrera Law Firm Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a crash and need legal representation, a Midland car accident lawyer from Buckingham Barrera Law Firm can help. When you work with us, we’ll guide you through every step of the personal injury claims process. The complexity of your case depends on the circumstances surrounding your accident. We have the resources and knowledge needed to help accident victims in even the most complex situations.
We will do what we can to ensure the negligent driver is held accountable for the crash and you receive the compensation you need to recover. While most car accident claims settle outside of court, we’re not afraid to head to trial to get you the verdict you deserve.
To learn more about your legal rights and options in Texas after a crash or to get started with your claim, schedule a consultation with our office today. We’ll begin by reviewing your situation and giving you an idea of how best to proceed.