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Given its bustling downtown and sprawling metro area, Houston is filled with cars and trucks trying to get from place to place. Unfortunately, this means that inevitably car accidents are bound to happen at a fairly high rate. In fact, in 2019, over 68,000 crashes occurred in Houston alone. Of these crashes, the most common type to occur are rear-endings, which account for almost 25% of all of the accidents that happen in Texas. However, because they are common does not mean that can’t have devastating results for the accident victim and their families. Many of these cases require the expertise of an experienced Houston traffic lawyer.
CAUSES OF REAR-END COLLISIONS
Put simply, a rear-end collision occurs when the front end of a vehicle crashes into the back end of the vehicle in front of it. The vehicle in the front is often stationary or moving very slowly at the time of the collision. Because they are so common, NHTSA conducted research into what causes rear-end collisions. Below are some of the things they found; they may have even played a role in your Houston fender-bender.
With the speeds that vehicles are able to reach, a driver taking their eyes off of the road for even a split second could mean that they traveled hundreds of feet without looking at where they were going. Any sort of distracted driving can cause an accident, but one of the main dangers when it comes to distracted driving today is texting while driving. The constant presence of our phones can make it tempting for drivers to send texts while on the road, but even the short amount of time it takes to reply can lead to a rear-end collision. Other potential distractions include passengers in the vehicle, changing the music, or punching an address into a navigation system.
Driving While Under the Influence
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is very dangerous. Drugs like alcohol or other depressants can slow the reaction times of a driver, which means that they will not be able to react as quickly to seeing the brake lights of the vehicle in front of them come on. The legal limit in Texas for blood alcohol content is .08%, and if you were injured in Houston in a rear-end collision by a driver who had a BAC higher than the legal limit, then you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.
Drowsy or Fatigued Driving
Driving while a bit sleepy might seem more acceptable to most than getting behind the wheel while drunk. In fact, about half of drivers in the US admit to consistently getting behind the wheel while feeling drowsy. However, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Studies show that driving after 20 hours without any sleep is equivalent to driving with a BAC of .08%—the US legal limit. In the same way that drunk driving slows reaction times, driving while drowsy can cause drivers to react a split second too slow, which might be the difference between stopping in time and hitting the automobile, truck, or motorcycle in front of you, injuring an accident victim in a fender-bender.
COMMON INJURIES FROM REAR-END COLLISIONS
The victims of a rear-end collision can face injuries that are somewhat specific to this type of accident. Upon impact, the front vehicle will experience a violent and unnatural change of direction, and naturally, the passengers inside will experience the same change in speed. In addition, the safety measures of the vehicle that are intended to protect the driver and the passenger in the case of a frontal collision might not be effective when being rear-ended in Houston. These factors in combination mean that victims of fender-benders often experience one of the following injuries:
Whiplash is an injury that is very commonly associated with rear-end collisions. This is because it is caused by a forceful back-and-forth motion of the head, like the cracking of a whip. This kind of motion can very easily result from a rear-end collision. Common symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, loss of range of motion in the neck, and headaches. In more severe cases, some accident victims also experience irritability, difficulty concentrating, and even depression.
Back and Spine Injuries
The same forces present in a rear-end collision that cause whiplash can also cause structural damage to the spine. This can include broken vertebrae and also burst discs. On top of that, these injuries can also lead to damage of the spinal cord. Spinal cord damage is particularly dangerous because it can lead to temporary, or even permanent loss of motion and paralysis.
Head and Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries occur in car accidents in a number of different ways. First, injuries can occur when the head of a driver or passenger strikes a hard surface in the car. However, there doesn’t even need to be any direct contact to the head to cause an injury. The force exerted through the severe change of speed that takes place in a rear-end collision can be enough to cause brain injury even if there is no contact with the victim’s head. Brain injuries can cause a host of other issues as well, such as cognitive, motor, and even emotional impairment.
HOW TO FILE A REAR-END COLLISION CLAIM
While accidents are a fairly common experience, most accident victims have little idea of how to move forward effectively with a rear-end collision claim. While there is no strategy that will work for every single claim, there are steps that generally need to take place in all rear-end collisions in order to get the compensation that you could be entitled to.
1. Contact a Houston Traffic Lawyer
After dealing with your emergency medical needs and making sure your health is taken care of, it is important to contact an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer. An attorney may be able to help guide you through the process and keep you abreast of all of the developments in your case as they occur. In addition, they may be able to develop a unique strategy based on the facts of your situation to seek the maximum compensation for your injuries.
2. Research and Investigation
After you have hired an attorney to handle your case, they can get to work on doing the research and investigation that they feel is necessary given the facts surrounding your crash. For a Houston fender-bender, this can include looking into the laws and statutes that will govern your case, analyzing any photo or video evidence that might be available, and conducting interviews or depositions with witnesses.
3. Negotiate a Settlement
Once your attorney feels that they have a grasp on the details of your case, they can engage in settlement negotiations with the other parties involved. This step is critical because the vast majority of cases will end in a settlement given the expensive and time-consuming nature of taking a case to trial. At the negotiation stage, your attorney will argue for maximum compensation by attempting to emphasize the strong details of your case while minimizing any potential weakness that it might have.
4. Go to Trial
As mentioned previously, the majority of cases will settle before they reach the trial stage. However, in very severe accidents or situations where the parties are very far apart on what they feel is a fair amount to settle for, they may be unable to reach an agreement. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to go to trial to fight for fair compensation for your injuries. At this stage, your attorney will work to develop an effective, comprehensive trial strategy including a persuasive opening statement, thorough questioning of all of the witnesses, and a closing argument that ties the case together.
DEALING WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES
Being in a car accident usually means dealing with insurance companies. That being the case, it is important to understand how insurance companies operate. Insurance companies are businesses—they exist to make money. In order to do this, their goal is to bring in as much as they can in the form of premiums while paying out as little as they are legally obligated to. To this end, insurance companies will often employ experienced claims adjusters who are trained to get you to reveal information that could damage your claim or who may attempt to convince you that your claim is worth less than it actually is.
Perhaps the best way to defend yourself from unscrupulous tactics used by an insurance company is to hire a Houston personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney may be able to help in a couple of different ways. First, their experience handling other cases means that they can help you properly value your claim. Understanding what your case is worth is an important step in avoiding taking a settlement offer. They also will be able to handle communications with the insurance companies involved in your case, which minimizes the risk that an accident victim would say something that would lower the amount that they ultimately ended up receiving for their injuries.
CALL ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY at (800) 863-5312 for a personalized, 100% free consultation
Though the post-accident world can be very stressful, there is help available for victims. Zinda Law Group has the experience, skills, and resources to be able to help you and your family through a difficult time. Also, if we are hired to help you with your case and we don’t win, you won’t have to pay. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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