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When the fun and festivities of the holidays end, we all come back to reality and realize that the roads are still terribly unsafe. You’re not just focusing on your own driving, but you’re also worried about how everyone else is handling their driving. We see hundreds of cases each year from responsible drivers who found themselves involved in car accidents in Houston. Here are some safety tips we’ve gathered that will help you navigate the roads this coming year:
Whether we like it or not, it doesn’t matter how good of drivers we are; it matters more about the world around us. Drive defensively as if you’re surrounded by incompetent drivers, and always remember to:
Map It Out
Some of us are glued to our GPS or the apps on our iPhone to direct us. If you’re dependent on your navigation system, you probably get a touch of anxiety when you make the wrong turn, or end up somewhere you didn’t intend to be. Don’t worry: Map it all out ahead of time, but if you find yourself in an odd spot, just remember that your navigation has gotten you this far—it can get you out of there, too.
When you plan ahead, you should also schedule stops to rest and eat. Focus these stops around times with heavy traffic (it’s always a good idea to stop and get dinner during rush hour; you’re not really moving in that traffic, anyway). Doing this ensures you’ll be around fewer drivers, which potentially minimizes the risk of getting into a collision as well.
You Follow the Rules of the Road, But Not Everyone Does
Treat every single driver as if they’ve lost their mind. Just because you follow the rules doesn’t mean your fellow drivers do. Houston car accident attorney offices see some of the most ridiculous ways that people have gotten into accidents- if you can imagine it, it’s probably happened!
Avoid Unnecessary Distractions
Don’t focus on the car radio, the GPS system, or talking to the passenger beside you. While you’ve probably heard, “Ten-and-two, eyes on the road” a million times when you went through driver’s education, the fact remains that those rules are drilled into your head for a reason. According to the NHSTSA, 3,450 distracted driving-related deaths occurred in 2016. That’s nine people a day.
Hand Over the Right-of-Way
Everybody wants to be first out there on the open road, but that’s where accidents pop up. If you’re in a tight spot and someone else is trying to wedge in, let them. It may not get you home faster, but it will get you home safer.
Your Houston car accident attorney’s office is the first place you should go after an automobile accident. If you’ve recently been injured, contact the offices of Hilda Sibrian today to discuss the next step.
In light of Harvey’s recent destruction across the Lonestar State, we’ve seen some of the most heroic acts by your everyday man. We’ve also seen how underprepared most of us are when severe weather strikes. It isn’t just hurricanes—any type of severe weather puts us in a specific predicament. Here are a few tips on how you should prepare from your Houston personal injury attorney’s office.
Store Ample Food and Water
There’s nothing worse than getting to a superstore and realizing that they’re sold out of bottled water and nonperishables, or foods with extremely long expiration dates. Get ahead of the curve before the next Harvey strikes, or we endure a nasty drought. There’s no disaster that doesn’t call for a stock-up of necessities. Even your local car accident lawyers’ Houston office will have an emergency stash (just in case we get stuck at the office).
We saw it recently with Irma in the Florida Keys—gas becomes the most-required necessity. Even if you have all that extra food and water, it’s going to be useless if it’s trapped in the trunk of your car. Try to have at least 10 gallons of gasoline at-the-ready for disasters. Even if we’re just enduring inclement weather, additional gas can help you, your family, and your neighbors if resources are scarce.
Have a Home Prep Plan
The second wind gets inside of your house, it can do major damage. If a tornado is on the horizon, it’s going to launch lawn chairs, children’s toys and other loose yard items through your windows, allowing wind to get inside and cause real harm. Have a fifteen-minute home plan in place so you can secure everything, close the shutters, and if you have to leave, you’ll at least be able to come back to an intact home.
Keep Valuables Safe and Accessible
If you have to evacuate in a hurry, especially if a tornado is on the horizon, you’ll want to take the important things with you. Jewelry, family photos, and anything of value should be able to be thrown into a box or secured in a backpack, and thrown into the trunk in a hurry. You don’t want to leave valuables behind, but you also don’t want to risk your safety or that of the ones you love in order to save some memorabilia.
Check Your Roof
You should inspect your roof once a month, especially in Texas. You rarely get enough of a warning that warrants finding money and time to repair your roof, but just as wind can enter your home through broken windows, it can get under your roof tiles and cause serious damage to the structural integrity of your home. The last thing you need is to return and find your living room soaked with a hole in the roof.
The Houston personal injury law offices of Hilda Sibrian is the first place you should call if you end up in a traffic collision when you’re evacuating or driving to/from the store for supplies. Take the first step before real disaster strikes.
Certain, simple mistakes can be the difference between receiving a settlement or botching the entire claim. As your local Houston car accident attorney office, we see victims of personal injury make the wrong moves all the time. Here are the biggest mistakes people can make after being in a car accident in Houston.
Waiting Too Long to Seek Medical Aid
There is a timeline of events that needs to be established to get your compensation. It starts with the accident, and step two is always seeking out medical attention. If you’ve failed to do this until days after the incident, it will look like you’re seeking compensation without probable cause. Even if the incident was traumatic for you, it’s not going to hold up well in a claim if you’ve let too much time pass.
Providing Insurance Adjusters With Too Much Information
Insurance companies have a goal: Try to find every possible way not to pay. Insurance adjusters will skew every bit of information you give them to save money for the insurance companies—it’s their job, and while it may not be right, it’s how they play the game. Provide insurance companies with the right information, not every minor detail. This is where you need to seek legal aid before calling in your claim.
Signing Documents Without Legal Aid
Insurance companies may ask for your signature on certain documents hours or even days after an accident. If you’re signing them without reading them over and without legal representation present, you could be signing away your right to compensation under the right circumstances. Again, their job is to make sure the insurance companies can get around as many claims as possible without outputting a dime. Don’t let this happen to you.
Ignoring Medical Advice
In many situations, depending on your injuries, your condition can worsen. If you’re not obeying medical advice from your doctors, you’re making an enormous mistake. Your medical records (relating to the injuries sustained from a crash) are vital to your claim, and they need to be as accurate as possible. This means that if you’re ignoring these pieces of advice from your doctor, you’re making your injury seem better or “not that bad to begin with” on paper. That’s going to backfire on you later in the claim process, and if it comes to it, a courtroom.
Not Seeking Legal Advice Soon Enough
If you haven’t sought out your local Houston car accident attorney as soon as possible following a collision, you’re allowing valuable time to slip away. In some cases, if the driver at-fault has already sought out legal aid and built a bulletproof defense, the entire claim process could be drawn-out and take far longer than it would have. Get the right legal help right from the beginning.
The Houston law offices of Hilda Sibrian are fully equipped to handle your case. Contact our office today and see why our clients call us the best personal injury legal team Houston has to offer. Before it’s too late to get the compensation you deserve, seek out the best legal aid available.
In the grand scope of things, ride-sharing is still a new concept that we’re working through as a society. We’re trying to figure out how it works, how it becomes part of the “norm,” and what the future is surrounding ride-sharing. Part of this is solidifying laws and regulations for these companies because when you’ve been injured in a ride-sharing accident in Houston, it gets rough.
Your Driver’s Insurance May Not Cover You
If you’re a passenger, and your driver gets into an accident that causes you trauma or physical injury, there’s a fair chance that you won’t receive any form of compensation for your injury. Ride-sharing companies are touchy; when you get into a car accident as a passenger, they may not offer compensation for your injury, which is when you need a Texas car accident attorney by your side.
When it’s a collision with an Uber driver and you’re in your own car, there’s still an issue that could arise. Since Uber drivers can have insurance specifically to cover them during commercial time, if they’re in a commute on their way home and not currently clocked-in on their Uber app, the insurance doesn’t have to cover your injuries during an accident.
Ride-Sharing Services Have Different Insurance Coverage Policies
For the most part, you’ll be encountering Uber or Lyft since they are the behemoths in the ride-sharing industry. Their insurance policies are similar, but here’s what you need to know about the key differences between them that make or break a claim:
Uber: Three Degrees of Coverage
Uber has their insurance coverage split up into three degrees or periods. Period 1 is the least beneficial type of coverage. If a driver is active on their app and clocked-in, but they’re driving around and waiting for a potential client when an accident occurs, you’re in period 1. Under period 1, the uber driver if at fault will receive coverage by uber if the minimal insurance policy provided by Uber is higher than the personal insurance provided by the driver. These numbers hover at $100,000 and below, depending on liability coverage per person, property damage, and coverage per accident.
Period 2 is when the driver is on their way to pick up a rider, and period 3 is when the driver currently has a rider in their vehicle. Both of these are protected by $1,000,000 bodily injury insurance policies.
Lyft: Two Types of Policy
Though similar in insurance policy coverage amounts, Lyft’s process is a little more straightforward than Uber’s. If the driver’s coverage will not apply, Lyft’s insurance comes in to offer $1,000,000 in personal bodily injury, or $100,000 and lower for per accident, per person, and property damage.
Have You Been in an Accident With a Ride-Sharing Company?
Ride-sharing companies are still in the gray area of the law because they’re still being regulated. Each injury, accident, and case shapes how they will be perceived by the public, and by lawmakers. It’s best to get in touch with a premier Houston car accident attorney as quickly as possible to go over every option regarding compensation and protecting yourself.
Auto insurance is a big industry, and as such, there are numerous different “products,” or coverage options available to you as a consumer. Knowing about each one and their benefits is arming yourself with knowledge; car accidents happen every single day, so it’s best to understand the different types of coverage to make the smartest decision for you and your family.
You’ll see this term commonly thrown into most insurance policies. A lot of companies will use this as a “buzzword,” deterring you from looking further into your contract before you sign it. Beware of the wording. Liability car insurance focuses around covering others that are harmed when you’re at-fault in an accident.
Liability insurance covers you from being responsible for the other driver’s medical debt, compensation and any other financial responsibilities that may arise from the accident. When you look to purchase liability insurance, you’ll see breakdowns of the coverage depending on what the scenario calls for, broken down into 25, 50, and 10 (in most cases).
This pertains directly to costs that affect the physical nature of your car. When a tree branch falls and shatters your windshield, or you end up involved in a collision, you need to have solid physical damage car insurance to pay for auto repair costs. Putting your car in the shop can be expensive, and physical damage insurance can also be expensive.
Utilize every method possible to keep the cost of your physical damage insurance down- things like keeping your car in a personal garage, removing hazards in the yard that could potentially damage your vehicle, and keeping proper alarm and lo-jack systems on your car. Theft counts as a reason to file a physical damage claim. These tips not only decrease your insurance premiums but also keep your car safer, which is the entire point.
Despite the fact that most states in the US require drivers to carry some form of auto insurance, as many as one in every eight drivers are operating without insurance. That being said, some drivers who are carrying the state minimum insurance can be considered underinsured if their coverage isn’t great enough to apply to all damages sustained.
If a driver is underinsured but follows all regulations and state laws, there will be a gray area—the gap in between what you need, and what you get. Underinsured motorist coverage is absolutely crucial, especially when medical bills stack up against you and affect your quality of life.
Minimum Insurance Requirements by Texas Law
In the state of Texas, you’re required by law to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to comply with statewide regulations. As of January 2018, these include $30,000 in coverage per person for bodily injury, $60,000 of protection per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 of insurance per accident for property damage. It’s recommended to go for policies that cover at least $100,000 in each category. You don’t know how many people are going to be in a vehicle, how expensive that vehicle is, or what the nature of the accident will be. Ensure that you’re covered so you can drive free and easy. (Please note that the above coverage minimums are subject to change and as listed reflect the law as of January 2018)
In most states, car insurance is fault-based. When you’re at-fault, you end up paying for all of the damages, and 100% of the blame falls on you. However, Texas isn’t like every other state, and insurance companies are constantly ruthless. Texas is a non-at-fault state—here’s what you need to know.
Document All the Evidence You Can
Since Texas is a special case, you could be going down a short road to a courtroom or other actions to determine who is at-fault. That being said, it’s imperative to acquire as much evidence as possible early on. Gathering the proper information as quickly as possible after the auto accident can save you a lot of time, money, and stress in the future. Here’s what you should do to aid your attorney in defining your case:
One of the best things in the world is that we always have a camera with us. This means that immediately following the incident, so long as nobody is severely injured, you can begin photographing the scene. These pictures are invaluable, and in many cases, can be make-or-break to determining who is at-fault.
Gather Witness Statements
This one isn’t always easy, but if it’s possible, definitely make this a priority. Witnesses can come and go as they please, so it’s best to get their statements and contact information as quickly as possible. Whether you’re out on the highway at night or rolling through a crowded intersection, there’s a good chance that someone saw the incident, and can offer their insight into exactly what transpired.
Get a Copy of Medical Records
Were you sent to the hospital as a direct result of the crash? If that’s the case, you’ll want to request a copy of your medical records when you’re discharged. In some cases, it can take days for a hospital staff to actually get you copies of your records, which is why it’s best to tackle it early-on and be diligent. If you have to call them to remind them and ensure that you get those records, then do so.
These Steps Aid in Accident Reconstruction
Looking at photographs, reading statements, and going over the evidence of a hospital stay and the injuries sustained—these are all common practice to reconstruct the accident and take a good hard look at what happened. A case may use this evidence with the help of a professional accident reconstructionist to recreate the accident with digital animation for your attorney and possibly a jury to review.
A Jury Might Decide
If your crash goes to trial, every piece of evidence and information that you’ve gathered for the claim process will be brought into a Texas courtroom. When and if it reaches this stage, the jury will ultimately decide who is at fault based on various pieces of evidence, and the representation of your Texas car accident attorney.