Causes of Car Accidents
Car crashes are an unfortunately common occurrence each day in the United States. They can be attributed to a variety of factors, from inclement weather, vehicle malfunction, road defects, and, most commonly, driver error or recklessness.
Although a driver’s mistake or carelessness is to blame for most accidents, not all motorists are honest with insurance agents and police officers when discussing their actions and the accident. The insurance company will usually perform an investigation to determine the exact cause of the collision, but injured victims should have an experienced personal injury attorney perform an independent investigation as well.
If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a car accident in the greater Houston area, you should quickly seek legal advice in determining the cause of your crash and identifying what types of compensation you may be entitled to receive. The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian will determine why your accident occurred and then help you hold the negligent parties accountable.
Our law firm has a bilingual staff available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call at (713) 842-9492 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Understanding The Causes of Car Accidents
Determining the cause of a car crash can be very complicated. Statements from the people involved are certainly valuable, but in many cases, the vehicles may also need to be examined, both to understand how they performed and to corroborate witness statements.
Some of the most common causes of car accidents in Texas include:
- Distracted Driving — All drivers are expected to focus on the road while they are behind the wheel. Too many people assume they are capable of multitasking and try to do other things while driving. Talking and text messaging on cellphones are two of the most common kinds of distractions, but other distractions could include eating, drinking, smoking, applying makeup, grooming, or even talking to other passengers.
- Drunk Driving — Texas law defines driving while intoxicated (DWI) as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body,” and/or having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more. People who cause accidents as the result of drunk or drugged driving offenses will usually face criminal charges and can be held accountable in a civil case as well. Even an offender who avoids being convicted of DWI/DUI can still be held civilly liable for compensating victims because a criminal case is completely separate from a civil matter.
- Fatigued/Drowsy Driving — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers 18 years of age or older reported having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013, although the CDC noted these figures were “underestimated.” People who drive when they are too tired are at risk of losing control of their vehicles and causing accidents.
- Reckless Driving — Under Texas law, a person commits the offense of reckless driving if he or she drives a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. It is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 and up to 30 days in jail. Like DWI, a driver who is not convicted of reckless driving can still be held civilly liable for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
- Speeding — Some drivers simply do not operate their vehicles in the safest manner possible. While many people exceed posted speed limits under the belief that doing so will allow them to get to their destinations more quickly, speeding also reduces a driver’s ability to stop suddenly — which can lead to collisions in emergency situations.
- Failing to Yield or Stop — Failure to acknowledge stop or yield signs at intersections is one of the common causes of car collisions. The driver who failed to yield or stop is usually at fault for these crashes, but some incidents may involve disputes about who actually had the right of way.
- Tailgating or Following Too Closely — People who are following too closely, or “tailgating,” are at greater risk of causing rear-end collisions when vehicles stop suddenly.
- Dangerous Road Conditions — Local or state agencies, or the companies they hire, have a responsibility for ensuring that roadways are safe for all users. When an accident is caused by unclear warning signs, faulty traffic lights, potholes, or other issues relating to roadway safety, a governmental entity or contractor could be at fault and therefore legally liable.
- Defective Car Parts — Some accidents are not the result of driver negligence but instead an issue with the motor vehicle itself, one that was beyond the driver’s control. A motorist could be incapable of preventing a collision when brakes fail, steering locks, or some other kind of mechanical malfunction occurs. Numerous parties could be liable for these defects. Maintenance companies could be responsible if an accident relates to a faulty repair, but a part manufacturer could be liable if it was the part that was defective.
Other common causes of accidents could include weather conditions and animals on the roadway. No matter what caused the accident that led to your injury, you should always seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
How to Protect Your Rights After a Car Accident
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you should be extremely cautious about what you say in the immediate aftermath. Never admit fault when you are speaking to the other driver, even if you are confused, disoriented, or nervous. Far too many people feel the need to apologize after a collision, whether out of politeness, sympathy for the other person’s injuries or damage to their property, or other reasons. However, even saying “sorry” could be construed as an admission of some fault. It is best to only share the required information, like your name, contact number, insurance info, etc.
You should limit the details you share with friends and family and should be especially careful about what you post on social media websites. Insurance companies will frequently search these accounts for statements about accidents, and any claims you make could be used against you later.
You will likely be contacted soon after an accident by an insurance company for the other driver. You should avoid speaking to the other party’s insurance representatives until you have legal representation, and you should be especially careful not to provide any recorded statement. While some agents may seem friendly and concerned, they will usually ask you questions that are designed to get you to make statements that will hurt your own injury claim.
In other cases, insurance companies may propose a lump sum settlement to resolve your case. You should know that any settlement you are offered from an insurance company is likely far short of what you are actually entitled to recover. A skilled attorney will be able to accurately gauge the true value of your claim and then fight for every last dollar you need and deserve.
How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim?
Texas law indicates that a person must bring suit for personal injury not later than two years after the date of a car accident. When a car crash causes fatal injuries, families also have two years to bring a wrongful death suit, but the limitations period begins on the date of a person’s death, which may be well after the date of the accident.
The statute of limitations may be tolled (or delayed) when a victim has a disability that prevents him or her from filing a legal action. One disability could be a diminished mental capacity such as a coma. A person who is in a coma or has some other mental incapacitation could have their limitations period delayed until they are cognizant and capable of filing suit again.
In addition, an individual injured in an accident as a minor has two years to file after they turn 18.
Contact Our Texas Car Accident Attorneys for a Free Consultation
Did you suffer catastrophic injuries, or was your loved one killed in a car crash in Texas? If your accident was caused by another party’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation for all of your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian has a long record of success in recovering maximum compensation for crash victims. Our Houston car accident lawyers can examine your case when you call at (713) 842-9492 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.