The Truth About Car Accidents
The depressing truth about car accidents is that most are preventable and stem from errors, mistakes, or negligence on the part of drivers, other motorists, and/or pedestrians. This means that most survivors may have been spared the trauma of being involved in a car accident had the responsible party acted in a more appropriate manner or exercised additional caution. The same goes for families mourning the loss of a loved one due to a car accident; in many situations, their pain and the loss of life may have been unnecessary, unjust, and preventable.
Car accidents are often caused by driver impairment. In fact, impaired driving is a contributing factor in more than half of all car crashes and in the year 2015, played a role in 65% of fatal car accidents in Austin. It is a common misconception that impaired driving is defined only as driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or legal medication. While this type of impaired driving is frighteningly common and leads to speeding, unsafe driving, and delayed reaction times, there are many other types of impaired driving that society should be made aware of. For example, impaired driving also encompasses operating a vehicle while sleepy, drowsy, or fatigued which increases the risk for things like falling asleep at the wheel, experiencing delayed reaction times, and missing road hazards or traffic signals. Additionally, distracted driving falls into the category of impaired driving. This includes doing things like texting, speaking on the phone, or eating while driving and is incredibly dangerous. Impaired driving is always wrong, regardless of the category it falls into. These dangerous acts cause immense suffering and can impact car accident victims and their families for years following a crash.
Reckless driving is another common cause of car accidents on Texas roads. Reckless driving includes things like speeding, changing lanes too quickly, swerving, and tailgating. Sometimes reckless drivers are rushing to get somewhere on time, are not paying close enough attention to the road, or are trying to get an adrenaline rush. Whatever the reason, reckless driving is unnecessary, and the consequences can be catastrophic for anyone who meets a reckless driver.
Manufacturing defects can also contribute to car accidents. Cars are made up of hundreds of parts which have great potential to cause crashes if defective. It is the responsibility of car manufacturers and inspectors to ensure that cars are safe for the road.
Inclement weather, inexperienced or young drivers, tire blowouts, and potholes are other commonly cited reasons for car accidents. While these may not always seem like preventable issues, the truth is that, often, exercising a little bit of extra caution in these circumstances can prevent accidents and save lives.
The Importance of Establishing Fault
Establishing liability is an important aspect of any car accident case and an essential stage in helping victims recover damages, see justice, and move on. Determining fault requires that the plaintiff prove which party or parties were responsible for causing the accident. It is important that you have an experienced legal team by your side to help conduct a thorough investigation, collect and examine any relevant evidence, and apply all findings to the car accident laws within the state of Texas. Our car accident lawyers have spent years advocating on behalf of car accident victims and their families and have worked cases where one or more parties have been held accountable including reckless drivers, negligent drivers, and automobile manufacturers.
The right kind of supporting evidence is of the utmost importance in helping your legal team determine who should be held liable for your car accident. Below is a list of evidence that is commonly used to build car accident cases (please note, however, that not all of these types of evidence will be available or relevant to every case – your legal team will help determine which types of evidence to utilize for your particular case):
- Photos and videos – These can be some of the most important pieces of evidence used in car accident cases. If you have photos showing damage to your car, skid marks, or the scene of the accident, it is important to show these to your lawyer. Video surveillance footage may be available in cases where the accident occurred near a local business or at a busy intersection. Photo and video evidence can be of great assistance in establishing liability because it not only shows what happened but can help jog the memories of victims and witnesses to ensure that they clearly recall the details of the accident.
- Eyewitness statements- If you have contact information for any witnesses, passengers, or passersby who happened to be at the scene of your car accident and may have seen what happened, it is important to present this information to your lawyer. In some cases, eyewitness statements can be a great help in proving fault.
- Official police accident reports – The first thing you should do if you are ever involved in a car accident is call the police. Police reports help establish the facts of a case and are useful when determining who should be held responsible for the accident.
Criminal Penalties for Car Accidents
The traffic laws and regulations in our country and the state of Texas exist to keep our roads safe. Unfortunately, as we have already mentioned, car accidents are both common and preventable occurrences. In many situations involving reckless, dangerous, or negligent driving, a crime has been committed and defendants may face criminal penalties for their actions. While most car accident cases are solely resolved through the civil system, criminal penalties may be applicable in cases where serious injury, trauma, and/or death have occurred. For example, any driver who leaves the scene of an accident without stopping (also known as a hit and run) may face felony charges. Those who choose to drive under the influence are also at risk for facing criminal consequences; in Texas, drivers may need to pay a fine or be sentenced to jail time depending on the severity of the accident and whether it is a repeated offense. It is important to understand that even if the defendant in your case has been charged with a crime, you still have every right to recover damages through the civil system.