San Antonio Car Accident Lawyer Helping Victims Protect Their Rights to Damages Compensation
In recent years, Texas has consistently ranked among the top 10 states with the highest number of fatal car accidents in the nation. Sadly, the city of San Antonio has seen a sharp increase in the number of deadly crashes in 2021, ranking 13th in the state for worst drivers. Car accidents are traumatic events that can – and often do – result in fatalities, many of which could potentially have been avoided. Learn what to do if you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, what to watch out for when dealing with an insurance adjuster, and what a San Antonio car accident lawyer can do to help you get compensated for your losses.
What Are the Most Common Types of Injury Resulting From a Car Accident?
Injuries resulting from a car crash can vary greatly in terms of severity, ranging from just a few bruises and cuts to serious conditions such as spinal injuries or head injuries requiring extensive medical treatment and causing partial or total disability on a temporary or permanent basis. The most common type of injury observed after a car accident is soft tissue injuries.
A soft tissue injury occurs when damage is done to muscles, tendons, or ligaments. You may experience a soft tissue injury if you get whiplash, for example. Whiplash is caused by sudden jerking and stretching of your neck and back muscles, which often happens due to an impact, and can cause temporary pain to the neck and upper back areas. Some types of soft tissue injuries may show delayed symptoms, meaning you may not feel pain right away and believe you are not injured, only to begin noticing symptoms manifesting days, even weeks after the day when the accident took place.
Scrapes, cuts, and bruises are also another category of soft tissue injury caused by a vehicular crash. Objects such as a GPS device, purses, coffee mugs, or any common item usually found inside a passenger vehicle can quickly turn into a projectile during a car crash and cause cuts, bruises, and minor injuries. These are typically not serious and may only require a few stitches. Sometimes, the deployment of airbags can also result in minor soft tissue injuries.
Head injuries can also result from a collision and are often of greater concern. A driver’s or passenger’s head can hit a window, the dash, or the steering wheel, for example, and the impact can cause a closed head injury such as a concussion. In a concussion, a high-speed blow to the head causes the head and brain to rapidly move back and forth, impacting brain tissue and causing it to change shape in some cases. Concussions can be mild and have temporary symptoms that go away with proper rest and medical care. However, if the person suffering the concussion has already had another concussion in the past, the consequences can be potentially serious and even result in lifelong disability.
Other items inside the vehicle, such as the seatbelt or steering wheel, can cause chest injuries such as broken ribs or internal bleeding. It is also common for the impact of a car crash to result in a wide variety of arm and leg injuries, including scrapes, bruises, or broken bones. The types of injuries resulting from an accident are as unique as every accident and victim, and variables such as the speed the vehicles were traveling, road conditions, the position of the vehicles, the presence of any barriers, and the actions each driver may have taken (such as trying to swerve or attempting to apply the brakes) can all influence the type and severity of injuries one may experience after an accident.
What Are the Top Leading Causes of Car Accidents in Texas?
As indicated by statistics over the years, one may say Texas is among some of the states in the nation where driving is a dangerous activity. The leading causes of car accidents in the state are similar to those in other states, and most of them involve a degree of human error. Inevitably, excessive speed leads the chart as the most common cause of serious accidents. If a driver is speeding, he or she may often be unable to properly control the vehicle or apply the brakes in time to avoid a collision.
Other common causes are drunk driving and distracted driving. Drivers who choose to consume alcohol and drive while being legally intoxicated, i.e., with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, are not only breaking the law but causing thousands of fatal accidents in the state every year. Unfortunately, driving while tired or sleepy is equally dangerous, and fatigued drivers can potentially cause as many accidents as drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Distracted driving is also a frequent cause of serious accidents, especially due to the presence of electronic devices in a vehicle. Simply glancing at a smartphone while driving at highway speeds means a driver crosses a distance equivalent to a football stadium without even looking at the road. Failing to keep focused on the road ahead due to distraction can cause a wide variety of accidents, such as failing to drive in a single lane and veering into another lane of traffic, failure to observe red lights and stop signs at a crossing, and rear-end collisions caused by failure to notice slow or stopped traffic ahead.
How Is Evidence Used to Determine Fault in a Car Accident?
Evidence collected at the scene of a car accident is important to help determine who was mostly at fault for the accident. One of these key pieces of evidence is a police report. In Texas, you are required to report the accident to the police if any of the parties involved in the accident were injured, or if there were any deaths. In addition, if the damage sustained by one or more vehicles is $1000 or more, you are also required to call the police. If an officer is dispatched to the scene, they will complete a form that will include observations about the accident and who is believed to be at fault for it. If any of the drivers were found to be breaking any traffic laws (such as speeding, crossing a red light, or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol), the officer may issue a ticket and may take that driver into custody depending on the type of infraction.
In addition to the police report and any traffic citations, pictures and videos from the scene of the accident may also be used in determining who is at fault for the crash. The position of the vehicles, the damage done to each vehicle, debris and skid marks on the road, and any other important information from the scene of the accident should be documented. In addition, statements from the drivers as well as any witnesses can also be used to determine fault. That is why you should be careful with what you say at the scene of the accident – even something seemingly innocent, such as apologizing, could later be used as an admission of guilt.
Finally, medical reports and exams documenting any injuries are also relevant not just for determining liability but also for calculating the damages suffered by the victim of that car crash. It is ultimately up to the insurance company – or the court if you are filing a civil lawsuit – to assign liability for the accident. One party may be entirely at fault for what happened or fault may be shared among the parties involved in the accident, and damages may be calculated accordingly.
What Happens if I Am Partially to Blame for the Accident?
In some cases, it may be determined that the parties involved in the accident are both partially at fault. When that happens, each party may be assigned a percentage of fault to express how much their actions contributed to the accident. In Texas, accident victims are subject to a variation of the comparative negligence rule, sometimes referred to as proportionate responsibility. This means that you are not automatically barred from receiving compensation if you are partially at fault for the accident, but the percentage of blame attributed to you matters.
In other words, you may still receive some compensation if you are less than 51% at fault, but your award will be reduced according to the percentage of blame assigned to you. So, for example, if you are entitled to receiving a $2000.00 award, but it is determined that you are 20% at fault for the accident, you will still receive your award, minus 20%. So, instead of $2000.00, you may receive $1600.00.
However, if you are 51% at fault or more, you will likely be barred from receiving any compensation, as Texas laws require the plaintiff’s negligence to be less than that of the defendant’s. For that reason, it is important to work with a seasoned San Antonio car accident attorney. Your attorney can help you maximize your compensation by working to collect evidence to help reduce your percentage of liability, even if you believe you may have been partially responsible for the accident.
What Should I Do if the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Is Calling Me?
Many car accident cases begin as insurance claims. You will likely need to notify your own insurance company and then file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, and that’s when things do not always go smoothly. The truth is that insurance companies are for-profit businesses and thus are mostly interested in protecting and maximizing their profits. This means that giving large sums of money to claimants is not in their best interests.
So what often happens is that you may get a call from an insurance adjuster that works for the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. It is their job to try to dig up information that can later be used to assign liability and thus reduce the amount of your award or deny your claim altogether. They may sound friendly and empathetic when they call you, but you should still tread carefully as they may really just be trying to find ways to pay you less than what you deserve.
They may also quickly come up with an offer for your case, and try to pressure you into accepting it. This is yet another way to try and cut down their costs. Their initial offer is often too low and inadequate, but they may try to get you to accept it because closing a claim as quickly and cheaply as possible only works in their favor. You are not required to accept their initial offer, and it is best to consult an attorney before making a decision.
If you are not comfortable handling insurance calls, it is best to let a San Antonio car accident lawyer handle them on your behalf. Your attorney will likely be more familiar with the usual tactics insurance companies use to reduce your compensation and will be better prepared to negotiate with them and obtain fair compensation for your claim.
Why Should I See a Doctor After a Car Crash Even if I Don’t Feel Hurt?
A common mistake many car accident victims make is choosing to delay or avoid being seen by a doctor because they do not feel injured. As explained above, car accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries, and some soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, may not show any symptoms for days, even weeks, after the accident. Once the symptoms show up, they can be significant and often painful.
If you decide to seek immediate medical help, you will be better equipped to document the progression of your injury, and your medical records can be used as evidence to connect your current symptoms with the accident. Without those records, it may be harder to prove that the symptoms you are experiencing are a direct consequence of an injury suffered due to the accident and not a result of a separate event that may have happened after the car crash. Keep in mind that medical expenses incurred in the course of treatment and recovery are considered compensable damages and can be factored into the value of your claim.
How Soon Should I Contact a San Antonio Car Accident Lawyer?
In Texas, personal injury claims are subject to the state’s statute of limitations, which sets a deadline for victims to take action. The deadline for most personal injury cases (including car accidents) is two years from the date when the accident took place. This means that if you wait longer than two years to initiate a claim, chances are your claim may be dismissed based on the fact that the clock has run out on the statute of limitations for that claim. In addition, if your case involves a government entity (such as a state, a city, or a county agency), you may have even less time – as little as six months in some cases.
With that in mind, if you believe you have a case, it is best to contact a San Antonio car accident attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the complexity of your case, it may take some time and effort to gather the evidence necessary to support your argument. The longer you wait, the more complicated it may be to access key pieces of evidence, such as police reports and medical records. By reaching out to a car accident attorney sooner than later, you will be giving yourself a better chance of securing a successful outcome for your case and receiving compensation for your economic losses as well as pain and suffering resulting from your accident.
There are other advantages to working with a San Antonio car accident lawyer. Not only can your attorney help you with the process of preparing a strong case and improving your chances of winning, but they also take over every aspect of the case on your behalf. Your attorney can relieve you from a number of tasks – from filling out forms to handling insurance adjuster calls and more. This allows you to focus on healing and getting back on your feet rather than dealing with the overwhelm of figuring out what step to take next.
At the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, every car accident victim is treated with the professionalism and respect they deserve. Attorney S. Dylan Pearcy and his legal team are committed to providing aggressive representation to their clients and helping them fight for their right to receive compensation after being injured by a negligent driver.
Our firm is familiar with the usual tactics insurance companies try to use to get away with paying you little to no money, and we know what to do to get them to pay you the compensation you deserve, even if that means going to court when necessary. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident in San Antonio or surrounding areas, reach out to the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy by calling (210) 953-7486 and requesting an initial consultation to discuss your case and see how we can help you.