How to Dispute Car Accident Fault

How to Dispute Car Accident Fault

After any car accident, even a minor one, there’s plenty of stress to deal with. Determining liability can be one of the biggest conflicts you encounter. In some cases, fault is clear as day. For example, if you were waiting at a red light and were rear-ended by a speeding car, it seems obvious who was at fault for the accident! Other times, however, drivers — and their insurance companies — will be locked in a battle of blame.  If your car accident insurance claim has been denied or disputed, you don’t have to throw in the towel and give up hope. Don’t pay for damage you didn’t cause! You should never be held legally liable for something that wasn’t your fault. If you’re being treated unfairly by an insurance company, a Houston car accident lawyer can help you untangle the mess. Below, we’ll answer some important questions about the fault determination process and how to dispute fault after a car accident in Texas.

Who Determines Fault in A Car Accident?

Fault can be determined by several people or groups, such as insurance companies and their insurance adjusters, or a judge and/or jury in a courtroom if the case gets escalated to a personal injury lawsuit. Most car accident claims tend to follow the same pattern: When you report an accident, your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company will begin investigating in order to determine fault.  But just how do insurance companies determine fault? After an accident is reported, the insurance company will attempt to collect statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses. They will also review photographs of the scene and send an insurance adjuster out to take a look at the damaged vehicles in person. Once they believe they know the cause of the accident, the insurance company will assign fault to one or more drivers. (Yes, fault can be shared. More on that later!)

Evidence Needed to Determine Fault in a Car Accident

Are you being blamed for an accident you did not cause? By collecting evidence from multiple sources, a Houston car accident lawyer can put together the pieces of the puzzle and prove you were not at fault.  The evidence that is used to determine fault in a car accident case is generally divided into two categories: 

Physical Evidence

Physical evidence after a car crash includes but is not limited to:

  • debris from the scene of the accident
  • the damage done to the vehicles (most notably: the points of impact)
  • injuries sustained by victims
  • photographs and surveillance footage

Witness Testimony

Witness testimony includes statements from the following individuals:

  • bystanders who saw the accident happen
  • the drivers involved in the accident 
  • police officers who responded to the scene
  • doctors who treated the victims
  • expert witnesses brought in by your lawyer, including investigators, accident reconstruction specialists, and more

A reputable Houston car accident attorney knows how to collect the appropriate evidence to determine fault. However, sometimes insurance adjusters make mistakes during their own fault determination process or only take partial evidence into consideration. What options do you have then? How to Dispute Car Accident Fault | Houston Car Accident Lawyer

What if Fault is Wrongly Attributed?

If an insurance company is wrongly blaming you for a car accident you did not cause, here’s how to dispute fault:

  • Immediately contact the insurance company to dispute their findings.

Contact them by phone and in writing. A paper trail (or email trail!) is important in matters like these. “Creating a record of disagreement” sounds like a bad thing, but it’s actually helpful in this case! Be consistent and stand firm in your assertion that you did not cause the accident. Naturally, your letter should include the specific information you are disputing, as well as evidence that proves why the insurance company is wrong. Keep a copy of this letter for yourself, as well as copies of all other communication from the insurance company.

  • Obtain a copy of the police accident report.

Insurance adjusters lean heavily on the information in a police report, but what if the report contains mistakes like incorrect or incomplete information? You may be able to make a correction or addendum. You and your Houston car accident attorney have the right to investigate the facts and amend any errors found in the crash report. If facts like your identifying information, your insurance carrier, or your car’s make or model are wrong, you can easily correct these by providing the proper documentation. If you are disputing other judgments written in the report — such as fault — you can write down your own version of events. Always have your Houston car accident lawyer review this written statement prior to submission. Your statement can be included in the report as supplementary material.

  • If you received a ticket or a citation, you must fight it in court.

Prior to your court date, you and your lawyer can also attempt to speak with the investigating officers. Fighting a traffic ticket isn’t always a good idea, but if an officer truly made a mistake, you don’t want it on your record! You may be able to have the ticket or citation dismissed in exchange for completing a defensive driving course. Additionally, if you disagree with a fault determination, you may make an appeal. Typically, a third-party mediator will be brought in to hear your side of the story. Provide them with only the facts and do not let your emotions get the best of you. A Houston car accident lawyer can provide valuable guidance during this time. (Remember, you are entitled to legal representation while disputing a ticket.) As a last resort, if you are still met with resistance, you can escalate the matter to a civil lawsuit against the insurance company. If you believe your car crash claim is going to court, you will definitely want a lawyer by your side for this step! When a jury determines fault in a Texas car accident case, your lawyer will first present them with the same evidence we previously mentioned. When you dispute a claim, you and your lawyer aren’t the only ones investigating. It’s likely that the other party and their team will do a deep dive as well. If you are asked to give a recorded statement to the insurance company, always consult with your lawyer first. The details of each case will be different, but a Houston car accident injury lawyer can help you determine exactly how to dispute a wrongful fault determination.

Can At-Fault Drivers Still Collect Compensation?

Short answer: yes. When it comes to car accidents, things aren’t always black and white and “I’m right, you’re wrong.” In many car accidents, the drivers share fault for the crash. For example, maybe one of them was over the speed limit and the other was looking down at their phone. In states with no-fault car insurance, the whole blame game is pretty irrelevant. Why? Because injured car accident victims are expected to collect compensation from their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident. They can only make a liability claim against the other driver if their injury damages exceed a certain threshold. (Vehicle damage claims are handled separately, and fault may still come into play.) However, Texas is a comparative fault state that follows the 51% bar rule. This means even if you were partially responsible for your accident, you may still be entitled to compensation under Texas car accident law! In a comparative fault state, you compare who is more at fault. If a driver is found to be primarily at fault for an accident, they must take financial responsibility for it. Liability insurance is required for all Texas drivers in order to cover accidents like these. But in many cases, errors from more than one person contribute to a car crash. It all depends on how much of the accident was your fault. A Houston car accident attorney can help you sort out the specifics, but here’s a quick overview: If you are hurt in a Texas car accident and are found to be less than 51% responsible for the accident, you can collect money from the at-fault driver and their insurance company. However, the final car accident insurance claim settlement may be reduced by your degree of fault. These fault percentages are determined by consulting the evidence we mentioned above. The higher your percentage of fault, the lower your final payout will be. In Texas, if you are more than 51% at fault, you receive nothing. But if you are 50% at fault, your final settlement will be reduced by half. Make sense? Here’s an example of the math in action: if you are determined to be 20% at fault for an accident with another driver and you suffered $50,000 in damages, you and your attorney could still pursue $40,000 in compensation. Unfortunately, Texas at-fault accident laws state that a victim cannot recover any damages if they are found to be 51% or more at fault. If you are found wholly or even partially at fault after a car accident, your auto insurance rates could increase as well.

Taking Pictures After A Car Accident | Auto Accident Lawyer in Houston

What to Do After A Car Accident in Houston, TX

The process of proving fault begins as soon as an accident happens. If you are safely able to do so, follow these steps for best results in your car accident and injury claim: 

  • Take photos. Take photos of the damaged vehicles as well as the surrounding area and signage. (If you are too injured to follow this step or others, don’t push yourself. Try asking a bystander while you await medical treatment.)
  • Exchange info. Use your phone to take pictures of the other driver’s license, insurance information, and plates. Collect contact information from any witnesses at the scene as well.
  • Call the police. Call the police to report the accident. This step is important, as at-fault drivers often don’t want to get the police involved. Don’t let them dissuade you — a police accident report can serve as vital evidence. 
  • Get examined for injuries. Getting prompt medical attention prevents an insurance company from arguing that you “weren’t really hurt.”
  • Contact a lawyer. If you are being blamed for a car accident you did not cause, you need someone who can protect your rights and stand up for your innocence. A Houston car accident lawyer can help you plan your moves carefully and improve your chances of receiving a satisfactory settlement. Having a lawyer on your side will also show the insurance companies that you mean business and cannot be taken advantage of. If you don’t want to be dismissed, ignored, or stuck in a game of phone tag with flaky insurance companies, it may be time to get a lawyer! 
  • File an accident claim. Call your insurance company as well as the other driver’s insurance company to report the accident and begin the accident injury claim process. Your lawyer can help you successfully complete this process.

Throughout these steps, do not apologize and do not admit to anything. You don’t want to accidentally take responsibility for something you did not do. Do not offer or accept money from the other driver, either.

Why You Need to Hire A Lawyer After A Car Accident 

When drivers, insurance adjusters, and even police are contradicting your version of events, it can feel like the deck is stacked against you. The insurance companies have professional investigators and insurance adjusters on their side; why should you have to fight them all alone? A Houston car accident attorney can help you by:

  • collecting evidence
  • settling fault disputes
  • meeting important deadlines

They can also be vital advocates during the settlement negotiations that follow. A Houston car accident lawyer can help strengthen your case in numerous ways while you focus on recovering. If you try to build your entire case alone, you may miss out on crucial evidence or be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, insurance companies are only trying to protect their bottom line. If you’re being blamed for a car accident you did not cause, let us lend a hand. A resolution may be in sight. It’s a common misconception that lawyers are expensive, but in car accident injury claims, you could end up with more money in your pocket than if you hadn’t hired a lawyer. Plus, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay them nothing at all upfront! They collect their fees from a portion of your final settlement award. We know every car crash is different, and so is every ensuing case. If you partner with a Houston car accident lawyer from our team, we’ll help you create a personalized strategy for success. With over 20 years of local experience serving the Greater Houston Area, our experts are ready to assist you. Get your free consultation right now!

How Long After A Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

How Long After A Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

Every day in Houston, an average of 188 motor vehicle accidents occur. Many drivers and passengers are injured in these crashes, but not all of them get the help they need to pursue a personal injury claim. We want to change that. We’re here to educate you on your time-sensitive legal options, should you ever end up hurt in a Houston car accident.

So just how long after a car accident can you claim injury? The answer to this question can be found in your state’s statute of limitations.

A statute of limitations is a time limit placed upon an injured person as they decide whether or not to take legal action. It is also known as a “prescriptive period.” When the time limit runs out, a claim may no longer be filed, or it may be dismissed. 

Statutes of limitations vary from state to state. They also vary depending on what type of case you are dealing with. Particularly violent crimes, for example, have no statute of limitations.

― Texas Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents ―

The statute of limitations in Texas for all personal injury claims is two (2) years from the date of the incident. This is how long you have to file a claim after a car accident in Texas. This holds true for auto accident injury claims filed by motorists, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The Texas statute of limitations for property damage claims — such as damage to your vehicle or other belongings in the accident — is also two years.

Additionally, if a faulty auto part contributed to your car accident, you may be able to recover damages from the parts manufacturer. The Texas statute of limitations for defective product liability cases is also two years.

Wrongful Death Car Accident Claims

If you’ve lost a loved one to a fatal car accident, there is a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Texas. If they passed away later as a result of their accident injuries and subsequent complications, the two year time limit begins on the date of their death, not on the date of the accident. Unlike personal injury claims, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims can be extended up to one year in certain complex cases.

Receiving Compensation from the Government

Did you know a government entity may be responsible for your car accident? If you were driving on government-owned property and encountered missing signage, missing guardrails, broken traffic lights, potholes, or other road maintenance issues, you may be able to file a claim against the government.

The Texas Tort Claims Act allows you to sue the government for accidents involving motor vehicles operated by government employees or for accidents occurring on government-owned property deemed hazardous.

Beware: if you were injured by a government entity, the statute of limitations changes. When seeking damages from the Texas government, you are required to file a “notice of claim” within six months from the day of the accident. Some municipal governments have even shorter time limits for providing notice. For example, here in Houston, there is a 90 day limit.

Exceptions to Statutes of Limitations

While courts rarely permit extensions to deadlines specified by a statute of limitations, there are exceptions. Some of these exceptions include: 

  • if a minor is involved in the accident
  • if the defendant absconded
  • if a disabled or catastrophically-injured victim needs help filing a claim or was incapacitated for a period
  • if military deployment prevented a victim from participating in their case

A Houston car accident lawyer can determine if any exceptions apply to your case.

Texas Statutes of Limitations Graph

Statutes of limitations exist to encourage the diligent and timely prosecution of a crime. Law enforcement believes anyone with a valid claim will want to pursue it promptly. We understand this is not always the case, but we still strongly encourage you to take swift legal action if you’ve been in a car accident. Let us explain why.

― Why You Should File Your Car Accident Claim NOW ―

Car accidents are undoubtedly terrifying experiences. The shock you initially feel may be followed by days or weeks of mental fog. 

But time is running out to file and build your auto accident case. The insurance company won’t part with its money easily, and it will demand substantial proof before paying you what you deserve. 

While two years might seem like a long time, it takes a while for a good personal injury lawyer to investigate, collect evidence, and build a strong case that gets you the money you need! Reaching out to them one week before your statute of limitations expires isn’t doing either of you any favors. The sooner you file, the better your results will be.

Filing your claim now will help you achieve the following things:

Recover from your car accident injuries. 

Whether or not you were gravely injured, you’re bound to be feeling all the stress, pressure, and chaos a car accident brings. The choices you’re faced with may seem expensive or overwhelming, and as the days go by, you may just want to put the whole thing behind you. However, this is not a wise choice. Some injuries can take weeks to show up. We often receive requests from clients who had an accident over a year ago, but are just now realizing the toll it has taken on their lives. 

Trust us: trying to “tough it out” or “wait and see” if you bounce back from your injuries is never a good idea. 

You deserve proper medical care ASAP. Even if you were only in a littlefender bender,” you may not realize you have soft tissue injuries that will become more and more painful over time and require physical therapy.

Avoid gaps in medical treatment. 

This one is critical, because gaps in treatment are often used to discredit injured victims and drastically reduce their settlement offers. Insurance companies will argue that you weren’t really hurt if you didn’t seek prompt, thorough medical treatment and follow up with all recommendations. We know things can get in the way of your medical care – work, family, scheduling conflicts, money woes, and more. But the insurance company won’t be so understanding. 

Preserve evidence. 

As days go by, important proof can be lost. Evidence at the scene of the crash can be contaminated or swept up. Witnesses are harder to track down, and their testimony becomes less reliable with the passage of time. Additionally, it becomes more difficult for your lawyer to access medical records and other important documents to support your case. 

Pay your car accident bills.

Car accident bills can pile up in the blink of an eye. If your vehicle was totaled or if you needed a surgery, the expenses are only just beginning. You’ll need a rental vehicle as well as help with childcare or chores, you’ll miss time from work, and you’ll be in pain. A car accident lawyer will take all of these factors into account and fight for the true value of your claim, securing enough money for you to pay off all expenses related to your car accident.

Filing a car accident claim on time

― How Much is My Car Accident Claim Worth? ―

Every car accident is different, so there is no average amount that can be placed on car accident claims settlements. Each one will be worth a different amount, even if the impacts and injuries seem identical!

If you win, the damages you are awarded are intended to reimburse you for the losses you’ve suffered. These categories of loss will include:

  • Medical bills, ambulance rides, physical therapy, and other health expenses 
  • Lost wages or loss of future earning capacity 
  • Pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life
  • Property damage, including damage to your vehicle

By assessing all of these losses and how they have impacted your life, a car accident lawyer can help you discover the true value of your case. Don’t miss your opportunity!

― Do Car Accident Claims Go to Court? ―

Not all car accident claims go to trial. In fact, the good news is that most car accident claims settle out of court. A skilled Houston car accident attorney knows how to negotiate with insurance companies to get you the settlement offer you deserve. 

However, in the event of particular unfair and stubborn insurance agents, our team of Houston car accident attorneys has extensive litigation experience and is fully prepared to stand up for you in the courtroom. 

We see the “big picture,” and we consider the full extent of your pain and suffering as a car accident victim. Don’t back down or settle for anything less than what you deserve.

Note that the statute of limitations does not include the length of a potential trial; rather, it only applies to the time you have to take the first step toward legal action and get the ball rolling.

― Don’t Wait Another Moment to File Your Claim ―

Figuring out how to file a car accident claim can be a headache. You shouldn’t have to deal with the tedious details, phone tag, and long hold times from insurance companies when you’re already under so much stress. Over the years, we’ve seen innocent victims miss out on the car accident compensation they deserve, simply because they were uninformed or hesitant to reach out to us sooner.

Now is the time to take action, not chances!

With over 20 years of experience, we know how to deal with car accident claims of all kinds. A Houston car accident lawyer at our firm can act fast, collecting all the evidence you need to build a strong case and receive the compensation you deserve.

To summarize what we’ve learned:

  • The Texas statute of limitations for car accidents is two years from the date of the accident.
  • This time limit applies to personal injury claims, property damage claims, defective auto parts, and wrongful death suits.
  • If you are filing a claim against a government entity who caused your accident, special time limits may vary from city to city. In Houston, you only have 90 days to file a notice of claim against the government.
  • Filing a claim as soon as possible after an accident increases your chances of successful settlement. 

One missed deadline can alter your future. If you don’t act now, you may lose your right to compensation and be stuck coping with your injuries and losses alone.

Contact a lawyer for a free consultation as soon as possible after your accident. The sooner they start building your case, the greater advantage you will have. We’re here for you 24/7, with experts ready to provide free, confidential consultations!

Deadliest Highways in Texas

Deadliest Highways in Texas

We all want to avoid car accidents, but some routes put you in more danger than others. Want to know if you’re taking some of the deadliest roads in Texas? Read on to see what we’ve discovered.

The Texas Department of Transportation reports that 1 person is killed in a Texas car accident every two and a half hours. Last year, the fatality rate of Texas motor vehicle accidents was 1.26 deaths per hundred million vehicle miles traveled. While this rate marked a 2.33% decrease from 2018, it’s still a preventable, senseless loss of life. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, whether or not it occurred on one of the deadliest highways in Texas, we can help. Our Houston car accident lawyers have decades of experience helping accident victims from all over Texas put their lives back together. Contact us now for a free case evaluation.

 

― Most Dangerous Highways in Texas ―

 

It’s no secret: Texas is a sprawling state. It boasts 16 interstate highways and 45 U. S. highways. Of the Interstate Highway System’s 46,876 total miles, 3,233 of them are in Texas. Just last year, there were 1,261 fatal crashes on highways across Texas. 

But where are they most likely to occur?

The Houston Chronicle published a detailed piece on the top 25 deadliest highways in Texas. To help us do the math and determine highly-concentrated accident sites, mile points and segment lengths were specified.

Without further ado, the deadliest highway in Texas is…

  1. Interstate 69 in Edinburg, TX
    Length of road segment analyzed: 1.49 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 8.05

  2. Interstate 30 in Fort Worth, TX
    Length of road segment analyzed: 1.99 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 7.05

  3. Interstate 20 in Penwell, TX
    Length of road segment analyzed: 2.93 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 6.15

  4. Interstate 35 in San Antonio, TX
    Length of road segment analyzed: 2.19 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 5.94

  5. Highway 288 in Houston, TX
    Length of road segment analyzed: 5.42 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 5.91

Deadliest Highways in Texas

― Houston’s Most Dangerous Highways ―

 

In Houston, car accidents are everywhere. Last year there were an average of 188 auto accidents in Houston every day

In the aforementioned Houston Chronicle piece on top 25 deadliest stretches of highway in Texas, 7 of them were found right here in Houston. In fact, two separate segments of the 476-mile-long Highway 6 made it onto the list! Check it out:

  1. Highway 288
    Length of road segment analyzed: 5.42 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 5.91

  2. Highway 6 (mile point 47)
    Length of road segment analyzed: 2.99 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 5.69

  3. U.S. Route 90 Alternate
    Length of road segment analyzed: 1.91 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 5.23

  4. I-45, also known as the Gulf Freeway
    Length of road segment analyzed: 11.78 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 4.24

  5. Beltway 8
    Length of road segment analyzed: 2.95 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 4.07

  6. US 59
    Length of road segment analyzed: 5.89 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 4.07

  7. Highway 6 (mile point 80)
    Length of road segment analyzed: 4.44 miles
    Fatalities per mile: 3.84

So now you know. But what do the most dangerous roads in Texas have in common? 

Deadliest Highways in Houston

― What Makes Texas Highways Dangerous? ―

 

More people, more problems! Busy streets mean more chances for accidents. 

Farm-to-market roads passing through urban areas have the highest incidence of car accidents. FM 1960, which sits above central Houston and stretches 47 miles to Dayton, Texas, carries upwards of 60,000 vehicles per day. Every year, it is the location of about a dozen new car accident deaths.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, last year throughout Texas 75% of all accidents occurred in urban areas, while only a quarter occurred in rural areas.

But there are exceptions to every rule.

The relatively remote Route 285 — which runs through Pecos, Texas, and Carlsbad, New Mexico — is known colloquially as “Death Highway.” As one Dallas Morning News article reports, 93 people died on Route 285 in just one year. 

What makes Route 285 so dangerous is its proximity to the Permian Basin, which contains the Mid-Continent Oil Field province. The booming oil industry in Texas means you’ll see more 18-wheelers on the roads… and more 18-wheeler accidents. 

Multiple stretches of road passing through the nearby city of Odessa also pop up on the list. Clocking in at 120,000, Odessa’s population is relatively small, but its location in the Permian Basin could be a clue to the carnage: oil and gas companies might hire inexperienced truckers, and innocent drivers might pay the ultimate price.

Additionally, commercial trucks ferrying hazardous materials are not always properly maintained. Small oversights can turn into big problems and potentially deadly semi truck accidents.

While urban accidents are more likely to happen, rural accidents are more likely to be deadly when they do. Fatalities in traffic crashes in rural areas of the state accounted for more than half of the state’s traffic fatalities. This is largely due to the increased frequency of semi trucks on rural roads, as well as reduced signage, more animals in your path, and the ever-present temptation to speed through all those flat stretches of land.

 

― Driver Safety Tips for Texans ―

There are plenty of things that can make you tighten that white-knuckle steering wheel grip we’re all familiar with, like intimidating 18-wheelers, irate drivers, sudden detours, and more. 

But fear not!

By following the tips below, you can drive down the scariest roads in Texas with a bit more confidence.

  • Obey speed limits, lights, and signs.
    Speeding is a contributing factor to tons of car crashes. Same goes for running stop signs. Always obey the rules of the road, even if you think there are no other drivers nearby!

  • Never drive under the influence.
    When you drive drunk, your behavior creates an avalanche of other problems that could contribute to accidents, such as drifting into other lanes or stopping abruptly. Fatigue can have a strikingly similar effect on your cognition, so never get behind the wheel when you’re sleepy either.

  • Keep up with vehicle maintenance.
    Solve your problems before they start! Don’t slack on your annual inspection and routine oil changes, and don’t forget about tire care either. Check your tire pressure when you get gas, rotate your tires routinely, and replace them when their tread is too worn.

  • Minimize distractions.
    Your cellphone isn’t the only thing that can trigger a distracted driving accident. There’s also snacking, talking to passengers, rubbernecking, and more. Stay safe and responsible by keeping your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your mind on driving!

  • Drive defensively, not aggressively.
    All of us can get annoyed by traffic, but short tempers can result in dangerous maneuvers. Don’t tailgate anyone, and don’t linger in another car or truck’s blind spot.

― Stay Safe in the Lone Star State ―

As Texas highways claim more and more auto accident fatalities, the Texas Department of Public Safety is well aware of the problems. Speed limits in many areas are being lowered and more troopers are out monitoring heavily-trafficked areas.

Still, Texas roads struggle to keep up with population growth and often fall into a state of disrepair. Despite our great state’s best efforts, risks remain on the roads.

If you or your loved ones often travel along the deadliest highways in Texas, you need a team you can depend on in case of emergency. 

If you’ve been in a car accident, truck accident, or even a motorcycle accident, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve lost a loved one in a tragic Texas highway accident and would like to pursue a wrongful death claim, we can help. With decades of experience and a client-focused approach, our Houston car accident lawyers will treat you with the compassion and respect you deserve during this difficult time.

Reach out now for a free consultation; our experts are available 24/7!

14 Ways to Beat Houston Traffic

14 Ways to Beat Houston Traffic

Houston is known for many things. Among them: the rodeo, NASA, and traffic. 

Highway 290 is notorious for bumper-to-bumper traffic. The roads between I-10 and Westheimer are a nightmare. The West Loop’s chaos is enough to drive you loopy. 

It’s no wonder we have aggressive drivers. Traffic even takes a toll on your health, stressing you out and spiking your blood pressure. Studies show standstill traffic increases vehicle emissions and pollutes the air, leading to more health problems for drivers and individuals living near major roadways.

But with the city’s huge size and limited public transportation options, many Houstonians are forced to commute.

When you’re faced with that long, daunting trek to work and you’re searching for some solutions, you might hear a sarcastic response of “move closer.” But we’re here to offer some more in-depth help on how to beat Houston traffic.

Below we cover three main strategies for avoiding traffic in Houston: planning ahead, utilizing technology, and avoiding driving altogether! Read on to learn more about each tip.

 

― First Things First: Why is Houston Traffic So Bad? ―

 

More people, more problems.

Between 2010 and 2018, the Greater Houston metropolitan area saw the third largest population growth in the country. This brought the total to nearly 7 million residents.

Sprawling and crawling. 

Houston is seriously spread out. To put things in perspective, one Reddit user overlaid the whopping 88 mile loop of Beltway 8 over maps of other cities. (Check it out – Houston is roughly the same size as the entire island of O‘ahu!) While still technically within the city limits, some residents may live up to 30 miles away from this bustling inner loop, and even further from the heart of downtown.

Everything’s bigger.

Commercial 18 wheelers are a common sight on Houston highways – and so are catastrophic 18 wheeler accidents. Additionally, many people drive large vehicles. One report revealed the Ford F-150, the Chevy Silverado, and the RAM pickup trucks were the top three choices among Houston car buyers. Texans may also have boats or livestock trailers in tow as they head to coastal destinations or rural areas.

So how can Houstonians combat these facts of life?

― Plan Ahead To Avoid a Car Accident―

 

1. Avoid rush hour. 

This one’s obvious, but we don’t mean showing up an hour before your shift begins and twiddling your thumbs in the parking garage. How can you avoid Houston’s rush hour while still managing your time efficiently? 

  • What time is rush hour in Houston? The morning rush hour in Houston is between 7AM and 9AM. 
  • What time does traffic end in Houston? After a typical workday, Houston rush hour traffic begins as early as 4PM and dies down around 7PM. 
  • Squeeze in a workout. If there’s a gym nearby your office, leave home earlier in the morning to make time for a workout (and a shower!)
  • Schedule study time. If you’re a student commuting to campus, arrive early to cram in some morning study time and hang out in the library before classes begin.

2. Take a shortcut. 

If you know the back streets of Houston well enough, you can find some alternate routes that can save you time. But watch out for red lights on side streets – you might be able to zoom a few miles down the freeway in a matter of minutes, but if you venture into the side streets of the Heights or Montrose, be prepared to account for long wait times at stoplights.

3. Check the weather forecast. 

Always check the weather forecast when you wake up in the morning. If roads on your route are prone to flooding, have alternates in mind. If other inclement weather is brewing, prepare yourself for weather-related delays or accidents.

4. Plan around events.

One thing that’s a little more predictable than the weather: people. Whenever special events or conventions are taking place in Houston, traffic worsens. Highways near sports stadiums can be packed for hours before and hours after a game. Ensure your route does not bring you through a traffic jam of attendees. Additionally, be mindful of when school lets out and if you’ll go through any school zones on your route. No one wants to get stuck behind a school bus.

5. Modify your work schedule.

Leaving 15 minutes early can make all the difference. See if your employer will let you come into work earlier and leave earlier, effectively beating the Houston rush hour.

 

checking GPS in heavy traffic

― Technology is Your Friend ―

 

6. Check out TranStar’s Houston Traffic Map. 

TranStar’s Houston rush hour traffic map is a nifty resource, showing traffic updates in real time. Check in during different times of the day and see how things are going so you’ll know what to expect – and where to avoid.

7. Use Waze. 

In recent years, Waze has all but replaced radio traffic reports. It’s known for being the go-to map application for Uber drivers and Lyft drivers. With so much construction, Houston’s traffic patterns can be unpredictable, but thanks to its info being crowdsourced, Waze has an astute ability to look for alternate routes and notify you of upcoming traffic, construction zones, police, or accidents in realtime. Waze, Google Maps, Apple Maps, and many other GPS applications can also estimate future traffic predictions and ETAs, so you can check and plan ahead.

8. Get an EZ TAG and take the roll roads. 

Some people want to avoid toll roads whenever possible, but those paths might be able to significantly trim down your commute time. If there’s a toll road on your route, take a moment to do the math and see if the time you’ll save is worth the coinage you’ll drop. If you’ll be frequenting Houston’s toll roads, get an EZ TAG for added convenience. You can order one online and receive it by mail, or, if you don’t live in Houston and you’re just passing through, the EZ TAG Express mobile app lets you send electronic payments without having to apply a sticker or a chip to your car. Forget fishing for spare change in the cupholders: certain tollways, like Westpark Tollway and Katy Tollway, only accept payment via EZ TAG these days.

9. Download audiobooks and podcasts to listen to. 

Sometimes beating traffic doesn’t mean avoiding it, but enjoying it instead! Fill up your phone with audiobooks and podcasts that interest you, and use your commute productively by expanding your intellectual horizons.

 

Biking in Houston to avoid traffic

― Opt Out – Leave Your Car at Home ―

 

Want to know the #1 way to bypass Houston traffic? Don’t drive! The only way to truly alleviate traffic is to have fewer cars on our roads. While this goal ultimately requires better urban planning and public transportation systems, you can do your part today in one of the following ways:

 

10. Carpool. 

And get the added bonus of using the HOV lanes! Carpooling with coworkers, classmates, or friends will reduce pollution and save everyone gas money. You can also use rideshare services for carpooling.

11. Bike or skate.

Houston summers are rough, so we don’t blame you if you balk at this option. But riding a bicycle or skateboard can be a viable option for some commuters. You’ll save big on gas and, in the case of bumper-to-bumper traffic, you’ll save time, too! If you don’t have a bike of your own, check out BCycle Houston, a bikeshare program.

12. Drive to a METRO Park & Ride station. 

METRO Park & Ride offers direct nonstop service to downtown, the Texas Medical Center, and other major hubs from 26 parking lots across the city of Houston. Parking is free, but the METRO mobile app or a Q Card loaded with fare is required to ride.

13. Pack your lunch. 

The lunch rush – between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – is a bit lighter and is mostly confined to Houston’s city streets instead of the freeways, but we’re sure you still want to avoid it. During a lunch break, every second counts!

14. Work from home. 

When all is said and done, you’ve got to admit there’s no better commute than that 5-step stumble from your bed to your home office. If it makes sense for your profession, speak with your employers and see if it’s possible to take your position partially or entirely remote.

 

― Save Time, Save Lives ―

 

We know time is precious. So precious, in fact, one Houston man set out to statistically analyze how much time he was wasting on his commute and tried to beat traffic with math! Another analysis revealed Houston was the 11th most congested city in the United States, with drivers wasting an average of 81 hours of their lives each year sitting in traffic.

There are ways every driver can avoid contributing to heavy road congestion, because in the end, nothing brings traffic to a screeching halt like a car accident. Approximately a dozen people lose their lives in Houston car accidents every week.

Don’t be part of the problem.

Obey speed limits, keep your eyes the road, and keep your hands on the wheel. Snacking or texting can wait. Every trip requires you to be calm, cautious, and alert, even if it’s the same route you take every morning!

Have you been hurt in a Houston traffic accident? Reach out to a car accident lawyer now for a free consultation.

Frequent Fatalities: Why Houston Traffic is the Deadliest Place to Drive

Frequent Fatalities: Why Houston Traffic is the Deadliest Place to Drive

― Why Are Houston Roads So Bad? ―

Houston is a big, bustling city, but thanks to frequent roadwork, it’s also an eternal work-in-progress. This recipe is what makes Houston traffic notorious.

In our metropolitan melting pot, Houstonians are known for their pride. One label we might not be so proud of, however, is that of “deadliest major metro area for drivers in the country.” Look no further than reddit for proof of our aggressive habits. A quick glance at the forum brings up a plea from an out-of-towner: “What the hell is it with Houston drivers?” Over 600 comments and anecdotes follow.

Driver errors are responsible for most car accidents. Bad behaviors like speeding, rolling stops, and distracted driving put people in danger every day. 

But there’s more at play here. 

In order to answer the question “why is Houston traffic so bad?” we must first answer another:

Houston has over 16,000 miles of streets, ferrying more traffic than it ever anticipated. Houston also has more car accidents than any other city in Texas. Approximately a dozen people lose their lives in Houston car accidents each week

Our city’s design is not without its flaws. The infrastructure around us is outdated, and it sometimes lays the groundwork for accidents waiting to happen.

 

― What Makes Houston Traffic So Dangerous? ―


…But what exactly makes Houston traffic so dangerous? Below we take a look at some of the culprits.

 

Long commutes.

Around 80% of Houstonians drive an average of 30 minutes each way to and from work. More time spent on the road means more chances of getting into a car accident, and long commutes can also contribute to driver fatigue and irritability. Check out our blog post on how to beat Houston traffic for some tips on avoiding that dreaded gridlock.

Risky road regulations.

In an attempt to move as many people as possible as quickly as possible, Houston’s roads are designed for maximum speed. In some areas – including portions of the Grand Parkway – the legal speed limit is a whopping 75 MPH.

Poor law enforcement.

Many politicians still remain staunchly opposed to automated enforcement methods. Texas state lawmakers have restricted use of speed cameras and video enforcement of red-light runners, and they’ve even banned sobriety checkpoints. Houston police officers wrote 41% fewer tickets in 2017 than they did in 2012, even though the number of vehicle miles traveled in Houston increased by 23%. To get more specific, Harris County issued 28% fewer speeding tickets in 2017 than in 2015, even though the county’s population had grown by 100,000.

No space for cyclists or pedestrians.

Let’s face it: the urban design of Houston favors cars over any other form of transportation. This forces cyclists and pedestrians to be closer to traffic than we’d like. The city has over 6,200 miles of road, but less than half of those miles have sidewalks, and Houston has fewer than 300 miles of on-street bike lanes. Texas bicycle accident deaths spiked 26% between 2017 and 2018, making this an issue in dire need of addressing.

Dangerous by design.

Houston drivers are still suffering from design decisions made decades ago. The tight curves of older freeway portions such as Loop 610 and Interstate 69 northeast of downtown force drivers to step on the brakes to avoid a barrier or railing. In merge lanes along frontage roads parallel to Interstate 10, you’ve got to keep an eye out for speeding cars that could appear from any direction. (9% of fatal crashes in the region occur on frontage roads.)

Intersection confusion.

Many spots along Westheimer and FM 1960 now sport a ton of shopping center entrances. From 2012 to 2016, 37% of crashes in nine Houston counties occurred at intersections like these. This represented more than 25% of all Houston fatalities. 

Roads in need of repair.

It’s no secret many Houston streets are dotted with potholes and haphazard asphalt patches. Our roads have several issues in need of some TLC, from faded lane markers to poor drainage. It’s a catch-22, though, as drivers are also inconvenienced by…

Road construction.

Locals often joke that the construction here is perpetual. Its unpredictable nature brings traffic to a crawl while also setting the stage for plenty of accidents. Road work on Richmond, west of Post Oak near the Galleria, is an especially notorious problem, and detours make those long commutes even more frustrating.

Outdated construction.

Many roads are old, outdated, and overwhelmed by the region’s booming growth. The ramps at Loop 610 and Interstate 69, for example, were built in 1979 and only renovated once, in 1999. As such, they are sharper than current construction standards would permit.

“Farm-to-market” roads.

Suburban development has changed how we use farm-to-market roads. Drivers zooming along FM 1960 now find themselves slamming on the brakes to avoid rear-ending people who are making sudden turns into residential or commercial spaces. This causes fatal wrecks. FM 1960 alone sees more than 60,000 vehicles per day and about a dozen deaths per year.

The woes of Westheimer.

Yep, this 19-mile-long road gets its own bullet point. The four-lane road starts in the congested Midtown area and opens wider farther west. The street carries approximately 74,000 vehicles a day. As Westheimer stretches downtown, its “slow lane” becomes so absurdly narrow that many drivers refuse to use it at all. This forces larger vehicles such as buses to use both lanes. (In fact, the Metropolitan Transit Authority instructs its drivers to “straddle for safety” along Westheimer.) However, Westheimer’s most severe accidents occur outside Loop 610, where it is newer and wider. Westheimer averages nearly four fatal crashes annually between Loop 610 and Highway 6, where the road’s volumes are heaviest. In 2005, the Texas Department of Transportation controversially added long medians to separate eastbound and westbound traffic in an effort to limit sudden turns. Now traffic flows better… but also faster. Emboldened by the opportunity for a straight shot, drivers speed from one intersection to the next. 

 

Cars on busy Houston highway

 

― Looking Ahead ―

 

So how do we stay safe? Residents fear change and often oppose any proposed modifications to streets in their areas, but our city is making progress, slowly but surely. When the MTA rebuilt Scott Street for light rail lines, it finally took pedestrians and bikers into consideration. Wider sidewalks have also been added to Shepherd.

There’s more hope on the horizon in the form of a proposed $7 billion rebuild of Interstate 45. The project aims to remove many of the downtown freeway system’s tightest turns and high-pressure mergers, which TxDOT consultants say lead to crashes and traffic.

When all is said and done, behavior still matters. Together we can break the stereotype of Houstonians as aggressive drivers. Every one of us has a responsibility to keep our road rage in check, to obey traffic laws, and, most importantly, to stay vigilant on the unpredictable roads running through the city we call home.

If you ever find yourself in a car accident, you can count on us to help We’re dedicated to finding the negligent party and holding them accountable, whether they’re a distracted driver, a corporation, or a city road crew. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, reach out to a car accident lawyer now for a free consultation.

Texas Traffic is Down – So Why Do Our Roads Remain Dangerous & Deadly?

Texas Traffic is Down – So Why Do Our Roads Remain Dangerous & Deadly?

Texas traffic is lightening up. In recent months, Houston, Austin, and the DFW areas have all seen a decline in traffic. 

With many of us working from home, we are self-isolating, ordering in, and skipping our commutes. Driving during a pandemic is an avoidable activity. Some car insurance companies are even offering refunds or discounted premiums during this time.

So why have road fatality statistics stayed practically the same?

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the numbers and the possible reasons behind them.

 

― Texas Traffic Accident Deaths: A Persistent Problem ―


Traffic isn’t just frustrating – it can be killer. The death toll for Texas car accidents is one we are all too familiar within our industry. In fact, the Texas Department of Transportation’s
#EndTheStreak campaign exists to combat a grim fact:

There has not been a death-free day on Texas roads since November 2000

On average, ten people die in car crashes every day in Texas. (Results are slightly skewed as well: some victims survive the crash but die in the hospital days later from their injuries.)

 

― Texas on Lockdown ―


Ever since coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders took effect,
Texas traffic decreased by approximately 50%. But between January 1st and April 15th, 2020, the number of car crashes only dropped between 11% – 15% compared to the same time period in 2019 in the Austin, Dallas Fort Worth, and Houston metros, according to recent data analysis conducted by Community Impact Newspaper

For example, here in Houston, Harris County alone had 32,096 car crashes between January 1st and April 15th of this year. During the same time period last year, there were 36,816 car crashes. That’s only a 13% percent drop. 

Why doesn’t the large drop in traffic correspond to an equally significant drop in accidents?

 

― Reckless Driving Behaviors ―


It all boils down to our behavior. Sure, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) encourages all drivers to
wear seatbelts and obey speed limits. But is that enough?  

Each year, the causes of tens of thousands of accidents are classified simply as “driver inattention.” Many preventable errors like swerving, weaving, drifting out of lanes, and tailgating are all found to be factors contributing to traffic deaths in Texas.

Plus, we’ve got a lot on our minds these days. We are more prone to distraction. We are more tempted to check that new text message that just dinged on our phone, thinking it could be a family member in crisis. 

Some drivers might not have been behind the wheel at all during these last several weeks – especially if a different family member had been appointed to go on grocery runs. Joking aside, we might actually be forgetting how to drive! Getting reacclimated can be difficult, especially at a time like this when many of our minds and bodies are already in a state of panic. 

We might even be feeling a little emboldened. The lack of other cars on the road might have some of us thinking “anything goes,” but now is not the time to go on a midnight joyride or do donuts in that Costco parking lot… no matter how much you need to blow off some steam.

 

Texas traffic accident scene

― Defensive Driving Tips for Tricky Texas Traffic ―


Defensive driving and road safety tips apply now more than ever.

Below are some rules and recommendations everyone should brush up on before they buckle up. Click each one for more info.

Always use your blinkers

when passing and turning, even if you think no one is behind you. If you’re about to pass an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road, Texas state law requires you to move over one lane or reduce your speed to 20MPH below the posted speed limit.

Come to a complete stop and look both ways

before entering intersections. Be on the lookout for bicycles and motorcycles.

Leave plenty of space

Social distancing recommends keeping six feet apart from others on foot, but remember to give all vehicles – especially large trucks – some breathing room, too! Every vehicle has blind spots, and lingering in them could be deadly. 

Road construction has not stopped

At any given time, there are as many as 3,000 active work zones in Texas. Exercise an extra dose of caution and slow down when passing road work crews and construction zones. Be aware of blocked-off roads or redirected lanes and detours.

Don’t text and drive

This one’s common sense. Texting and driving is illegal in Texas. A first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $99, and any subsequent offense carries a fine of up to $200.

Don’t drink and drive

You might not think this one applies, what with bars in Texas remaining closed until further notice and many of us snuggling up with our wine bottles at home. But in case of an emergency that requires you to go elsewhere, always have a designated driver.

Don’t drive if you’re tired

Everyone’s sleep schedules are unbalanced these days, with one day blurring into the next in quarantine. Don’t get behind the wheel if you’re feeling sleepy. You could become another statistic. In 2018, nearly 10,000 Texas car accidents were attributed to drivers being either fatigued or asleep.

Have an errand? Don’t make it a family affair

Fewer passengers means fewer distractions… and fewer risks for fatalities. If your family needs to stock up on household essentials or pick up a takeout order, send one driver – not the whole brood – to handle these errands. This also minimizes your risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Don’t get stranded

The sad truth is, current precautions and social distancing measures mean people are now less likely to stop and help you if you’re stranded on the side of the road. If you have to go out, expect the unexpected. Make sure you are equipped with a full tank of gas, spare tire, jumper cables, and the knowledge to use them. You can also go all-out and put together a complete roadside emergency kit.

― Traveling During A Pandemic ―


“Should I travel during the coronavirus disease outbreak?”

“What travel precautions should I take during the coronavirus disease outbreak?”

We hear these questions from our clients often. With over 25,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in Texas and over 660 deaths, we’re not out of the woods yet.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend anyone crossing state lines should remain quarantined for 14 days after arriving at their destination.

Keep in mind, air travel and cruises put you at far higher risk than driving.

Put simply, nonessential travel should be avoided.

 

― What’s Next for Texas Traffic Patterns? ―
 

On Monday, April 27th, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced his plans to allow businesses to reopen at limited capacity. This news means more drivers will be back on the road. But the streak of daily Texas car accident deaths is one norm we don’t want to return to.

In short: it is every Texas driver’s responsibility to make better decisions. Look out for your fellow Texan.

TxDOT says it best: “Be safe. Drive smart.

― Hurt in a Texas Car Accident? Help is Here. ―


If you were injured in a car accident, our Houston car accident lawyers are here for you.

Getting into a car accident now is even more stressful than usual. Bills are piling up, you may not have health insurance or steady income, and you may not know how to pay for medical care. 

We understand, and we’re here to help. 

Call us now at 713.804.7675 or submit your questions here for a free consultation. Get informed about your options.

You might not know about all the compensation you’re entitled to, but it’s our job to!