Here’s a scenario we see all too often in our line of work: a person walks away from a car crash thanking their lucky stars they weren’t badly injured. Maybe they feel a little tense or a little sore, but they dismiss it all and head home to bed. The next morning when they wake up, or gradually over the next few days, they’re shocked to find they’ve developed shooting pains and stiffness.
Welcome to the wonderful world of whiplash.
Car accident victims sometimes hesitate to pursue whiplash claims, suffering in silence and never knowing how much compensation they’re really entitled to.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you’ve been hurt in a crash of any kind, you need to consult an auto accident lawyer.
Houston streets are the site of numerous accidents every day, many of which involve whiplash. In this post, we’ll explain how whiplash car accident claims work and how you can file a claim to receive the whiplash injury compensation you deserve. Let’s go!
What is Whiplash?
“Whiplash” is the colloquial term for a cervical muscle strain, a neck strain, or a variety of other injuries you may endure in a car accident. These injuries are so common, a car accident attorney might as well be called a “whiplash injury attorney!”
Still, even though it’s common, whiplash is not a minor injury. When whiplash victims forgo treatment, downplay pain levels, and try to grin and bear it, injuries can worsen.
If you think you have whiplash and you avoid doctors, hoping the issue will resolve itself in time, your discomfort can snowball and bring your daily life to a screeching halt. You may be unable to do household chores, lift your children, sleep comfortably, or even look down at a book. You could be dealing with chronic pain or limited mobility for the rest of your life.
Whiplash occurs when a driver or passenger’s head is whipped quickly back and forth by the force of impact in a car accident. These movements are called hyperextension (the head is pushed too far back, with the chin up) and hyperflexion (the head is pushed too far forward, with the chin down). When this happens, vertebrae can be displaced and damaged.
Whiplash also results in the straining or spraining of the neck, back, and shoulders. What’s the difference between a strain and a sprain? Good question!
A strain is the overstretching or tearing of one or more muscles or tendons. Tendons are thick cords of tissue that connect your bones to your muscles.
A sprain is the overstretching or tearing of ligaments. Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect to bones together in a joint. The ligaments of the neck are densely packed with pain receptors, which fire when under stress. Due to this, sprains take much longer to heal.
Severe whiplash complications can lead to:
Inflammation of other joints, muscles, and ligaments throughout the body
Soft tissue damage like ruptured discs and torn ligaments
Permanent nerve damage
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Symptoms & Signs of Whiplash After A Car Accident
Symptoms of whiplash include:
Limited mobility of neck or arms
Tingling or numb hands
Sore shoulders and arms
Whiplash is especially common in rear-end accidents, traffic jam accidents, and other fender benders. Symptoms of whiplash usually take hours or days to appear. This is due to the rush of adrenaline that courses through the body when it is shocked by a car accident. Adrenaline is a hormone that can mask your pain for quite a while, so you won’t feel the full extent of your injuries until later. Serious problems can go undetected until it is too late.
If you are involved in an accident, even a minor one, you should immediately seek medical attention.
Whiplash Treatment Options
A doctor may recommend you treat your whiplash with a combination of rest, medication, and a supportive device like a neck brace to prohibit re-injury. You may also be referred to a chiropractor or a physical therapist for additional treatment.
Fortunately, whiplash seldom requires surgery. In some rare cases with ruptured or herniated discs, spinal fusion surgery or laminectomy may be the best course of action. If you’re concerned about paying for medical treatment, a dedicated Houston whiplash lawyer can get you on the road to recovery at no upfront cost. Reach out ASAP.
How to Make a Whiplash Injury Claim
After an accident, follow these steps:
Get out of your car and move safely out of the way of traffic.
Call the police. They will respond to the scene and write a crash report, which can be important evidence for your case.
Collect the other driver’s information, including their license, insurance provider, plates, etc.
Get examined by a medical professional as soon as possible, even if you do not think you are hurt. Soft tissue injuries can be difficult to detect at first but they can impact every aspect of your daily life, even more than a broken bone might. Prompt medical care will ensure the best chances for a complete recovery.
Call your car insurance company to report the accident and begin filing your claim. Provide them with the information you collected at the scene of the accident. Inform the other driver’s insurance company as well, but do not provide them with a recorded statement until you…
Get a Houston car accident lawyer. If a reckless driver hit you, why should you pay for the damage they caused? A whiplash lawyer can help you hold them accountable for your injuries. A dedicated Houston insurance lawyer can make all the difference between a satisfactory car accident insurance settlement and a rejected claim.
A case number and a claims rep will be assigned to you, but going forward, your lawyer can communicate with them on your behalf.
Whiplash Car Accident Claim Damages
Whiplash injury compensation amounts will vary depending on a number of factors, including the severity of the injury and the subsequent medical treatment and physical therapy it requires. How much you can claim for whiplash will depend on your specific medical treatment plan and how the injury affects your life.
Generally, a fair car accident insurance claim settlement will take the following expenses into consideration:
Doctor visits, diagnostic imaging, and surgeries
Physical therapy sessions
Lost wages from missing work
Pain and suffering
Loss of enjoyment of life
Getting a settlement after a car accident shouldn’t be an ordeal, but stubborn insurance companies will try to stand in your way to protect their profits. A Houston car insurance attorney can help you prove your injuries and obtain compensation for the expenses that come along with them.
Evidence of Whiplash After A Car Accident
Wondering how to prove you have whiplash? Whiplash claims deserve to be taken as seriously as any other car accident injury claim, and your whiplash injury claim amount should reflect your actual expenses, but how do you calculate the true value of your claim and back it up with proof? Collect the following evidence to strengthen your case:
The police report
All bills and receipts
Old medical records showing you were in good health before the accident
Current medical records, including test results, prescriptions, x-rays, MRIs, and other images
When it comes to lost wages, you can prove this part of your claim by providing old pay stubs and timesheets or other documentation from your employer regarding which days you have missed.
Your attorney can collect statements from your doctor and chiropractor about your prognosis and recommended courses of treatment. These can be used to predict the cost of future medical expenses as well.
A Houston car accident lawyer can help you calculate the value of whiplash injury claim and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Don’t Get Tricked by the Insurance Company!
While you are waiting for the resolution of your whiplash claim, focus carefully on your physical recovery. Every move you make has the potential to negatively affect your case.
When communicating with the insurance companies, you should:
Stick to the plain facts of the accident, like the date, time, and location.
Never admit fault or apologize for anything.
Never see a doctor recommended by the insurance company. Your whiplash lawyer can connect you to the medical care you need at no cost.
Make sure you follow all of your doctor’s recommendations and attend all follow-up appointments. A gap in treatment could be used to disqualify your whiplash claim. Even answering “fine” to the routine question “how are you today?” could land you in hot water. If you are found to be engaging in strenuous activities, insurance adjusters may accuse you of faking or exaggerating injuries. They may even monitor your social media to dig up dirt on you!
Settling a car accident injury claim is never a fun process, but a whiplash lawyer will do their best to make it an easy one. They can handle all communications with the insurance company for you.
Can a Passenger Claim for Whiplash?
Yes, passengers in car accidents can also file personal injury claims.
In fact, since they are usually not liable for any portion of the accident, passengers tend to have even better results when they make a personal injury claim. Passengers are entitled to all of the same damages as an injured driver. In a multi-car accident, a passenger may be able to file a claim against all drivers involved. In a single car accident, the passenger may be able to file a claim against the driver’s insurance.
Sometimes injured passengers hesitate to take legal action because they feel it will ruin their relationship with the driver, who might’ve been a friend or family member. Don’t worry — you are not asking your friend for money, you are asking their liability insurance. That’s what it’s there for!
Passengers can prove their damages the same way we mentioned above. In Texas, under comparative fault laws, the passenger must first complete their medical treatment. Then, they will present their expenses to the insurance companies.
If you were a passenger in a taxi, Uber, or Lyft accident, the same steps apply. Contact a Houston car insurance lawyer for more info.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer for Whiplash?
A whiplash lawyer can compile evidence to support the claims you make and negotiate with the insurance companies to get you the maximum possible settlement amount. In certain whiplash injury cases, you may even need to file a personal injury lawsuit. A whiplash lawyer can protect your rights throughout this entire process, ensuring you get the most out of your car accident claim settlement case.
Luckily, personal injury lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay them nothing out of pocket!
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.
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 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 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?
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.
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:
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!
When it comes to what to do after a car accident, there’s a lot to think about. Questions come at you fast, and dealing with insurance companies can be overwhelming and annoying. How do you file a car accident claim? What information do you need? How fast can you get help? You just want to crawl into bed, recover, and be done with the whole ordeal.
We get it. We’ve been there, and we’ve guided thousands of people through the same situation.
With over 20 years of experience helping clients file their insurance claims and receive life-changing settlements, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to share.
Below are some “Do’s and Don’ts” of the personal injury claims process – things we’d tell our own family members who are coping with the aftermath of an accident. Most importantly? Don’t give a recorded statement to an insurance company before you follow these steps!
How to File A Personal Injury Claim
Once you reach out to us about your potential accident injury claim, we do everything we can to alleviate your stress. Our intake specialists will collect your information and guide you through the claims process, and before you know it, you’ll have a fierce attorney advocating for you and helping you obtain compensation.
But there are so many steps and choices you have to make before that point.
Here’s what to expect at the other phases of your journey, like what you can do to help strengthen your case and what common mistakes you should steer clear of.
Do get all detailed information from the person who caused the accident, such as their name, address, phone number, license plate number, and auto insurance information.
Do call the police and request that a police report be made. Do not settle for exchange of information only, as this could potentially delay a liability decision or have insurance companies debating your word against their client’s. Call the police no matter how minor the damage seems to you. There’s no such thing as “too much evidence,” and a crash report strengthens a case.
Do take as many pictures as you can. Of everything — the scene of accident, nearby signage, property damage, bodily injuries, your vehicle, and any other vehicles involved. Take pictures of the other driver’s license plate, insurance card, and drivers license as well.
Do seek medical treatment right away. You need a comprehensive understanding of your injuries, and some of them can take days to show any symptoms. By then, it could be too late and you may be left coping with a chronic issue. Get the medical care you deserve, as soon as possible. Medical paperwork and a record of swift treatment also proves to skeptical insurance adjusters that you were genuinely hurt.
Do stay consistent. Attend your follow-up appointments and any recommended physical therapy. We all have responsibilities, but your health should never be neglected or put on the back burner.
Do contact an attorney ASAP. The sooner we can start on your case, the better! The greatest support you can have after an accident is that of a dedicated personal injury attorney. We’ll handle all the stressful ins and outs of filing your claim, connect you to the medical care you need at no upfront cost, and fight for the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Do contact your auto insurance to tell them about the accident. Your attorney will maintain communication with them afterward, and with the defendant’s auto insurance as well.
Do keep track of all the time you’ve missed from work for recovery, doctor appointments, etc. Your attorney will fight to get you compensated for these lost wages. Track other accident-related expenses as well, like rideshares or rental cars if your vehicle was totaled.
Bonus: For Premises Liability Claims (i.e. slip and fall accidents in a store or rental property):
Do report the incident to the manager. When you fall in public, it might be tempting to brush yourself off and avoid embarrassment and attention. However, you should always report your fall to the manager of the premises, even if you don’t know if you are injured.
Do get the manager’s info. We know it can be hard to remember in the heat of the moment, but you should ask for the names and contact information of manager, staff, and all witnesses. Ask if there is a corporate phone number you can call to follow up with your incident report.
Do get a copy of your incident report. Premises liability claims differ slightly from other accident claims because most stores will file incident reports. (Note: establishments are under no legal obligation to provide you with a copy of an incident report.) While an incident report is not necessary to pursue a personal injury claim, it can help. When you speak with management, ask about their incident report protocol and how you can receive a copy.
Do take photos. Staff or property owners should promptly fix hazards in order to prevent other patrons from being injured, but before they do, make sure you take photos. Snap pics of where you fell, the surrounding areas, your injuries, and any spills, faulty structures, or other dangers.
Do seek treatment if you are injured, even if you don’t have health insurance. Don’t let financial woes stand in the way of proper healing. If you’re hurt in a slip and fall accident, reach out to us for help and get connected to the medical care you need, at no upfront cost!
Do not leave the scene of the accident unless you are leaving in an emergency vehicle. No matter who was at fault, it is illegal in almost every state to leave the scene of an accident when someone is injured or there is property damage… and you won’t know if this is the case until you speak with the other driver(s) involved. On the other hand…
Do not stay in harm’s way after a car accident. If possible, move your vehicles to the side of the road to inspect damage. Preventing a pile-up is important, and you don’t want to stand in the path of oncoming traffic.
Do not engage in any arguments at the scene of the accident. Stay calm and level-headed. Wait until police arrive. Tensions are high after a car accident, and you don’t need to add an assault to your troubles.
Do not accept a cash bribe to avoid police or insurance. Sometimes, drivers who cause an accident try to offer cash or a check to victims in order to dodge the hassle of an injury claim or a rising insurance premium. This can be tempting, but beware: you may have injuries you don’t even notice yet. Certain soft tissue injuries, for example, could take days to show symptoms… and you could be staring at some hefty medical bills in your near future with no way to pay. Go about things the right way by reporting the accident to the police and to both of your insurance companies.
Do not let the tow truck take your vehicle to storage. Instead, have them take it to your house. Storage yard fees rack up quickly, and you don’t want to get stuck with the bill. If your vehicle is in storage, take it out ASAP and keep the receipt so you can be reimbursed once the other driver’s insurance accepts liability.
Do not give a recorded statement to any insurance company, especially if you don’t have legal representation. This recorded statement can be used against you. Trust us, this is the single most important piece of advice on our list, so it bears repeating: DO NOT GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY! Similarly…
Do not discuss your injuries or ongoing medical treatment with the insurance company. Again, insurance adjusters use all kinds of tricky language designed to trip you up. They’ll twist your words to downplay the severity of your injuries, meaning your settlement amount could suffer. Do not post on social media regarding your auto accident. It’s sad and sneaky, but insurance companies will use your social media posts against you if they can find them. For example, you may feel inclined to post a photo of your totaled car with the caption “so thankful I’m alright,” but this can be used to invalidate any pain you are coping with… because you said you’re “alright,” right!?
Do not send anything directly to the insurance. Allow your lawyer to handle it. Remember, the insurance company is not your friend, no matter how nice they may be to you.
Do not sign anything before talking with your attorney or case manager.
Do not agree to settle or accept checks from any insurance company without legal representation. You could be throwing your whole case away. Even if an offer sounds good to you, you might still be missing out on tens of thousands of dollars. Consult your personal injury lawyer about any offers and let them negotiate with insurance companies. You don’t know what you’re owed, but it’s our job to!
Do not downplay your injuries or underreport your pain levels. Remember, your medical care providers and lawyers want to get an idea of how the pain will impact your daily life. You might’ve been taking it easy in recent weeks, resting and recovering, but what will your pain levels be like once you return to work? Can you still enjoy your hobbies? Can you play with your kids? Is your range of mobility different? Consider all these questions when discussing your pain and your limitations with your doctor.
By trusting an experienced personal injury law firm with your claim, you can focus on what matters most: your successful recovery.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident and don’t know where to turn, contact us now for immediate assistance. We offer free consultations, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The success of your accident claim depends on what you do next. Take the right steps by contacting us today.
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? ―
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.
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.
― 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.
― 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:
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.
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!
What is a fender bender? Fender benders commonly occur in intersections, parking lots, or even drive-thrus. These mishaps usually involve being rear-ended and warping the bumper, fender, or frame of your car, hence the name. But don’t let that cute name fool you. Fender benders can seem unimportant compared to the more tragic car accidents you may see on the highway, but they’re not just an inconvenience that makes you run a little late for work.
They can have hidden complications and serious consequences for both your body and your vehicle.
Below you’ll find important info related to these risks, plus recommendations on what to do in a fender bender.
1. Determine Liability
Determining liability means figuring out who to blame for a car accident and why they were legally at fault.
The person who hit you is probably eager to dodge hefty insurance rates, which go up after an accident. They may try to offer you cash in exchange for agreeing not to file a claim against them.
We all want to see the best in people, but let’s be real: it’s not wise to trust a total stranger who just hit your car. You should always call the police. You should always exchange insurance information, and use your phone to snap pictures of their license plate, license, and the damages.
If you are in a fender bender with a commercial vehicle, the company that owns the vehicle may be responsible for your damages.
Additionally, rideshare companies often have insurance, so if you’re in a fender bender with an Uber or a Lyft, you can seek compensation.
If the other driver fled the scene or you cannot get in touch with them, there’s still help available. Consult a car accident attorney to learn about your options.
Don’t let someone else’s carelessness leave you in pain after a car accident.
2. Get Checked for Physical Injuries
Even if you walk away from the scene of the accident feeling fine, you need to be evaluated by a doctor. Aches and pains might take days to appear, but they could follow you for the rest of your life if they’re not treated properly and promptly.
Common injuries after a fender bender:
Wrist or Arm Injury
When your hands are on your steering wheel – where they should be! – your wrists and arms absorb a lot of the impact of a fender bender. Wrist and arm injuries may need surgery or physical therapy and may prevent you from returning to work or doing the things you love.
If your airbags deploy, they may end up harming you in their attempt to protect you. Sometimes the force of an airbag can even break bones!
Traumatic brain injuries can happen in the blink of an eye, but their impact on your life can be devastating. Severe cases of whiplash can actually cause your brain to hit the interior of your skull. You may also hit your head on your steering wheel or dashboard.
The impact of a car accident can cause your spine to compress or misalign, which can get severely painful. You may even be left temporarily bedridden.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Sometimes called “whiplash,” these are the most common injuries in fender benders. They’re also more serious than you think. Many soft tissue injuries require medical attention, physical therapy, and visits to a chiropractor to alleviate the pain.
The good news is that rear-end settlements can be substantial, especially when injuries are involved.
3. Evaluate Property Damage
When you get into a minor accident, you might think you can skip the auto shop. You may assume your accident will be labeled “low impact,” or the damage to your car can be dismissed as “cosmetic” or “superficial.”
However, serious vehicle damage could result from a fender bender – meaning you could be stuck in serious trouble.
Just like how you could underestimate your physical damage after an accident, you may think you only have a scratched bumper or cracked taillight when you actually have a car with alignment issues, frame damage, or axle problems that could cost thousands to fix.
Potential car troubles include:
If someone backed into the front of your car, you likely have damage to your grille. (Grille damage accounts for more than 20% of all auto accident damage.) Control arm bushings or joints could also be damaged.
Delicate electrical components are often knocked out of whack in fender benders too, causing problems with your wiring or battery. You could also face damage to your trunk or trunk latch or issues with your transmission or suspension.
Alignment problems can cause uneven tire tread wear, requiring a costly set of replacements. Your axis caster angle or tire camber could be thrown off. If you’re car-savvy enough to know what this means and how to fix it, good for you. But many drivers aren’t so lucky – and the person who hit them could be miles down the road before they notice the true extent of the damages.
Act now; save big.
Underlying issues like these not only cost you money, they put you and your passengers in danger. With so many potential hidden concerns, you can’t know for sure until you get your car checked out by a professional.
When it comes to car trouble, prevention is the cure. A tiny bit of damage can snowball into a major complication if you don’t catch it in time.
Insurance companies also have time limits for reporting accidents. Err on the side of caution and call in your claim as soon as the fender bender happens, because, by the time the body shop gives you an estimate for your repairs, it may be too late to file your insurance claim.
Don’t gamble with your life.
Have your car – and yourself! – thoroughly checked out after a fender bender. (By a mechanic and a doctor, respectively. Unless you’re a cyborg. Then you just need the one.)
If you’re worried about paying for these services or feeling overwhelmed by the complicated process of filing an insurance claim, we can help. In fact, many collision repair shops work directly with lawyers and insurance companies. Which brings us to our next step…
4. Consult A Car Accident Attorney
Many people hesitate to get a lawyer involved in their case, but remember: just because you have a meeting with a car accident lawyer doesn’t mean you have to hire one! Many car accident attorneys offer 100% free case evaluations. The advice they provide can be crucial. You might not know all of your options, but it’s their job to!
Know your rights and make an informed decision about your next steps.
Why & How to Request a Police Accident Report After A Car Crash
When a car accident happens, chaos follows.
You’re in pain. Your property is damaged or lost. You feel frozen and afraid of making the wrong choice.
We understand. We’ve helped thousands of people through this, and now we’re making it our mission to help you.
When it comes to what to do after a car accident, calling the police is a smart move. For starters, officers can help you and other victims get medical care while directing traffic flow and preventing more crashes. Police reports can also be essential when it comes to:
Visit the Records Division of the Houston Police Department in person at 1200 Travis Street between 8am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. The cost is $6.
― When Requesting Police Accident Reports, Keep in Mind: ―
They are typically available between 5 and 8 days after the date of the crash.
You will need at least two pieces of the following information in order to request the report for your accident:
The date of the accident
The location of the accident
The name(s) of the involved party or parties
The incident number
These reports do not alwayscapture every detail—and they can even get some details wrong. It’s important to review these reports and reach out to the officer to promptly correct any wrong information or inaccuracy.
Our Houston lawyers can handle this for you. We can obtain and review your police accident report, and we can also use it to figure out your legal options and come up with a strategy for your recovery.
We represent victims in all kinds of car accident cases, including drunk driving crashes, Uber and Lyft accidents, UPS wrecks, FedEx accidents, and more. In our 20 year history of serving the Houston area, we’ve seen it all. No matter how complex a case may be, we have the skills and the experience fight for you.
― Top Houston Car Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Help ―
A car accident can be the most stressful thing that’s ever happened to you. One accident can change your life – but so can one victory with us.
Don’t go through this alone.
You deserve professional legal counsel and dedicated guidance. You can rely on a 5-star Houston car accident lawyer at our firm to follow up with you and keep your best interests at the forefront of their minds, every step of the way. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, now’s the time to contact us. It’s the first step to getting the compensation you deserve.
Call (713) 804-7675 or Click HERE
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We’re ready and waiting to explain your rights and legal options for moving forward. Plus, we work on contingency. That means if you decide to partner with us, you will pay nothing upfront and absolutely nothing at all unless or until your case is successfully resolved.
We proudly back our strategic, aggressive representation with client-focused service, and we’re committed to providing the type of advocacy we would want for our own family.
Our perfect rating on Avvo, along with our testimonials and many industry accolades and awards, speak to our long-standing record of excellence and success in car accident cases. Let our next victory be yours, too.