Work-Related Car Accidents: Who Is Responsible?

Work-Related Car Accidents: Who Is Responsible?

In just one year, American companies paid out $25 billion as a result of work-related car accidents. Settlement amounts ranged anywhere from $65,000 (for injuries) to $650,000 (for fatalities.) Where does this money come from, you ask? After these accidents, injured victims and their families were compensated by the companies’ commercial vehicle insurance policies.

Workplace vehicle accidents are more common than you think. As Houston car accident attorneys, we frequently assist victims of FedEx truck accidents and UPS truck accidents. But whether they’re minor or major, wrecks involving company vehicles are complicated, adding more stress to the already-confusing process of filing a personal injury claim after an auto accident.

In work-related car accidents, who is responsible? Is an employer liable for an employee’s car accident? It all depends on the circumstances. Below we address some common scenarios and insurance options.

Table of Contents:

Texas Workplace Injury Laws

Texas workplace injury laws operate under two systems: workers’ compensation and non-subscriber

If your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, it will pay for your on-the-job injuries, no matter how the accident happened. Once they have opted into workers’ comp, employees do not have the right to sue their employer for work injuries.

On the other hand, a “non-subscriber” refers to an employer who does not subscribe to the workers’ compensation system. They have the potential to be sued by their injured employees.

What’s The Difference Between Workers’ Comp and Liability Insurance?

When dealing with company car accidents, different types of insurance may come into play. Here’s an overview:

Workers’ compensation covers employees who are injured at work. This coverage includes medical bills from injuries sustained in work-related car accidents, as well as some or all of the wages victims miss out on while healing. Note: If an employee is hurt while driving their personal vehicle for work-related purposes, they may still be eligible for worker’s compensation. 

Liability insurance pays for damages sustained by third parties. (A “third party” is anyone who is unaffiliated with the company, such as a pedestrian or driver struck by a company vehicle.) In most work-related car accidents, the employer’s liability insurance coverage protects employees from having to pay the injured victims personally. Liability insurance covers medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It also covers an employee’s legal fees if they are sued by the third-party claimants.

General liability policies pay for damages from a variety of situations, such as slips, falls, and other accidents that occur on company property.

Commercial vehicle policies are company auto insurance policies. These policies work similarly to your own personal car insurance, but they tend to have much higher coverage limits! 

If you drive for work and your employer does not provide adequate coverage via the above policies, protect yourself! Did you know your personal car insurance carrier may be able to deny your accident claim if you were using your personal vehicle for work? You can avoid this by investing in additional insurance coverage called a “rider.” A rider is an add-on to your car insurance policy that covers accidents that happen while you’re using your vehicle for business purposes. While your rates will go up, your employer may be willing to reimburse you for the cost of this coverage.

As with all insurance policies and their fine print, exceptions and conditions will still apply. Whether you’re an employee or a third-party victim, the insurance company will try every trick in the book to avoid paying you for your expenses. A Houston car accident lawyer can protect your rights and secure the maximum possible settlement for you.

Fault for Company Car Accidents | Houston Car Accident Lawyer

What to Do After A Crash with A Company Vehicle

Every car accident is different, but the aftermath of a company car crash can be especially tricky. After a wreck with a commercial vehicle, follow these steps for best results:

  • Call for help. In addition to receiving medical care, you’ll want to call 911 to summon police to the scene. A police accident report can be crucial evidence in a car accident case!
  • Take photos and collect info. Take plenty of photos of the accident scene and the damaged vehicles. Collect identifying information including the driver’s name, the name of the company they work for, their employee ID number, license plate number, and proof of insurance.
  • Fill out an accident report. In addition to getting a police report, you should also ensure an accident report is filled out by the company who owns the commercial vehicle. You or your company car crash lawyer can obtain a copy of this report.
  • Determine fault. After any accident, the most important step — beyond treating any injuries, of course — is determining who caused the accident. Be aware: there can be multiple at-fault parties. Your Houston car accident lawyer can help you determine fault by collecting evidence.
  • Figure out who will pay. Once fault is determined, you can figure out which insurance policies can help cover the victims’ expenses. See the next section for more details!

Work-Related Auto Accident Scenarios

How does an on-the-job car accident work? Some unique legal issues may arise. Let’s figure out who is responsible in these three hypothetical scenarios:

→ “I was hit by someone who was driving a company vehicle.” 

Truckers may cause a tragic truck accident while driving for work. You also commonly share the streets with taxi cabs, buses, cement mixers, and a variety of other commercial vehicles. What happens if one of these vehicles hits you?

An employer’s responsibilities include paying for injuries and property damage caused by any of their employees while operating company vehicles. If you are involved in a car accident with a commercial vehicle, you can file a claim against the company who owns the vehicle.

Context is key here. An employer is responsible for an employee’s accident in a company vehicle during work hours. However, an employer is not responsible for an accident that happens during a commute, lunch, or personal errand.

If an employee hits you while driving their own personal car on the clock, you will first turn to that employee’s own personal car insurance. If the employee does not have adequate coverage to compensate you, you can then turn to their vicariously liable employer for compensation for your injuries and property damage.

When you’re coping with the aftermath of a commercial vehicle accident, you’re not alone. A Houston car accident attorney is here to guide you through the process, identify all possible lines of insurance coverage, and help you maximize your settlement award. To find out more about what happens in work-related car accidents in Texas, get a free consultation from our team right now.

→ “I was in an accident while driving a commercial vehicle for work.”

According to Texas state law, an employer can be held liable for injuries resulting from an accident involving an on-duty employee. However, there are limits to this coverage.

Company insurance will not cover you if you:

  • were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • committed a crime during the trip (yes, even speeding counts!)
  • were running personal errands (known as a “frolic” in legal jargon)
  • were an independent contractor using your own personal vehicle (for food delivery drivers, outside sales, etc)

In these cases, your employer may be exempt from liability.

Many employers have a company vehicle accident policy. The specifics of this policy will vary from business to business. For example, in Uber and Lyft accidents, the rideshare apps have their own policies and insurance coverage. 

If you lease a company-owned vehicle — like a taxi cab — your contract will specify exactly what you can be held liable for while operating the vehicle. For more help untangling your employer’s company vehicle accident policy, consult a company car crash lawyer. 

If your employer owns the car you’re driving, the company insures that vehicle. Therefore, the company’s insurance will pay the other victims if you are found at-fault for an accident. 

Additionally, if you cause a car accident while driving a company vehicle and your employer has workers’ comp coverage, you’ll still receive benefits, because fault does not affect workers’ comp. Your employer’s insurance will also compensate the third-party claimants and protect you from being sued by them.

However, if your own negligence caused an accident in a commercial vehicle and your employer does not have workers’ comp coverage, you’re out of luck. You will have to pay for your own expenses.

If a reckless driver hit you while you were driving a company vehicle, you can file a personal injury claim against them. Their auto liability insurance should pay for your damages. All Texas drivers must carry liability insurance. 

You may be able to sue the other driver for damages in addition to receiving workers’ comp benefits through your company. However, workers’ comp may try to take some or all of the money you receive from the other driver! For example, if you receive $10,000 in workers’ comp benefits and later receive a $15,000 settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance, your employer can pursue $10,000 of that settlement as payback. A company car crash lawyer can help you negotiate wisely and hold on to as much money as possible.

In the interest of protecting their finances, employers may try to dodge the blame or accuse their employee of acting irresponsible or “outside the scope of employment.” Many companies will require drug testing for drivers recently involved in accidents. They may also investigate your driving record for a history of previous accidents. 

If you’ve been in a work-related car accident, you may be feeling defeated and overwhelmed as you deal with multiple stubborn insurance companies. Help is available. Meet with a car accident attorney in Houston – free virtual case evaluations are available NOW!

→ “I was in an accident while driving my personal vehicle for work.”

Unfortunately, employer liability does not include coverage for any property damage to an employee’s personal vehicle. You will have to use your own car insurance coverage in this case, as well as file a claim with the other driver’s insurance carrier.

If you are at-fault and the other driver’s damages exceed the limits of your liability insurance coverage, the victim can then go after your employer.

Note: If an employee gets hurt while driving their personal vehicle for work-related purposes, they may still be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. 

If you’ve been involved in an accident while driving your personal vehicle for work, a Houston car accident lawyer can help.

When Is An Employer Liable for A Company Car Accident?

Company car crash laws vary from state to state. So when are employers liable in Texas car accidents involving their employees? 

An employer may be liable for a commercial vehicle accident if they:

  • failed to maintain their fleet of work vehicles
  • did not provide adequate training
  • did not require employees to have proper license or certification

Additionally, if an employer pressured their employee to break a law or violate FMCSA regulations, the employer can be held accountable. For example, say you are a truck driver and your employer overloaded your schedule, violating the “hours of service” rules. If you become exhausted by this schedule, fall asleep at the wheel and cause an accident, your employer could be liable.

Employers are also responsible for making sure their company vehicles are safe to drive. This means performing routine maintenance and safety inspections on their fleet. If you were driving a company car and had an accident due to a mechanical failure, your employer may be liable.

With proper training, fleet maintenance, and caution, most commercial vehicle crashes are preventable. But what about when negligent employees cause car accidents? Are their employers responsible then? To answer this question, we’ll take a look at vicarious liability.

What is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is also known as “respondeat superior,” which is Latin for “let the master answer.” 

As you might’ve guessed, vicarious liability means an employer is liable for the actions of their employees. Under vicarious liability, an employer can be found at fault for any employee’s negligent actions during work or while the employee is driving for work-related purposes. 

A victim can sue an employer for any damage an employee causes while on the clock, even if the accident happens outside of the company’s premises. For example, if a truck driver hit you, you would sue the trucking company, not the driver. 

Tip: Get the most out of your commercial accident lawsuit. Suing an employer is almost always more successful than suing an employee.

Work-Related Car Accidents & Fault | Houston Car Accident Attorney

Commercial Auto Accident Damages

Damages from a work-related accident claim include:

Medical expenses. 

When we meet with car accident victims, their number one concern is paying for their medical bills. A Houston car accident lawyer can help! However, under Texas workers’ compensation law, your employer will be able to choose who you can see from a specific network of workers’ comp doctors.

Pain and suffering. 

An accident can be traumatic, especially if it left you with a disability or disfigurement. We understand you’re coping with significant mental anguish, and we believe you deserve compensation for it. Unfortunately, workers’ comp does not cover pain and suffering, but it can be included in your lawsuit against a non-subscriber.

Wrongful death and burial expenses.

These damages are paid to a victim’s family in the event of a fatal workplace accident.

Lost income.

If you’re hurt in a work-related auto accident, you’ll probably need to take some time off to recover. If you have to miss more than seven days of work, Texas workers’ compensation income benefits will partially cover these lost wages. 

Note: the Texas state weekly average wage limits how much you can receive from WC income benefits. Currently, the maximum weekly benefit rates for workers’ compensation income benefits is $938.

Employee Car Accident FAQ

“In a work-related car accident, will my employer pay my medical bills?” 

Workers’ compensation should help pay for your medical bills, regardless of who was at fault. If you were hurt while driving a company car and your workers’ compensation claim was denied, contact a company car crash lawyer ASAP.

“I was in an accident while going to work. Does this count as a work-related accident?”

Accidents that happen while commuting or driving between job sites aren’t always legally considered “acting within the scope of employment.” This means commuting injuries are generally not included under the umbrella of work-related accidents. 

“My car was hit in my workplace’s parking lot. What can I do?”

If your car is damaged in a workplace car park, lot, or garage, your employer is not liable. Instead, you must pursue the insurance of the individual who hit you.

“What happens if an employee hits someone during a business trip?”

If an employee causes a wreck while on a business trip, the employer can be held responsible for damages, although it might depend on whether the employee was actually working or not at the time of the crash.

“What is an employer’s responsibility for employee drunk driving accidents?”

If an employee drives drunk and causes an accident, their employer’s insurance must compensate any third-party victims. The employer’s insurance will not help the drunk driver pay for any of their damages.

Why Hire A Houston Car Accident Lawyer?

Big companies often have skilled commercial vehicle accident lawyers on their side, so why shouldn’t you? If you were hurt in an accident with a commercial vehicle, a Houston car accident attorney can help you:

  • investigate the accident and determine fault
  • collect evidence and interview witnesses
  • obtain copies of police reports, accident reports, and company insurance policies
  • calculate the value of your losses
  • file an insurance claim or lawsuit
  • negotiate with insurance companies to secure your maximum settlement amount

Don’t waste any more time trying to comb through the fine print alone and unaware.

In addition to our nationally-recognized dedication to personal injury victims, our firm has extensive experience with workers’ comp cases. An auto accident lawyer in Houston can put you on the right path and protect your rights every step of the way.

Get your free case evaluation now!

How Does A Car Accident Lawsuit Work?

How Does A Car Accident Lawsuit Work?

When you’ve been hurt in a car accident, the last thing on your mind is “how does a car accident lawsuit work?” But when the dust settles and you’re left with thousands of dollars of bills, how will you get help? An auto accident lawsuit may be the only way.

Many people hesitate to begin the process of a car accident claim or car accident lawsuit simply because they are afraid of the unknown. This page aims to clear up some of that confusion. Let a Houston auto accident lawyer walk you through the whole process! Read below to learn more about how a car accident claim works.

Let’s take you from crash to compensation. 

Considering A Car Accident Lawsuit?

If you get hurt in a car accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, it is your legal right to file a claim for compensation for your losses.

In a perfect world, you would submit a claim and swiftly receive a check in the mail that covers all your expenses. However, it’s not that simple. 

Car accidents often involve extensive investigation, negotiation, and even lawsuits. 

It might seem like a hassle, but consider this: a settlement award from a car accident claim can help you pay for your medical bills, auto repairs, rental car, replacement vehicle, lost wages, emotional stressors, and much more.

Below are the typical steps in a car accident claim.

Flow chart describing how a car accident case works.

Phases of A Car Accident Case

Filing a Car Accident Claim

After any auto accident, inform your car insurance provider. You’ll find some relief if your policy includes collision coverage, but you can also go after the at-fault driver’s insurance, so call and let both your own car insurance company and the other driver’s car insurance company know that you are filing a claim. Even though the other driver may be responsible for the crash, their car insurance company will be the one paying you. 

TIP: Write down your claim number and the name of the claims specialist assigned to you, if applicable.

Consulting A Lawyer

After a car accident, it’s always a good idea to get legal advice. Insurance companies have their own attorneys who know the ins and outs of car accident laws; why shouldn’t you? We wish you luck on your quest to find the best car accident attorney. Houston has plenty of options to choose from, but if you’d like a 100% FREE consultation right now, contact us. There’s zero risk! 

When you meet with an auto accident lawyer for an initial consultation, whether virtually, over the phone, or in person, be prepared to answer some basic questions about the accident, your injuries, your expenses, and more. The car accident lawyer will evaluate your case and let you know your chances of success. If you both want to move forward with a claim, you will be asked to review and sign a retainer agreement. Next, your car accident attorney will reach out to insurance companies and any other relevant parties to let them know you have legal representation. They will make phone calls and send letters in order to report your accident and make sure your claim is officially filed.

TIP: Since most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, you pay nothing upfront. The retainer agreement will specify the fee amount that your attorney will take from the final settlement. We only get paid if you get paid!

Reviewing Insurance Policies

When it comes to car accidents, Texas is a comparative fault state, also known as a “tort state,”  for car accidents. This means when you get into a car accident, 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 exists to help cover accidents like these. Your lawyer can determine the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

TIP: While only liability insurance is required in the state of Texas, you should double-check your policy to see if it can help. Collision coverage and personal injury protection (PIP), for example, could cover some or all of your expenses. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays if you’re hit by someone who did not have insurance, or didn’t have enough to pay the full cost of your damages. It also pays if you’re in a hit-and-run accident.

Receiving Medical Treatment

Your health is our number one priority. Even if you weren’t whisked away from the scene of the crash in an ambulance, and even if you feel “fine” now, you need to be properly examined. If you don’t catch them early enough, many soft tissue injuries can worsen over time and leave you dealing with chronic pain.

When speaking with your doctor, be fully honest about your pain levels. Don’t try to grin and bear it. In order to have a clearer estimate of your total medical expenses, we advise you to complete all recommended medical treatments before pursuing your case.

If you’re afraid you can’t afford medical care, don’t worry. A Houston car accident lawyer can connect you to medical providers at no upfront cost. We can even help schedule your appointments and arrange transportation! How can we do this, you ask? By submitting a letter of protection.

A letter of protection, also known as an LOP, is basically an “I.O.U.” which guarantees a medical provider will receive their payment from a pending claim settlement or future lawsuit award. This means medical providers agree to treat you right now and postpone their payment collection until your case is finalized. While you recover, the medical bills will go to your attorney for proper recordkeeping, but you can also request your own copies.

TIP: Follow your doctor’s orders and never miss an appointment! Avoid gaps in treatment, or else they may be held against you.

Collecting Evidence

Before you file a lawsuit, you must first lay the foundation for your case. The ultimate goal of this phase is to determine liability and prove how you have suffered.  A Houston car accident lawyer can do this by collecting evidence like medical records, police accident reports, bills, witness testimonies, surveillance footage, and more. 

We will obtain all available evidence to strengthen your case. We will also enlist the help of investigators and experts like crash reconstruction specialists. 

As you continue your medical treatments, your lawyer will order copies of your bills and medical records to include in your case. A prognosis report from your doctor may also be submitted as part of an expert witness testimony.

TIP: A picture tells a thousand words! Send your lawyer any photos you took at the scene of the accident, as well as photos of any property damage or injuries and bruises you suffered.

When you file your claim, insurance adjusters will begin their own investigation, too. This involves inspecting both vehicles (which might have been towed to a repair shop or a salvage yard) and trying to collect statements from anyone involved. Whether they are a salaried staff adjuster or an independent adjuster, rest assured they are acting in the best interests of the insurance company.

TIP: Investigators from both sides will dig deep. This means the negligent driver’s insurance claims adjusters might even check your social media accounts! Watch what you post and stay tight-lipped about your accident while the investigation is ongoing.

Submitting A Letter of Demand

After you complete all recommended medical treatment and physical therapy, your Houston car accident attorney will obtain copies of your medical records and bills. They will also request payroll information from your employer to determine the amount of wages you lost as a result of the accident. These documents are included in a letter of demand addressed to the at-fault party’s insurance. The at-fault party will accept or reject this demand, or make a counteroffer. 

Receiving Offers & Dealing with Insurance Adjusters

If the insurance company agrees to pay you the amount specified in the letter of demand, your case is resolved. However, if you receive a rejection or a counteroffer to your demands, your lawyer will begin negotiating your settlement, updating you every step of the way. 

Remember: insurance adjusters exist to make you settle for less. Soon after the accident, you may get a call from the insurance company of the at-fault driver. They might even ask you to take a few hundred dollars and sign a release. Do not accept this. You could be blocked from pursuing the compensation you really deserve. Once you release the other insurance company from responsibility, you can never reopen your claim.

TIP: Do not give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. It’s best to avoid them entirely and direct all communication to your lawyer instead. 

Negotiating A Fair Car Accident Settlement

Your lawyer will enter negotiations, fighting to prove you deserve full compensation. If you and the at-fault party’s insurance company eventually agree on a settlement amount, you will be required to sign a release of all claims, also known as a liability waiver.

Beware: This document prevents you from seeking any further compensation, no matter what complications you encounter in the future. Before you agree to a settlement amount and lose your chances of a higher dollar amount, always make sure you’ve consulted with your attorney and are confident in your decision. Next, your car accident lawyer will submit a settlement package to the insurance company. The settlement package will include a summary of your expenses.

Here’s some good news: Most car accident claims are settled without a lawsuit. Still, we want you to be prepared for all outcomes. What if the insurance company won’t agree to a settlement? If your lawyer is unable to negotiate a fair settlement offer, you still have options.

TIP: Patience pays. Often, an insurance company’s first offer is too low to cover your expenses. Don’t accept it just because you’re in dire need of funds. An auto accident lawyer can usually obtain a far larger settlement for you. As long as you can prove how much your damages have cost you, you have the right to negotiate any settlement offer.

Filing A Lawsuit 

If a fair settlement cannot be reached,  you and your lawyer may make the decision to file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company. 

While the majority of personal injury claims are settled without a trial, our team is always prepared to go to court and fight for you. 

A lawsuit begins with a document called a complaint, which identifies the plaintiff and the defendant and outlines the claim. The complaint also includes a demand for judgment, asking that the defendant pay damages. The defendant will receive a court summons and must respond to the complaint document with a document known as an answer, wherein they admit or deny fault.

TIP: Make sure you choose a Houston car accident lawyer who has courtroom experience. A good litigation attorney is a triple threat – they must serve as an investigator, writer, and public speaker!

Discovery

Once a lawsuit is filed, the case goes into discovery. The discovery period is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit where both sides investigate the facts of the case. While your lawyer already prepared for this during the “evidence collection” period, discovery may include additional depositions, interrogatories from the other side, or requests for documents. 

Mediation

After discovery but before trial, you, your lawyer, and representatives from the insurance company may meet with a mediator. A mediator is an unbiased third party who will assess all sides of the story. Their goal is to help you come to an agreement outside of court. If a mediator can help you finalize a settlement amount, you will be asked to sign a release of all claims, which ensures you will not sue for more money later.  If mediation is unsuccessful, the case goes to trial.

Trial & Verdict

At trial, an injured victim and their attorney must prove negligence by showing that the other driver failed to exercise appropriate caution and care. Additionally, they must prove how much money the injured victim lost. 

After both sides have stated their claims, there may be some additional presentation of evidence or questioning. The jury will then be asked if the other driver was negligent and if their negligence caused your injury. The jury will then be asked if you were negligent and if your negligence caused your own injuries. If the jury answers yes to both questions, they are required to allocate fault between you and the other driver.

Since Texas is a comparative fault state, as long as the injured person is not more at fault than the other driver, the injured person will win the lawsuit (If they are partially to blame for their injuries, damages/awards may be reduced). 

At this point, the plaintiff or the defendant may appeal the judgment if they believe an error was made. An appeal is a request for a higher court, known as an appellate court, to review the case. There is no jury in an appellate court; instead, multiple judges analyze the facts from the previous trial.

TIP: Personal injury cases are civil cases, meaning they involve private disputes between people. Criminal cases, such as drunk driving, involve actions that are considered harmful to society as a whole. These are separate matters that will be tried differently. However, if the at-fault driver was arrested or issued a citation, you can use this as supporting evidence in your civil case.

Collecting Payment

There’s money coming your way! Yay! If your car accident claim settles out of court, a disbursement check is made out to your car accident lawyer, who deducts their agreed-upon attorney fee percentage, other legal expenses, and liens for any unpaid bills (remember that letter of protection?) Finally, you will receive the rest of the compensation via a check made out to you.

If your car accident claim went to court, the other driver may not have the funds or the insurance coverage to pay you the full amount you were awarded. In this case, a Houston car accident lawyer can help you secure payment.

Car Accident Lawsuit FAQ

How Long Does An Auto Accident Lawsuit Take?

Every auto accident claim is unique, and many factors come into play. Your claim could be resolved fairly quickly, or it could become a long, drawn-out process, especially if it goes to court.

Personal injury lawsuits can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to settle. Sometimes, a trial may not happen until more than a year after the lawsuit is filed. An appeal can also complicate things: it may take more than a year for an appellate court to review a case that came from a trial court.

If you’re considering pursuing a lawsuit after an auto accident, the sooner you leap into action, the better! 

What Are Average Auto Accident Lawsuit Settlement Amounts?

Auto accident lawsuit settlement amounts vary greatly, even when you are comparing two similar accidents with similar injuries. Your settlement award will depend on your unique circumstances.

If you would like to learn more about your car accident settlement amount and the legal options available to you, give us a call now.

What Are Expert Witnesses?

Expert witnesses are professionals who can provide important input and insight to strengthen your personal injury claim. While they may not have been present at the scene of the crash, they can still analyze all the available evidence regarding your auto accident and give their opinions.

A Houston car accident attorney often reaches out to expert witnesses such as:

  • Medical professionals, who can explain how your injuries from the car accident have impacted your life. They can also give a prognosis for your future and your recovery.
  • Accident reconstruction specialists, who can create a model or a digital rendering to show how your accident happened and who was at fault. 
  • Civil or mechanical engineers, who could help you prove that a defective auto part or a poorly-designed road contributed to your accident.
  • Economists, who can help estimate damages like future lost wages or loss of earning capacity.

What Can I Do if My Claim is Denied? 

As car accident lawyers, we’ve seen plenty of unsavory behavior from insurance companies: lowballing their customers, missing deadlines, postponing investigations, or flat-out refusing to pay. 

Still, as much as they’ll try to squirm out of it, insurance companies owe a responsibility to their policyholders. They must uphold their end of the contract you’ve signed with them.

If your claim was unfairly denied, you can sue the insurance company. You can either take them to small claims court yourself, or partner with a lawyer for best results. 

An insurance company might deny your claim for the following reasons:

  • You missed payments.
  • You let your policy lapse.
  • You failed to report another accident you were in.
  • You missed a deadline. (The Texas statute of limitations for car accidents is two years from the date of the incident. This means you must file your claim before the two-year time frame is up. The sooner you file, the easier it will be to collect and preserve evidence.)

Whatever the reason may be, you are owed an explanation. More importantly, you still have options. Let a Houston car accident lawyer deal with all the headaches insurance companies will try to cause for you.

Conclusion

There you have it: the phases of a car accident claim and lawsuit. What a journey! 

Still have questions? Want answers from a Houston car accident lawyer? Get your free consultation now and get the info you need to bounce back from your accident. 

It is a car insurance company’s modus operandi to trick you and pay you as little as they possibly can. Don’t get taken advantage of. Rely on expert legal counsel and aggressive representation every step of the way by reaching out to a car accident lawyer in Houston as soon as you can.

Holiday Parking Lot Accidents & Safety

Holiday Parking Lot Accidents & Safety

Did you know approximately 20% of all car accidents occur in parking lots? When you think about it, there’s plenty to contend with in a parking lot: twists, turns, low visibility, crowds of distracted shoppers, and many moving vehicles. Whether they’re checking text messages or hunting for a coveted parking space, distracted drivers abound. The hectic holidays only add to the list of potential preoccupations. Stressed out shoppers are in a rush, and parking lot accidents become more and more frequent.

Below we’ve gathered some holiday accident facts and parking lot accident laws, plus tips for staying safe as you navigate a busy parking lot, whether you’re a pedestrian or a driver.

Unfortunately, parking lot accidents can be more than just a “door ding.” Common parking lot accidents include reversing into a perpendicular vehicle, reversing out of a space at the same time as another vehicle, and rear-ending someone at a stop sign or exit. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in a parking lot, you deserve professional help and guidance. Contact a Houston car accident lawyer to get the compensation you’re truly entitled to.

― Get the Facts: Parking Lot Accident Statistics ―

According to research from the National Safety Council, more than 50,000 parking lot accidents occur each year, resulting in over 60,000 injuries and 500 deaths.

Additionally, two thirds of drivers may be distracted when they’re pulling into shopping centers. In another poll conducted by the National Safety Council, 66% of American drivers said they would make a phone call while driving through a parking lot. 63% said they would set up their GPS or map application, and 56% said they would text.

The leading cause of parking lot accidents is distraction or, more specifically, cell phone use. Lulled into a false sense of security by the slow speeds of parking lot navigation, drivers may be tempted to start their engines and pull out while still scrolling on their phones. However, regardless of the setting, the consequences of distracted driving remain potentially deadly.

― Hectic Holidays & Parking Lot Accidents ―

While they can happen at any time, parking lot accident risks rise during the holiday shopping season. In fact, car insurance companies see 34% more accident claims reported on Black Friday than on an average day – and this doesn’t even take into account all of the accidents that go unreported! 

Overall, parking lot accidents increase approximately 20% during the holiday season. 

What days should you avoid packed parking lots? A study from Sensormatic Solutions predicts the country’s top ten busiest 2020 holiday shopping days as follows: 

  1. Friday, November 27th, “Black Friday”
  2. Saturday, December 19th, “Super Saturday”
  3. Saturday, December 26th
  4. Wednesday, December 23rd
  5. Saturday, December 12th
  6. Monday, December 21st
  7. Saturday, November 28th
  8. Tuesday, December 22nd
  9. Saturday, December 5th
  10. Sunday, December 20th

 

Parking Lot Accident Statistics | Houston Car Accident Lawyer

― Parking Lot Accident Safety Tips For Pedestrians ―

When it comes to getting hurt in a parking lot accident, there’s plenty shoppers can do to minimize their risk.

  • Stay alert! Cars and trucks aren’t your only concern. From icy pavement and puddles to errant shopping carts, there are plenty of parking lot hazards to look out for, so don’t get distracted! Eyes ahead. Don’t look down at your phone or shopping list while you are walking through a parking lot.
  • Use designated crosswalks. Do not cut across a parking lot or walk in an unpredictable path. Always look both ways before entering an intersection or crosswalk.
  • Leave no one behind. If you are walking with children or elderly relatives, hold on to their hands and escort them to safety. 
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you have too many bags to safely carry, or if you’re balancing a stack of boxes that might obscure your vision, ask for assistance. Someone can walk your purchases out to your car with you.
  • Plan ahead. Avoid peak shopping times or last-minute rushes (see our list of busiest shopping days above.) Order what you need online, if possible.

― Parking Lot Accident Safety Tips For Drivers ―

Diligent drivers can prevent parking lot crashes by following these guidelines.

  • Park further away from the entrance. We know it’s a pain to lug those gift bags all the way back to your car, but hear us out. There will be less competition for these spots, and therefore less traffic around them as you are leaving.
  • Never assume a space is empty. From certain angles, motorcycles and small compact cars might trick you into thinking a space is empty until you’re too close. Approach with caution.
  • Back into your parking spot. Backing into a parking space can be tricky, but it’s generally less hazardous than backing out of one. When you’re ready to leave, you can pull forward without fear of hitting another car or shopper.
  • Always check your mirror and blind spots. When you are backing out of your space, proceed slowly. Check all mirrors and be mindful of your vehicle’s blind spots. Small children may be too short to notice in your rearview mirror, so…
  • Look out for children. Unwitting children may run out in front of or behind your vehicle in a parking lot.
  • Eliminate distractions. If you need to fiddle with your phone, look up directions, or choose some tunes, do it before leaving your parking space.
  • Follow the flow of traffic. Follow the established traffic patterns of the parking lot. Look for arrows on the ground, signage, or security attendants waving people through.
  • Never speed. Parking lots require patience. Never speed or try to beat someone to a parking space.
  • Take advantage of technology. Many newer vehicles come equipped with backup cameras or beeping collision avoidance sensors. Parking lots are the perfect place to put them to use! (The National Safety Council determined 9% of pedestrian deaths in parking lots happen due to backup accidents.)
  • Resist road rage. We know you may be jockeying for a primo parking spot, but don’t get irritated by the process. Think twice before honking that horn, and remember everyone around you just wants to get home to their families safe and sound.
  • Secure your cargo. If you’re transporting a large purchase — like a Christmas tree or a piece of furniture — always make sure it is properly secured before you drive off.
  • Buckle up. Always remember to buckle your seatbelt the moment you enter your vehicle.

― Parking Lot Accident Laws ―

Who has the right of way in a parking lot?

First, you should know there are two types of lanes in a parking lot. The “through lanes” make up the lot’s perimeter, passing by store entrances and connecting out to main roads. The “feeder lanes” extend inward from the perimeter, leading to individual parking spots.

Below are the Texas parking lot right of way rules

  • When exiting a feeder lane, you must yield to anyone — driver or pedestrian — in a through lane. 
  • When backing up or pulling out of parking space, you must yield to anyone already moving in a feeder lane. 
  • Before making a turn, you must yield to anyone moving straight. 
  • You must always stop at stop signs and yield signs, regardless of other right of way rules.

If a driver breaks any of these rules and causes a crash that injures you, they will be liable for your damages.

If you’ve been in a parking lot accident, how do you determine fault?

Every claim is different, so we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all answer. However, if a careless, inattentive driver cuts across a lot or ignores arrows on the ground or other signage, they may be at fault. “I never even saw them” is a common excuse, but all drivers have a responsibility to check their blind spots and navigate parking lots at slow, safe speeds.

Drivers are not the only potentially liable parties. In the event of a parking lot with an improper design, poorly-maintained asphalt, or overgrown landscaping, the property owner(s) may be liable.

A parking lot accident lawyer can help you get to the bottom of your accident and place the blame where it belongs.

Are parking lot accidents 50/50?

Nope. It’s a total myth that parking lot accidents are “50/50” – meaning that when a two-car accident happens in a parking lot, both drivers are equally at fault. Parking lot accidents will be treated like any other car accident, with thorough investigation to determine fault. The good news? There are usually plenty of witnesses to a parking lot accident. If one of the drivers has violated a right of way law (see above), they will likely be found at fault.

Check out this page for more info on comparative fault in Texas.

Does insurance cover accidents in parking lots?

It all depends on your policy and its coverage. 

Liability coverage, the minimum insurance coverage Texas residents must carry, exists to pay for bodily injury and property damage if you hit someone. On the other hand, if someone hit your car while it was parked and empty, their liability insurance will cover your property damage.

Additionally, collision coverage and personal injury protection could help you pay for your expenses after a parking lot car accident. Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle from a collision with another vehicle, while personal injury protection, or PIP, pays for your medical expenses regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

If it was a hit-and-run accident*, uninsured motorist property damage coverage may help you pay for the damage.

To learn more about your policy and your options, connect with a Houston car accident lawyer now.

Do police respond to parking lot accidents?

Parking lot accidents are not a high priority for the police. There is no guarantee that the police will respond to call for a car accident in a parking lot, unless there are serious injuries or safety concerns. 

Additionally, parking lots are considered private property. This means even if police respond to the scene, they generally do not write a crash report. This can be good for your driving record if you’re at fault, but bad for your insurance claim if you were an innocent victim.

What to Do After a Parking Lot Car Accident | Houston Car Accident Attorney

― What to Do After a Parking Lot Accident ―

 If you walk out of a store and see your own car is damaged, call the police, then call your insurance company and file a report right away. Your policy may cover the damage.

Conversely, if you hit a parked car, fess up. If you drive away, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Don’t have time to wait and face the other vehicle’s owner? Leave your contact information on a note under their windshield wiper. 

If both drivers are around:

  • Move the vehicles out of the way of others. 
  • Check that everyone involved is unharmed. If someone is hurt, call for emergency services immediately. 
  • Exchange information with the other driver. 
  • Take pictures of any damages to any of the vehicles. These photos will be useful when you make a claim with your insurance company or file a report with the police.

Many people don’t think it’s necessary to file a claim for a “minor accident” like a parking lot fender bender. Unfortunately, even low-speed crashes are capable of causing serious injuries to your head, neck, and spine.

If you are involved in any parking lot accident, reach out to an experienced Houston car accident lawyer from our team and get the medical care you need.

― Stay Safe & Get Home for the Holidays! ―

We hope this helped you learn more about how to avoid parking lot accidents during the holiday season!

Unfortunately, even if you follow every tip and take every precaution, your day could still be interrupted by someone else’s rude or reckless behavior.

If you’ve been hurt in a parking lot accident or other wreck caused by someone else’s carelessness, we may be able to help. Reach out now for your fast, free, confidential consultation! We’re available 24/7.

What to Do After A Fender Bender

What to Do After A Fender Bender

― 4 Steps to Follow When You’ve Been in a Fender Bender ―

Don’t surrender or lose your temper when a fender bender has rendered you injured!

…Did we lose you already with that tongue-twister? No? Great! Because we have some vital information that could help you.

Car accidents, no matter how minor, leave you feeling shook. With all the stress and shock swirling around in your head, it’s hard to know exactly what to do after a fender bender. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports over 6 million traffic accidents each year in the United States, with 40% of them involving rear-end collisions. In fact, the National Safety Commission estimates that a rear-end collision happens every eight seconds. With stats like that, everyone is bound to get in a fender bender eventually.

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. 

Airbag Injury

 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!

Brain Injury

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.

Back Injury

 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:

Grille Damage

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. 

Electrical Problems

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

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.

Contact one of our car accident attorneys today to receive expert legal counsel about your fender bender, absolutely free.

The Dangers of Semi-Truck Accidents

The Dangers of Semi-Truck Accidents

Causes & Effects of 18-Wheeler Wrecks in Houston

 

Commercial trucks are everywhere. With a whopping 15.5 million of them on our U.S. roads each day, carrying 70 percent of all manufactured and retail cargo in the country, it’s impossible to drive far without seeing one. 

Unfortunately, this means commercial trucks are also involved in collisions – often.

While these accidents may be caused by an assortment of factors, they typically involve negligent, careless, or reckless behavior.

Below, we share more about why and where truck accidents happen—and how you can find a helpful truck accident attorney when you need one. 

(If you need answers fast, contact a 5-star Houston truck accident lawyer at our law firm. We can explain your rights and help you seek the recovery you may deserve. If you can’t come to our offices for a free case evaluation, we can visit you at your home, the hospital, or another location that is more convenient for you.)

 

Truck Accidents per Year

 

― Why Are There So Many Truck Accidents? ―

 

It’s simple: people make mistakes. But when your mistake involves a massive 80,000 lb. automobile, lives can be lost. 

In fact, according to federal transportation authorities, human error causes most traffic collisions

Each year, at least 1 out of every 3 deadly truck wrecks involves driver-related factors.

Some careless driver behaviors that commonly cause truck accidents include:

  • Speeding: This is the most common driver behavior that causes deadly truck accidents. It’s also 100% preventable. No deadline is worth jeopardizing a life.
  • Distracted driving: As the second most common cause of fatal truck accidents, driver distraction can include texting, checking the GPS, eating, changing the radio station, or doing anything else that diverts attention from the road.
  • Driver impairment: Another common cause of truck wrecks, driver impairment, can involve alcohol, drugs, or extreme fatigue. Even legally prescribed or over-the-counter drugs can impair someone’s ability to safely operate a vehicle.
  • Vehicle equipment failure: Tire blowouts often end up causing truck accidents. While tire failure can result from poorly-made tires, it may also happen when trucks are overloaded or when tires are not properly maintained by motor carriers and drivers. Routine truck inspection and preventative maintenance are the responsibilities of truckers and their employers.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the causes of semi-truck hazards. Construction zones, bad weather, and more can all cause truck accidents.

 

― When and Where Do Most Truck Accidents Occur? ―

 

18-wheeler crashes can happen anywhere. Looking at recent statistics[1] from federal authorities, however, we notice some trends:

  • 57% of fatal truck accidents happen on rural roads
  • 27% of deadly semi wrecks occur on Interstate highways
  • 13% of these crashes happen on rural Interstate highways
  • 30% of fatal work zone crashes and 12% of nonfatal work zone crashes involve at least one commercial truck

Additionally, federal transportation data reveals fatal truck accidents are most likely to occur:

  • At night: About 35% of deadly truck accidents and 22% of nonfatal truck wrecks happen between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Given the reduced visibility at night, as well as the spike intoxicated drivers on the road, it makes sense that so many truck accidents happen during these late-night and early-morning hours.
  • On weekdays: About 83% of deadly truck crashes and 88% of nonfatal truck accidents happen on a weekday. Due to our work schedules, there are far more vehicles on the road Monday through Friday. This means more complicated traffic conditions – another ingredient in the recipe for a truck accident.

 

 

  • Fatal Truck Accidents on Rural Roads 57% 57%
  • deadly semi wrecks occur on Interstate highways 27% 27%
  • crashes happen on rural Interstate highways 13% 13%
  • fatal work zone crashes involve at least one commercial truck 30% 30%
  • deadly truck crashes happen on a weekday 83% 83%

 

 

― How to Find the Best Houston Truck Accident Lawyer ―

 

After you or your loved one is hurt in a truck accident, connecting with the right attorney can make a huge difference in your recovery. Here are some tips on how to set yourself up for success and select the right lawyer for you:

  1. Check out an attorney’s website to make sure they handle cases for accidents like yours. Also, look for information about any professional recognition, honors, and awards an attorney has earned.
  2. Read testimonials for the lawyer. This can include reviews on the lawyer’s website, as well as on lawyer directory sites like Avvo.
  3. Check a lawyer’s credentials and standing with the state bar association. Here’s the attorney search tool for the Texas State Bar Association.
  4. Meet with the lawyer to get a feel for their experience, attitude, and ability to help you. Many will provide free consultations. Be sure to ask about the specific experience that a Houston truck accident attorney has with crashes like yours (like if you were in a FedEx truck accident, a UPS truck wreck, or a work-related truck crash).

If you’re pressed for time and want to talk to an experienced lawyer with a long-standing record of success ASAP, contact one of a Houston truck accident lawyer at our lawyer. We have more than 20 years’ experience helping 18-wheeler accident victims seek the justice and compensation they deserve.

 

― Houston Truck Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Help You ―

The sooner you reach out, the sooner we can help.

If you decide to partner with us, you will pay nothing upfront and absolutely nothing at all unless we successfully resolve your case.

Nationally recognized and locally lauded, our Houston truck accident attorneys fight tirelessly for our clients as if they were our own family. We’re more than your attorneys – we’re your allies and your advocates. No matter how complex your case may be, you can count on us for aggressive representation and client-focused service.

Become a part of our long-standing record of excellence and success in truck accident cases.

The aftermath of a truck accident is never a good experience, but we try our best to make it an easy one.