When you’re seriously injured in a San Antonio auto accident, the moments following the collision are often confusing. You rarely have time to consider the type of accident or how or why it occurred. In the chaos immediately following an accident, you can easily lose track of the facts and the circumstances that initiated your crash. As you’ll need more than a gut feeling to prove that the other driver is at fault, it’s important that you take a moment to recall the facts while they’re still fresh. When a police officer or your insurance company asks “what happened?” you’ll need to respond with clear and concise information.
The law enforcement officer who investigates your accident will collect evidence, document the facts, and try to understand how and why your accident occurred. As you work through your recovery, your insurance company will want a clear version of the facts as well. The other insurance company will want the details too, particularly those that shield them from liability. Your explanation of the accident and other relevant details will become part of a growing body of information. It will eventually help decide if the other driver is legally responsible for your injuries.
Negligent Drivers Should Pay for the Damages they Cause
At The Law Offices of George Salinas, we’re determined to make responsible parties pay when they cause an injury. We handle plaintiff’s cases only. Our extensive injury and liability experience has given us an edge in analyzing complex legal issues and navigating San Antonio, Bexar County, and Texas court systems. We’ve handled cases for many injured clients. We’ve appreciated how severe injuries changed their lives. We’ve worked diligently and recovered millions for our injured clients because it’s the right thing to do.
Our Law Firm’s Results
We hold negligent parties responsible for their actions. Our firm has relied on experience as we’ve investigated accidents and prepared our cases for disposition. When possible, our attorneys have settled our clients’ cases outside of the courtroom. We’ve negotiated with reasonable insurance companies. We’ve worked through the Alternative Dispute Resolution process and settled through mediation or arbitration. We’ve cooperated when it led to settling our clients’ cases. When necessary, we’ve had no problem presenting our evidence before a judge and jury.
Our law firm is proud of the settlements we’ve recovered for our clients. As we respect our client’s privacy, we choose not to share information about the cases we’ve handled. We invite you to view our Testimonials Page where our clients have shared their thoughts about their experiences with The Law Offices of George Salinas.
Types of Auto Accidents in San Antonio
When you consider the idea of an accident, it’s easy to think of it as two cars crashing into each other. It’s often more complicated than that, however. When a large truck is involved, it increases the potential for damages and catastrophic injuries. Whether the accident involves a private passenger car or a big commercial vehicle, it’s sometimes difficult for investigators to figure out exactly what happened.
When vehicles come to a stop after an initial impact, they’re sometimes far removed from the original impact location. Vehicles rotate, move sideways, and may even overturn. Airbags and restraint systems fail and increase driver and passenger injury severity. When a gas tank ruptures, fires occur. As drivers rarely make totally compatible statements, you must remember and explain your best recollection of what type of impact occurred and how it happened.
Single-car crashes aren’t always as simple as they seem. The 2017 Texas Department of Transportation Contributing Factors crash report lists 19 single-vehicle accident fatalities. They happen both on city streets and in rural areas. They occur when a driver loses control and crashes without contacting another vehicle, and when other drivers cut someone off, cause an accident, and leave the scene. Contributing factors in single-car crashes often include mechanical issues, defective tires, defective vehicle parts, and animals on the roadway.
Frontal impact accidents occur when drivers fail to stay in their lane of travel. Reckless driving, distracted driving, DUI driving and, other actions are often involved. Texas 2017 DOT crash statistics show that 3,592 vehicles were involved in crashes when drivers were traveling the wrong way in an entryway, two-way street or a one-way street.
When a vehicle crashes head-on into another, the damage and injury severity depend on a vehicle’s size, speed, and the vehicle’s ability to withstand a crash. The NHTSA oversees crash safety testing and assigns star ratings. Vehicles with superior ability to protect passengers receive a five-star rating. Those with poor crash performances receive one star. Newer vehicles are much safer, but some older vehicles don’t fare as well during frontal impacts. You can review your vehicle’s test rating to see how it holds up under a frontal, side or rollover impacts on the NHTSA Rating page.
When a vehicle strikes another car in the rear, the striking driver is usually considered at-fault. Police often cite responsible drivers under Texas Transportation Code, Sec. §545.062, Following Distance, for failing to maintain an “…assured clear distance….” This is based on a common supposition that if a driver maintains a cushion of space between their car and the car in front of them, they will have enough time to stop without rear-ending the car in front or veering into adjacent traffic.
Rollovers occur when a vehicle not only loses control but rolls over and continues rolling until it loses momentum. Rollovers aren’t that simple to evaluate. Upon initial examination, they’re often considered a single car event. Past investigations have proven that some vehicles roll over due to design flaws or safety issues. Poor highway maintenance, soft shoulder conditions, hit-and-run drivers and other problems contribute to rollover accidents.
When a side impact accident occurs, the front of one driver’s car strikes the side of the other. The initiating vehicle may strike the vehicle’s side front or side rear. When it strikes the vehicle’s door, it’s often referred to as a “T-Bone” accident. When a side impact occurs, both drivers often claim that the other driver is responsible.
These accidents usually occur at intersections, parking lot exits, or driveways. They may involve stop signs, traffic lights, or right of way issues. Side impacts sometimes occur because one driver backs from a driveway into traffic. Unbiased witnesses play an important evidentiary role when the liability issues are unclear or the driver’s versions are questionable.
Crashes involving multiple vehicles often occur when speed, visibility, weather, road conditions, debris in the road and other factors simultaneously affect more than one driver. Sometimes a single driver makes a reckless move that affects others in close proximity. It’s another situation where statements from unbiased witnesses help resolve the liability issues.
When cars are traveling in a line—usually in commuter traffic—a single action can initiate a chain of collisions. Investigators can usually track the initial impact to a single vehicle. It’s difficult to analyze the causes of subsequent impacts. There’s rarely a consensus of opinion on whether one vehicle struck the next vehicle or was pushed into it. Chain reactions are often a series of rear-end impacts with resulting whiplash and serious back and neck injuries.
A no-contact accident occurs when a driver crashes after trying to avoid another driver who pulled into their path or failed to yield the right of way. Liability issues are often complicated when the driver who caused the accident refuses to acknowledge their part in causing the crash. Sometimes the initiating driver intentionally fails to stop. Other times they leave the area as they don’t realize they’ve caused an accident.
Auto Accident Injuries
Injuries vary widely depending on the type of accident involved. Rear-end accidents cause whiplash, neck and back injuries. A substantial rear-end impact can rupture a gas tank and cause a fire and burn injuries. If the impact is heavy during a front-end collision, it can push mechanical components into the passenger compartment, displace the dashboard and shatter the windshield. A severe front-end impact can shatter a passenger’s lower limbs, cause traumatic brain injury, spinal cord accident, and other serious injuries.
Despite passive restraint systems and heavy metal reinforcements, the impacts from rollovers, T-Bones and other severe crashes can also cause these serious, catastrophic, and fatal injuries. Those who survive must deal with the life changes that follow.
Recovery from serious or catastrophic injuries requires the victim to change their lifestyle. They must learn to manage high medical and therapy costs often without their pre-accident income. Serious and catastrophic injuries cause temporary and permanent disabilities and lost income. Even at maximum recovery, injured victims must adjust their lives to fit their new circumstances.
No matter the type of accident, drivers and their passengers may sustain one or more of a long list of injuries:
- Spinal cord damage
- Partial and complete paralysis
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Traumatic brain injury
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Disc and spine injuries
- Nerve damage
- Severe Burns
- Multiple fractures
- Shattered bones
- Traumatic amputations
- Internal organ damage
- Fatal injuries
Who Is At Fault for an Auto Accident?
Accident liability issues are rarely simple, especially for accidents involving multiple cars and drivers or complex liability and damage scenarios. When a plaintiff or defendant alleges a product defect, accident cases often become hybrids involving auto and product liability issues. A number of people or entities are often responsible for any given accident type:
- Driver: A driver is ultimately responsible if he or she acted negligently in causing an accident.
- Vehicle owner: A vehicle owner can be liable for the driver’s actions if he knew the driver had a problematic driving history but he allowed him to drive the car anyway. Under Texas Transportation Codes §601.503, an owner is also financially responsible for damage caused by his vehicle.
- Manufacturer: If a vehicle or vehicle component defect causes an accident, the manufacturer is strictly liable or negligent under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, §16.102.
- Maintenance company: When a service company negligently repairs or services a car and their error or omission caused an accident, they can be liable for the injuries.
What Damages Can an Injured Person Recover for Auto Accident Injuries?
A driver or passenger who is injured in a car accident in San Antonio may receive an award based on three damage categories: Compensatory, general, and punitive.
Juries calculate compensatory damages based on an injured person’s medical expenses and income loses. A settlement or judgment may also include a total for projected future expenses. Compensatory damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Mobility devices and prosthesis
- Physical and psychological therapy
- Medical transportation expenses
- Replacement services
- Plastic surgery and scar revision
- Funeral and burial expenses
An injured person may also collect general damages. These are often difficult to assess, as they include values for subjective and intangible losses:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship and society
- Loss of function
- Permanent scars and disfigurement
- Permanent limitations and disabilities
- Lifestyle changes
When a Texas court chooses to punish a defendant, it may award the plaintiff punitive or exemplary damages under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §41.003. To qualify for a punitive damage award, an injured plaintiff must produce “…clear and convincing evidence…” of fraud, malice, or gross negligence.
Can a Person Who Causes an Accident Defend Themselves in Court?
Sometimes, even when liability is clear, negligent drivers, insurance companies and their attorneys seek to avoid liability or reduce the damages. They sometimes offer a low settlement hoping to preserve some of the policy funds they’ve reserved for injury claims. When they choose to defend a lawsuit, they sometimes do it with the belief that the potential for discovery costs can motivate an injured plaintiff to reduce their expectations.
Defendant attorneys may plead several traditional defenses on behalf of their clients:
- Comparative fault: Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, §33.001 Proportionate Responsibility, is a comparative fault statute. It allows a proportionate distribution of liability among two or more parties. If a defendant proves a plaintiff contributed to their own injuries. The jury reduces the award by the injured plaintiff’s negligence percentage. If a defendant can prove that the plaintiff has 51 percent or greater negligence, their negligence bars their recovery.
- No negligence: If a plaintiff convinces a jury that they didn’t do anything wrong, they avoid paying a judgment.
- Damage mitigation: When defendants can’t win on liability, they often look for ways to diminish the value of the claim. Defense attorneys sometimes try to prove that the injuries weren’t as severe as claimed or that they didn’t occur in the accident.
- No defect: If a manufacturer proves their product wasn’t defective, they eliminate the company’s liability exposure.
At The Law Offices of George Salinas, our experience has allowed us to anticipate potential defense strategies and prepare our cases accordingly. We’ve investigated and evaluated our clients’ cases with a critical eye. We have done the work necessary to overcome a defendant’s allegations so we can move forward and resolve our clients’ cases.
Call Our San Antonio Automobile Injury Lawyers
If you or a family member have been injured in a car accident, our attorneys want to help. The Law Offices of George Salinas has worked with many injured clients, and we’ve recovered the damages that help them get their lives back on track. We’d like the opportunity to review your case to see if we can help you. Call us at (210) 528-1536 or complete our contact form at The Law Offices of George Salinas online. We’ll arrange a phone or in-person consultation to discuss the facts and help decide what your next steps should be.