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How the Roads of Houston Can Be Made Safer By Wrong-Way Driving Prevention Measures

5
Jul 2018
By:

Houston auto accident attorneyTechnology is being used in many new and exciting ways to make the roads of America safer for drivers, passengers, and other road users. New vehicles are being equipped with crash avoidance technology such as lane drift alerts, lane assist technology, cross-traffic cameras, and other warning sensors.

Now, technology is being used to identify and alert wrong-way drivers in order to reduce the risk that they will cause a collision.

The Causes of Wrong-way Driving Accidents

Wrong-way driving is “first and foremost a driver behavior issue,” according to one official at the Arizona Department of Transportation who spoke with ITS International. This official also reported that more than two out of every three wrong-way driving accidents in Arizona are caused by impaired drivers.

Often, the driver’s blood alcohol content is twice the legal limit or more. This is a driving behavior that must be addressed independently. Luckily, the good work of powerful advocacy organizations and government traffic safety agencies has been effective at addressing the problem of impaired driving across America. This must continue if the number of wrong-way accidents caused by impaired drivers is to be effectively reduced.

Other driver behaviors can also lead to wrong-way accidents. Here in Houston, one driver intentionally traveled the wrong way while fleeing from the police. The Houston Chronicle reports that the driver had caused a rollover accident before fleeing from the scene and leading police on a high-speed pursuit. She drove the wrong way on Highway 59, where speeds reached 100 miles per hour. She was eventually stopped before anyone could be injured. This was an incredibly lucky outcome in a situation that “could have been so much worse,” according to the Patton Village police chief. The driver was arrested on charges of both DUI with a prior conviction and fleeing from police.

This bad situation could easily have caused injury or death to other drivers in the area. In addition to the initial decision to drink and drive, the driver also chose to further endanger the public by leading police on a wrong-way, high-speed pursuit. This is the kind of driving behavior that cannot go unpunished.

In addition to criminal charges and administrative consequences (such as fines, fees, or a driver’s license suspension), it is important that victims hold negligent drivers accountable for their conduct through the civil court process. This can consist of filing a personal injury claim with the driver’s insurance company or filing a civil lawsuit against the impaired driver. Both of these processes provide important financial consequences to deter dangerous driving behaviors in the future.

Our Houston auto accident attorneys know just how devastating a wrong-way accident can be. It is important that victims protect their right to be compensated for all injuries and losses incurred as the result of a wrong-way accident. It is also important to hold negligent drivers accountable for their dangerous conduct (even if they were not impaired) in order to prevent future injuries to other innocent victims.

Recovering Damages in Houston Hit-and-Run Accidents

7
Jun 2018
By:

Houston auto accident attorneysTexas is among the most dangerous in the nation when it comes to hit-and-run accident deaths.

Valley Central reports that Texas hit-and-run-accident deaths are up 30 percent in the last two years. Nationwide, AAA reports that nearly 700,000 hit-and-run crashes have occurred each year for the last decade, with about two-thirds of those killed being either bicyclists or pedestrians.

Texas Transportation Code § 550.022 requires anyone involved in a traffic accident with property damage, regardless of whether the other driver is present, to stop. Violations in property-damage crashes may be misdemeanors, but in cases where injury is caused, a driver may face a felony charge and up to 5 years behind bars. Yet despite the law, many motorists choose to leave the scene of an accident.

Our Houston injury lawyers know how devastating these cases can be for injury victims and their families. Most result in very serious or fatal injuries. After a fatal hit-and-run, loved ones are left to wonder whether a victim suffered, or whether he or she could have survived if the at-fault driver had called 911 and stopped to render timely aid.

Drunk Drivers To Blame; Bicycle and Pedestrians Victimized

The risks in Texas are in part a consequence of a high number of drunk drivers and other risks that consistently cause our roads to rank among the most dangerous in the nation. Motorists who flee the scene of an accident are often afraid of interacting with law enforcement, perhaps because they’re driving drunk, driving a stolen vehicle, driving without a license or already have an outstanding arrest warrant.

Suing for Damages after Houston Hit-and-Run

Texas auto insurance law requires all motorists to have automobile liability insurance in minimum amounts of $30,000 injury coverage for each person and $60,000 for each accident. Even among those drivers who are carrying insurance, minimum coverage may not be adequate. As the Texas Department of Transportation notes, “[T]he minimum amounts might not be enough to pay all of the other driver’s costs if you’re at fault in an accident. Other drivers could sue you to collect the difference. Consider buying more than the minimum limits to protect yourself financially.”

However, when a driver leaves the scene and is never identified, recovery options for victims are limited. Among the best options is uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This coverage pays bodily injury damages (include medical bills, pain and suffering and disability benefits) and property damage to the policy holder in the event of a collision with an at-fault driver who either has no insurance or has inadequate insurance – and a hit-and-run driver is uninsured by default. Benefits are extended to you, family members, passengers in your vehicle and others who are driving your vehicle with your permission. While it’s not mandatory coverage under Texas law, those who do not want it must reject it in writing.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that 1 in 8 drivers are currently uninsured. Many thousands of others are carrying minimum coverage. Texas motorists are at particularly high risk for hit-and-run collisions. Add it all up, and UM/UIM coverage, which will add at most a few hundred dollars to your annual policy premium, is among the most important protections you can buy when it comes to keeping you and your family safe on the road.

If you’ve been injured, an experienced auto accident attorney at Smith & Hassler can help guide you through the process. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

HPD Officer Nestor Garcia struck by suspected drunk driver

Please pray for 24-year old Houston Police Department Officer Nestor Garcia who was struck and seriously injured by an SUV last night on US 59 southbound at Dunlavy.

Officer Garcia, a rookie with less than 1-year on-the-job with HPD, was participating in a felony stop of a suspected stolen vehicle, when a white Toyota Highlander driven by a 79-year old male plowed through the scene at about 60 MPH. Officer Garcia sustained a head injury, abdominal injuries and some fractures and was listed in critical condition. The 79-year old driver was arrested and is expected to be charged with intoxication assault of a peace officer. Officer Garcia is not married; media reports say his family were with him at the hospital.

HPD Nestor Garcia drunk driving accident

The Toyota SUV that struck Officer Garcia

Update: the 79-year old driver has been publicly identified as Robert Zimmerman. Channel 13 interviewed Zimmerman’s neighbors and business associates, who report he used to work in real estate investing and is semi-retired. Zimmerman does not have a criminal record.

4 killed when Volkswagen struck by speeding car on US 290

Four people occupying a Volkswagen car were killed in a terrible automobile accident this morning on US 290 in Waller County. Channel 13 interviewed a DPS spokesman who explained that the Volkswagen was rear-ended by a speeding Chevy Impala sedan. That impact forced the Volkswagen off the roadway at which time the car caught fire. Firefighters did not discover the bodies of the victims inside the Volkswagen until they had extinguished the flames. The driver of the Impala was taken to a hospital in College Station in unknown condition. DPS is working on identifying the four folks who were killed.

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Front end damage to the Impala

 

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The four victims were in this Volkswagen car

Hit-and-run driver sought after 21-year old critically injured

21-year old Joseph Pena was driving home from work after finishing his shift when he was involved in a hit-and-run collision with another vehicle that has left Joseph serious injured and his mother wondering how the other driver could callously leave the scene. Joseph was giving a friend a ride home at the time of the crash, which sent Joseph’s car into a light pole. Joseph’s mother says he is now in critical condition and his heart has stopped twice since the wreck. The hit-and-run vehicle is described as a gray Toyota Scion; Harris County Sheriffs are investigating the crash.

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HPD officer pulls over drunk, hit by another drunk

Last night a Houston Police Department patrol officer had pulled over a suspected drunk driver and was conducting an investigation when the officer’s patrol car was smashed by a second suspected drunk driver. This is not a rare occurrence in Houston, and for some reason rather than emergency lights serving as a warning to drunk drivers, the lights seem to draw them in like moths to a flame. The crash happened on Houston’s North Loop (coincidentally Smith & Hassler’s office is on the North Loop). The officer and suspected drunk driver #1 were reported to be uninjured thankfully, and ABC Channel 13 has video of both drivers being sobriety tested.

If you’ve been hurt by a drunk driver, in Houston or anywhere else, give us a call and we’d be glad to explain what your legal options are.

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Person killed changing flat tire on I-45 at North Loop

A fatal crash early this morning shut down all lanes of Interstate 45 at the North 610 Loop. According to Channel 2 News, a black car was stopped in the fast lane of I-45 to change a flat tire. A white-colored Honda car stopped behind the black car to assist. One of the drivers was standing behind the white Honda when a white-colored Dodge Ram pickup slammed into the back of the Honda, killing the person who was standing between the two vehicles.

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Daragh Carter named Personal Injury Super Lawyer for 2017

Congratulations to Smith & Hassler attorney Daragh Carter who was selected as a Super Lawyer in the Personal Injury practice area for 2017.

Daragh joined Smith & Hassler in April 2006 and has been representing injured clients ever since. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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Daragh Carter

Pedestrian hit by 18-wheeler on I-45 survives

A man attempting to run across Interstate 45 North last night has miraculously survived being struck by an 18-wheeler. The accident happened just before midnight near Tidwell. Witnesses credit the 18-wheeler driver with attempting to swerve to avoid the crash, and after clipping the man the trucker pulled over and called 911. It is very difficult to gauge the speed of an approaching vehicle and how much time there is to cross a multi-lane roadway during daylight, let alone at night, so while taking a shortcut is tempting it can often prove fatal. The safer play is wait for help, don’t try to cross the freeway.

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Pedestrian hit by big rig on I45

Box truck crushes cars on Blue Bell Road in Houston, TX

Two drivers are lucky to have survived a four vehicle accident the afternoon of Thursday March 23, 2017.

According to Channel 13 News, a flatbed hauling some pipe was traveling the 600 block of Blue Bell Road when it struck the rear of a large white box truck, causing the box truck to make an out-of-control turn and topple over onto two passenger cars. The box truck partially crushed a gold colored Honda and a dark-colored Cadillac behind it. Accident witness Mr. Cruz Hernandez told Channel 13 that a female existed the Honda bleeding from her head, and the Cadillac driver was up and moving after the crash.

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Both were taken to the hospital to be checked out. The box truck driver wasn’t hurt in the crash, and the driver of the flatbed truck who cause the accident is going to be issued a citation for failure to control speed.