Archive for the ‘Accident Lawyer’ Category

Tips to Overcome Bad Driving Habits in 2024

Driver holds soda in one hand and a sandwich in the other while trying to steer the wheel of a car, putting her at risk of a serious car accident.

During this time of year, many people are trying to maintain their New Year’s resolutions. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one of the top priorities on everyone’s list should be actively contributing to preventing car accidents.

So, what’s the most effective way to enhance road safety? It begins with addressing and changing bad driving habits. AAA points out that bad habits, whether it’s texting while driving, speeding, disregarding stop signs, or neglecting to use turn signals, have become ingrained in many drivers. The challenge lies in breaking free from these habits.

To shed light on this issue, let’s explore some of the most common bad driving habits and examine whether they are a concern in Texas. Additionally, we’ll provide some valuable safe driving tips to help drivers change these habits. Our team of Houston car accident attorneys at Smith & Hassler is committed to promoting safer driving practices.

What are the most common dangerous driving habits?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released the “2022 Traffic Safety Culture Index.” Based on responses from 2,500 drivers in 2022, the report identifies some of the most common dangerous driving habits, including:

  • Distracted driving – 15 percent of the respondents said they drove distracted within the last 30 days, including texting while driving.
  • Drowsy driving – 9 percent had trouble keeping their eyes open while driving within the past month.
  • Not stopping at a red light – 8 percent of drivers surveyed stated they failed to stop for a red light at least once within the past 30 days.
  • Speeding – 7 percent drove 15 mph over the speed limit on an interstate or 10 mph over the speed limit in a residential area.
  • Aggressive driving – 3 percent of drivers described themselves as aggressive drivers.
  • Drunk driving – 3 percent admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol within the past 30 days.

How safe are drivers in Texas?

Many drivers in Texas have bad habits that often result in serious or fatal car accidents. In fact, according to accident data collected by the Texas Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2021 was a record-setting year for three common bad driving habits.

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol – 1,906 people died in drunk driving accidents that year, the highest drunk driving death toll in the state in at least a decade.
  • Speeding – 1,568 deaths due to speeding, another decade-high record.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt – 1,172 deaths, the highest death toll in more than a decade.

Tips to be a safer driver in 2024

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and our legal team have several suggestions for drivers who want to break bad driving habits this year, including:

  • Minimize distractions: Turn off your cell phone or switch it to “do not disturb” mode before you start driving. Distracted driving, especially due to texting or using a phone, significantly increases the risk of accidents.
  • Obey traffic signals: Make it a habit to come to a complete stop at all red lights and stop signs. Rolling through stop signs or running red lights can lead to dangerous collisions.
  • Plan ahead: If possible, leave a few minutes earlier when heading out so that you’re not in a rush to reach your destination. Rushing can lead to aggressive driving behaviors and reduced attention to road conditions.
  • Never drink and drive: Always have a plan before heading out for the evening, especially if you’ll be drinking. Designate a sober driver, use rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, or rely on public transportation to get home safely.
  • Take regular breaks: When driving long distances, make it a point to take breaks every two hours. This practice helps prevent fatigue and drowsy driving, reducing the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
  • Avoid eating and drinking while driving: Eating or drinking behind the wheel can divert your attention from the road. It’s safer to consume food and beverages when your vehicle is parked.
  • Drive defensively: Adopt a defensive driving approach, which means being prepared for unexpected situations while driving. Always anticipate that other drivers may make mistakes, and maintain a safe following distance to give yourself time to react to sudden changes in traffic.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, tell them you mean business

Don’t let anyone push you around if you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver. Get a Houston car accident lawyer who means business. Get Smith & Hassler. Our dedicated legal team has the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to demand justice after your car crash.

Take command of your case right from the start. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a Houston car accident attorney focused on winning your case. We have four offices conveniently located throughout Texas, including three offices in Houston. In addition, our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only have to pay us if we secure a financial settlement or verdict for your car accident injury.

Intersection Accidents Spark Right-on-Red Debate

Houston City Hall building and traffic at night in downtown Houston, Texas

Texas considers ending right turns on red due to spike in crashes

Most states, including Texas, permit right turns at signaled intersections in the absence of oncoming traffic. However, an increase in fatal intersection accidents  – particularly in Houston – has prompted calls to restrict right turns on red lights.

Just this month, Houston has experienced several fatal accidents at intersections, including:

According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, this optional maneuver always posed a risk but has become more dangerous over time due to the popularity of large trucks and SUVs, which can limit a driver’s visibility. When scanning for gaps in traffic to take a right turn on red, the larger vehicles increase the potential for drivers to miss pedestrians, cyclists, and on-coming vehicles.

Determining who is at fault in a right turn on red accident is often complicated, but an experienced Houston car accident lawyer can guide injured victims successfully through the process.

Who has the right of way in a right-on-red turn?

In Texas, as in many other places, the right of way law says that drivers are allowed to make a right turn after coming to a complete stop, provided that it is safe to do so and there is no conflicting traffic. Here are the key points regarding the right of way for right turns on red lights in Texas:

  • Come to a complete stop. Before making a right turn on red, the driver must come to a complete stop at the stop line or before entering the intersection.
  • Check for traffic. Drivers must ensure that there is no oncoming traffic from the left and that it is safe to make the right turn. This includes checking for pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk.
  • Yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks – even in intersections with RTOR options.
  • No turn on red signs. Some intersections may have specific signs indicating that right turns on red are not allowed. In such cases, drivers must wait for a green signal.
  • Traffic signal changes. If the traffic signal changes to green while a driver is waiting to make a right turn on red, they should yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians and proceed with caution.

Who is at fault in RTOR accidents?

Fault and liability can be unclear in RTOR accidents, as well. Typically, the turning driver is at fault, but not always. There are many questions to ask and factors to consider, including:

  • Did the crash involve any traffic law violations?
  • Could the driver see the victim, or was their view obstructed?
  • Did the driver fail to gauge the speed and distance of other vehicles?
  • Was the driver impaired?
  • Did they yield to pedestrians and others with the right-of-way?
  • Did the driver safely execute the turn?
  • Did the driver check for oncoming traffic?

An investigation by a car accident attorney with extensive experience handling claims in Texas can help injured victims find answers to these questions. They can interview witnesses and collect important documents and evidence to build a strong claim.

Compensation for intersection accident victims in Houston, TX

In Texas, victims injured in car accidents involving right turns on red lights may have options for financial compensation. When a driver’s negligence leads to such an accident, victims can seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.

The experienced car accident attorneys at Smith & Hassler, Attorneys At Law, can investigate the crash, gather evidence, and negotiate aggressively with insurance companies for maximum compensation.

If you were injured in a car accident in Houston or the surrounding community, contact us for a free case evaluation. A member of our team is available 24/7 to hear from you. We can answer your questions, explain your potential legal options, and help you decide how to move forward.

Obtaining and reading your Texas car accident report

Houston auto accident attorney

If you were recently involved in a traffic collision, there was likely a prompt investigation conducted by a law enforcement agency. When police arrive at the scene of a crash, they gather important details regarding how a crash occurred and who was at fault. This information is documented in a car accident report.

Your car accident report can serve as evidence to support your case against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance provider. This can be obtained online at the Texas Department of Transportation website and costs $6 for a regular copy and $8 for a certified copy (the official document used for a legal proceeding).

When you obtain a copy of your crash report, it’s important that you know how to read it and ensure that all information is accurate. To better understand your Texas car accident report, Smith & Hassler, Attorneys At Law has offered a complete guide below.

Page 1 — The basic information

Here is what you will find on page one:

  • Identification and location: Here, you will find the time, date and location of your crash. This will include the street, city/town and county where your crash occurred. It will also mention whether the crash occurred at an intersection or construction zone and what the posted speed limit was.
  • Vehicle, driver and persons involved: This section includes driver and vehicle information and if anyone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Identifications of parties involved: This is where the names, addresses, phone numbers, vehicle information and driver’s licenses are documented. It also states whether or not seatbelts were used or airbags were deployed, as well as if anyone was ejected, injured or killed.
  • Drug/alcohol information: In this section, police will document the names, addresses and phone number of parties who were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In addition, it will include whether or not a sobriety test was given or if specimen was taken.

Click here for a visual reference of page one.

Page 2 — The narrative of the crash

On page two, you find:

  • Injuries and deaths: This section will list the names of parties who were injured or killed in a crash. This will include the names, date of birth, if they were taken to a hospital and how they were taken to a hospital.
  • Criminal charges and citations: Here, you will find a list of parties who were criminally charged or issued citations by police.
  • Damage to property: This section lists damage inflicted on property other than vehicles, as well as the names of the property owners.
  • Commercial vehicle crash information: If a commercial vehicle was involved in your crash, the carrier name, cargo type, vehicle weight and driver information will be documented here.
  • Narrative and diagram: The investigating officer will provide a written narrative on how he or she thinks the crash occurred. In addition, the officer will draw out a diagram on how the crash occurred. This will include the directions of both vehicles involved, any intersections involved and the potential events that led to the crash.

Click here for a visual reference to page two.

How can I pursue a car accident claim after obtaining my car accident report?

After obtaining your accident report and getting medical attention, it’s critical that you speak to an experienced Houston car accident attorney who can help you pursue a legal claim. Our law firm can conduct a further investigation and reveal more about how your crash occurred than what is stated on the crash report.

You do not have to wait until you have your police report before contacting Smith & Hassler for a free case evaluation. In fact, if you choose to retain Smith & Hassler before your police report is available, we will obtain a copy of the accident report so you don’t have to.

We’ll also handle the insurance companies on your behalf and fight for a fair financial settlement. Contact us online and schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

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.

car accident personal injury attorneys

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.

drunk driving car accident attorneys

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.

car accident injury attorney Houston

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.

personal injury attorney Houston TX

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.

truck accident attorneys Houston TX 77008

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.

car accident attorneys Houston TX 77008

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.

Roof ripped off pickup in Baytown 18 wheeler accident

An 18-year old male driver and his 17-year old female passenger miraculously survived a crash with an 18-wheeler that ripped the roof completely off their vehicle late Monday evening. The couple’s pickup went under the trailer of an 18-wheeler that had pulled out onto the roadway at Decker near Oakland in Baytown, Texas.

truck accident attorneys Houston Texas

Houston personal injury attorneys Smith & Hassler have been helping injured Texans get compensated for serious injuries from 18-wheeler accidents since 1989.