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Texas is home to some of America’s most dangerous roads

by | Aug 26, 2020 | Auto Accidents, Blog

According to an analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Texas is home to some of the most dangerous major roads in the country. For example, San Antonio’s own Interstate 10 ranked as the fifth most dangerous highway in the United States. Another Texas Interstate, I-20, ranked as the sixth most dangerous highway, and several other interstates and federal highways in Texas made the list of the top 50 most dangerous roads in the country.

Even though they do not appear on this list, other Texas highways, like US-285, have a notorious reputation for being dangerous. U.S.-285 is known as the Death Highway because, especially in recent years, there have been many serious accidents involving large trucks and other vehicles associated with the oil industry.

The dedicated motor vehicle accident lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm understand the dangers associated with Texas highways and have recovered over half a billion dollars for our personal injury clients. Schedule a free highway accident case consultation with our experienced legal team today.

Why Are Texas Highways So Dangerous?

Some roads may be more dangerous than others simply because they are crowded or need some design improvements. Higher traffic flow leads to an increase in sudden hazards, including rear-end collisions, merging mistakes, blind spot crashes, debris, and chain-reaction accidents. Likewise, poorly designed exits or lack of roadway drainage and lighting may lead to sudden car crashes.

However, in many cases, roads are dangerous because, for whatever reasons, drivers operate carelessly or recklessly when they travel on them. Consider the following most common factors leading to highway accidents in Texas.

1. Drunk Driving

Many of the dangerous roads in Texas have a disproportionate number of drunk driving accidents on them, suggesting that a lot of people on dangerous roads are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. On two Texas highways, US-83 and I-40, more than half of all crashes involved at least one legally drunk motorist (above a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content). Texas does not permit sobriety checkpoints in high-risk areas, even though studies indicate they would decrease the prevalence of drunk driving crashes on major highways.

The CDC reports that, in every drunk driving category, Texas exceeds the national average of alcohol-related fatalities. Texas has a 20-33 percent higher fatality rate among both male and female drivers. It also has a disproportionately high number of drunk driving deaths among drivers aged 21 to 34. These statistics don’t account for the serious and disabling personal injuries commonly sustained in drunk driving crashes.

Further, many drivers operate their vehicles while impaired by alcohol but with a BAC below 0.08 percent. This prevents judges from assuming the driver engaged in unlawful conduct, but it might still support DUI charges and reckless driving lawsuits.

Even one or two drinks can:

  • Reducing critical decision-making skills
  • Impair judgment
  • Decrease inhibitions
  • Increase fatigue and feelings of relaxation
  • Reduce the driver’s ability to track and process moving targets like other vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians
  • Reduce the driver’s ability to multitask, such as hit the brakes and horn

Signs of impairment, including the impact of prescription drugs, often include delayed reaction to questions, confusion, slurred speech, inability to focus, and loss of coordination. You should report any signs of potential drugged or drunk driving to the police and retain a dedicated injury lawyer immediately.

2. Speeding

In addition to drunk drivers, many motorists on dangerous Texas highways engage in other bad habits, like speeding or distracted driving. The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that speeding, in particular, is the leading cause of oil worker fatalities in Texas. Despite the relative dangers of drill sites, nearly 40 percent of workers die on the way to and from the oilfield. Because these drill sites frequently sit in rural areas along stretches of unmonitored highways, drivers frequently travel at reckless speeds while fatigued.

Speeding also increases the likelihood of serious injuries and fatalities when inevitable collisions occur. For example, exposed pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are three times more likely to die when struck by vehicles traveling over 50 miles per hour. Texas has one of the highest highway speed limits in the nation, with some freeways setting 85 miles per hour maximums. Vehicle impacts at this speed send an increased crash force through occupants and often result in fatal rollover accidents. Because studies indicate that nearly half of drivers regularly speed on freeways, even going slightly over the speed limit contributes to the higher-than-average rate of serious injuries and deaths on Texas roadways.

3. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving includes any activity that takes the driver’s mental, visual, and/or physical focus away from driving. Examples include eating, daydreaming, changing radio stations, disciplining kids, or texting. Each year, nearly 3,000 people die and 400,000 suffer injuries due to driver distraction. Texting and cell phone use commonly cause distracted driving accidents, as smartphones take the driver’s mental, visual, and physical focus off the road.

Long trips down major Texas highways also contribute to increased daydreaming. Combined with high speed limits, even a moment’s distraction can cause major rear-end collisions, drifting accidents, and loss of vehicle control due to overcompensation. Our personal injury attorneys recovered over $10,000,000 for the family of a victim killed by a distracted truck driver.

4. Driver Inexperience

Texas’ major highway corridors are also popular routes for oil rigs and other large trucks. Not all of these drivers have the necessary training and experience to operate safely. Most commercial vehicle operators must obtain specialized commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) to operate these work vehicles, but local oil corporations may encourage employees to violate these regulations.

Among truck drivers who do have CDLs, a push for profit or other reasons may tempt them to cut corners when it comes to safety or to take unnecessary risks on the road. This includes speeding to and from drill sites to reduce labor costs.

Likewise, driver inexperience frequently leads to increased accident rates among Texas teenagers. New drivers may be unfamiliar with certain highway curves and lack the experience necessary to recognize drunk drivers and execute defensive driving maneuvers. Age and inexperience are never excuses for causing serious and fatal car crashes. Victims might hold both the driver and his/her parents or employer liable for these devastating accidents.

Holding Dangerous Drivers Accountable For Texas Highway Accidents in Court

Claimants injured in Texas highway crashes often suffer from catastrophic injuries ranging from spinal cord damage to brain trauma. Other common accident injuries include burns from car fires, dislocated shoulders, concussions, facial fractures, lacerations and bruising, broken ribs, and even fractured legs resulting in amputations. Unfortunately, many of these injuries prove fatal. Families may recover damages on behalf of loved ones killed in motor vehicle crashes. Most Texas traffic accidents give rise to the following legal claims:

1. Negligence

Nearly all car accidents involve some level of driver negligence. It’s the exception, not the rule, when an accident occurs absent driver misconduct. Negligence claims alleged that the driver operated the vehicle below the acceptable standard of care. If the driver’s careless conduct directly caused or contributed to your injuries, you might sue the driver, vehicle owner, and driver’s employer (if working at the time) for negligence. Most of these claims settle with auto insurance companies. However, understanding negligence is important because it normally underlies all other car accident claims.

Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se claims alleged that specific vehicle and traffic violations caused the resulting car crashes. If experienced highway accident lawyers can show that statutory violations caused the accident, claimants might recover accelerated liability judgments and faster insurance settlements.

The most common traffic violations resulting in injuries or deaths include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Failure to keep a lookout
  • Tailgating (following too closely)
  • Unsafe passing and lane changes
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving, which is a combination of multiple violations
  • Illegal turns
  • Failure to yield

Special regulations also apply to commercial vehicles, such as buses and semi-trucks. These drivers must abide by hours of service limitations, perform weight and maintenance checks, and follow alternative highway speed limits and safety rules. Accidents involving commercial drivers often result in imputed employer liability.

2. Gross Negligence

Also called reckless driving, gross negligence claims allege that the driver acted with complete disregard for human safety despite knowing the risks. Gross negligence generally includes drunk/drugged driving, falling asleep at the wheel, excessive speeding, drag racing, high-speed weaving, and driving without a license. Intentionally cutting off drivers or running red lights might also involve reckless driving claims. If the driver’s conduct would support misdemeanor or felony charges—not just ticketable offenses—claimants normally have gross negligence claims. Texas permits victims injured by reckless drivers to demand exemplary (punitive) damages.

3. Wrongful Death

If car accident victims die from their injuries, either instantly or thereafter, families might recover damages on their behalves. Spouses, children, and parents must file injury litigation under Texas wrongful death laws. These wrongful death lawsuits give immediate family members the right to demand lifetime lost wages and benefits along with reimbursement for medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of consortium/parental companionship. Eligible family members have two years from the date of death, if different from the accident date, to file wrongful death litigation in Texas.

Obtaining Insurance Compensation Following Texas Traffic Accidents

Most viable accident injury claims settle with liable auto insurance companies. However, these policies seldom cover the damages associated with catastrophic injuries. For example, advocacy organizations indicate that patients suffering from spinal cord damage incur between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000 in medical expenses throughout their lifetime, and this does not include associated lost wages, earning potential, or benefits.

It also doesn’t include the pain and suffering damages claimants and their families deserve under Texas law, which covers:

  • Emotional anguish associated with the trauma
  • Physical pain
  • Nerve pain and general discomfort
  • Lost enjoyment of life and previous hobbies
  • Frustration
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of consortium and resulting family difficulties

Texas only requires non-commercial drivers to carry $30,000 in liability insurance per person. While commercial vehicles, such as trucks and buses, must carry substantially higher policies, even these may not compensate severely injured claimants for their losses.

Experienced personal injury lawyers know how to identify liable parties, including potential vehicle manufacturers, to maximize the value of your car accident claims. San Antonio highway accident attorneys might even help families obtain damages from their underinsured motorist policies, liable public entities, trucking companies, or the Texas Crime Victims Compensation Program.

Finding The Right Lawyer After A Car Crash

Thousands of personal injury attorneys advertise their legal services to victims of Texas highway traffic accidents. It’s overwhelming, and many claimants fear being bullied into contracts by aggressive lawyers or incurring unexpected legal fees. Surveys indicate that most prospective clients are primarily concerned with the cost of legal services, while contracted clients express consistent dissatisfaction with poor attorney-client communication. However, you need legal counsel if you’ve suffered injuries in a serious car crash.

Insurers are not on your side, even if adjusters express true concern. They’re focused on closing claims with the least amount of financial exposure. This goal often leads adjusters to make lowball settlement offers to desperate families, request unlawful amounts of documentary evidence, and arbitrarily deny claims. Liable insurers may also call unrepresented claimants and trick them into providing sworn statements that unknowingly harm their cases. Many adjusters even agree to split liability to close the claim when you’ve done nothing wrong.

Represented claimants regularly recover more financial damages, even after subtracting attorneys’ fees, than car accident victims without private legal counsel. At the Wyatt Law Firm, our dedicated San Antonio car accident attorneys provide personalized care to clients and their families. We’re not a multi-state firm overwhelmed with cases. Instead, we’re committed to representing the rights of claimants injured on Texas highways. We recently recovered a $10,250,000 settlement in wrongful death litigation stemming from a highway truck accident and obtained the highest car accident settlement in Kendall County.

Costs of Hiring An Attorney After Texas Highway Accidents

Most reputable personal injury firms offer a no recovery, no fee guarantee. Instead of charging by the hour, requiring retainers (down payments), and billing clients monthly, injury firms offer contingency fee contracts to eligible clients.

Contingency fees are contingent on the attorney recovering damages after your car accident. Your lawyer only receives payment if he or she recovers a valuable insurance settlement or jury verdict on your behalf. Even then, the lawyer only takes a fraction of the overall financial award after subtracting litigation fees and costs. Clients also have the right to reject the settlement offer and retain new counsel if they’re dissatisfied.

Most car accident firms even front litigation and claims costs. This includes paying the expenses associated with requesting thousands of pages of medical records, hiring private accident investigators, obtaining expert witness statements, and filing personal injury lawsuits. Liable insurers have the resources necessary to hire their own experts and fight to reduce payouts.

As such, injured claimants struggling with medical bills and lost wages often need assistance proving their claims. It’s a win-win situation for both the attorney and client in contingency fee arrangements. Unlike traditional hourly fees, which are the same regardless of case outcome, the highway accident lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm don’t receive payment unless you do.

Help Is Available for Victims of Serious Texas Traffic Accidents

Dangerous or not, many Texans simply have to travel on these roads to live and work. They should not have to pay for another driver’s mistake, especially if that mistake costs them in terms of lost wages and hundreds and thousands of dollars in medical and other expenses.

An injured victim should think twice before talking to the other side’s insurance company without a strong advocate for their interests. The stakes are simply too high to risk not getting the compensation a victim deserves. You can unwittingly waive your claims, often without legal recourse, if you speak with insurers without injury counsel.

Paula Wyatt and her team of dedicated high-speed accident lawyers have experience demanding and recovering six-figure settlements for injured Texans and their families. Whether you were rear-ended while leaving the supermarket or struck by fatigued truck drivers on your way home from work, discuss your accident claims with our legal team for free. We offer a complimentary and confidential case analysis to victims of Texas car accidents. Call us at (210) 340-5550 or connect with us online today.