There have been hundreds of car wrecks in Texas since the historic winter storm shut down our state this week. If you have been injured in a Texas icy road accident, you need to know how to proceed. This article will answer questions you may have including
- What should you do at the scene and later on?
- When and how can you make an insurance claim?
- Can you file on the other driver’s liability company, your company, or both?
- How can you prove the other driver was at fault?
- Will you have to file a lawsuit?
10 steps to take if you have been in a Texas icy road accident
1. Move your vehicle off the road if you are in danger of getting hit again.
2. Stay calm (if possible).
3. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries and pain.
4. Call 911. You should get medical treatment and may need to be taken to an emergency room.
Further, police officers are required to write a crash report if there is vehicle damage of more than $1,000 (which is all of the time). The police report is extremely important to insurance companies and juries in deciding who was at fault. If you are feeling pain, tell the officer. If you believe the other driver was intoxicated or using drugs, tell the officer.
5. Exchange information with the other driver. Or ask someone else to do this if you are not physically able to do so. Use your cell phone. Often, someone will admit fault at the scene and later deny it.
Get the following information:
- Full name and driver’s license information – take a photo if you can
- Make model and year of vehicle
- Insurance company, policy number and telephone number
- License plate number
- Their passengers names and whether they appear to be injured
- Names, email addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses and police officers
6. Take photos and video of the vehicles, license plates, scene, other drivers, skid marks, and any other objects hit, like poles or fences.
7. Get the medical treatment you need. This will require more than one visit with your PCP. You may need physical therapy, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, etc.
8. Keep track of your medical treatment. This includes medical facilities, diagnoses, medical bills, and balances.
9. Contact your insurance company. Ask what coverage you have that will help you. Although they will ask you for a recorded statement, tell them your personal injury lawyer will contact them. Do not sign blanket releases for your company to obtain all of your past medical records.
10. Hire an attorney who is board certified in personal injury law as soon as possible. Handling an insurance claim is difficult. Resist the urge to try to handle this case yourself, trusting that the insurance companies will treat you fairly and pay you more money than if you hire an injury lawyer. This rarely, if ever, happens.
How to prove negligence in a icy road accident case
To recover damages, an injured driver has to prove that the other driver was negligent, i.e. careless. That requires proof that there was a
- duty to another person (e.g. to drive cautiously),
- breach of that duty, and
- damages (e.g. injuries, medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.)
Does this definition change when the roads are more treacherous? No. Someone driving on slick roads below the speed limit can still be negligent if they failed to
- keep a proper safe distance behind the vehicle in front of him or her,
- slow down,
- use their headlights or windshield wipers,
- ride on properly inflated tires with good treads and with properly maintained brakes, and
- stay off their cell phone.
More than one of these negligent acts can happen. An investigation and litigation is often necessary. A personal injury lawyer can secure this critical evidence which may be needed at trial if the case cannot be successfully settled out of court for a favorable amount of compensation.
Can a driver evade responsibility by claiming ignorance? No. They can’t just say they did not know they might get into a Texas icy road accident. If it is cold and it is raining or might rain, common sense dictates that a thin sheet of ice could form. Only 1/10 inch will send many vehicles spinning out of control.
Can the slick roads be used as a defense in court?
When a Texas icy road accident happens, insurance company adjusters and lawyers often deny claims by arguing that the accident was unavoidable or that it was caused by a sudden emergency. But these are fallacious arguments because these two defenses require that the crash was not reasonably foreseeable.
We would not allow an adjuster to argue this. In court, we would file a motion to prevent the jury from considering these defenses. A reasonably prudent driver should stay home or be extremely cautious if they choose to drive. Ignorance of bad roads is no excuse.
The slew of crashes added to a terrible week for Texans
Further, to add to our state’s misery, over three million Texans are still freezing in their houses without electricity and don’t have water or have to boil it if they do – assuming they have power.
This frigid weather – and frozen roads – will continue through Friday.
The number of cars, trucks, and 18-wheelers that have collided with each other and Texans who are still without power and water is historic.
These nightmares could have and should have been prevented. But only now are state and local officials talking about how these crises could have happened.
It was just announced that the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the I-35 tragedy. We hope they find which companies or individuals are responsible so that the victims and their families can be compensated for their losses.
We need to make sure that catastrophes like these don’t happen again.
Contact an experienced Fort Worth personal injury attorney
A car or truck crash in the Dallas-Fort Worth area can cause serious injury and even death. Driving is dangerous, especially on these dangerous roads. Sadly, 803 people have lost their lives on Texas roads in the 47 days since the year began. One is too many.
If your vehicle has been hit by a driver in icy or snowy conditions, especially by an 18-wheeler, the other driver and the business that owns the vehicle can be held liable for their negligence.
Berenson Injury Law has a long track record of successfully helping those who have been injured by negligent drivers – the only cases that we accept. If you have been hurt in a car or truck collision, you should learn what your legal rights are. Contact us at 1-885-801-8585 (or 817-885-8000) or chat with us by clicking here.
You can consult this map to learn how safe current road conditions are before you start your trip. Each of those snowflakes and orange signs on the map represents a crew sanding the road, car crash or dangerous road. There must be at least 50 now in the four counties that comprise the Metroplex.