Wrong-Way Crashes in Texas

Wrong-way crashes are the most dangerous because they involve head-on collisions. In Texas, the number of these kinds of accidents has hit all new highs. A recent CBS DFW online article reveals that in 2011, “[t]he Texas Department of Transportation (TDOT) [found] there were 329 wrong-way crashes statewide…[and that] more than half [took place] in Dallas County.”

A  TDOT study conducted in 2010 showed that alcohol was the common denominator in  nearly all of these crashes. According to one TDOT official, about three-quarters of all the drivers involved in wrong-way crashes were under the influence.

The human toll these kinds of accidents take lingers long after the event itself. One woman named Gwen Edwards who lost her son Louis in a wrong-way crash a year a half ago on Interstate 35 still reports her feelings as, “Anger, yes. I still have a lot…[l]osing a child is a lot different than losing a mother, father, sister or brother.” Louis was just 22 years old and was the only one who perished.

Edwards is still grieving for her son. She has since “turned to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for help and says that more needs to be done to protect drivers on the road.” In her view, “[t]he drunk driving laws keep the drivers safer than [they do] the victim. The laws need to be stiffer.”

This coming September, TDOT will begin to research countermeasures against wrong-way driving. “The main goals will be to identify what methods are most successful in getting the attention of impaired drivers, and finding out which countermeasures are most effective and properly orienting the wrong-way driver for alerting them to the fact they’re going the wrong way.”

These countermeasures won’t help you if you’ve recently been in a car accident, particularly one involving a drunk driver and/or wrong-way driving. At the  Barrera Law Firm, we are ready to fight for your rights in a legal system that too often seems to overlook the pain and suffering of car crashes victims. Let us help you get the settlement you deserve: contact us today!

Winter Automobile Safety

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South Texas doesn't see much snow or ice, but wet roads are common. Know what to do in a car accident, including contacting a good attorney.

Winter is just around the corner and colder weather means wet and possibly icy driving conditions. If you haven’t done so already, you should prepare your car accordingly. As Injuryboaord.com reminds us, “spending the extra time and effort to get your vehicle properly prepared for winter conditions will save you money—and could prevent you from [getting injured] in an accident.”

Here are some precautions that you can take to help you get through the season safely:

  • Make sure that battery and radiator fluid levels are where they should be. Depending on where you live, it would also be wise to check “the protection temperature of the antifreeze in your system, brakes, hoses, and belts.”
  • Inspect your front, rear and hazard lights: all should be operational.
  • Change your windshield wipers as necessary. Winter blades are a must for windshields that collect large amounts of ice during colder weather.
  • Check that your “heater, defroster and rear window defroster are working properly.”
  • If you don’t carry emergency equipment, put together a special kit to keep in your car. That kit should include “jumper cables, a snow/ice scraper, a flashlight, a fresh supply of extra batteries, flares, blankets” and a charger for your cell phone in the event of an emergency.
  • Keep your tank at least half full throughout the winter. Doing so “will reduce condensation in your tank and make your vehicle easier to start when cold.”
  • If ice and/or snow accumulate on your vehicle, clean everything off to maximize driving visibility. Too many winter accidents are the result of poor driver visibility.

It would also be to your benefit to check road and weather conditions before starting on your journey. That way, you’ll know what to expect and what potentially to avoid.

If you do find yourself in an accident, seek the assistance of a qualified lawyer, especially if injuries and/or damages are involved.

Steering Clear of Collisions

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More and more cars are on the roads each day...but there are many ways to avoid accidents.

If you want to stay safe on the roadway, here’s a hot tip from MSN.com: avoid driving near or around sporty, high-performance vehicles like the Scion tC, Chevrolet Cobalt SS, the Honda Civic Si and the Subaru Impreza WRX. These cars and others like them probably belong to drivers who lack “maturity and good judgment.”

According to statistics compiled by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), the Scion tC and cars like it typically appeal to young people, who are themselves “most likely to be involved in a crash.” The HLDI bases its findings on “a monthly flow of claims data from 30 insurance companies that represent about 80% of privately owned and insured vehicles.”

Each vehicle model receives a ranking “that is relative to the average for all vehicles.” On its most current list, the Scion tC has 65% more insurance claims than other vehicles. The figures for Chevrolet Cobalt SS the Honda Civic Si and the Subaru Impreza WRX are, respectively, 61%, 59% and 54%.

The HLDI creates its list based upon claims alone. However, MSN.com reports that “several factors can put a car high on the list, including the vehicle’s performance characteristics, the age and experience level of the typical driver, and where and how the vehicle is usually operated.”

Vehicle color also seems to play a role in collision statistics. Research by the Monash University Accident Research Center (MUARC) in Australia found that “vehicles painted black or 12% more likely to be involved in a crash than vehicles painted white” and that” silver cars were in 10% more accidents than my cars.” Environmental factors such as low light and visibility were cited as probable reasons for these results.

So the next time you’re out driving, it may well be to your advantage to not only watch out for what other cars are doing, but also stay aware of vehicle models and colors—every little bit helps to avoid dangerous and costly accidents.

Car Accidents: How to Stay Safe on the Road

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Living in Brownsville, Harlingen or McAllen means using navigation systems and cell phones, but be smart when driving.

Living in the Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen Texas region means living with car accidents. You can’t control what other drivers do on the road. But you can take precautions to ensure that you and your passengers stay safe when traveling in your vehicle.

The first thing you should do is to wear your seatbelt. According to Mother Nature Network (MNN) online, seatbelts not only keep vehicle occupants inside a car during a collision, they also “protect the brain and spinal cord and help the body slow down after impact, reducing injuries.”

If you are traveling with small children, make sure that they are properly buckled into car seats that are “appropriate for the child’s age, height and weight.” Infants and children under should always ride “in a rear-facing car seat.” All children under 12 should remain in the backseat, even after they have grown out of harnesses and booster seats.

It may be tempting to multitask or text while driving, but you should avoid doing either at all costs. MNN online recommends that you do such things as “setting your vehicle’s route, selecting music and making cell phone calls before you drive.” If any children who are with you start fighting, pull over to the side of the road: don’t try to settle their disputes while you’re also trying to drive.

Pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists may also be sharing the road with you and are not as visible as motor vehicles. Watch out for pedestrians crossing the roadway, “give cyclists at least half a car’s width when passing” and “ never pass a motorcycle to close as a blast of air from the car can cause a motorcycle to lost stability.”

Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security: when you’re behind the wheel of the car, you need to make sure you stay protected and maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times.

6 Tips to Avoid Car Accidents During the Summer Driving Season

Car accidentNow that the summer holiday season is finally here, more and more people are taking to their cars. And it should be a busy summer as gas prices have dropped for once.  So with more drivers on American roadways, it means more potential for accidents–something you want to avoid at all costs.

To prevent being involved in an accident, here are some tips to help you stay safe while driving this summer:

  • Expand your capacity to look ahead – Rather than always looking directly in front of your vehicle, try looking  further down the road.  This will help see troublesome situations early so you can take steps to remain safe.
  • Size up the whole scene – Always be on the lookout for pedestrians, bicyclists, construction/construction workers, traffic congestion, erratic drivers and changing road conditions.  Don’t be in a hurry if you can help.  Just enjoy the drive.
  • Keep your eyes moving – Avoid staring at any object for longer than two seconds and check your mirrors every 3-5 seconds.
  • Signal your intentions early – Use your turn signals, horn and lights when appropriate. By giving advance notice of what you’re planning to do, you’ll help encourage other drivers to make correct driving decisions.
  • Plan an escape route – Always stay one step ahead of the game and allow yourself enough time, space and visibility to stop or maneuver smoothly.  Don’t get involved with tailgating.  Leave lots of room between you and the car in front.
  • Take decisive action – By following the preceding tips, you’ll know exactly what to do when a traffic emergency arises and you’ll have the time and space to do it safely.

Sometimes, though, accidents still happen. If you do find yourself in this situation, then the first thing you need to do is contact the attorneys at the Barrera Law Firm.  We specialize in both car accident and personal injury law and will defend your rights. Don’t let an unexpected wreck wreak havoc in your life.  Contact us today!

4 Truths from Fiction in Auto Accident Injury Lawsuits

Car accidentWhen it comes to auto accident law, it’s sometimes very difficult to separate truth from fiction. A big part of the problem comes from the fact that we live in world oversaturated by unfiltered information.  And that can lead to a lot of confusion, especially for those individuals who really are accident victims and don’t know where to turn.

Here are some of the more prevalent of those fictions and some truths you need to know if you’ve been involved in an auto accident:

1. Auto injury laws are the same in every state.

TRUTH:  Auto injury laws vary from state to state. For example, some states including Texas require that you purchase liability insurance while others do not. And where some states have no-fault laws, others (like Texas) follow the tort system where one driver is deemed to be at fault when an accident occurs.

2. Big settlements are easy if you have severe injuries.

TRUTH: Unfortunately, auto accident attorneys see courts throw out plenty of  cases where victims who had serious, life-altering injuries received no compensation.  And because the recession caused huge losses for many insurance companies, many auto insurance defense teams are becoming more aggressive about challenging injuries. Every case is different and a good attorney will never guarantee you a specific award.

3. If you hold out long enough, your insurance company will settle for a higher amount.

TRUTH: Many factors can affect an insurance company’s reimbursement offer.

These include:

  • internal company protocol;
  • the reputation of the victim’s attorney; and
  • the track record of the assigned judge.

By discussing your unique set of circumstances with a qualified auto accident lawyer, you can get a better understanding of the viability of your case.

4. Any personal injury lawyer can handle your case.

 TRUTH: The car accident laws in each state are subject to constant change.  This makes it difficult for attorneys who are personal injury lawsuit generalists to keep up with the latest developments in auto accident law. That’s why it’s crucial to the success of your case to select a lawyer who specializes in car, truck and motorcycle accidents.

Good legal advice will help you avoid the devastating loss of your medical benefits and ability to receive the best compensation for your pain and suffering.  At the Barrera Law Firm, you’ll find attorneys with up-to-date knowledge about Texas auto accident laws who will fight for your rights in court and get you the settlement you deserve. Don’t compromise your future.  Contact us today!

Photo credit: Bill Longshaw

Protecting the Smallest Car Passengers

Protect your and your child's rightsNobody needs to tell you that children are especially vulnerable when they are riding in automobiles.  But did you know that according to data the National Health and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) collected in 2008,  motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of three to 14?

Unfortunately, the numbers haven’t improved.  So in 2011, the agency updated their child restraint guidelines to curb this trend.  The new guidelines say that manufacturers need to categorize child restraints “by age rather than by type of child seat in order to keep pace with the latest scientific and medical research and the development of new child restraint technologies.”

They also say that parents should make their child restraint choices based upon a child’s height and weight to ensure the best possible fit.  The guidelines further advise that mothers and fathers keep their children in each restraint type before “graduating” them to the next type of seat. The worst thing parents can do is move a child into a new safety device before that child is ready.

While choosing the proper restraint for a child is essential, it’s equally important that parents are careful about how they put their children in the device they’re using. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  “one study found that 72% of 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash.”

The Mayo Clinic has observed six mistakes that well-meaning parents often make when putting or securing their children in automobiles. They include:

  •  using child car seats as cribs
  •  being unaware of the potential risks a used child seat may have (it may have been recalled by the manufacturer, for example)
  • placing the child car seat in the wrong position or spot in the car
  • moving a child to a booster seat too soon
  • moving a child to regular safety belts too soon
  • dressing a child in bulky clothing or outerwear that can interfere with the degree of protection harness straps can offer

Your children are dependent on you and the decisions you make. If your child gets injured or worse despite the precautions you take and as a result of another person’s negligence behind the wheel, then you need to act quickly to protect your child’s rights as well as your own. The Barrera Law Firm specializes in car accident, personal injury and wrongful death suits and our attorneys have proven track records of success. When you and your child need expert legal defense, count on us.

Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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