Among the six most populated states in the country, Texas has the second highest number of traffic fatalities, with ten people killed and hundreds injured daily in vehicle accidents. A disproportionate number of such accidents occur at intersections, where more than 10,000 crashes each year are caused by drivers who run red lights or stop signs. Not only motorists but also cyclists and pedestrians are among the hundreds of victims killed and thousands injured annually in red-light wrecks.
Causes of Red-Light Accidents
Crashes at intersections with traffic lights commonly occur for the following reasons:
- Fatigue or drowsiness behind the wheel
- Drug or alcohol impairment
- Distracted driving due to cell phone use, eating, drinking, talking, or applying makeup
- Illegal right turns on red
- Failure to yield when turning left
- Increasing speed and entering an intersection on a yellow light in an attempt to beat the red light
- Road rage
A driver who illegally enters an intersection against a red light is in violation of traffic laws and at fault for any resulting accident. If you’re hit at an intersection by a red-light runner, that motorist is liable for your damages, including current and future medical bills, present and future lost income, property damage, physical pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of consortium. If you’ve lost a loved one in a red-light accident, an attorney can help you file a wrongful death action against the at-fault party.
Common Intersection Crash Injuries
Most red-light crashes are “T-bone” wrecks in which a vehicle that has entered an intersection legally on a green light is struck from the side by someone who has illegally entered the intersection after the light has turned red. In such cases, drivers and passengers in the car that was hit have only a thin metal door to protect them from the violent side impact of the other vehicle’s bumper and front end. The injuries that commonly result from a red-light T-bone crash include:
- Whiplash and other neck or soft tissue damage
- Fractured or crushed bones of the arms, hands, legs, and shoulders
- Dislocated joints
- Broken ribs
- Lacerations and scarring
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Severed limbs
- Surgical amputations
Serious injuries like these can require hospitalization, surgery, expensive ongoing treatment, physical therapy, medication, and assistive devices for your home or car. The long recovery period required after such injuries can mean a significant loss of income, and your pain and suffering are likely to be extreme. All these things add up to a very expensive damage claim that you will file against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Beware of the Insurance Company’s Tactics and Tricks
The more expensive your claim, the harder the insurer will fight to delay, devalue, and/or deny it. An insurance adjuster might contact you soon after your accident, ostensibly to check on you and express sympathy for your damages. In reality, the adjuster, whose primary job is to save money for the company, will try to trick you into saying something that can be used against you in the insurance claim process. You should not give any statements to the adjuster or sign anything without consulting an attorney.
A common insurer’s trick is to offer a quick, low settlement before you even know what your total medical bills are going to be. If you accept the first settlement offered, it probably won’t even cover your medical expenses. Because you can never ask for any more money after accepting, you will be responsible for all expenses beyond what the lowball settlement pays, and you will receive nothing for your pain and suffering, so you don’t want to fall for this trick. The smartest thing you can do is refer all insurance company communication to a car accident lawyer who will know how to counter the insurer’s tactics and demand a reasonable settlement offer.
How Your Attorney Can Help You Prove Liability
In order to pursue your damage claim successfully—or to prevail in a lawsuit if the insurer will not offer a reasonable settlement—you must prove that the other driver negligently or intentionally ran a red light and caused the accident in which you suffered damages. The other driver will probably deny responsibility, and Texas no longer has active red-light cameras at intersections, so proving the at-fault driver’s failure to yield can be difficult. This is why the services of an experienced red light crash attorney are vital to your claim. Your lawyer can help you prove liability in a number of ways:
- Investigating your wreck with the help of an accident reconstructionist to establish fault
- Examining the police report of the accident for crucial evidence and any inaccuracies
- Checking the damage to both vehicles involved
- Interviewing any eyewitnesses and deposing the at-fault driver
- Obtaining and viewing video footage of the crash from any nearby security cameras
- Accessing data from on-board recording devices if you happened to be struck by a commercial vehicle
- Consulting with your doctors to estimate your future medical costs
- Putting a dollar amount on your pain and suffering to evaluate your case accurately
- Making a demand for reasonable compensation
- Negotiating with the insurer for a fair settlement
- Filing a lawsuit and fighting for you in court if a fair settlement is not offered
Because the insurer would prefer to avoid the time and expense of a trial, it’s likely to make you a fair offer in the claims process if you have an attorney who can use the threat of a trial as leverage. Without a lawyer, you won’t be taken seriously because the insurer knows you’re unlikely to sue and prevail in court on your own.
Negotiating Proportionate Responsibility
In some cases, the fault for an accident can be shared between the parties involved. When this happens, you can still collect damages. As long as you’re no more than 50% responsible for the accident, you may receive an award reduced according to your percentage of fault. The insurer’s tactic, however, will be to claim you were more than half responsible and thus entitled to no compensation. This is one more reason why you need an experienced lawyer to collect and gather evidence proving you were not primarily responsible for the crash.
Have You Been Injured in a Red-Light Accident in Houston?
An experienced Houston car accident attorney can significantly improve your chances of a fair recovery for damages. Contact us online, start a chat, or call us at 281-688-6880 to schedule your free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.