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Personal Injury Articles

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Our team of San Antonio injury attorneys at Barrus Law Group is dedicated to providing free educational articles to help you find answers for important legal questions.  Our website's article library is full of in-depth articles on issues and frequently asked questions pertaining to personal injury laws in Texas.  If you can't find the answer to a question, or need other assistance, contact us at any time and we will be happy to answer your questions - free of charge.

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car wreck lawyer in San Antonio discusses hangling a car accident claim.For those injured in a Texas car accident as a result of the negligence of another driver, there are specific elements you must prove in order to be entitled to recover for your injuries. While bodily injury is an element, simply being hurt isn’t sufficient to have a valid claim – you must also prove that the other person is liable for your injuries.

In order to prove liability in a Texas automobile accident case, the injured party must demonstrate that the other driver was “negligent,” and that this negligent behavior or action caused the accident that led to the injuries.

But that’s not all, there are three things in all a person injured in a Texas automobile accident must prove three specific things:

1. Negligence – In Texas, someone is considered to have acted negligently when they do not act as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstance. Generally speaking, following traffic laws and keeping proper distance are all expected from a “reasonable person.” In fact, the “reasonable person” standard is really just good old common sense. Things like watching where you’re going, not following too closely, following traffic signs, and not drinking and driving are all part of the “reasonable person” standard. However, negligence by itself does not give rise to a personal injury claim. In Texas, you must also show the other party’s negligence was the “proximate cause” of your injuries, and that you suffered damages.

2. Proximate Cause – Simply put, this means that the person’s negligence actually led to your injuries. For example: If you were in a car accident on Monday. On Tuesday you hurt your back playing soccer, and on Thursday you went to the doctor complaining of back pain. In this example you would have a hard time proving that the other driver’s negligence was the proximate cause of your injuries. Why? Because there was another event more closely related to your injury (intervening cause) that could have caused your injury. The final thing you must show is that you suffered damages.

3. Damages – Basically, this means that you must have suffered some type of injury. You could be in a terrible accident, and your car may be totaled, but if you walk away unscratched, you don’t have a personal injury claim. To have suffered damages, you must have either paid, or incurred, things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, etc.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, and are not sure whether or not you have a case, you should discuss the matter with a qualified car accident lawyer about your case.

San Antonio Car Wreck Lawyer Discusses Distracted Driving.Different Types of Distracted Driving

As distracted driving month comes to a conclusion, we want to remind the great citizens of San Antonio, and South Texas, of some of the dangers of distracted driving.

While mobile phone use while driving, including both texting and talking, is one of the main distractions that account for most distracted driving car accidents, there are many more distractions that the National Safety Council recognizes as being contributors to serious automobile accidents on IH-10, Loop 410, and IH-13 in San Antonio, and other south Texas roadways.

Additional Forms of Distracted Driving

Simply defined, distracted driving is: “any task or action that causes a driver to take their eyes off of the roadway, and/or their hands from the steering wheel of their automobile or truck.”

While many people are aware of the risks of “texting and driving” there are numerous other activities that drivers should be aware of while behind the wheel of an automobile, such as:

  1. Eating or Drinking While Driving
  2. Applying Makeup while driving;
  3. Shaving while driving;
  4. Programming a GPS while driving;
  5. Watching movies or playing games on a smartphone;
  6. Reading while driving;
  7. Changing CDs or other music while driving.

Obviously, all of these distractions are preventable. As San Antonio injury lawyers, we have seen first hand that engaging in these activities is not worth the risk these activities pose to the driver and other unsuspecting motorists. In fact, distracted driving has been shown to be a leading cause in serious car accidents in San Antonio, which often times leads to death for one or more motorists.

Take Action Now

There is no time like the present – that saying also holds true for taking a stand against distracted driving, and in the famous words of Henry Ford, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Curbing distracted driving starts with each person agreeing to eliminate these distractions individually. If everyone makes a conscious, concerted effort, we can reduce the amount of car and truck accidents in san Antonio, and south Texas.

Auto Accident Attorney Discusses Gap InsuranceAs a San Antonio injury lawyer, I frequently get asked about whether or not GAP insurance is a good idea. What is GAP Insurance? GAP insurance can be very simply described as added insurance coverage that covers the difference in the value of a car and the amount owed on it in the event the car is involved in an accident where the car is “totaled.” It can be very beneficial to get GAP insurance in certain cases. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

For example 1, we will assume that you are leasing a car and you are still responsible for any damage to the car in the event of an accident. The premium on a car lease is typically much less than when you buy a car. Let’s say in case the car is involved in a serious car versus truck accident, due to low car payments, you will owe a lot more on the car than what you have paid for it. To make it clearer, let’s assume the car is valued at $20,000 and you have paid $2000 on the lease. If the car is totaled, you would owe $18,000 on the car. However, if your insurance values the car at $16,000 only, you are liable for the difference of $2,000. This is where GAP insurance comes in and covers the difference.

For example 2, let’s assume that you have purchased the car and are making monthly payments that are much higher. In this case, if you have a serious car accident, you will owe less than what you would in case the car was leased. For example, you would probably have paid $3,500 in car payments for the $20,000 car. Valuing the car at $16,000, the difference is now only $500. In such a case, the GAP insurance is not really much helpful.

Generally speaking, GAP insurance is much more advantageous if your car payments are spread out over a longer period or of smaller amounts. It is not of much benefit for cars purchased outright or with aggressive car payments (36 month payments or less).

General Rule: If at any point during the term of an auto loan, or lease, the amount you owe is likely to be higher than the actual market value of the car, then you SHOULD purchase GAP insurance.

Example:   You are $3,000.00 upside down on a vehicle (you owe $3,000 more than its worth), and you decide to trade the vehicle in on a bigger car. The dealer takes your trade, and rolls the negative $3,000.00 equity in your old car into your new car loan. So, instead of having a car loan for $21,0000.00 (the purchase price of the new vehicle), you have a loan for $24,000.00 ($21,000 for the new car plus the negative equity of $3,000 in your old car). If you drive off of the lot and your car is totaled in an accident, the insurance company will pay you market value of your total loss vehicle. Many people forget that new vehicle depreciate as soon as you drive them off of the car lot. So, if you buy a brand new car for $21,000, the moment you drive it off of the lot, market value likely drops to around $19,500, depending on the make and model. Therefore, applying these values to this example, if you drove off of the lot and your car was totaled the next day, you would receive $19,500.00 from the insurance company, but you owe the bank $24,000.00 – meaning that you will have to come up with $4,500.00 to pay the bank. In this situation, GAP insurance would step in and pay the $4,500.00 to the bank for you.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Purchase GAP Insurance:

  1. Whether you are leasing or buying – if leasing it’s generally a good idea to buy GAP insurance.
  2. If buying, is the car new or used – if the car isn’t likely to depreciate faster than you pay down the loan, you probably don’t need GAP insurance.
  3. Negative Equity – Are you rolling any negative equity from a trade-in into your new loan? If so, you may want to consider GAP insurance if the added negative equity causes your loan amount to exceed the market value of the car.
  4. How good of a deal you got on your car. The better deal you get on your vehicle, the less likely you are to need GAP insurance. For example, if you purchase a car at $3,000 BELOW market value, it’s unlikely that the amount of your loan will exceed the market value of the car (assuming you have a good interest rate, and you take care of the vehicle).
  5. Your Financing – if you are paying a higher interest rate, or have elected to extend payments over 60 months or more, you may want to consider purchasing GAP insurance. Higher interest rate loans may cause the amount owed to exceed the market value of the vehicle if the vehicle depreciates faster than you are paying it off.

While these factors are just a few of the many things you should consider when deciding whether to purchase GAP insurance, just remember the general rule stated above.

As an auto accident attorney in San Antonio Texas, I have seen my fair share of car accident victims left owing banks thousands of dollars because they didn’t have GAP insurance, and were involved in an accident wherein their vehicle was declared a “total loss.” It is my hope that these tips, while not comprehensive, and should not substitute for in person legal advice, will help consumers understand what GAP insurance is, and the circumstances under which purchasing it may be a good idea.

car crash lawyer discusses safety.In 2013 there were more than 550 motor vehicle fatalities on Texas roadways, and many more accidents that resulted in catastrophic injuries, such as paralysis and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Not to mention those accidents that resulted in minor injuries, such as soft tissue damages, and property damage.

And, while these statistics are scary, the good news is that automobile manufacturers are working to make cars and trucks safer to drive. These new safety features are aimed to reduce the number of car accidents, especially fatal car accidents, resulting from car accidents. Not only do these new safety features help to protect those in the vehicle, but a number of these new safety features aim to reduce accidents all together. Here are a few of the new safety features that are aimed at preventing automobile accidents:

  1. Forward Collision Avoidance Systems. When it comes to automobile accidents, distracted driving can be just as deadly as drunk driving accidents. However, new collision avoidance features can help avoid collisions, particularly when the driver is distracted. The technology uses sensors and cameras to detect circumstances in which another vehicle (or object) in front of a car is approaching too closely, alerting the driver with both visual and audible warning signals.
  2. Automatic Braking Systems. Working in concert with the Forward Collision Avoidance features of a vehicle, automatic braking systems take safety even one step further by automatically applying the vehicle’s brakes in certain situations. If a driver chooses to ignore the forward collision warning system, these vehicles can apply the brakes themselves to help avoid a collision.
  3. Adaptive Headlight Systems. Driving at night can be challenging because visibility is reduced, and straight forward facing headlamps do not always alert drivers to the true conditions of the road, particularly when rounding corners. However, adaptive headlights are a new safety feature that utilizes a series of sensors and small motors to predict the cars direction, and then adjust the headlight beams to illuminate the condition of the roadway along which the vehicle is going to travel, giving the driver a more accurate depiction of the roadway ahead.
  4. Backup Cameras. Nearly standard equipment on most new cars these days, the back-up camera is an important safety feature. These cameras help to eliminate rear blind spots, allowing drivers to see objects and persons to the rear of their vehicle before they back up. This feature is particularly helpful in avoiding accidents involving young children, who are frequently injured by vehicles that are backing up.

We all know that car accidents can, and often do, cause serious injuries. Notwithstanding all of the new safety features aimed at making vehicles safer, serious injuries, including those that result in death, will likely still occur. If you, a friend, or family member has been injured or killed in a car accident or truck accident in San Antonio, or anywhere in Texas, contact the skilled injury lawyers at Barrus Law Group to discuss your rights following a serious accident. Click here to schedule a free consultation with one of our Texas injury attorneys.

San Antonio injury attorney discusses insurance coverage.As a San Antonio auto accident lawyer, my clients know very well that I strongly encourage Texas drivers to carry Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) insurance protection. So, why is this coverage so important? This coverage is important in Texas because Texas leads the nation in uninsured automobiles on the highways. This means that if you’re involved in an accident, the changes are pretty good that the other driver may not have any insurance, which is where UM coverage steps in to cover your losses. Texas injury lawyers know all too well the regret and hardship that comes when there is no insurance coverage to cover serious car or trucking accidents.

Additionally, in Texas the minimum coverage amounts are very low. If you’re involved in a serious accident, you’ll likely find that even if the insurance company pays you the full policy limit (which is all they are legally required to pay you), it may be insufficient to cover your medical bills, property damage, and other losses. This is where UIM coverage comes in and helps to bridge the gap between the small liability policy held by the other driver, and your actual damages, which can far exceed the other drivers policy limits. In Texas, the minimum insurance is a 30/60/25 policy, which means $30,000 per person, with a maximum of $60,000 (no matter how many people are injured) per accident, and a maximum of $25,000 in property damage.

This means that even if you are fortunate enough to find a driver who has liability insurance (it’s been estimated that up to 40% of drivers on Texas roads have no insurance at all), there is a very good chance that the insurance coverage they do have will be insufficient to cover your actual damages.

This is why both UM and UIM coverage are so critical for Texas drivers, and the coverage is not all that expensive to add to an existing policy.

San Antonio Car Accident Attorney Discusses Treatment OptionsBecause of the violent nature of most car accidents, there are many accident victims that suffer from spine injuries, such as herniated discs. Living with this type of disc injury is very painful, and can also cause victims to make dramatic changes to the way they conduct day to day activities. However, there are many treatment options available for victims who suffer from back injuries, which can help alleviate much, if not all, of their pain.

One such treatment options is referred to as ESI Treatment. ESI stands for Epidural Steroid Injections. During these injections an anti-inflamatory steroid is injected into the epidural space of a patient’s spine. Generally, most doctors will want a patient to undergo several ESI treatments before considering back surgery as an option for alleviating pain.

The ESI Procedure Explained

During the procedure, the patient lies on their stomach while a nurse cleans the injection area. If needed, the person may undergo general anesthesia. The doctor will then utilize a fluoroscope to determine the correct location for the injection. A needle is then injected into the spinal cavity at the spot of the injury, and the anti-inflammatory steroids are injected into the epidural space.

The anti-inflammatory steroid will help to reduce swelling, which will in turn relieve pressure on the nerves and herniated disc, thus relieving the pain. While the procedure is generally not painful, for patients that are anxious, most doctors will provide medication to assist the patient in relaxing during the procedure.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of ESI Treatments?

Generally speaking, ESI treatments are a safe and effective way to reduce or eliminate pain following a serious car accident. However, patients should be aware of the following potential side effects, and contact their doctor if they experience any of the symptoms listed below:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Skin Irritation
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Dissiness

Legal Help Recovering for Your Injuries

Car and truck accident victims that have suffered spinal or back injuries in an accident caused by another driver may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. Medical bills, such as physical therapy, chiropractic, or ESI treatments are generally recoverable in a liability claim or lawsuit against the at fault driver.

In addition to your medical expenses, other damages are also recoverable, such as mental anguish, lost wages, pain and suffering.

However, generally speaking insurance adjusters will not want to pay for much of the compensation that accident victims are entitled to following an accident. That is why most accident victims will require the assistance of a San Antonio car accident lawyer, or a truck accident attorney.

For a free consultation with a San Antonio truck accident lawyer, or a car accident lawyer, contact our San Antonio personal injury attorneys.