Chavez Law Firm

Car Collision - Personal Injury Lawyers in El Paso

Chavez Law Firm

Car Collision

Car Collisions - Car crashes can cause serious injuries even death

Car crash statistics for the State of Texas every year are alarming. For example, in El Paso County alone, more than 13,700 car crashes were reported in 2011. Nearly 2,000 of these crashes involved serious injury, and 77 of these car collisions resulted in at least one death. 

The number of car crashes each year in our country, in our state, in our community is an epidemic even though drivers know the basic safety rules of the road. Irresponsible drivers who cause car crashes need to be held responsible for their choices to use their cell-phones while driving, drinking and driving, or breaking basic traffic safety laws.

When irresponsible drivers and their insurance companies don't take responsibility for the car crash injuries and harms they have caused, our personal injury attorneys can step in to hold them accountable to protect our community, if you hire them. Chavez Law Firm is dedicated to the safety of Our community and can provide exceptional representation for people who need to obtain compensation for a serious car crash. Call us today to find out more!

Types of Car Crash Injuries and losses

  • Types of car crash injuries and losses include:
  • Soft tissue tears and strains, cuts and blood loss
  • Paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries.


Call us to learn more and for a free initial consultation. Due to the high number of car crashes that occur each year, car collisions are the leading cause of personal injury claims in Texas and throughout the United States. Other damages can include losses because of property repair and replacement, medical bills, loss of income from work, and disabilities.

What to Do After a Car Collision

If you've just been in a car collision, then it is important to stay calm and take a few important actions.

(1) Obtain Medical Assistance

Even if you feel that your injuries aren't serious, get a second opinion from the doctor. Injuries may become apparent in the near future and if you don't get a doctor's assessment, you may find it difficult to prove that your injuries result from the car crash. Be sure to keep all documentation about all medical care that you receive. This could be vital later in your case.

(2) Don't Admit Fault

The police and insurance companies may ask you a number of questions about the incident. It is important that you tell the truth but understand that the insurance company for the irresponsible driver may want to blame you so don't admit fault in any way, even partially, when it's not your fault!

(3) Document the Scene of the Accident

Make sure that you or a friend takes detailed pictures and notes about the circumstances surrounding the car crash or collision, including your injuries. Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of eye witnesses. This evidence is very valuable if the insurance company for the irresponsible driver blames you or if the irresponsible driver refuses to accept full responsibility for every injury and harm they caused. Also, call the police station and obtain a copy of the police report.

(4) Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

A skilled legal representative can walk you through the process and can protect your rights throughout your case.

Contact Our Firm to Discuss Your Case ASAP

Call us to discuss your case ASAP, as soon as possible. Oftentimes, irresponsible drivers or their insurance companies refuse to accept full responsibility for the injuries and economic losses they caused you or your family. We can prepare your case for trial from the very beginning and fight tirelessly for the settlement or verdict you deserve. Because we keep an eye toward trial for each case, we are better able to get significant results for our clients. Our attorneys have recovered millions, so you can be confident in your decision when you choose to retain this law firm to handle your personal injury case. Contact us today to learn more about our firm and how our lawyers can help you!


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 32,719 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2013 in the U.S.

 
FATALITIES AND INJURIES

2013: According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report traffic fatalities fell 3.1 percent in 2013 to 32,719 people from 33,782 in 2012. 2012 had been the first year with a year-to-year increase in fatalities since 2005.

In 2013 an estimated 2.31 million people were injured in motor vehicle crashes, according to a NHTSA report.

First Half 2015: The National Safety Council estimates that traffic fatalities rose 14 percent in the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. Serious injuries rose 30 percent. Nearly 19,000 people died in traffic crashes in the United States in the first six months of 2015, and 2.2 million people were seriously injured. These results would make 2015 the most deadly year for drivers since 2007.

Costs are also on the rise. At $152 billion, costs (wage and productivity losses, medical and administrative expenses, employer costs and property damage) in 2015 are 24 percent higher than in 2014.

The Insurance Information Institute noted that lower gas prices most likely boosted miles driven in the United States to record highs in 2015.

Work-Related: In 2013 crashes involving vehicles on public roadways were the leading cause of work-related fatalities, accounting for 22 percent of all workplace fatalities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By Age Group: According to NHTSA, in 2012 people 65 and older made up 17 percent of all traffic fatalities. (See Older Drivers paper.) In 2011 (latest data available) there were 35 million older licensed drivers, up 21 percent from 2002. The total number of drivers rose 9 percent from 2002 to 2011.

In 2012 drivers age 15 to 20 accounted for 9 percent of all the drivers involved in fatal crashes and 13 percent of all the drivers involved in all police-reported crashes. In 2012 drivers in this age group accounted for 6 percent of all licensed drivers. (See Teen Driving paper).

Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes: According to NHTSA, the economic cost of motor vehicle crashes (police-reported and unreported) totaled $277 billion in 2010, amounting to almost $897 for every person living in the United States and for 1.9 percent of the U.S Gross Domestic Product. These costs include medical, lost productivity, legal, emergency service, insurance administration, property damage, workplace and other. The study was released in May 2014.

Quality of life valuations from motor vehicle crashes added $594 billion to the cost, bringing the total to $871 billion.

Property damage costs of $76.2 billion accounted for 28 percent of total economic costs. Lost productivity costs were $70.2 billion, or 25 percent of the economic cost. Medical costs, both present and future, accounted for $34.9 billion, or 13 percent, of the economic cost.

By behavior, alcohol involvement cost $59.4 billion, or 21 percent of economic costs. Speeding cost $59.1 billion, or 21 percent, and distracted-driving crashes cost $45.8 billion, or 17 percent of economic costs. Not using seatbelts accounted for $13.8 billion, or 5 percent of these costs.

By Cause: An analysis conducted by the Auto Insurance Center of NHTSA data on fatal crashes that occurred between 2009 and 2013 found that rain caused more driving fatalities than snow in 39 of the 50 states. The study said that although behaviors such as reckless and drunk driving and speeding killed more people, wet conditions are common in many areas and drivers may be exercising less caution when it rains than they would if winter conditions were present.

By Driver Behavior

Speeding: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013, 9,613 lives were lost due to speed-related accidents, down 6.9 percent from 10,329 in 2012. Speeding was a contributingfactor in 29 percent of all fatal crashes in 2013 (latest data available). In 2013 about 35 percent of both 15 to 20-year-old and 21 to 24-year old male drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. NHTSA says that speed-related crashes cost Americans $40.4 billion each year.

According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) research, as of April 2015, 38 states had a top speed limit of at least 70 miles per hour on some portion of their highways.

Drunk Driving: In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes [any fatal crash involving a driver with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher], down 2.5 percent from 10,336 in 2012. 2013 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 31 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States. (See Drunk Driving, Insurance Issues Updates.)

Drunk Driving and Speeding: In 2012, 42 percent of intoxicated drivers (with a BAC at or above 0.08 percent) involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 16 percent of sober drivers.

Red Light Running: The IIHS says that more than 900 people a year die and nearly 2,000 are injured as a result of vehicles running red lights. About half of those deaths are pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles who are hit by red light runners. (See Other Safety Issues, Red Light Cameras, below.)

Fatigue: An AAA Traffic Safety Foundation study found that 37 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives. An estimated 21 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in severe injury and 6 percent of all crashes, involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2014 study by the AAA.

Results of a survey released in November 2013 conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that more than a quarter (28.3 percent) of licensed drivers age 16 or older said that in the past 30 days they had driven when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

Distracted Driving: Activities that take drivers’ attention off the road, including talking or texting on cellphones, eating, conversing with passengers and other distractions, are a major safety threat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gauges distracted driving by collecting data on “distraction-affected crashes,” which focuses on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement such as dialing a cellphone or texting and being distracted by another person or an outside event. In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes, and 424,000 people were injured. There were 2,910 distraction-affected fatal crashes, accounting for 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the nation, 18 percent of injury crashes and 16 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in 2013.

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. Besides using a cellphone or smartphone for texting or talking, distracted driving includes mobile Internet use such as emailing or accessing social media such as Facebook. However, NHTSA says that the biggest driver distractions are reaching for objects and talking to passengers. Other distractions include eating and drinking, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching a video or adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player. An analysis of NHTSA data on the more than 65,000 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2010 and 2011, conducted by Erie Insurance, found that 62 percent of distracted drivers were daydreaming or lost in thought, while 12 percent were texting or talking on a cellphone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention latest Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, released in June 2014, shows that about 41.4 percent of high school students reported that they texted or emailed from behind the wheel at least once during the previous 30 days. The highest rate of texting or emailing while driving, 61.3 percent, was among teens in South Dakota. The lowest rate, 32.3 percent, was among teens in Massachusetts. The survey is conducted every two years, but this year was the first time the 13,000 participants were asked about texting and emailing while driving.

Cellphone Use: In April 2014 the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the results of the latest National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which found that in 2012, 1.5 percent of drivers were text-messaging or visibly manipulating hand-held devices, up from 1.3 percent in 2011. NHTSA says that the 2012 increase was not statistically significant. Driver use of hand-held cellphones was 5 percent in 2012 for the fourth year running. Hand-held cellphone use was highest among 16- to 24-year olds (6 percent in 2012) and lowest among drivers 70 and older (1 percent in 2012). (See also Distracted Driving paper.)

A State Farm study released in late 2012 found that among drivers age 18 to 29, almost half (48 percent) accessed the Internet on a cellphone while driving. One-third of those drivers (36 percent) read social media networks while driving. Almost half of those drivers (43 percent) checked their email while driving. Other age groups engaged in these activities less frequently.

Many studies have shown that using hand-held cellphones while driving can constitute a hazardous distraction. In addition, the theory that hands-free sets are safer has been challenged by the findings of several studies. A study from researchers at the University of Utah, published in the summer 2006 issue of Human Factors concludes that talking on a cellphone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, even if the phone is a hands-free model. An earlier study by researchers at the university found that motorists who talked on hands-free cellphones were 18 percent slower in braking and took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked.

The latest study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and released in June 2013, used cameras to track drivers’ eye and head movements along with devices to record driver reaction time and brain activity. Using established research techniques from aviation psychology the researchers assigned a mental distraction rating of 1 to 3 for tasks that drivers performed while driving. Listening to a radio or audio book ranked as a category 1 distraction with minimal risk; talking on a cellphone, both hand-held or hands-free, was a category 2, with moderate risk. Listening and responding to voice activated email increased the drivers’ mental workload and raised distraction levels to category 3, or extensive risk. In April a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute compared the actual driving performance of 43 drivers without using cellphones, manually texting and using voice-activated texting. Researchers found that driver response times were significantly delayed when texting with both methods, taking drivers about twice as long to react as when not texting.

A study of California’s law prohibiting drivers from using handheld cellphones showed that overall traffic fatalities fell 22 percent in the two years after the law was enacted in July 2008, compared with the two years before its enactment. Deaths specifically attributed to cellphone use fell 47 percent. The findings of the study, conducted by the University of California at Berkeley, echo an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study from 2010 that found that 44 percent of drivers in states with cellphone bans reported they do not use their phones while driving, compared with 30 percent in states that did not enact the laws. The University of California analysts said their study is the first to use collisions specifically involving cellphone use.

A survey conducted by Consumer Reports in December 2012 found that laws prohibiting the use of hand-held cellphones or texting while driving help reduce driver distraction. A total of 71 percent of respondents said they had stopped or reduced texting, using a hand-held phone or smartphone while driving in the previous year, and more than half of those said they did so because of state laws banning the use of hand-held phones. Fifty-six percent of respondents in states that have full texting bans reduced or stopped texting, compared with 34 percent of respondents in states with no cellphone bans.

A National Safety Council (NSC), poll released in April 2014 found that 80 percent of American drivers think that hands-free devices are safer than hand-held. Also, many auto manufacturers include hands-free communications systems in their vehicles, which drivers interpret to mean they are safe. The NSC says that statistics show this is not true. Ninety percent of crashes are caused by driver error and 26 percent of crashes involve mobile phone use, including hands-free devices, which at any moment are being used by 9 percent of drivers.

Most states have passed laws to address the problem of using a cellphone while driving. Fourteen states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire (effective July 1, 2015), New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state, West Virginia—and the District of Columbia have a law banning the use of hand-held cellphones behind the wheel for all drivers. The use of all cellphones by novice drivers is restricted in 37 states and the District of Columbia, according to IIHS research. (See also Teen Drivers paper.)

Washington State was the first state to ban the practice of texting with a cellphone while driving. Text messaging is now banned for all drivers in 45 states and the District of Columbia (Mississippi effective July 1, 2015). However, a 2010 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that texting bans may not reduce crash rates. The study looked at collision claims patterns in four states—California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington—before and after texting bans went into effect. Collisions went up slightly in all the states, except Washington, where the change was statistically insignificant.

Aggressive Driving: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as occurring when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." A 2009 study by the American Automobile Association attempted to identify behaviors associated with aggressive driving, based on data tracked by the NHTSA’s Fatal Accident Report System (FARS). It found that aggressive driving played a role in 56 percent of fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007, with excessive speed being the number one factor. The following driver-related contributing factors in FARS were taken as indications that crashes may have involved aggressive driving:

  • Following improperly
  • Improper or erratic lane changing
  • Illegal driving on road shoulder, in ditch, or on sidewalk or median
  • Passing where prohibited
  • Operating the vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner or suddenly changing speeds
  • Failure to yield right of way
  • Failure to obey traffic signs, traffic control devices, or traffic officers, failure to observe safety zone traffic laws
  • Failure to observe warnings or instructions on vehicle displaying them
  • Failure to signal
  • Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit
  • Racing
  • Making an improper turn


Speeding continues to be the leading aggressive driving behavior. In 2012 driving too fast played a role in 21 percent of fatal crashes, making it the most prevalent factor in fatal crashes, see Chart: DRIVING BEHAVIORS REPORTED FOR DRIVERS AND MOTORCYCLE OPERATORS INVOLVED IN FATAL CRASHES, below.

Hit and Run Fatalities: The number of fatal hit and run crashes has been rising since 2009, according to a USA Today analysis based on NHTSA data. In 2009 there were 1,274 fatal hit and run crashes, 1,393 in 2010 and 1,449 in 2011. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said that about one in five pedestrian fatalities were caused by hit and run drivers and 60 percent of all hit and run deaths were among pedestrians.

By Vehicle

SUVs and Rollovers: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the rollover crash is one of the most deadly forms of crashes among passenger vehicle, accounting for more than one-third (35 percent) of all occupant fatalities in 2010. Among fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants in 2010, the proportion of fatalities in rollover crashes was highest for SUVs at 57 percent, followed by pickup trucks (47 percent), vans (30 percent) and passenger cars (23 percent). The number of people killed in SUV rollover crashes fell 2.3 percent from 2,303 in 2009 to 2,251 in 2010. In 2010 SUVs had the highest passenger vehicle occupant fatality rate in rollovers of any vehicle type—5.31 per 100,000 registered vehicles, contrasted with 5.02 percent for pickups, 2.30 percent for vans and 2.15 percent for passenger cars.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) issued a report in March 2008 that indicates that roof strength in SUVs significantly influences injury risk. The IIHS came to this conclusion by testing the roof strength of SUVs in much the same way that the government requires of automakers and then relating the findings to the real-world death and injury experience of the same vehicles in single-vehicle rollover crashes. The IIHS tested 11 mid-size SUVs that did not have electronic stability control or side curtain airbags, features that might affect injury rates in rollovers. Researchers concluded that if the roofs of all of the SUVs tested had the same strength as the strongest roof in the test, about 212, or almost one-third of the 668 deaths that occurred in these SUVs in 2006, would have been prevented.

Motorcycles: NHTSA reports that 4,668 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2013, down 6.4 percent from 4,986 fatalities in 2012. This was the first decrease in motorcyclist fatalities since 2009. Motorcycle rider fatalities accounted for 14 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities, compared with 9 percent in 2004. (See Motorcycle Crashes paper.) In 2011 motorcycles accounted for 3 percent of all registered motor vehicles and 0.6 percent of vehicle miles traveled. However, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were about 30 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash and five times more likely to be injured.

Large Trucks: According to a NHTSA report, 3,964 people died in crashes involving large trucks in 2013, up 0.5 percent from 3,944 in 2012. Although large trucks accounted for 4 percent of all registered vehicles 2012, they accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of all vehicles involved in injury and property damage-only crashes.

SAFETY

Crashworthiness: Crashworthiness, a term which refers to how well vehicles withstand different types of crashes, varies by category of vehicle as well as by make, model and year. Two groups conduct tests to determine crashworthiness—the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which is an insurance-funded organization, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The IIHS conducts four types of tests on a large variety of vehicles: Low speed crash tests, rear crash protection tests, side impact crash tests and 40-mph frontal crash offset tests. NHTSA conducts two tests that are similar to the IIHS’s frontal crash and side crash tests. NHTSA also publishes rollover safety ratings by make and model year, and tire ratings by brand.

A report released in August 2013 by Allstate ranking cities in terms of car collisions named Fort Collins, Colorado, the safest driving city in America in 2012. According to the report, the average driver in Fort Collins experiences an auto collision every 13.9 years, 28.2 percent better than the national average of 10 years. Washington, DC, drivers were at the bottom of the ranking, with an accident occurring every 4.8 years on average, more than double the national average.