Whether or not you should sign a release after a car accident depends on the specifics of your case. Any time you are injured in a collision caused by the careless or reckless behavior of another person, the insurance company for the at-fault party will ask you to sign a release of liability. However, it could be a mistake to do so before consulting with an attorney. What is a Release of Liability? Signing a release form basically means you are letting go or releasing the responsible party from further liability. In other words, you are giving up your right to sue for any future damages resulting from the accident. For instance, you may not be compensated for future medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering. Do Insurance Companies Require a Signed Release Form? The at-fault driver’s insurance company may ask you to sign a release form before paying you any compensation, or paying the body shop you have chosen to repair your vehicle. It is a final payment, so you must review the form carefully to make sure that you are only releasing liability for the aspects of your claim which you have settled. For instance, if your claim has not been finalized with regard to your injuries suffered in the accident, make sure the form does not release liability for your injury. If your own insurance company is paying you for the accident, they will also require a signed release of liability. What To Do Before Signing a Release of Liability Before signing a release of liability, schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case. Insurance companies will often pressure car accident victims to sign a release and accept a quick settlement offer. They do this in an attempt to minimize payouts on a claim. A car accident attorney can advise you on if you are recovering the maximum amount of compensation allowable for your claim. Additionally, you may need permission from your own car insurance company before signing a release of liability. This is typically the case when your insurer must pursue a subrogation claim. Subrogation refers to the process by which your insurance company recovers money from the at-fault party or their insurer for funds they, or you have already paid. For instance, if you are hit by an underinsured driver whose policy limits aren’t enough to fully compensate you for your losses, your own insurer may be able to make up the difference under your underinsured motorist coverage. Your insurer will then use your legal right to go after the other driver or their insurer to recover the money they paid you. If you sign a release without your insurer’s permission, they will not have the ability to go after the other driver for reimbursement. Your insurer may then try to deny your claim for benefits under your underinsured motorist coverage. We Can Help Our Houston car accident attorneys have extensive experience helping injured victims navigate their claims. Contact us today through our website or by calling (713) 489-4270 to schedule a free consultation.
When you have been involved in a car accident, certain evidence will be particularly important for your personal injury or property damage claim. This evidence varies in form, and will help protect your right to compensation. Here are the types that can strengthen your case: Photo and Video Evidence If you can, take pictures and/or video of the following from varying distances and different directions: The damage to all cars involved (external and internal) Final position of the vehicles after the collision Road conditions Weather conditions Skid marks Road signs and/or traffic lights Your injuries These photos/videos can corroborate and support your version of how the accident occurred. They may contain clues about the direction from which your vehicle was struck, the speed of oncoming vehicle(s), and possibly the distance to a traffic sign or signal. Any debris, such as shredded tires or brake lines could indicate a manufacturer defect or other contributing factors. The top priority after an accident, however, is seeking medical care. If you are seriously injured you may need to ask someone else or hire an attorney to document the scene for you. Police Reports Calling the police to the scene is vital to proving who is at fault. Texas law also requires you to report an accident to the police when someone is injured or if there is more than $1,000 in damage to one or more of the vehicles involved. A police report will provide an official record of the accident and will contain details of their investigation. The officer will speak to each party, take notes, possibly draw a diagram of the scene, and will give their opinion as to what, where, and when they believe the collision occurred. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, they may also arrest a driver or ticket them for a moving violation. Witness Statements Witnesses can give honest accounts of exactly what they saw, demonstrating your lack of fault to an insurance company or a court. Write down the details of and contact information for as many witnesses as you can find. This information will also likely be found in the police report. Medical Records Ongoing medical evidence pertaining to your injury will establish how the accident has impacted your life. The most important proof is regular consultations with medical professionals and completing the ongoing treatment they advise. Doctors will keep detailed records on your visits, condition, and advised treatment plan. These records are key pieces of evidence for an insurer or at trial. If you do not seek medical care or stop treatment, you may not receive the compensation you need and deserve for your injury. Speak to an Experienced Houston Car Accident Attorney If you were recently injured in a car accident, contact Milano Legal Group for a free consultation. We will help you collect the evidence you need to prove that the accident was not your fault, that you were injured, and how your life has and will be impacted as a result.
If a chain reaction of car accidents is caused when one car strikes another and in turn pushes that car into a third, and so on, determining fault can be challenging. Several cars may be damaged, and one or more parties involved injured. Leading to a tangle of liability claims with multiple insurance companies that may result in lengthy legal disputes. If you have suffered an injury in a multi-vehicle accident, you may be wondering if you are entitled to compensation and how to go about collecting it. A reliable car accident lawyer in Houston can help you navigate through the process and ensure you have ample evidence to prove fault. How Fault is Assigned in a Multi-Vehicle Accident Oftentimes, it is the car in the back or the first drivers who hit one another that are assigned the most liability in a multi-vehicle accident. However, who started the domino effect and failed in their duty of care to keep others on the road safe is not always obvious. Several drivers may be partially to blame. Each incident is unique and will require an investigation to produce an extensive breakdown of the events that took place, before a decision on liability is made. Factors that may be considered are: Witness statements. Police reports. Any available video surveillance, or black box data if a large truck was involved. If a state or local traffic law was violated by one of the drivers, or if a citation was issued. Where the accident took place and the position of the vehicles once they came to rest. The severity and location of damage to the vehicles. Road conditions at the time of the accident and whether a driver was traveling at an unsafe speed for the conditions. If one of the drivers was making a left turn. Timing is also everything. In general, the closer in time your car crashes to the original accident, the less at fault you are. If your car crashes after an accident has already occurred, you may have been able to avoid the accident and could be found responsible for your injuries and property damage. How Texas’ Rule of Comparative Negligence can Affect Your Financial Award Texas follows the rule of modified comparative negligence, which can impact the amount of compensation you receive after a multi-vehicle accident. You still have the right to collect an award, even if you are partially at fault. However, you must be found to be 50 percent or less responsible, and your award will be reduced by your percentage of liability. The way that works is as follows: If you are found between 1%-50% at fault, your compensation award will be reduced by that percentage. For example, if you are 30% responsible and awarded $100,000, you will receive only $70,000 in compensation. If you are more than 50% at fault, you will not be allowed to recover compensation. If you are 0% at fault, your compensation is unaffected. Call Our Houston Car Accident Lawyers Today Working with a Houston multi-vehicle accident lawyer will ensure you have the evidence you need to demonstrate why other parties are responsible for your injury. Our team at the Milano Legal Group PLLC is dedicated to representing victims of negligence. We are prepared to carry the legal burden for our clients and their families, so they can focus on recovery. Contact us today for a free consultation, by reaching us online or calling (713) 489-4270.
There are various legal defenses that a defendant may use in an attempt to avoid liability in a Houston personal injury case, including the assumption of risk. Assumption of risk means the injured party voluntarily and knowingly engaged in an activity that carries with it a high risk of injury. Understanding this type of affirmative defense is vital, as it can be devastating to the outcome of your claim. An experienced Houston personal injury lawyer can assess your case and determine if the assumption of risk defense could potentially have an impact on your compensation. How Assumption of Risk Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim When assumption of risk is introduced as a defense, the defendant is claiming that the plaintiff (victim) cannot obtain damages since they should have known about the danger of injury. It asserts that the plaintiff either gave implied consent or expressed consent: Implied Consent: had knowledge of the risks involved in taking part of that activity and/or service. An implied assumption of risk is typically used in cases involving premises liability or dangerous activities, such as skydiving, amusement park rides, sporting activities, trampoline parks, etc. Expressed Consent: Knowingly accepted the risks associated with the activity and/or service through an agreement or their actions. Expressed consent is often associated with a waiver of liability that is agreed to and signed prior to the risky activity (though in some cases verbal express consent is permitted). In these cases, it can be particularly difficult to recover compensation, since waivers of liability can excuse the defendant from being held responsible for any injuries. A successful assumption of the risk defense can impact your recovery by leading a judge or jury to find you partially or completely responsible for your injury. Each case is unique, and the defense’s effectiveness will hinge on the facts and evidence presented by both sides. Exceptions to the Rule There are exceptions to the assumption of risk defense, as the injury suffered must be “foreseeable.” The foreseeability test determines proximate cause— or a party’s liability—for an act of negligence that resulted in injury. Basically, it asks whether a person of ordinary intelligence should have reasonably foreseen the potential consequences of his or her conduct. For example, an assumption of risk defense might not work if a plaintiff was injured on a roller coaster caused by damaged safety equipment. That’s because the injured party didn’t know about the risk posed by the damaged equipment prior to getting on the ride. Additionally, the assumption of risk defense will not protect a defendant from liability for reckless or intentional behavior. For instance, if the defendant knew about the roller coaster’s damaged safety equipment and still allowed people to ride it. Modified Comparative Negligence Laws in Houston Under Texas’ modified comparative negligence laws, you can still recover damages when you are partially at fault, but only as long as it is less than 51 percent. The amount of compensation you are awarded will be reduced by the percentage of liability assigned to you. As an example, if a jury awards you $100,000 and you are found 20 percent at fault for your injury, then you will receive $80,000. If you are found more than 50 percent liable, you cannot recover damages. Get Help From a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Personal injury cases where an assumption of risk defense is used are often tough fights in court. A skilled injury lawyer in Houston can evaluate your case to see if the assumption of risk applies and help you explore your legal options. Schedule your free consultation with an attorney at the Milano Legal Group PLLC today for help obtaining the best recovery possible.
After an injury accident, there are essentially two types of damages that plaintiffs (victims) can pursue: compensatory and punitive. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may have the right to recover these types of compensation, if negligence and causation are established. Understanding the difference between them is important to your personal injury claim, especially since not every case qualifies for punitive damages. Compensatory Damages The purpose of these damages is to make the injured party whole, by compensating them for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses can include: Property damage Past, current, and future medical bills and expenses Past, current, and future lost wages Legal fees On the other hand, non-economic losses are those that cannot be proven outright or calculated with a receipt. They are damages that you have suffered because of the other party’s negligence. Those can include: Loss of enjoyment of life Pain and suffering Emotional distress Loss of consortium or damage to a relationship with spouse or children Compensatory damages (both economic and non-economic) are the most commonly awarded type of compensation. To obtain a fair amount, it is imperative to calculate your losses accurately, so that no expenses are overlooked. The task of calculating future costs may require testimony from medical and accounting experts. Punitive Damages Punitive damages are not as common and are intended to punish the defendant. They are awarded when the court feels that the negligent party committed an egregious act or demonstrated a willful disregard for the health and safety of others. With the hope that the punishment will deter them and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Punitive damages are often awarded in car accident cases involving a drunk driver. Since driving while under the influence of alcohol is illegal, a driver might pay punitive damages as their penalty for consciously deciding to engage in harmful behavior, in addition to compensatory damages. The amount of punitive damages will not be based on your losses, but rather the amount that the court deems as adequate enough punishment. Caps on Damages Many states place caps, or limits, on the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover. Under Texas law, compensatory damages are not capped in most personal injury lawsuits, unless it is filed against a government entity or it is a medical malpractice lawsuit. That means many victims are entitled to pursue and may receive full compensation for their economic and non-economic losses. However, punitive damages are capped. They cannot exceed: Two times the amount of economic damages awarded plus the amount equal to their non-economic damages award (up to $750,000); or, $200,000 in cases where no economic damages are awarded. As an example, a victim is awarded $50,000 in economic damages and $25,000 in non-economic damages. If punitive damages are available, they would be capped at $125,000 (two times $50,000 plus the $25,000 in non-economic damages). Speak to a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Compensation The circumstances and losses specific to your case will determine its worth. Explore your legal options and discuss your claim’s value with an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer at the Milano Legal Group PLLC. Contact us online or call (713) 489-4270 to schedule a free consultation.
Fortunately, the state of Texas does provide legal options for passengers who are injured in a car accident. Being in a crash is not a pleasant experience, especially if you played no role in causing it. It can be a life changing event with permanent implications for anyone involved. Since recovering a fair amount of compensation in an injury claim is often difficult, you may wish to consider speaking to an experienced Houston car accident attorney at the Milano Legal Group PLLC. We offer a free consultation, contact us today. How to File a Passenger Accident Claim in Houston, Texas How you file a claim as a passenger involved in a car accident, will depend on who was at fault. Once the insurance companies of each party make that determination, you can file your claim against the liable driver’s insurer. When Your Driver is Responsible In most cases, injured passengers can collect damages from the driver of the vehicle they are in. It may seem uncomfortable to pursue a claim if the driver is a relative or a friend, but keep in mind it is the insurance company that will compensate you for your losses. There is an exception, however, if you are members of the same household. Most insurance policies will then prohibit the filing of a passenger injury claim. When another Driver is Responsible When a different driver is found at fault for causing the accident, a passenger injury claim can be pursued against their insurer. When Both Drivers are Responsible When both drivers share liability, passengers still have the right to collect compensation from each party. As long as the amounts awarded do not collectively add up to more than the amount of damages the claim is worth. The state of Texas sets a limit of two years on the amount of time you have to file an injury claim. If you wait too long and miss that window, you lose the legal right to pursue compensation. What Damages Can I Recover in a Passenger Injury Claim? A personal injury attorney can help you pursue the following types of damages and expenses related to your car accident case: Past and future medical costs and expenses. Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity. Loss of affection and companionship. Disability or loss of normal life. Disfigurement. Pain and suffering, including physical, mental and emotional distress experienced in the past and what you will continue to suffer from in the future. Every accident claim and its estimated value are unique. When you meet with an injury lawyer at our firm, we can help give you an idea of your case’s worth. Speak to an Experienced Passenger Injury Attorney in Houston Our car accident lawyers at the Milano Legal Group PLLC know how to help passengers deal with multiple insurance company claims. We will do everything in our power to hold the responsible parties accountable and obtain the maximum amount of compensation. To learn more, call (713) 489-4270 or send us an email to arrange a free consultation.
It is the responsibility of every driver to avoid accidents and ensure it is safe before changing lanes. Doing so carelessly is not only dangerous, but against the law. On the other hand, that doesn’t give others a free license to run into you when you are changing lanes. When an accident does occur, it can be a bit more difficult to determine exactly what happened and who is at fault without talking to an experienced car accident attorney. Determining Fault in a Lane Changing Accident Typically, the driver who is changing lanes is the one who is at fault for the accident. When passing, drivers must make sure the lane is clear by not only checking their mirrors, but also blind spots, which require you to physically turn your head and look out the back side windows. Signals must also be used. In general, if a party breaks any rule of the road, they are responsible for a lane changing crash. Liability may be apparent if you or the other party: Fails to signal when changing lanes. Changes lanes into another vehicle Passes in a no-passing zone. Fails to return to the right lane. Prevents another car from passing. Violates any other traffic laws (such as by speeding) But, that is not always the case. If more than one driver was switching lanes, there might be some debate as to who is liable or both parties might be. Several factors specific to each case will be considered, such as where the impact on the vehicles occurred, the severity of the damage, the speed at which they were traveling, etc. Proving Fault in a Lane Changing Accident To be successful in a claim for compensation, the following elements must be established: The at-fault driver had a duty of care to drive safely, and follow the rules of the road. The at-fault driver breached that duty by unsafely changing lanes. The at fault driver’s breach of duty directly caused the accident and your injuries. You sustained calculable losses as a result of the accident, such as medical bills and lost income. Proving fault will require evidence and documentation that supports your claim. An accident attorney can help you gather any accident reports, medical records, medical bills, proof of missed work and lost wages, repair estimates, photos of the damages and injuries, and statements from any witnesses. Shared Fault in Texas In Texas, as long as a driver is less than 51 percent responsible for an accident, they can recover compensation. However, the total amount awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault. For example, if the vehicle that changed lanes is 80 percent at fault and the other driver is 20 percent, the driver who is 20 percent at-fault can recover 80 percent of the compensation they are entitled to. Speak to a Lane Change Accident Attorney Our team at the Milano Legal Group PLLC has extensive experience representing clients who have been injured in a lane change accident. We offer consultations free of charge, call us today at (713) 489-4270 or reach us online.
A “no contact” motorcycle accident occurs when a motor vehicle indirectly causes a motorcyclist to crash, without colliding into them. In most cases, it is the driver’s negligent behavior that results in this type of accident. This could happen, for example, if a car suddenly changes lanes and cuts off a motorcycle; in effect, causing the rider to perform a dangerous maneuver to avoid a collision. While the reckless driver may attempt to avoid responsibility for this type of accident and the resulting injuries, their degree of negligence can be determined by an insurance company or the court. If they are found liable, the motorcyclist may be entitled to compensation. Speak to an experienced Houston motorcycle accident attorney to learn more about your legal options. Establishing Liability after a No Contact Motorcycle Accident All no contact motorcycle accidents are unique, and require a legal investigation to establish liability. The basis of the claim is whether the driver was negligent, which means they did not exercise reasonable care that other drivers would have applied in a similar situation. Drivers must follow the rules of the road, including being aware of what is going on around them. If the driver causes an accident by failing to notice or see a motorcycle, they will most likely be found negligent. Proving negligence will require evidence. Hiring a lawyer can ease the stress of validating your claim, especially if you are still recovering from injuries. They will conduct their own investigation and gather police reports, eyewitness accounts, your medical records, as well as hire experts to testify on your behalf regarding the driver’s required standard of care. The courts, or an insurance company, will look at both parties to determine each side’s degree of liability. An alternative scenario is a driver who doesn’t realize they caused an accident and continues to drive away. Unless the motorcyclist can catch the vehicle’s license plate or even a description, it may be hard to locate the at-fault party. In those cases, the police will treat it similar to a hit and run and will work to find the driver. That can take weeks or even months, leaving an injured motorcyclist without compensation. In these instances, the rider would rely on their own insurance to help cover the costs of medical bills and property damage. If the driver is eventually found, the motorcycle rider can then file a lawsuit against that driver. Most Common Causes of No Contact Motorcycle Accidents There are several ways that drivers can cause a no contact accident with a motorcycle, including: Failing to notice motorcycles riding close to them Violating traffic laws, such as failing to yield the right of way, speeding, running red lights, etc. Driving distracted Failing to signal or a sudden lane change Failing to check blind spots Tailgating Reckless driving Road rage Contact the Milano Legal Group PLLC for Help Our team can help no contact motorcycle accident victims pursue legal options to obtain the compensation they desperately need. Call us today at (713) 489-4270 or contact us online to set up a free case evaluation.
Nearly 650 people lost their lives in Texas truck accidents throughout 2017, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The highest total in any year dating back to 2007. When truck accidents are not fatal, the damage can still be devastating, and victims are often left with serious or life-changing injuries. Unfortunately, most of these crashes are preventable. Leading Causes of Truck Crashes Understanding the most common causes of truck accidents may help avoid some of these tragedies in the future. Distracted Driving Distracted driving is a serious issue among drivers of all vehicles, but the results can be catastrophic when a truck driver is not paying attention. Common forms of distractions include texting or talking on a cell phone, drinking, and eating. Truck Driver Impatience or Road Rage Truck drivers are under an enormous amount of pressure to meet certain deadlines, which can result in impatience or anger when on the road. The NHTSA revealed that almost a third of all driver error-caused accidents can involve behaviors from road rage. When a trucker is driving too aggressively, other drivers should not take retaliatory action as it will only increase the probability of an accident. Driver Fatigue A person’s driving abilities can adversely be impaired when they are not getting an adequate amount of sleep. Truck drivers work long hours and don’t have a reliable sleep schedule. Although there are federal laws that dictate how many hours a trucker can be on the road, it doesn’t guarantee they will adhere to them if they are trying to meet a deadline. Reckless Driving Going over the speed limit dramatically decreases a truck driver’s chances of reacting to any unforeseen elements on the road. Other dangerous behaviors include: sudden lane changes, failing to signal, or failing to account for traffic. Poor Weather Conditions When a truck driver fails to adjust to climate and road conditions, it often leads to poor visibility, and they may encounter cross-winds or wet driving surfaces. All of which significantly reduces their ability to control the vehicle. Driving Under the Influence Many truck drivers resort to stimulant drugs out of boredom or to stay awake. Truckers actually have the highest rate of alcohol and drug abuse among other drivers. Driving under the influence clouds judgement and can compel a driver to take unnecessary risks. Poor Maintenance or Manufacturing Defects Trucks must be kept in good condition, as required by law. However, proper maintenance can be expensive and many truck owners or companies are not willing to spend the money to do it right. Defects, on the other hand, originate from the manufacturer and can be, for example, a mistake in the design of a part. If a vital part, such as an axle, tire, or wiring fails, the truck driver may lose control. Preventing Truck Accidents If both the truck driver and other road users take necessary safety precautions, most truck accidents are avoidable. For example, drivers of other vehicles on the road can drive defensively by: Using turn signals to give truck drivers ample time to react and make adjustments to your intentions. Avoiding driving in blind spots. Tractor-trailers have large blind spots which smaller vehicles should be aware of. These are often located at the rear, the side, and the connection between the truck and the trailer. Keeping your distance. It is difficult to judge a truck’s braking distance when you are tailgating. Vehicles traveling behind a truck should give an ample distance of around 20 to 25 car lengths, especially when driving uphill. Speak to an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney When you are injured in a truck accident caused by negligence, you must take immediate action in order to hold the driver and the trucking company accountable. Contact the Milano Legal Group PLLC today, and get started with a free and confidential consultation.
If you were at-fault for an accident, your liability insurance coverage will cover the other driver’s or injured party’s medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage and other losses. Minimum Liability Coverage in Texas In Texas, the liability minimum coverage, if you injured the other driver or party is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident. The liability minimum coverage for property damage is $25,000. The property damage limits include repair or replacement of the other driver’s vehicle, towing and storage fees, rental car coverage, and any other repair or replacement of property that was damaged in the accident (e.g., passenger compartment contents, fences, signs, trees, buildings, etc.). Additional Coverage Of course, you can always buy more than the minimum coverage, such as $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident and $50,000 in property damage liability coverage, and that is highly recommended to protect your assets, if the other party chooses to sue you. If you were the at-fault party, your vehicle is damaged or totaled, and you have “full coverage” or collision coverage, you’ll want to file a claim with your insurance company to repair or replace your vehicle. Remember, if you use this coverage, there is a deductible (usually $500 to $1,000) that needs to be paid, which will need to be paid after the repair shop finishes repairing your vehicle or will be deducted from the amount paid to you to replace your vehicle if it’s totaled. Collision coverage covers damage to your vehicle from a collision with another vehicle or other object while operating it. If You’re Not At Fault If you weren’t the at-fault party, and especially if you’re injured, it is highly recommended that you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case. Filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company or your own insurance company, if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance can be very tricky. It is recommended that you do not talk to the responsible party’s insurance company at all. They will attempt to call you and send you letters to get information from you that they’ll likely use against you. Remember, the insurance adjusters are not your friend even as nice as they can be while talking to you. They will do anything they can to avoid paying your claim. Avoid talking to the other driver’s insurance company and DO NOT let them do a recorded statement with you. If the other driver does not have insurance and you use your own uninsured motorist coverage to cover your bodily injury or property damage, they may require that you give a statement. Many times, insurance companies will take their time investigating a claim when the parties do not respond to their requests for statements on how the accident occurred. This can be frustrating. If you feel that you can handle your own case, it’s important to be as brief as possible and only give the facts of the accident. Tell the truth. Try not to speculate as to what happened and be consistent in telling your side to the story (refer back to your notes, as mentioned above). Be very brief and general in discussing your injuries, if you do not hire a lawyer. Since we aren’t trained medical professionals, it’s difficult to properly express our treatment status or injuries. It’s best to let the insurance company evaluate records from healthcare professionals in order to evaluate your claim. Remember it’s the insurance adjuster’s job to pay as little as possible in any bodily injury or property damage claim. Also, keep in mind that if you accept an offer verbally from the adjuster, it’s binding. You do not have to face a serious injury case alone. Contact our attorneys for a free consultation about how we can help you. Call (713) 489-4270 to speak to our Houston personal injury attorneys directly.