Austin Vehicle Accident Lawyer
Federal, state, and local laws are designed to keep motorists safe on the roads. Driver education and licensing requirements prepare people for the responsible operation of a motor vehicle, and insurance helps protect them in the event of car accidents. But laws that apply to other types of transport – all-terrain vehicles, boats, or motorcycles, for example – are less strict, and that creates questions about liability when a crash occurs.
In any type of motor vehicle, when an operator fails to use “reasonable care,” and causes a crash, he could be liable for his passengers’ and other parties’ losses. If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident as a result of someone else’s carelessness, you might be entitled to compensation. Call an Austin vehicle accident lawyer at The Evans Law Firm today at (855) 414-1012.
Defining ‘Reasonable Care’
When a court attempts to determine the cause of a crash, it will evaluate the parties’ “reasonable care” – that is, the degree of caution and concern shown for themselves and others that would be expected of any rational person. If a court finds someone did not exercise reasonable care, that person is considered negligent, and therefore liable for some or all of the other parties’ damages.
Some behaviors that could constitute a breach of reasonable care include:
- Disobeying traffic laws
- Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while distracted or drowsy
- Texting or talking on a cell phone
- Using a vehicle for an unintended purpose (such as driving a golf cart on a highway)
- Operating a poorly-maintained vehicle.
The court may find that more than one party is liable for an auto accident and will assign a percentage of fault, as appropriate. An injured person may still be awarded damages, provided his share of the blame is less than 50 percent.
Texas courts show that in 2014, 74 percent of all injury or damage cases filed in the state involved a motor vehicle. That’s the highest number of such cases in the past 35 years. The large volume of cases could cause delays for injured people hoping for a quick resolution of their claim.
An Alarming Trend
Each year, nationwide, ATVs cause an estimated 100,000 injuries. These vehicle injuries occur mostly in rural areas, among white men between the ages of 18 and 30, but children – who account for only 15 percent of ATV riders – account for 27 percent of ATV injuries and 28 percent of deaths, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
In February 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released the 2013 Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries. While the CPSC is still collecting figures for 2013, preliminary statistics show that between 1982 and 2013, 716 ATV-related fatalities occurred in Texas. Of that number, 135 occurred between 2010 and 2013, which shows how much more common these accidents have become over time.
Some factors that may increase the likelihood of ATV crashes are the age of the operator, overloaded vehicles, a lack of safety training, and operating an ATV on public roads. The design of ATVs may also contribute to an increased risk of rollover accidents, as these heavy, powerful vehicles can be difficult to control at high speed.
In January 2015, following six months of litigation, an ATV manufacturer offered a settlement to the family of a woman killed in an ATV crash. Her vehicle had flipped while she was riding it and crushed her. The woman’s family claimed the ATV “was not reasonably crashworthy” or “reasonably fit for unintended but clearly foreseeable accidents,” as reported by The Southeast Texas Record.
Car Accidents in Texas
Texas law requires anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, to take a Boater Education Certification Course before operating a boat, but otherwise it does not require boat operators to have any formal training. The law does not require citizens to carry insurance for their boats. Without formal training or insurance to cover damages, boaters may be at increased risk for a costly accident.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary Boating Safety, in 2014, 77 percent of boat operators who died in boating accidents had no formal training or instruction. That same year, 167 boating accidents happened in Texas, killing 39 people, injuring 119 people, and causing approximately $1.5 million in property damage.
Whether it’s mandatory or voluntary, educational and safety courses can help you understand – and hopefully minimize – the risks associated with operating a vehicle. Regardless, there will always be vehicle operators who are careless and reckless. If you’ve been injured and believe a negligent operator is to blame, an Austin Vehicle accident lawyer can help. Call us at (855) 414-1012, or complete our online contact form.