Common Car Accident Questions and Answers

Roads and streets get us where we need to go, but they can also be dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. Here are some common issues that affect people on the roads.

Red Light Runners:

In 2017, over 900 pedestrians were hit and killed by vehicles running red lights. The worst thing about it is that while most drivers say they realize running red lights is very dangerous for themselves and for pedestrians, almost 33% of them still run one or more red lights on a monthly basis. Running lights is, of course, a crime in itself, but injuring someone while running a light also brings up the question of civil liability. Breaking a law designed specifically to protect people from harm has a good chance of establishing the law breaker's civil negligence in addition to the crime they committed.

If you are injured by someone running a red light, be sure to note that when you talk to your insurance and your attorney. Evidence that someone ran a light is a big boost to any case or claim you may need to bring against the offending driver.

Pedestrian Injuries:

It's not just red light runners that are a danger on the road. Pedestrian deaths in general have been on the rise. Last year was the most deadly for pedestrians in almost two decades. One of the biggest reasons is that so many people are driving larger vehicles than they did in years past. Coupes and sedans are steadily being replaced by crossover vehicles, SUVs, and full size trucks. The larger the vehicle, the less survival a collision is for a pedestrian.

Another reason for the increase in pedestrian deaths is the rapid rise in smartphone use. Just like vehicle on vehicle accidents, distracted driving has had a major effect on pedestrian deaths as well. Like with all accidents, a pedestrian needs to establish that the driver that hit them had a duty to the person hit and that they violated that duty which resulted in an actual injury or other harm.

Hit and Runs:

Sometimes, car accidents happen but the other party does not stick around to see about the damage. Fortunately, there are some thing you can do if you are the victim of a hit and run accident. First thing to remember is the driver that runs is almost always assumed to be at fault. If the hit and run driver can be found, they will have a pretty heavy burden of proving why they are not at fault.

If the driver can't be found, you may have a clause in your car insurance that deals with hit and run drivers. This is usually part of your uninsured motorists coverage. Not every policy has this coverage, though, so you'll need to check with your insurance company before filing a claim. If you ever have trouble with your insurance company, it may be time to call an attorney. At the end of the day, sometimes you and your insurance company can have conflicting interests, and it can take the involvement of a good lawyer to set things right.

So, when is the right time to involve an attorney after a car accident? There are a few incidents where it just makes sense to get legal assistance:

If there's a dispute as to who caused the car accident.
If there's a dispute as to how much you are owed after an accident.
If you suffered a serious injury that will require continued medical care.
If the other driver decides to sue or countersue you for the accident.

A lawyer team that knows the local court system can help you through the rules and requirements involved in a car accident dispute. They can help you evaluate settlement offers and make sure that insurance companies and other drivers don't try to slip past the rules or take advantage of you. Be aware there is a time limit associated with personal injury cases. Many cases need to be filed within two years of the accident.

If you or a love one has been involved in a car accident or a pedestrian accident, you call the Martin Walker team at 903-526-1600.


Avoid Costly Liabilities With These Summer Boating Tips


With Summer in full gear, it’s a good time to review some boating safety tips. Boating can be a fun time for you and your friends, but if you ignore the basics you can be held liable for a variety of costly infractions. Here are some of the best tips to keep yourself and others safe while on area lakes:

  • Do not drink and operate a boat. Not only is it illegal, operating a boat while intoxicated significantly ups your chances of causing a fatal accident. What can seem like a big, open lake can quickly turn into a hazard of swimmers and boaters that require your full attention to navigate around.
  • Slow down. While there are not posted speed limit signs out on the water, you can receive a fine for excessive speed or reckless actions while operating your boat. It’s ok to have fun, just make sure you and others are safe while you have it.
  • Be sure you know the rules about life jackets. For instance, in Texas you must have one life jacket per person and children under 13 years of age are required to wear a life jacket at all times.
  • Be mindful of the weather. Storms and rough water can be disastrous even if you are just out on a local lake. It’s best not to put yourself or others in danger by risking the weather.

These same tips are some of the first things you should look at if you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident. Was the operator of the boat drinking? Were the operating their boat too fast? Did they have the proper number of life jackets on board?
If you need help, give us a call at 903-526-1600 today.


Tips For Staying Safe on New Year's Eve 2018

Tips For Staying Safe on New Year's Eve 2018

It's one of the most fun and exciting holidays of the year. There are fireworks, bonfires, and sparklers all around and large amounts of people gathered together. It's a time to think about how far we have come as well as the goals we have for the future. However, for some the new year will begin with a DWI charge on their record and some jail time. It's important to be smart on this holiday and plan for any potential mistakes that may come your way. Here are our top safety tips to keep your new year moving in a positive direction.
Forget the Alcohol
This will be a hard tip to follow for most people, but it could end up saving lives. If you have been designated as the driver for the night, this is your only option. When you think about it, this can only help you with drunk drivers all around the roads and cops keeping a look out on every turn.
Have a Sleepover
If you find yourself out at a New Year's Eve and you think you've had too much to drink don't be embarrassed to ask to stay the night.  Any good host will have already made sure this was possible for their guests. A good thing to keep in mind is that you can always ask ahead of time if this is an option. If not, you might want to think about going to another party.
Pick a Driver
Make sure you and your group have chosen a reliable and responsible driver to get everyone home safe. There are plenty of New Year's Eve activities to partake in for fun besides drinking. Try and stay encouraging to your DD and help them have fun without the drinks.
Download Uber or Lyft
Choosing a ride share option is one of the smartest and easiest ways to avoid drunk driving on this holiday. Make things even easier by downloading and creating an account with the app before the party even starts.
At Martin Walker Law, we want to encourage all East Texans to stay safe out there on New Year's Eve. It's important to have fun on this holiday, but it's not worth it if you get hurt or if you cause someone else to get in an accident. Happy New Year! Stay safe out there.


Distracted Driving vs. New Car Tech

Distracted driving kills thousands of people each year, but somehow we still keep looking away from the road. If casually asked, most people would probably say that they are good drivers and that they do not let anything distract them from the task of driving. But, when taking part in a formal survey, the result work out very differently.
Car insurance company Esurance recently conducted a study relating to distracted driving and how new vehicle technologies like lane-assist or automatic breaking are affecting drivers. In this study the real facts begin to come out. According to Esurance, 95% of those that took part agreed that texting while driving was a serious distraction, but then more than half of those people reported that they do text while they drive on a daily basis.
Interestingly, talking on the phone no longer ranks as the most distracting thing drivers do anymore. According to the study, the number one cell phone distraction is now using apps while driving, with talking while driving only a close second.
The study also took a look at how newer, automated driving technologies were affecting driver distraction. Surprisingly, they found that new in-car technologies actually increased driver distraction slightly. They can also lead to overconfience that the car itself will protect against bad driving behavior. One respondent is even quoted as saying he likes his car’s lane-keeping feature because it lets his car stay in its lane while he leans over to recover a dropped French fry!
At the end of the day, the best way to prevent driving accidents and deaths, even with new safe driving technologies, is to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.


Texas has more road construction zone fatalities than any other state

In 2016, there were over 750 road work zone fatalities in the United States, 172 of which occurred in our state of Texas. Only Florida had numbers remotely comparable, and even then they only totaled 80 work zone fatalities in the same time period.
Based on the latest data from the Federal Highway Administration, well over 50% of road work zone fatalities occur when a driver strikes an object or debris that has been left or made its way into the roadway. The next most common type of fatal work zone accident are rear end crashes.
There are a number of things you as a driver can do to reduce your chances of being involved in a work zone accident. They include:

    • Slowing down and following the indicated work zone speed limit.
    • Paying attention to the location of workers and road work supplies.
    • Keeping a safe, reasonable distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
    • Watch for construction vehicles pulling out onto the roadway
    • Obey the signals and instructions of workers directing traffic

If you or a loved one were injured in an auto accident involving road work, your case may have an added layer of complexity compared to a normal traffic accident. At Martin Walker P.C. we will work with you to see your case through to its proper conclusion. For a free case evaluation, give us a call at (903) 526-1600 or email us at info@martinwalkerlaw.com .


What Would A New Takata Airbag Settlement Mean For Car Owners?

For years now, airbag maker Takata has been dealing with the fallout of the faulty airbag inflator modules it designed for Honda and several other automobile manufactures. These defective airbags could sometimes explode during an auto accident sending shrapnel flying at a driver or passenger.
Now, after an investigation by the Department of Justice and a bankruptcy filing, Takata is attempting to set aside a fund for consumers who were injured by their airbags. One new issue that is currently in discussion is how those injured by a Takata airbag will get compensation. Takata is looking to set up a “channeling injunction” that directs future claims to a shared bankruptcy trust for compensation.
This kind of injunction has been before in the asbestos settlements of the 1990s, but setting up a similar structure for a different type of injury case has not been tried since. Currently, a court in Delaware is working on deciding how and if Takata will be allowed to set up such a channeling injunction.
If you or a loved one were hurt by an exploding Takata airbag, you may want to consider contacting an attorney sooner rather than later, because depending on what the Delaware court decides, the rules and procedures for making a claim may soon change drastically.


Ways To Stay Safe On The Road This New Year

While their are fewer overall driving deaths on New Years Eve and New Years Day than on some other holidays, the hours between 6pm on Dec 31st and 6am on Jan 1st are one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. The combination of holiday travel, late night parties, and alcohol push the number of crashes and driving related deaths during that period far higher than almost any other night of the year.
There are any number of statistics out there about how dangerous New Years driving is. You can find a good summary of the reasons not to be on the road during New Years here.
So, what's the best way to stay safe during the New Years holiday?

  • Don't drive unless you have to. Play it smart and stay off the roads.
  • Consider using a designated driver, cab service, or ride sharing service if do need to get somewhere, especially if you are coming home from a New Years party.
  • Above all, if you must drive this New Years, don't drive drunk.

From all of us at Martin Walker, P.C., we hope you have happy and safe new year.


Personal Breathalyzers, A New Tool To Help Prevent Drunk Driving?

With Thanksgiving now behind us, the final two big holidays of the year are fast approaching. The New Years holiday is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be driving, but perhaps a new trend can help make it safer in the years to come. More and more people are buying and using personal breathalyzers.
Though they aren't yet in widespread use, a recent study by the National Safety Council showed that up to 26% of those that responded had at one time either used a personal breathalyzer themselves or used one to help convince a friend that they were too impaired to drive safely.
Personal breathalyzers come in a variety of form factors ranging from one-time-use tubes that don't require batteries, to smartphone connected devices, all the way up to professional tools used by law enforcement. While the accuracy of individual breathalyzers can vary quite a bit, even the less accurate versions can be a good tool to help prevent others from driving drunk.


Thanksgiving Driving

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and many of us will travel to see friends and loved ones over the holiday season. Unfortunately, mass travel events like holiday weekends lead to a spike in car accidents which makes driving on the roads far more dangerous than other times of the year. What's more, people tend to treat normal rules of driving like always fastening their seat belts or making sure not to drink and drive, as more optional during holiday seasons. This leads to more accidents, injuries, and deaths during holiday seasons, many of which could have been prevented.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help make your holiday trip safer:
1. Follow The Law: Drinking and Driving, driving without a seat belt, or (new this year in Texas) driving while using a cellphone are all illegal and all substantially increase your chances of being badly injured or killed. Just following the basic rules of the road will keep you safer and could very well save your life if you are in an accident.
2. Plan Your Trip To Avoid The Worst Traffic: If possible, see if you can schedule your driving days a little before or a little after the peak days of traffic. Not only will you remove some of the frustration that comes with things like traffic jams, you'll be considerably safer if you travel at times when there are less other drivers on the road.
3. Don't Travel At Night: We're all pressed for time during the holiday season, and it often seems like getting in a few extra hours of driving by traveling after sunset would be worth it, but try and resist that urge. At night both your and other drivers are more tired and more likely to make a mistake, plus the reduced visibility can cause you to miss a key sign that there is a problem with the roadway your are own or with the behavior of an approaching driver. If you do plan to travel long distances by road, see if you can't fit your schedule into daylight hours and use the evenings to rest.