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Tractor-Trailer Underride Accident Results in Fatal Injuries

- Charles Argento

A recent crash on a Houston area highway has resulted in fatal injuries to a local man. The crash is an example of the deadly potential of underride accidents involving tractor-trailers and other large trucks. Learn more about the accident and underride truck accidents below, and speak with a seasoned Texas truck accident lawyer if you’ve been injured in a Houston truck accident.

Crash involving stalled tractor-trailer on Houston highway

The recent fatal crash occurred on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 16, 2018. A 43-year-old man was driving his BMW on the Southwest Freeway heading south, near Harwin. The man was traveling at what members of the Houston Police Department called “highway speeds.” Tragically, the driver failed to notice that an 18-wheeler had stalled out in a middle lane on the other side of the Westpark Drive overpass. The BMW driver slammed into the rear of the stalled-out big rig, tearing the roof off the passenger vehicle. The driver of the car was killed almost instantly.

While the driver of the 18-wheeler claimed to have set out orange cones around the rear of his truck to indicate to drivers that the truck had stalled, lawyers for the victim’s family assert that eyewitnesses to the accident saw no cones around the truck. The family has already initiated legal action against the transportation companies believed to have been involved in operating the truck.

Underride accidents one of the many dangers posed by large trucks

Underride accidents occur when a passenger vehicle hits the front, side, or rear of a tractor-trailer and slides underneath the massive truck. These types of accidents often result in serious or fatal injuries for passenger vehicle occupants, since they tend to crush or shear off the passenger compartment of the smaller vehicle. Federal regulations state that large trucks must use a form of underride protection, such as a metal guard that prevents smaller cars from being able to slide underneath trucks. Nevertheless, many trucks use underride guards that are not strong enough to withstand high-speed impact; others simply fail to use underride guards altogether. When tractor-trailers fail to comply with federal laws regarding safety equipment such as underride guards, the transportation company may face liability for their failure to follow federal laws that could have prevented serious injuries to the victims.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a tractor-trailer accident in Texas, contact the aggressive, dedicated, and trial-ready Houston truck accident lawyer Charles J. Argento for a free consultation on your case, at 713-225-5050.

Failing to Watch for Motorcycles is a Fatal Mistake

- Charles Argento

Houston police are investigating a fatal motorcycle accident that occurred at 6500 Martin Luther King Boulevard earlier this month. Two people, a man and woman, were traveling north on the motorcycle when the driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck failed to yield the right of way when leaving a stop sign. The motorcyclist crashed into the truck, causing both riders to be thrown from the motorcycle. After being transported to Houston area hospitals, the man was pronounced dead, and the female’s condition is in unknown. The pickup truck driver, who failed to yield the right of way, was not seriously injured.

Failure-to-Yield Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcyclists must follow the same rules of the road as drivers of cars and trucks, but often it’s other motorists who do not understand or heed these rules, particularly involving right of way. In many cases, drivers cause accidents by simply failing or forgetting to yield the right of way to motorcyclists; motorists are also more likely to pull out in front of a motorcycle than another car or truck. Motorcycle accidents involving a failure to yield the right of way frequently occur when:

  • The car driver fails to look out for motorcycles while making a turn onto another street or at an intersection
  • The car driver turns in front of a motorcyclist without using turn signals
  • The car driver doesn’t check his or her blind spot and sideswipes the motorcycle.
  • The car driver crowds the motorcyclist, causing him or her to run off the road or into oncoming traffic.

In failure-to-yield motorcycle accidents, the at-fault driver is usually the car or truck driver who violated the motorcyclist’s right of way, but it’s generally the motorcyclist who pays the price—often with his or her life, as in the accident described above. Another tough pill to swallow… Because car and truck drivers are less likely to be injured in an accident with a motorcycle, they may be more likely to flee the scene. In a Houston motorcycle accident that occurred on the southbound 610 Loop in July, the driver of a BMW fled after crashing into three motorcyclists as they exited the freeway. One motorcyclist was killed and the other two were injured, requiring emergency treatment.

Call an Experienced Houston Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, please contact Charles J. Argento, Accident & Injury Attorney in Houston. You need someone on your side, making your case for fair compensation. Fail to do so, and you won’t yield the recovery you should.

Southeast Texas Water Tower Accident Kills One Worker, Injures Another—Is the Crane to Blame?

- Charles Argento

Last month, a water tower accident in Porter, Texas (about 30 miles northeast of Houston) killed one worker and injured another when a steel panel being lifted into the air crashed into the open water tank where four workers were inside. The uninjured men were rescued and lowered 150 feet to safety, the injured man was taken to a regional hospital with arm and chest injuries, and the fatally injured man died at the scene. Soon after, OSHA inspectors came to the water tower construction site to investigate what caused the accident.

According to witnesses, the panel (part of the tank’s sidewall) was going up, lifted by a crane, when suddenly it collapsed into the tank after dangling in the air. The workers inside could be heard banging on the tank and saying, “Don’t move the crane.”

Causes of Construction Site Crane Accidents

Given that the sidewall panel fell from the crane while suspended, an issue with crane operation, assembly, or safety precautions may have caused or contributed to this fatal accident. In fact, crane accidents are among the most frequent causes of serious injuries and fatalities on construction sites. In recent studies, Texas ranked second in the country for most incidents of crane-related deaths and injuries, with approximately nine deaths and 20 injuries per year. Known factors and scenarios resulting in crane accidents include:

  • Construction companies allowing individuals without proper training and qualifications to operate cranes
  • Overloading cranes, which may cause the crane arm to buckle, break, or collapse
  • Failing to properly secure crane loads
  • Instability failures caused by inadequate ground support or inadequate leveling
  • Improper crane assembly
  • Defective and/or malfunctioning crane parts
  • Failing to properly inspect and/or maintain cranes
  • Operating cranes near powerlines

Most, if not all, of the circumstances listed above can be avoided if appropriate safety measures are followed before, during, and after crane operation. When accidents and injuries occur as the result of a failure to prevent hazards, injured workers and their family members (in the event of a fatal accident) may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. The duty of a personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer is to thoroughly investigate accidents like these, so that every recovery option is made available to the injury victim.

Speak with an Experienced Houston Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident in the Houston area, please contact Charles J. Argento, Accident & Injury Attorney. Our office handles both personal injury cases and workers’ compensation claims, ensuring you receive maximum compensation and benefits for losses.

Introducing New Safety Features to Large Trucks Could Prevent Tractor-Trailer Crashes

- Charles Argento

Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are the largest vehicles that the average driver will find on the road. In fact, these vehicles can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds when carrying a full load of cargo. Large commercial trucks are thus able to do enormous amounts of damage when involved in accidents with much smaller passenger vehicles.

Despite the risks involved in a tractor-trailer accident, many large trucks lack the advanced safety features that can be found in much smaller cars and trucks which pose far less of a safety threat. Read on to learn about the ways that large truck safety could be improved with the introduction of advanced crash prevention systems, and contact a seasoned Texas personal injury lawyer for a consultation if you’ve been hurt in a crash with an 18-wheeler.

Fatality rates rising among tractor-trailer crashes

In recent years, fatality rates in motor vehicle crashes in the US have jumped markedly. Crashes involving tractor-trailers are no exception to this pattern. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2016 saw roughly 4,300 people killed in crashes involving large commercial trucks, which is 5% more than were killed in crashes involving trucks in 2015. Whether or not trucking companies are doing all they can to operate safe truck fleets is a subject of some debate. Safety experts have noted that most large trucks lack modern safety features that exist in many passenger vehicles, despite the major accidents that could be prevented if these features were used in large trucks. According to one study, only 15% of all large commercial trucks have a form of collision avoidance or crash warning system installed.

Collision-avoidance systems could address rising fatal crash rates

In many ways, crash avoidance systems could be even more useful in large trucks than they are on passenger vehicles. For example, semi-trucks have massive blind spots that wrap from the passenger side all the way around the side to the rear of the truck. Vehicles driving in these areas are essentially invisible to the driver, and if the truck merges lanes, vehicles riding in these so-called “no-zones” are at risk of being hit or forced off the road or into another vehicle. By installing blind-spot warning and lane drift warning systems, these accidents could be prevented. Additionally, tractor-trailers traveling at highway speeds can need up to 400 meters to come to a complete stop, and if the driver fails to notice an upcoming hazard, they may not begin braking early enough. By equipping these trucks with front-crash warning or automatic emergency braking systems, drivers could get the help they need in bringing their truck to a stop before a crash occurs.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck crash in Texas, find out if you’re a good candidate to file a personal injury lawsuit for money damages by contacting the professional and effective Houston personal injury lawyer Charles J. Argento for a no-cost evaluation of your claim, at 713-225-5050.

What Damages are Available in Wrongful Death Claims?

- Charles Argento

After losing a loved one in a tragic accident, money hardly feels like a worthy substitute for the family member or spouse that you’ll never see again. However, families who have lost someone in an accident are often left with overwhelming expenses accrued when the person who passed was in the final stages of their life. When the deceased person was the family’s primary wage earner, families are left in a perilously-unstable financial position. While nothing can bring back a beloved family member, many Texas families who have suffered a loss due to someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior have the right to seek damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. You can learn more below about the types of money damages that may be available after a loss. Speak with a seasoned Houston wrongful death attorney if you have additional questions.

Damages available in a Houston wrongful death case

When someone dies as the result of another person or corporation’s error or wrongful act, the spouse, children, or parents of the victim have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation for their loss. Family members and the victim’s estate may seek the following types of damages in a claim filed after a wrongful death:

  • Lost earning capacity: This is compensation for the money that the victim would have earned during their lifetime for their family, had they not died.
  • Lost inheritance: This is compensation for the amount of money that the family members of the victim would have expected to receive as an inheritance from the victim, had the indivdiual survived and continued earning money.
  • Lost companionship and society: This is compensation for the lost support, comfort, and company that the deceased would have continued to provide to their spouse, family members, or children had they survived.
  • Survivor damages: The personal representative of the person who died may also seek the damages that the deceased person would have had a right to recover in a personal injury claim, had they not died. These could include damages for the victim’s pain and suffering before they died, as well as their medical expenses.
  • Exemplary Damages: When the death was caused by either gross negligence or a willful act or omission, the family may be entitled to exemplary damages. These damages are intended to punish the defendant for an especially careless or intentional act that resulted in the victim’s death, to deter similar wrongful conduct in others.

If you need help seeking money damages after losing a loved one in a Texas accident, contact the knowledgeable and dedicated Houston wrongful death lawyer Charles J. Argento for a no-cost, confidential consultation on your case, at 713-225-5050.

Since 2009, Pedestrian Deaths Have Risen Sharply

- Charles Argento

The number of roadway fatalities has risen steadily across all types of accidents in recent years. However, the rate of fatalities among pedestrians has risen even faster than the fatality rate of any other form of roadway accident. Read on to learn more about the increase in pedestrian accidents, and contact a seasoned Texas personal injury lawyer if you or a loved one has been hurt in a pedestrian accident in Houston.

Rate of pedestrian fatalities rises by 46%

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released a study which showed that pedestrian deaths on American roads rose by 46% between their all-time low in 2009 and 2016. 5,987 pedestrians died in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2016. In 2009, only 4,109 pedestrians were killed on the road. 2016’s pedestrian fatality total is the highest since 1990, when 6,482 pedestrians were killed on the road. The rise in pedestrian deaths accounted for 52% of the increase in deaths on American highways between 2009 and 2016. Experts are not sure of the reasons for the rise in pedestrian fatalities, but speculate that an increase in driving, greater interest in being healthy and physically active, and rising speed limits may be contributing factors.

How can pedestrian deaths be avoided?

Since the reasons for the increase in pedestrian deaths aren’t entirely clear, there are no easy solutions for how to fix the problem of soaring pedestrian deaths. That said, the authors of the IIHS study as well as other roadway safety experts have offered a number of fixes that could improve pedestrian safety, such as:

  • Increasing the number of crosswalks: pedestrians are more likely to cross a street between intersections where there are few crosswalks available. Providing more protected crosswalks for pedestrians has been found to reduce fatalities.
  • Improved vehicle design: Studies show that pedestrian deaths rise along with the popularity of SUVs, trucks, and vans. These vehicles are more likely to have vertical, higher front ends that hit pedestrians in the head and chest, causing fatal injuries. Redesigning these vehicles could reduce deaths among pedestrians.
  • Reducing distracted driving: Drivers who are preoccupied with their phones tend to look up at the road for briefer amounts of time, causing them to miss smaller objects in the roadway, such as pedestrians. Reducing distracted driving would lower crash rates overall, but particularly among pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a Texas pedestrian accident, get help seeking the compensation you deserve for your injuries by contacting the effective and professional Houston personal injury lawyer Charles A. Argento for a free consultation at 713-225-5050.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You in Houston

- Charles Argento

Getting the money you deserve after a Texas accident isn’t easy. Having the help of a personal injury attorney can not only make your life easier; it can increase the likelihood that your claim will be successful. Read on to learn how a Houston personal injury attorney can help you after an accident in Texas.

You’ll know your claim is in good and knowledgeable hands.

After a serious accident, it can be overwhelming simply to keep up with the regular demands of daily life. Trying to haggle for the damages you’re owed after an accident, filing the necessary paperwork, and even just learning how to file a lawsuit can leave you completely overwhelmed. Hiring a personal injury attorney means that you’ll have someone experienced and knowledgeable to handle all the confusing paperwork and negotiating on your behalf.

You’ll have an accurate understanding of the value of your case.

When you’re hurt, you may know what your medical bills and accident-related expenses have been so far, but you’re probably not equipped to predict how much they’ll cost you in the future, nor what other money damages you may be owed for things like pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney can let you know what your case is truly worth, so that a tightfisted defendant doesn’t take advantage of your ignorance during settlement talks.

You won’t be obligated to pay attorneys’ fees unless you win.

Hiring a lawyer for your accident claim might sound like it would be too expensive for you to do, even if it were the most prudent course of action. Fortunately, personal injury lawyers tend to work on a contingency basis. This means that they don’t collect any fees unless they’re successful in winning your lawsuit. This also means that your attorney will be highly motivated to work hard for you to win your case.

You’re ready for trial if you’re unable to reach a settlement.

Most personal injury claims are settled out of court, but in a small minority of cases, the at-fault party is unwilling to provide a fair settlement. There are many reasons why insurers and defense attorneys take claimants more seriously when they’re represented by an attorney, and one major reason is that the defendants know a lawyer is ready and able to sue if settlement talks fail. By hiring an attorney to handle your personal injury claim, you’ll not only have better chances of receiving an optimal result through settlement talks; you’ll also be ready to continue pursuing claims in court as soon as it becomes clear that the at-fault party isn’t going to pay you what you deserve.

For seasoned, knowledgeable, and dedicated help with your Texas personal injury claim, contact the Houston personal injury lawyer Charles J. Argento for a free consultation at 713-225-5050.

What Financial Recovery is Available in Personal Injury Claims?

- Charles Argento

Getting hurt in an accident–whether it’s a crash on the highway, a slip and fall in a store, or an incident with a defective and dangerous product—can be scary and painful. Unfortunately, it can also be extremely expensive. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident in Texas, you may already know from first-hand experience just how costly it can be to get hurt as the result of someone else’s carelessness. You may be considering taking legal action based on your injuries, but wondering what sorts of compensation are available to you through a lawsuit. Read on to learn about the types of money damages available through a Texas personal injury claim, and contact a Houston personal injury lawyer for more information.

There are two main categories of damages in a personal injury lawsuit: economic and non-economic, also known as general and special damages, respectively.

Economic damages

These damages include compensation for actual losses suffered by you and your family. Typically, economic damages have an objective monetary value, often one that can be shown with a receipt or paystub. They include:

  • Medical expenses: Even if you have health insurance, medical care is costly. If you or your loved one has been seriously injured, you may be facing thousands of dollars in future expenses, as well, encompassing the costs of future treatments, in-home care, and medical equipment.
  • Lost past and future earnings: Serious injuries may rob someone not only of their physical health, but also of their professional livelihood. Lost earnings damages can compensate an accident victim for both the amount of time they were forced to miss work after an accident, as well as for any long-term or permanent physical impairments that will impact their ability to return to their profession.

Non-economic damages

Serious accidents can be traumatic for both your mind and your body. Non-economic damages provide compensation for the types of losses that don’t have an easily-measured monetary value, but which are nevertheless painful injuries that accident victims suffered due to someone else’s actions. These include:

  • Pain and suffering: No amount of money can undo the searing pain of a major injury, but these damages seek to offer some comfort by compensating victims for the physical pain they’ve endured.
  • Mental anguish: When an accident victim was forced to witness something truly traumatic and disturbing, such as the violent injury of a loved one, mental anguish damages may be available.
  • Disfigurement: Injuries that alter a victim’s physical appearance may not be more painful to undergo, but they can alter a victim’s ability to lead a normal life. Disfigurement damages provide compensation for these types of injuries.
  • Physical impairment: There are many ways that we use our bodies to enrich our lives aside from how we earn a living. When an injury robs a victim of their ability to engage in a physical activity they once loved, whether it’s a sport or hobby such as painting or photography, that victim may seek compensation for the loss in the form of physical impairment damages.

If you’re in need of dedicated, skilled, and professional legal help after a Texas personal injury, contact the Houston offices of Charles J. Argento for a no cost-consultation, at 713-225-5050.

Study Determines Just How Risky It Is to Text and Drive

- Charles Argento

As both the use of smart phones and the rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents increase across the US, it doesn’t feel like a shocking statement to say that using a phone while driving is a dangerous activity. That said, there has not been much high-quality research done on just how problematic it is for drivers to talk, text, or email while they’re on the road. A team of researchers seeking to change this fact has recently released the results of a years-long study of the impact of cell phone use on crash rates. Read on to learn more about the results of this study, and contact a seasoned Houston personal injury lawyer with any questions after a Texas distracted driver crash.

Video captures drivers distracted by their phones before a crash

The newly-published study was released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The research was conducted by using video footage taken from inside the passenger cabin of over 3,000 participating drivers’ vehicles over the course of several years. The researchers studied the footage to identify what sorts of behaviors drivers engaged in prior to a crash, and they used this information to calculate the increased crash rate based on the particular behavior. For example, researchers calculated crash rates for drivers who were engaging in phone use that required the driver to look at and touch their phones (such as texting, emailing, or browsing the internet), hands-free phone conversations, and handheld phone conversations, as well as crash rates where drivers weren’t distracted at the time of the crash.

According to their results, drivers who were engaged in a visual and manual task on their phones had a crash risk that was up to eight times higher than if they were paying attention to the road. Drivers who talked on their phone had a four-times-higher crash risk, and researchers found no difference between the risk of a crash for drivers who talked on the phone while holding the phone versus using a hands-free device. This type of research can be helpful in proving an at-fault driver’s liability for damages in a crash. Your personal injury attorney can use such research to show the recklessness of the decision to text or email behind the wheel, despite the widespread knowledge that these actions put neighboring drivers at serious risk of being hurt in an accident.

If you’ve been injured in a Texas traffic accident caused by a distracted driver, contact the knowledgeable and dedicated Houston personal injury attorney Charles J. Argento for a free consultation at 713-225-5050.

Yet Again, Annual Rate of Traffic Accidents Rises

- Charles Argento

Each year, cars come fully stocked with more and more safety features designed to prevent occupants from being injured or killed in traffic accidents. Despite the fact that passenger vehicles offer greater protections to passengers than ever before, the rates of roadway fatalities have risen sharply over recent years. Read on to learn about the increase in roadway deaths, and the reasons many experts believe these fatalities are occurring.

Third straight year of rising roadway deaths

Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles data gathered from law enforcement agencies across the country on the number of local roadway fatalities, as well as their perceived cause. While, for decades, the annual rate of traffic deaths fell, the past three years have witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of fatal injuries in traffic accidents. The NHTSA recently reported that 37,461 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2016. This is a 5.6% increase in the number of deaths from 2015’s total. Since 2014, deaths occurring on or near a roadway have increased by 14.4%.

Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists at particular risk

Certain categories of roadway occupants appear to be even more at risk than drivers of cars or trucks. Non-vehicle occupants—a term used to describe pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists—have suffered a greater rise in fatality rates than motor vehicle occupants. Ten years ago, non-vehicle-occupant fatalities made up 25% of all fatalities on or near roads. As of 2016, these deaths account for 33% of all traffic fatalities. At particular risk are pedestrians. In 2016 alone, 5,987 pedestrians were killed on the road, which was a 9% rise over the total number of pedestrian fatalities in 2015. Over the past three years, pedestrian deaths have risen by 22%.

Many experts attribute the rise in non-vehicle occupant deaths to increases in distracted driving. When drivers are using their phone while driving, they are more likely to glance up at the road only briefly. These short scans don’t allow them to notice smaller objects in the roadway, such as pedestrians, resulting in a greater number of pedestrian accidents. With the help of an attorney, these injured pedestrians can use evidence of a driver’s distraction to support a personal injury lawsuit based on that driver’s negligence in causing the accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Texas car accident or pedestrian accident, find out if you’re entitled to money damages through a personal injury lawsuit by contacting Houston motor vehicle accident lawyer Charles J. Argento for a free consultation at 713-225-5050.