Archive for November, 2012

San Antonio Bicycle Accidents: Pay Attention

You may have noticed them on a recent Sunday as they pedaled alongside Loop 1604 – over 400 bicyclists with bright orange shirts, emblazoned with the words, “Can You See Me Now?”

San Antonio bicycle accident attorneys understand the cyclists were raising awareness after one of their own was recently struck by a vehicle from behind and severely injured.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the 39-year-old mother-of-two and triathlete suffered a serious spinal cord injury when an older woman in a pick-up truck hit her on an Interstate 10 access road last month. She is currently still recovering at University Hospital.

In honor of her, the other cyclists organized a 20-mile ride, which they did through word-of-mouth and through a number of bicycling shops in the area. In addition to raising awareness, the group hoped to raise money to help cover their fellow cyclist’s medical expenses, as she had recently been laid off from her medical sales job and had no health insurance. It was estimated about $40,000 had been raised through the sale of the orange t-shirts, at $20 each.

It’s an extremely touching gesture – but one that many injured cyclists are not on the receiving end of. What’s more, it’s unlikely to cover expenses for the years of recovery she may have ahead of her.

Spinal cord injuries can be fatal. But even when they aren’t, they can result in severe and chronic pain, respiratory complications, bladder complications, bowel dysfunction, heart problems and paralysis. The extent to which the person suffers depends on the type of injury, whether it is complete or incomplete. An incomplete injury means that the ability of the spinal cord to deliver messages to and from the brain remains at least somewhat intact. When the injury is complete, it means the person has lost all sensory and/or motor function below the location of the injury.

Recovery, if possible, is often long, painful and expensive.

When such injuries are due to the negligence of others, at-fault parties must be held accountable.

In this case, the cyclist has already undergone surgery and faces many more months of difficult rehabilitation.

At the time she was struck, the cyclist had been training for her second Ironman triathlon, which includes biking, running and swimming. This was a cyclist who knew what she was doing, and had been carefully following the rules of the road.

The driver of the truck was an 82-year-old woman, who hasn’t been initially cited by law enforcement officials. The crash happened just outside of San Antonio limits, where an ordinance instructs drivers to keep a safe distance when they are passing certain “vulnerable” road users. This includes cyclists. Cars are supposed to stay at least three feet away, while commercial vehicles have to give them at least six feet of space.

It’s unclear what that is going to mean for any potential criminal case, but it certainly appears there may be a strong basis for a civil lawsuit.

San Antonio has a history of such crashes. Just two months ago on West Avenue, a 17-year-old driver struck and killed a 55-year-old bicyclist. It’s estimated that the teen had been driving at speeds of over 60 miles per hour. That case is still under investigation.

Other cyclists who joined the solidarity ride reported having been struck also, or having extremely close calls. One cyclist reported he missed work for two months after being hit by a truck several years ago.

“We need to get the word out about the need for safety,” he was quoted as saying.

If you’ve been injured in a San Antonio bicycling accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

New Texas Bill Targets Texting Behind the Wheel

Texting while driving has become a huge problem nationally, with roughly a quarter of all car accidents last year involving cell phones.

Still, San Antonio car accident lawyers know that the state has yet to issue a uniform ban on the practice.

Some cities, such as San Antonio and Austin, have implemented their own measures. And we know that motorists under the age of 18, bus drivers and anyone in a school crossing zone is prohibited from using handheld cellular devices.

But a new effort is seeking to initiate a more sweeping piece of legislation to help curb the number of texting-related crashes.

The San Antonio News-Express reports that former Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick filed legislation on Nov. 12 that would ban texting while driving in Texas. It’s called HB 63, and it’s Craddick’s second crack at the measure.

Two years ago, legislators were successful in passing a texting while driving ban, but Gov. Rick Perry ultimately vetoed the measure, saying it was an example of government overreaching.

The proposed ban wouldn’t apply to dialing a phone number on a handheld device or using a global positioning satellite. It also wouldn’t apply to voice-operated or hands-free technology.

The measure is intended to introduce common-sense safety by preventing drivers from being allowed to read, write or send texts or e-mails at any point while operating a vehicle, except when the vehicle is stopped.

San Antonio’s texting ban is actually more strict in that it forbids drivers from texting or reading e-mails on handheld devices even when they’re stopped at a traffic light or stop sign.

The bill will be named after Alex Brown, a senior in high school who died in a crash that investigators say was caused by texting.

In 39 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, it is illegal for anyone to text while driving.

At the earliest, the bill would be considered Jan. 8, which is when the new legislative session opens. It’s likely, however, that we wouldn’t get a final decision on it until at least the middle of next year.

Researchers have found that a driver who is texting poses a similar risk to a driver who is intoxicated. A person who is texting while driving is 23 times more likely to crash than someone who isn’t.

It’s a major problem especially for teens, with 34 percent admitting to texting behind the wheel and another 13 percent between the ages of 18 to 20 admitting to texting at the time of a crash. What’s especially troubling is that nearly 8 out of 10 teens think they can safely text while driving.

They have no idea. Teens who text while they drive reportedly spend about 10 percent of their drive time outside of their own lane.

Nearly a third of adults admit to sending or receiving texts while behind the wheel, and nearly half of children between the ages of 12 and 17 say they’ve been in the car with a driver who was texting.

If you’ve been injured in a San Antonio car accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

First Fatality Reported on Texas 85 MPH Highway

It seemed only a matter of time.

Texas Highway 130 has seen its first fatality since increasing the speed limit to 85 miles per hour – the highest in the nation.

Our San Antonio car accident attorneys first told you about the increased speed limit in September, reporting that the 41-mile stretch of toll road between San Antonio and Austin was on the fast track to serious injuries – or worse.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, it unfortunately lived up to expectations.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, a woman from Lockhart was killed on the road, less than a month after the speed limit was raised. The 60-year-old woman was getting on the southbound lanes from U.S. 183 when she was hit by a Chevrolet Tahoe sport utility vehicle driven by a  49-year-old woman heading in the same direction. It occurred around 1:45 p.m., in broad daylight with clear skies.

Officials haven’t yet determined whether speed was a factor or how fast the victim may have been going at the time of the crash. We know that the highway she was entering Texas 130 from, U.S. 183, recently lowered its speed limit from 65 miles per hour to 55 miles per hour – a decision some people have indicated was a strategic move on the part of the Texas Department of Transportation to force people onto the faster toll road.

The TXDOT has said it intends to conduct more studies on the speed limit in the coming months.

Prior to this crash, accidents on the road since the increased speed limit have included crashes with deer and feral hogs, and most of those at night.

However, even if investigators determine that this accident in particular wasn’t related to speed, Deputy Executive Director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, Jonathan Adkins, said it’s only a matter of time before one is. We already know that more than one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are related to speed.

Although older sections of the highway were constructed and operated by the state, this new portion of the road was built by a private consortium. The state still owns it and collects a portion of the toll revenues, but the private companies collect most of the money and have the right to operate it for the next 50 years.

It was the Texas Transportation Commission that voted to allow vehicles to drive up to 85 miles per hour.

Before 1995, highways in the U.S. were limited to a national speed limit of 65 miles per hour. However, that law was repealed and since then, 34 states – including Texas – have each raised their speed limits to 70 miles per hour or higher on certain portions of road.

In Texas, there are other roads in the Western rural parts of the state were drivers can legally travel as fast as 80 miles per hour. Utah is the only other state with an 80 miles per hour limit.

But by inching that limit up by another 5 miles per hour, we are inevitably asking for trouble.

Drivers who aren’t able to avoid this stretch of road altogether are advised to use extreme caution, remain on alert and drive defensively.

If you’ve been injured in a San Antonio auto accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

San Antonio Thanksgiving Travel: Be Wary of Large Trucks

The southbound lanes of I-35 in Lorena were recently reconstructed after a fatal truck accident around 4 a.m. on Nov. 10 resulted in the collapse of a highway  support column.

Based on reports from KCEN-TV, it appears the driver slammed into the support column while crossing the bridge near FM 2837. The driver was one day shy of his 53rd birthday.

Our San Antonio truck accident lawyers don’t yet know the exact cause of this crash, but we want motorists to understand that the influx of drivers gearing up for Thanksgiving holiday travel in Texas presents a very real possibility that we’ll be witnessing more tragedy involving  semi-trucks on our roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation reports there were nearly 315 fatal semi-trailer accidents throughout the state in 2009. Although it’s true that these aren’t nearly as numerous as the car accidents that occur each day, it does break down to about five a week and they are generally much more severe when they do occur. Mainly, this is due to the fact that these machines are massive, with the gross maximum weight allowable on federal interstates at 80,000 pounds. That’s 40 tons.

When you consider that the average passenger vehicle is between 2 and 3 tons, you begin to see why these accidents are so devastating.

It’s estimated that approximately 40 million motorists will hit the roadways this Thanksgiving. Inevitably, there are going to be some semi-truck crashes. In many cases, the causes of semi-truck crashes have to do with the fact that these huge vehicles are either overloaded, or the driver is suffering exhaustion from working long hours or speeding to get where he or she needs to be.

There are some instances in which you may not be able to prevent a semi-truck crash. But here are some things you an do:

Prepare your vehicle for long-distance travel. These means not only getting your oil changed and tires rotated, but also checking things like your wipers and fluids. Have your cooling system and radiator serviced.

Prepare yourself. That means not only having the directions ahead of time so you aren’t consulting GPS in the middle of the highway, but also making sure you have had enough sleep. Take frequent breaks if you need to in order to keep yourself alert and ready.

Don’t cut in front of large trucks. Because these vehicles are so large, they do take longer to stop or slow down. That means you’ll want to avoid quickly cutting in front of them.

Make yourself aware of any changes in weather, particularly if you are traveling northbound for any distance. Colder temperatures may give way to snow or ice, so you must use extreme caution.

Be wary of truck blind spots. Generally, if you can’t see the front mirrors of the truck, the driver is unable to see you. Keep that in mind as you navigate the highways.

Slow down. Just because Texas has some of the highest speed limits in the country doesn’t mean you have to travel that fast.

Wear your seat belt. This may reduce the risk of fatal injury on the highway by as much as 45 percent.

We wish you a wonderful holiday with much for which to be thankful.

If you are injured in a San Antonio semi-truck accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

San Antonio Work Accidents and Third-Party Liability Claims

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a total of 4,609 fatal work accidents occurred nationwide last year.

San Antonio personal injury attorneys understand the importance of seeking experienced legal representation in the wake of a serious work accident. The outcome of such cases can have a direct impact on your financial security for the rest of your life. Knowing your rights is vital to protecting the long-term interests of you and your family.

Texas work accident claimed 433 lives, including 168 transportation-related deaths. Nationwide, transportation accident claimed the most lives on the job, followed by acts of workplace violence. Workers’ compensation insurance is typically carried by an employer to cover lost wages, medical care and death benefits in the wake of a work accident. Generally, employees are entitled to benefits regardless of fault in an accident. However, they are prohibited from suing their employer via a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

However, third-party negligence in Texas work accidents frequently contributes to a serious or fatal on-the-job injury. In such cases, an injured worker or his surviving family members can sue a subcontractor, manufacturer or party other than the victim’s employer. Such is often the case in San Antonio construction accidents, where multiple contractors and subcontractors are working on the same job site.

Not surprisingly, the number of fatal construction accidents has declined since the beginning of the economic downturn. The U.S. Department of Labor reports such accidents have declined 42 percent since 2006 but still account for the second-most fatalities after the transportation and warehousing sector.

Organizations like the National Safety Council continue to push employers to establish cell-phone policies to reduce the risk of distracted driving and the resulting car accidents suffered by employees while on the job.

Workplace violence is another primary area of concern. Seventy employees were killed by workplace violence in Texas last year. While this often involves injury to police officers, correction guards, and hospital staff, it also includes high-profile workplace shootings and violence against overnight retail employees, cab drivers and other members of the workforce.

Employers should have a safety plan and a published evacuation plan. Proper parking lot lighting and surveillance cameras can also help keep employees safe on the job.

The third area of concern for federal safety advocates is the risk of fall accidents on the job. Texas fall accidents killed 67 employees last year. In most industries, workers at a height of six feet or more must be equipped with fall protection and must have the safety training critical to avoiding a fall from heights.

Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues to be concerned about the number of Latino and Hispanic workers who are injured or killed on the job each year. The number of serious and fatal accidents increased among these workers even as the overall number of fatal work accidents declined nationwide. A total of 729 Hispanic or Latino workers were killed on the job last year. In fact, Hispanic and Latino workers now account for about one-third of those killed in construction accidents.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact The Herrera Law Firm, Inc., at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

Texas Deer Accidents an Autumn Danger

It’s the season for deer accidents. Motorists are urged to use extra caution, particularly when driving after dusk through Thanksgiving. The last week of October and all of November are the deadliest time of the year for these dangerous accidents.

Our San Antonio injury attorneys understand these accidents can be deadly — most often when a driver swerving to avoid a deer loses control of his vehicle and drives off the road or into oncoming traffic. Keeping control of your vehicle is critical, even if you ultimately strike the animal. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports at least 200 drivers a year are killed in accidents with deer.

And a recent report by State Farm Insurance put the number of deer-involved traffic accidents each year at about 1 million. Believe it or not, Texas traffic accidents involving deer occur more than 43,000 times a year. Your chances of hitting a deer during any given year are 1 in 416 in Texas.

The probability of a single-vehicle deer crash nationwide increased from 1 in 183 to 1 in 171. Hawaii was the state where motorists were least likely to be struck by a deer. With odds of 1 in 6,801, your chances of hitting a deer in Hawaii are roughly equivalent to your lifetime chance of being struck by lightning.

A report several years ago by The New York Times found the number of deer crashes nationwide is on the risk. October and November are particularly dangerous because of hunting season. Deer are also in mating season and are foraging for food in preparation for winter. All of these factors mean deer are more likely to be on the go, and to cross paths with motor vehicles.

Deer Accident Safety Tips:

-Slow down: Reducing your speed, especially after dark, permits more time to react.

Dawn & Dusk: Are the most active times for deer and demand drivers pay particular attention.

-Don’t swerve: Which can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

-Deer Crossing Signs: Are posted in areas where deer activity or accidents are frequent. Watch for the signs and use extra caution, but be mindful of the fact that no sign does not mean no deer.

-One Deer: If you see a deer while driving, remember there is likely more than one.

-High Beams: Using whenever possible will help to illuminate the side of the road.

Your avenue for collection in the wake of a deer accident depends upon the facts and circumstances of your particular case. Unfortunately, even if you are dealing with your own insurance company in the wake of a one-vehicle accident, you may find you need legal representation to be treated fairly. This is particularly true if you or a loved one has suffered serious or fatal injury. Motorists should not be lulled into a false sense of security simply because they are dealing with their own insurer. Contacting an experienced San Antonio accident attorney is the best bet to protect your rights.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact The Herrera Law Firm, Inc., at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

Fatal San Antonio Accident Blamed on Dark Street

FOX29 is reporting inoperable street lights may be partially to blame for a San Antonio pedestrian accident that claimed the life of a 73-year-old man who was trying to cross the street near Loop 410.

Our San Antonio personal injury lawyers recently reported a rash of pedestrian accidents has authorities preaching caution. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports 345 people were killed in pedestrian accidents in 2010, more than anywhere else in the nation except California and Florida.

But this case highlights the fact that factors outside the control of the victim or at-fault driver may be involved in a serious or fatal traffic accident, including:

-Missing sidewalks or crosswalks or other road defects.

-Missing or inoperable street signs or signals.

-Missing guardrails or other safety devices.

-Poor road design.

-Overgrown vegetation.


We are frequently asked what motorists should do in the wake of an accident. At its most basic, a motorist should:

-Immediately contact authorities.

-Seek medical attention as needed.

-Make a police report – without admitting any fault or wrongdoing.

-Notify your insurance carrier.

-Use your cell phone to take photos of the scene from every angle.

-Get the names and contact information of witnesses.

-Contact an attorney.

An experienced personal injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney can conduct additional investigation. Perhaps traffic cameras or a nearby business surveillance camera captured the accident. It’s important the accident be well documented. Even if you think your injuries are minor. You may experience medical complications later, or have lingering pain. You may even find someone is blaming you for the accident. Unfortunately, you cannot even count on your own insurance company to act in your best interest — these companies worry mostly about their own bottom line — and have platoons of attorneys paid to do the same.

In some cases, identifying a contributing cause to an accident may provide another avenue of collection. If a property owner or municipality has been negligent, such a party may also be held responsible for your injuries, in addition to the at-fault driver. In this case, the media reports the City of San Antonio is already replacing lights in the area where the accident occurred. Which brings up another important point: Time is of the essence. When a dangerous or negligent condition results in a serious or fatal accident — whether a traffic accident or a fall on a broken sidewalk — those responsible often work quickly to make repairs. In other cases, the weather may change, foliage may grow or be cut back. Buildings may even be razed or constructed between the time when an accident occurs and the day a case finally makes it into the courtroom.

Taking prudent steps in the wake of a crash can protect your rights and the long-term financial well-being of you and your family. Speaking to an experienced law firm costs you nothing. Going it alone may cost you everything.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact The Herrera Law Firm, Inc., at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.