Traumatic Brain Injury

Ensure your future health is not at risk after a car wreck by knowing that injuries go far more than skin deep. When in a car accident (regardless of if it’s with another vehicle or just an object), typically you want to seek medical help and assessment to ensure you are not gravely injured.

Luckily, if you or anyone involved in a wreck has contacted the police then there is a good chance that a paramedic (a “first response type” medical professional specifically trained in temporarily stabilizing someone injured or sick so that they may be transported to a hospital) will arrive on site and check out anyone injured. It is a good practice to submit to a paramedic’s brief assessment and to allow them to transport you or otherwise have someone directly escort you to a hospital or other medical facility. It is important to maintain strong evidence of direct causation of injuries by not stopping anywhere or fir anytime in between the scene of accident and medical care if possible.

Immediately upon leaving the scene of an accident your first priority should be getting to a hospital or urgent care facility that can fully check out and document ALL of your injuries; not just the topical/aesthetic ones with a brief physical evaluation, but also the deeper damages that can occur internally to your organs, skeletal structure, muscle groups, and all else via the traditional medical external and internal assessments and imaging.

During an automotive accident, quite often the head of drivers and/or passengers is struck— sometimes by an airbag, on the windshield, against a head rest, into the ceiling, against another occupant, or any other possibility.

In these situations it’s is extremely important while in the care of the doctor’s to ensure they are clearly aware of your head being struck and to request the necessary testing and treatment for a possible Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs directly from any strike or jolt to the head— it can result from ANY accident involving blunt force trauma to the head— typical of car and bike accidents, sporting injuries, or even slip and falls. A common (but incorrect) practice is to think of a TBI solely as a serious head injury involving the rest of a lifetime of treatment; however, more often than not, TBI’s tend to be a much more subtle injury that’s not so simply detectable.

Many professionals have bestowed the moniker of “the invisible injury” upon TBIs for two reasons: (1) they’re quite often difficult to detect even with the advances in modern imaging equipment and (2) the symptoms have a delayed onset— that is they may not be evident for days, weeks, or even months following the event.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that even the mildest forms of TBI aren’t to be taken seriously. All too often unfortunately these eventual symptoms show up from such a mild occurrence and remain chronic (lasting the remainder of a patients’s life). The longer one awaits a delay in diagnosis, often the more persistent and sometimes irreversible the symptoms can be.

Anytime you may have experienced a concussion, you run the risk of also having experienced a mild TBI. The following is a partial list of symptoms (according to the Mayo Clinic) which, if experienced after a blow to the head, should lead to suspicions of a TBI having occurred and should be checked out:

Symptoms

Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later.

Mild traumatic brain injury

The signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may include:

Physical symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
  • No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Problems with speech
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Dizziness or loss of balance

Sensory symptoms

  • Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
  • Sensitivity to light or sound

Cognitive or mental symptoms

  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Mood changes or mood swings
  • Feeling depressed or anxious

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can include any of the signs and symptoms of mild injury, as well as these symptoms that may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury:

Physical symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination

Cognitive or mental symptoms

  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness

If after an accident (in which you experienced any force delivered by anything to your head) and you feel or suspect you may have a TBI you should immediately schedule a doctor’s appointment—even if you do not feel any current symptoms anymore

If you think you may have received a TBI and and need help getting a follow-up doctors appointment, contacting one of our Houston-based personal injury attorneys at The Tran Law Group can increase your chances of recovering the just due compensation from any and all liable parties.

SHARE THE ROAD: What’s the deal with bicycles?

Here on the Tran Law Group Blog we’ve covered the basics of police reports post-accident , how social media can marginalize accident claims , and the pervasive problem these days all too often of driving while distracted; today let’s take a look in some depth at a couple of rules and regulations involved in alternate forms of transportation hopefully as an informative, preventative measure for safety for all those out there on the roads.

Summer is finally here in Houston and that means for some it’s time to take to the outdoors. This summer, more than ever, it seems a tremendous amount of people are looking to enjoy the wonderful leisure-time activity of biking both nationally and locally here in Houston. In recent years, Houston has seen a massive increase in the amount of people taking advantage of the Houston Bike Share program with memberships increasing 26% between 2017-2018 and an astounding 50% increase in 2019. 

With increased bike presence on the roadways, comes increased risk with more common interactions between bikers, drivers, and all of us outside our houses.

Join us today at the Tran Law Group on boning up on some Texas bike laws.  Whether you’re a bicyclist, automotive driver, or a pedestrian, safety is of the utmost importance to keep in mind during your transit; a big key to keeping it safe  is knowing how to properly interact with others sharing the road and what regulations should be followed.

Even for the most practiced of us who choose the two-wheeled commute as a daily routine can stand a refresher sometimes; knowing the most possible about the rules of the road (and sometimes of the sidewalk) is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and others from injury as well criminal and civil liabilities.

EQUIPTMENT

You can’t play football without a pigskin, barbecue without smoke, or fish without bait: “You’ve gotta bring the right tools to the party,” a wise man in Texas once said.

  • Helmet Laws

Currently, Texas indeed does not have a state helmet law. This means, generally, it is legal for all persons in the state regardless of age to actually operate a bicycle without the use of a helmet (but we still recommend one) unless otherwise provided by the municipal regulations in your city. However, Houston (along with Austin, Ft. Worth, and several other cities) have passed mandatory helmet laws for children under 18; meaning if you’re a minor and on a bicycle here you MUST wear a helmet—what’s more is that in Houston the law requires adults and anyone selling a bicycle to provision a minor with correct protective headgear.

  • General Bike Safety Equipment Laws

The minimal prerequisites for a bicycle to be legally ridden in Texas are relatively clearly stated in Texas Transportation Code Chapter 551 and include the logical necessity of both a mechanical brake and both front and rear lighting at night:

Sec. 551.104. SAFETY EQUIPMENT.

(a) A person may not operate a bicycle unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement

(b) A person may not operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with:
(1) a lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle; and
(2) on the rear of the bicycle
(A) a red reflector that is:
(i) of a type approved by the department; and
(ii) visible when directly in front of lawful upper beams of motor vehicle headlamps from all distances from 50 to 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle; or
(B) a lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle.

REGULATIONS FOR MOTORISTS AND OTHERS PROTECTING BICYCLISTS

For a lot of bike riders, one of the most scary things that can occur during a perfectly safe, legal ride is to be the victim of circumstance of someone else’s actions (often out of negligence or even maliciousness).  In order to attempt to alleviate some of the situations and chances of occurrence for such things, the Texas Transportation Codes have been modified in recent years (and hopefully will continue to be in the future) to protect ALL people on the roadways.

  • Safe Passing Laws

There is no statewide law in Texas that sets any specific distance for a motor vehicle passing a bicycle on the road. The passing (or overtaking) of a bicycle by a motor vehicle is in fact solely governed by the general state traffic laws set in the Texas Transportation Code.  Simply put, passing must be done to the left side and always at a safe distance.

Texas Transportation Code Sec. 545.053

Passing to the Left; Return; Being Passed

(a) An operator passing another vehicle: (1) shall pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance; and (2) may not move back to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the passed vehicle.

(b) An operator being passed by another vehicle: (1) shall, on audible signal, move or remain to the right in favor of the passing vehicle; and (2) may not accelerate until completely passed by the passing vehicle.

  • “Dooring” law

Texas Transportation Code requires no one opens a car door on the side of moving traffic, unless they ascertain doing so is safe and won’t interfere with the movement of traffic (including bicyclists).  In simple terms, “Look before you open the door” is the best practice:

Texas Transportation Code Sec. 545.418
Opening Vehicle Doors

A person may not:

(1) open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic, unless the door may be opened in reasonable safety without interfering with the movement of other traffic; or

(2) leave a door on the side of a vehicle next to moving traffic open for longer than is necessary to load or unload a passenger.

  • Vulnerable Road User Laws

Unfortunately, Texas doesn’t have any statewide vulnerable road user laws at this time, but Houston (as well as Austin and a small amount of other cities) has passed their own ordinances, which ensure protection of bicyclists as vulnerable road users

Houston, Texas, Code of Ordinances, Chapter 45 – Traffic, Article XII Vulnerable Road User

(1) A pedestrian (including a runner), physically disabled person (including a person in a wheelchair), stranded motorist or passenger, highway construction or maintenance worker, tow truck operator, or utility worker in the roadway;

(2) A person on horseback or operating a horse-driven conveyance, in the roadway;

(3) A person operating a bicycle (including an electric bicycle), hand cycle, or other human-powered wheeled vehicle in the roadway; or

(4) A person operating a moped, motor-driven cycle, or motor-assisted scooter, as those terms are defined in sections 541.201 and 551.351 of the Texas Transportation Code, as applicable.

(b) Action required. An operator of a motor vehicle or motorcycle shall:

(1) When passing a vulnerable road user on a highway or street;

a. Vacate the lane in which the vulnerable road user is located if the highway or street has two or more marked lanes running in the same direction if such action can be taken safely; or

b. Pass the vulnerable road user at a safe distance; or

(2) When making a turn at an intersection (including an intersection with an alley or private road or driveway), yield the right-of-way to a vulnerable road user who is approaching from the opposite direction and is in the intersection, or is in such proximity to the intersection as to be an immediate hazard.

(c) Prohibited action. An occupant of a motor vehicle may not:

(1) Knowingly throw or project any object or substance at or against a vulnerable road user, or the user’s animal, equipment, vehicle or conveyance;

(2) Overtake a vulnerable road user traveling in the same direction and subsequently make a turn in front of the vulnerable road user unless the operator is safely clear of the vulnerable road user, taking into account the speed at which the vulnerable road user is traveling and the braking requirements of the motor vehicle making the right-hand turn; or

(3) Maneuver the vehicle in a manner that is intended to cause intimidation or harassment to a vulnerable road user or threatens a vulnerable road user.

  • Distracted Driving Laws

Texas state legislature has, in recent years, acknowledged the increasing problems that communications and technology present to cause new distractions to people while mobile.  Subject to specific limitations and exceptions (of course), the Texas Transportation Code now states the following to curb distracted driving:

 (1) a person under 18 years of age may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device

(2) a person under 17 years of age who holds a restricted motorcycle license or moped license may not operate a motorcycle or moped while using a wireless communications device

(3) an operator may not use a wireless communication device while operating a passenger bus with a minor passenger on the bus unless the passenger bus is stopped; and

(4) an operator may not use a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle within a school crossing zone unless the vehicle is stopped; or the wireless communication device is used with a hands-free device.

GENERAL BIKE OPERATION GUIDELINES

A bicycle moves at a pace faster than a person walks, it also has wheels which allow reduced friction and more efficiecnt transference of kinetic energy.  When we add the mass of a bike and the person on it into the equation it becomes obvious that a person riding on a bike can cause greater damage or injury in everyday transference than someone simply walking.  For this simple reason, as well as so many more (increased speed, limited reaction times and situational awareness due to focus on operation, etc), many statuetes and laws have been issued as guidelines for safe operation.  Below is a list of a couple of the most important to always keep in mind:

  • Treatment as a Vehicle

In Texas bicycles are vehicles; the Texas Transportation Code defines this as such to ensure that a bike rider indeed retains all of the rights and duties of  a driver of  any vehicle (except, of course, any special regulations specific to bicycles and any provisions that obviously have no bearing).

  • Where to Ride

For the most part, one is expected to ride their bike ON the road and on the RIGHT hand side. 

Texas explicitly requires that a person operating a bicycle shall do so at a speed less than the speed of traffic and shall generally ride as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as is possible.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule, as stated by law below:

Sec. 551.103. OPERATION ON ROADWAY.

(a) Except as provided by Subsection

(b) a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:

(1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;

(2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;

(3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway; or

(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:

(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or

(B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.

  • A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.
  • Persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.
  • Fault of the Motorist or Bicyclist in a Crash that Affects Recovery

In an accident, the question of liability or fault purposes “Who was responsible for causing the accident and to what degree”. Different states treat this issue of fault differently depending on the amount of fault of the injured person. Texas follows a 51% modified comparative fault rule, which means that an injured party cannot recover if it is more than 50 percent at fault for causing the accident. However, the injured party can recover if it is 50 percent or less at fault, but that recovery would be reduced by its degree of fault. Therefore, it is critical that an injured party in Texas demonstrate that his or her fault, also known as proportionate responsibility, was 50% or less if they hope to recover from another party for injuries suffered.

  • Sidewalk Riding

There is no statewide statute in Texas prohibiting or allowing the operation of a bicycle upon a sidewalk. Sidewalk riding is prohibited by local ordinance in some areas including “Houston business districts” and especially downtown Houston

slip trip fall warning sign caution accident

5 Steps to take after a Slip, Trip, and Fall Accident

When you enter into a home or any place of business, you do not expect to have an accident. They have a duty of care to ensue that visitors are safe while inside their property. This is known as Premise Liability. In fact, slips, trips, and fall accidents occur commonly at grocery stores. After an accident occurs, many people unfortunately do not know what to do after suffering a slip, trip, or fall. To insure your maximum compensation, below are 5 steps to take after experiencing a slip or fall accident.

Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment

After an accident, it is important to seek medical treatment. Common injuries from a slip and fall accident includes:

  • Head Injuries
  • Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Broken bones

According to The National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, making up the leading cause of visits. Injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident can range from minor to life threatening. Seeking treatment immediately is recommend even if you don’t feel pain right after. It is also important to have injuries documented for your claim.

Step 2: Report the Accident

When an accident happened, the details must be documented. This can be achieved with reporting it to a manager, business owner, or the homeowner if it occurred on private property. Having an incident report documented can greatly help your case. Claimants should also get a copy of the written report to verify that the information is correct.

Step 3: Collect Information

As with any case, it is necessary to gather information of the scene. Information to be gather can include:

  • Contact information of witnesses
  • Photos of the scene
  • Copy of surveillance tapes, if available
  • Details of where exactly the accident occurred
  • Contact information of any managers, landlords, or business owners from where the accident occurred

You should document what exactly happen prior to the accident. If possible, clothes that were worn when the accident occurred should be kept in a safe and secured place. Clothes that were worn can be further evidence to prove your claim.

Step 4: Don’t Discuss the Accident

After making an incident report, an insurance agent, manager, or landlord may try to ask about the accident. It is best to not give any statements until you’ve hired an attorney. The insurance agent may use the information to deny your claim.

Staying off social is also advisable. Avoid posting anything on social media that pertains to your accident and discourage friends from discussing it as well. Insurance agents use social media as tools to find evidence against your claim. Above all, avoid signing any document from the insurance company. This includes statements, medical records releases, and settlement releases. This can cause the insurance company to deny your claim.

Step 5: Hire an Experienced Attorney

A slip, trip, and fall accident claim can be very complex. As such, it is best to hire an experienced attorney to handle your claim. An experienced attorney can take on the insurance adjuster as well as their lawyers. Tran Law Group has experience with handling slip, trip, and fall accidents. We offer free, no obligation consultation.

If you or a loved one has suffered a slip, trip, or fall, contact our office at 713-789-5200. Let us be your legal team!

UM, UIM, PIP claim, claims, auto insurance

UM, UIM, PIP. What do these acronyms mean to your claim?

Vehicle and contact information are the first things to ask for after an accident occurs. In an accident, the most important information that needs to be exchanged is auto insurance. In 48 states, drivers are legally required to have minimum auto insurance. When you file a personal injury claim, you may be asked if you have UM, UIM, or PIP. What do these words mean and why are they important to your claim?

What is UM?

UM stands for Uninsured Motorist Insurance. UM is designed to protect a driver in the event that the other party in the accident does not have insurance. In 48 states, drivers are required to have auto insurance. However, in Texas, the coverage is optional.

Uninsured motorist can be a useful coverage. In the event that the other party does not have insurance, the uninsured motorist option under your plan allows you to file a claim to pay for your medical bills as well as lost wages. It also covers the passengers who were in the car at the time of the accident. Purchasing the additional coverage can help pay for car repairs. A deductible, however, may be required to use the option.

UM coverage may be used for accidents that were involved in a hit-and-run. According to The National Institute of Insurance Commissioners, in 2015, about 13% of people across the country drive uninsured. In Texas, 14.4% of drivers drove uninsured. In cases mentioned above, UM can be a great asset to protecting yourself in an accident.

What is UIM?

UIM stands for Underinsured Motorist Insurance. It is coverage that applies whenever the other party does not have enough liability in their policy to cover your medical bills, lost wages, etc. As the same with UM, in Texas, the coverage is optional.

In Texas, the minimum policy limits is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident. This means that the most an injury claim can settle for is $30,000 with a minimum policy coverage. If your medical bills exceed this minimum, underinsured motorist insurance will be able to pay the remainder. However, there are exceptions to filing an Underinsured Motorist Claim.

The amount settled with the other party determines an UIM claim. If your claim settled for less than policy limits, you cannot claim underinsured motorist. For example, if your claim settled for $30,000 but the other party’s policy was $50,000, you cannot claim for UIM because the policy of the other driver was not exhausted.

You must receive permission to settle from your insurance company. Before you start to use underinsured motorist, your insurance company runs a check to make sure that the other party is in fact underinsured.

What is PIP?

PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection Coverage. It is an add on to any coverage but differs from underinsured and uninsured coverage. PIP is also called “no-fault” insurance. PIP can be used regardless of who is at fault.

Personal Injury Protection coverage amount can range anywhere starting at $1,000 and up. PIP is primarily for medical expenses but can used for lost wages, funeral expenses, etc. Even if you have health insurance, PIP can still be used. PIP is different from Med Pay. Med Pay only covers medical expenses. PIP covers the policyholder as well as the passengers who were in the car at the time of the accident regardless if the other party had insurance or not.

While PIP can cover a lot of expenses, it cannot be substituted for liability insurance in Texas.

Tran Law Group Can Help

UM, UIM, and PIP are great additions to have when filing a claim. Simply having these additional coverage isn’t enough. Insurance companies, even your own, will try to settle your case at the lowest amount possible. With Tran Law Group as your legal team, you can have peace of mind. We protect your rights and you receive the full value of your case. We have a lot of experience navigating the complicated waters with the insurance companies and have emerged victorious. Let us be your legal team. Call us now to receive a free, no obligation consultation of our case at 713-789-5200.

police officer accident report claim

Police reports and your accident claim: Are they really important?

After an accident occurs, most people know that you need to exchange information. However, most people are reluctant to call the police for one reason or another. By not reporting the accident to the police department your accident doesn’t receive sought after police reports. In the end, it could end up damaging your auto accident claim.

Police reports, or accident reports, are detrimental to any claim, especially to an auto accident claim. The reports produced after an accident contain important information. They include:

  • Name of drivers
  • Name of passengers
  • Location of the accident
  • Vehicle information of all parties
  • Insurance information of all vehicles involved
  • Any citations a person has received
  • Description of how the accident occurred
  • Witness information, if any
  • Towing information
  • Estimate of damages
  • Ambulance and hospital information (For anyone taken to a hospital directly from the scene of the accident)

Benefits of having a police report

As mentioned above, having a police report is a good thing for filing an auto accident claim. Police reports can help solidify your claim of not being at fault for the accident. Shock affects everyone in an accident. After a while, memories fade and we forget important details. An accident report filed preserves the details of an accident.

The written style of a police report is another benefit. Police reports are objective and written from a third party’s prospective. This means that the police office stated facts and what he or she observed rather than opinions. That is very crucial to an auto accident case because it eliminates the “word-vs-word” scenario. Insurance companies will usually take their claimants side in a “word-vs-word” scenario but will have to yield their position if a police report puts their client at fault.

When you may not need a police report

The Texas Department Transportation Code, states that accident reports must be filed when certain criteria are met. Accident reports are required when:

  • An accident caused injury to a person
  • An accident caused the death of a person
  • Property damage caused by an accident was more than $1,000

Law enforcement agents are required to file reports for any accidents they’ve assessed that meet the above criteria. If not, the people involved in the accident are responsible to file the report. Reports must be filed no later than 10 days after the accident has occurred. If you fail to file a report when your accident includes one of the mentioned criteria, you can face jail time and/or a fine of $5,000.

Minor occurring accidents do not need a report filed. Accidents without injuries do not need a report filed either. Accidents occurring on private property usually do not need police reports either, however, we strongly suggest contacting the police still. Insurance companies are reluctant to pay a claim without a police report, especially if it occurred on private property.

How long until you receive a police report?

In Texas, reports are required to be filed no more than 10 days after the date the accident occurred. After that, accident reports should be available to be viewed between 12-14 business days. We typically get any and all reports for our clients involved in an accident. If our clients would like a copy of their accident report, we will be happy to provide it.

Tran Law Group can help

Police reports can benefit anyone filing an auto accident claim against another. Due to the myriad of information found on the report, claimants can easily find information that may be missed or forgotten after the accident occurred. It can also strengthen a case against the insurance company and their client.

We at Tran Law Group know the importance of an accident report to an auto accident claim. It doesn’t happen often, but errors can be found on reports. If this happens on your report, we can help correct the error. Correcting errors can play a deciding factor in getting the insurance company to admit their client’s fault.

If you or a loved one was involved in an auto accident, don’t delay your compensation! Contact our firm at 713-789-5200 as soon as possible. Let us be your legal team in your time of need.

social media car accident claim

Does Social Media affect my Car Accident claim?

Social media has made a big impact in our society. Statistics show that 79% of Americans use social media on a daily basis. The high number is because many people use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Most of the social media users use these platforms to get daily news, communicate with others, or use them for entertainment. However, when it comes to filing a car accident claim, social media is the one thing you want to avoid.

How can social media hurt my car accident claim?

The process of completing a car accident claim can take a while to complete. During that time, it is important to make sure that claimants do not unintentionally hurt their case.

To process a claim, insurance companies are tasked to make sure that they can find anything to discredit your case and avoid paying your claim. They do this in the following ways:

  • Using your day to day activities against you. The insurance companies does extensive research on someone if they are filing for a claim. This means searching through media posts to see if you are really hurt as you claim. Day-to-day activities such as going to the gym, going to yoga classes, going to the mall to buy shoes, hiking, going for a run, or attending a birthday party can raise red flags to the insurance companies.
  • Looking at your friends’ profiles. Even if you set your profile to private, your friends on social media may be public. If your friends post pictures of you and tag you, the insurance company can see this as well and can use it to their advantage.
  • Getting you to add them as a friend. Insurance companies can try to get you to add them as a friend on social media by making fake profiles. Once you add them, they can see everything you have made public to your followers.
  • Using your posts against you. We post sometimes in the heat of the moment, and most people do when they’ve been in an accident. “I was just in an accident.” “Can you believe this?” are just examples. Also people post about their health. In regular circumstances, these posts would be okay. When dealing with the insurance companies however, these innocent posts can be twisted.

What can you do to avoid accidentally hurting your car accident claim?

Your claim against the insurance company is very important. As such, we want to make sure the insurance company does not have a reason to deny your claim. Below are some of the ways you can protect your claim.

  • Set your profile to private. Most profiles on social media are set to public. You can help your case by setting the profile to private. In this way, you can control who sends you a friend request and who can see your information. But that is not enough. In order to make sure that your information cannot be seen, we suggest that you change your entire permissions. This way, your friends will need to ask your permission to tag you in pictures. This recommendation should extend to family and friends who have you as a friend on social media. If you have trouble with this, you can click here to make your profile completely private.
  • Don’t post anything. The less, the better. Many people feel this is a little extreme but it can come in handy. In some claims, the attorneys of the insurance companies can accesses each and every post, whether it be private or public. This is done by a subpoena. In order to avoid it, we suggest not posting anything for the remainder of your case.

At Tran Law Group, we work hard for you because we are YOUR legal team! We make sure our clients’ cases against the insurance companies are strong. Contact us now for a free consultation at 713-789-5200.

Safe Riding on Transit Buses

In every metropolitan area, public transportation is heralded by buses. They are ideal as they can carry a large quantity of passengers. Buses are also very big so they are easily seen and spotted. Nearly everyone has ridden a bus in their lifetime. Such examples include a party bus, school bus, coach bus, and a public bus. If you ask someone to tell you about their experience on a bus, most people either a fond or infamous story to tell you.

However, most people don’t ask ” Is riding a bus safe?”

metro bus safety transit seat belts

Buses, especially in a major city, is a main inclusion into commerce. They provide great alternatives to cars in that they reduce the air pollution. A single transit bus can carry up to 40 people. That is at least 10 cars less on the roadways. Transit buses also help reduce a need for parking lots, metered parking, and reduces traffic on major roads.

According to an article published by the National Express Transit, using buses as a means of transportation “reduces fuel waste and emissions caused by cars sitting in traffic jams.” In terms for the environment, buses are a great way to travel. They essentially reduce our carbon footprint, making the air better for us as people to breathe and reduce global warming.

However, the original question remains, “Are buses safe?”

Seat belts are not a requirement

When a passenger boards a transit buses, fare is paid and the passenger sits down at their chosen seat. The bus starts to move and there is one thing missing that is glaringly obvious. There is no seat belt.

Seat belts are not a requirement on transit buses. The federal government only requires that seat belts be mandatory on school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds. The reasoning behind this is the concept of compartmentalization. Compartmentalization is the concept that if buses have high padded seats, then if a crash occurred, the passenger would be safe because the padded seats in front of them would provide a safeguard. The argument is also that buses are high off the ground and passengers would be safe if in a event of an accident.

Compartmentalization can be argued for coach and school buses, the same thing cannot be said about transit buses.

This concept does not work for transit buses. Transit buses serve the public and most riders are the elderly. High buses are not effective for the elderly to safely maneuver and transit seats are usually low.

Compartmentalization also fails to address T-Boned accidents and in rare cases, rollovers. In those accidents, passengers are thrown sideways, causing great injury due to no protection. Safe transit buses should include seat belts to insure that if an accident of this type occurs, passengers would face less injuries.

In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration passed a final rule requiring that motor coaches be fitted with the three point lap-shoulder seat belts. That law did not apply to transit buses placing many people in jeopardy of being harmed from an accident.

Accidents involving a transit bus

Sometimes it is unavoidable to ride the transit bus as many people use it for their daily commute. While comparing to a car, a transit bus can much safer. In order to protect yourself while riding on a bus, we recommend:

  • Avoid distracting the driver- Drivers are the conductor of the bus and by distracting them, they take their eyes of the road which can cause an accident.
  • Secure yourself- If you are able to secure an actual seat, you should secure all belongings. If you are unable to secure a seat, hold tightly to nearby poles or straps. Buses tend to jostle a lot and holding onto a pole or strap can help keep you in place or injuring another.
  • Stay away from doors- Being near a door may cause serious injury on a bus during an accident. If possible, avoid the swinging doors while riding on a bus.

Due to the lack of safety restraints such as airbags and seat belts, accidents while riding on transit bus can prove to be devastating. The majority of transit accident victims can experience costly medical bills.

Tran Law Group has represented many victims of transit bus accidents. In almost every case, we have gotten our clients top dollar settlements and made sure that they received the treatment they needed for their injuries.

Transit operators should make sure that their passengers are safe. If you were involved in an accident with a transit bus, contact our firm today. Let us be your legal team.

Distracted Driving is a problem in Houston

Close-up Of Woman Sitting Inside Car Typing Text Message On Mobile Phone.  Can be factor of distracted driving
Close-up Of Woman Sitting Inside Car Typing Text Message On Mobile Phone

As the nation’s fourth largest city, Houston is known for many things. Houston has the largest medical center in the world, the biggest port in Texas, and is the world capital of space exploration. Houston is also known as having a distracted driving problem.

What makes Distracted Driving so dangerous?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” Anything that takes the focus from the road and onto something else affects the driver and their ability to safely navigate the roadways. Contributors to distracted driving are:

  • Talking
  • Texting
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Changing radio stations
  • Using GPS
  • Using a cellphone
  • Applying Makeup

Why is Distracted Driving a problem in Houston?

Houston is known for its intricate highways and wide lanes. It is a big city and a major destination for economical business and as such many people commute. With so many people on the road, drivers become distracted as they are rushing from point A to point B. As a consequence, they take their eyes off the road and onto something else.

Taking your eyes off the road even for a second can lead a car going 55-60 mph into another lane and into a crash. As a society that is keen on being “in the know”, we feel that we must always see the new snap from a friend or see the new post on Facebook. These things can cause a great distraction from driving and are safer to do when you are not behind the wheel.

In Houston and Harris County, the number of injuries related to distracted driving has risen in the last couple of years. According to AAA, in 2017, Harris County saw a 62% increase from 2016 in the number of fatal crashes caused by distracted driving. That means there are more people who died from a distracted driving related incident that could have been prevented.

Texting while driving is Illegal

Texas is curbing distracting driving. In 2017, the State of Texas has banned using cellphones to text or write emails while driving. It is a misdemeanor with fines from $25 to $200. Texas also started the #HeadsupTexas campaign that aimed to inform drivers that texting can wait until after you finish driving.

In November 2019, the Texas Department of Transportation also launched the campaign #EndTheStreakTX. The campaign aimed its directive to inform drivers to stop distracted driving and encourage safer choices.

Houston itself is also trying to solve their distracted driving problem. In August 2019, Mayor Turner and the City of Houston commenced Vision Zero. Vision Zero’s approach is to making the streets of Houston safer by making the infrastructure safer and a commitment to end traffic-related deaths and injury by 2030.

What can you do to prevent distracted driving?

Today, there are many ways for drivers to prevent distracted driving.

  • Enable Do not Disturb Mode on cellphones. Both iPhone and Android users can enable this feature on their phones to silent notifications and calls, while auto replying to senders with a simple message.
  • Pull over if needing to take a call or to text . If you cannot miss a call or text, safely pull over and use the phone.
  • Put your cellphone away or turn it completely off before getting behind the wheel. Turning off your phone completely will enable you to keep your eyes on the road without any distractions.
  • Ask your passenger. If there is a passenger in the car, ask them to respond to the text messages, respond to phone calls, or help navigate the GPS.

Distracted driving victims can be compensated

Once a distracted driver takes their eyes off the road, anyone near them can be injured. Victims of distracted drivers can hold drivers at fault for negligence. Those affected will have to deal with the aftermath of sustaining injuries such as hospital bills and loss of income. In cases of enacting an injury claim, it is always best to hire an experienced lawyer to fight for you.

If you or a loved one has recently been injured due to a distracted driver, you may be eligible for compensation. Receive justice for your injuries. Contact us today at 713-789-5200 to receive a free consultation right away!