Auto Accident FAQ

Unfortunately, auto accidents happen. Most car accidents are caused by negligence and reckless acts of drivers. Walker Texas Lawyer is Houston’s car accident lawyer. He believes that you should receive compensation for your loss. Additionally, these drivers must be held accountable. Victims of car accidents should get full and fair compensation for their injuries. Most people who are in an auto accident don’t know what to do or how to go about getting their due compensation. If you have been in an auto accident you should call Walker Texas Lawyer.

Walker Texas Lawyer has over 35 years of legal experience. He knows how the damage caused by car accidents can leave a lasting impact on your life. We ensure that our clients receive top-notch representation. We will protect our clients’ legal rights. When you choose Walker Texas Lawyer as your car injury attorney, your case is in good hands. You will receive excellent service that will help you recover all the damages owed to you. With Walker Texas Lawyer you do not pay until you receive your damage payments. Give Walker Texas Lawyer the Houston Car Accident Lawyer a call today for your free consultation.

What should I do immediately after a car accident?

There is not one overall answer response as to what to do following a car accident. However, the following steps should be taken:

  • Stay at the scene and call the police. Even if the accident isn’t serious, the police should be called and to file a police report. When speaking to the police, it is important to stick with the facts – do not speculate or admit any fault.
  • Take pictures with your cell phone or another camera. The pictures should include the damage to both vehicles and the scene.
  • Make sure that you have the other driver’s pertinent info. This includes but is not limited to, driver license information, license plate number, and insurance information.
  • Finally, and perhaps most significantly, seek medical attention as soon as possible if injured!
  • Click here for article of what you need to attain after a car accident for an insurance claim

Should I file a car accident claim?

If you have suffered injury or property damage, you have the right to pursue compensation for your losses. A personal injury claim is in part to help put you in the same financial position you were in before the accident occurred.

Depending on the circumstances of an accident, insurance may not cover the full costs of the incident. This is especially true for serious injuries. With serious injuries, individuals may face years of medical treatment. As well as the inability to work long after an accident. If insurance does not compensate for the full amount of your losses, you may take action to protect your entitlements. This is why you would file a personal injury claim.

How much compensation am I entitled to?

There is no way to know exactly how much compensation you will recover. Every case is different, and the outcomes is, in part, based on the negotiations between your attorney and the insurance company. Generally, the amount of compensation awarded is based on the severity of the damages. In personal injury cases, compensation is often categorized as either economic damages or noneconomic damages. 

Economic damages may include:

  • Medical treatment
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

Noneconomic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of earning potential
  • The inability to enjoy life

What should I expect the first few days following a car accident?

Prepare to be bombarded by phone calls and mail flyers. You will receive communication form the other party’s insurance company. They may request a recorded statement or that you sign medical authorizations to retrieve your medical records. It is important that you seek legal counsel prior to speaking with them. They are not looking out for you, they want to settle quickly to avoid paying long term damages. This link is to an article discussing how to deal with insurance agencies.

Please be aware that your insurance company, your health insurance company, chiropractors, and yes even attorneys will also contact you.

Should I accept an insurance settlement?

Insurance companies use standards to determine how much to pay in accident cases. Many of the large insurance companies use software programs to calculate what accident claims are worth. You may not receive full monetary recovery caused by the accident from such calculations. That is why you must understand the value of your case or the settlement adjuster will push you into settling on their terms.

Learn more about insurance settlements here.

What if the other driver wasn't insured?

If a driver who doesn’t have insurance hits you, then your Uninsured Motorist Insurance can help. It can cover an amount up to the amount of your liability coverage. UM coverage typically cannot exceed liability coverage. This is because most insurance companies won’t allow it. If you have questions about your coverage after an uninsured motorist accident, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a Houston lawyer immediately.

Is UM/UIM coverage required in Texas?

Liability insurance is required in the state of Texas. However, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is additional coverage. Other additional coverages that can be purchased include personal injury protection (PIP), rental reimbursement, and medical payments.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance’s regulations for automobile insurance, UM and UIM coverage carries an automatic $250 deductible. A deductible is what you have to pay before the insurance company will agree to pay for the remainder of the damages. It is important to note that the deductible must be paid in order to receive property damage coverage under this type of insurance. Paying the deductible is not required to receive bodily injury coverage.

In Texas, UM and UIM coverage, depending on the limits you have chosen, must have the ability to cover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement and permanent/partial disability in addition to property damages such as automobile repairs, rental car costs and coverage for damage to additional items in your car at the time of the accident. Again, while Texas provides for the possibility of all these types of coverage via UM/UIM insurance, total insurance coverage will ultimately depend on the type of coverage you have chosen for your policy.

Do I have to file a lawsuit in order to recover damages as a result of a car accident?

In short, no. There is a big difference between submitting a personal injury claim and filing a lawsuit. Generally, prior to filing a lawsuit, we will attempt to settle your claim before filing a lawsuit. This occurs through negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company. Only when the insurance company refuses a fair settlement or denies responsibility will a lawsuit be necessary.

If I was hit by a drunk driver, can I file a lawsuit?

If a drunk driver caused your accident, the at-fault driver will likely have been charged with DWI. However, this is a criminal case. The victims of the drunk driving accident may also be able to file a civil claim. This claim would be negligence against the driver. The plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence caused or contributed to the accident. The accident which, in turn, caused injuries. Lawsuits may also be filed against drinking establishments (i.e. bars or restaurants). This is for giving a person alcohol knowing that they were going to be driving. This is the dram shop liability law.

It is also important to discuss when evaluating a drunk driving accident, punitive damages. These damages are generally reserved for very serious accidents. Accidents that the victim was severely injured due to certain types of negligence. Punitive damages act as a penalty for actions of the negligent party. These are damages on top of the compensatory damages that a victim should already be receiving for medical and property damage.

In cases involving an individual who dies in an auto accident as a result of a drunk driver, the surviving family members of the victim can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

What if the accident happened on the job?

If you are injured in a car accident that occurred on the job, you may be eligible for compensation. Compensation from both worker’s compensation and the insurance company of the other driver. While you can’t collect twice for the same damages, you can maximize the compensation you receive for the damages you have suffered.

  • Is the Accident Covered by Texas Worker’s Compensation?

    • If you were in a work-related motor vehicle accident, Texas worker’s compensation covers you regardless of who was at fault. “Work-related” generally means that you were driving on the job. The accident is not covered by worker’s compensation if it happened while you were commuting to or from work. Additionally, you would not be covered if you are running a personal errand during lunch.
    • Worker’s compensation covers medical bills and two-thirds of lost wages up to certain limits. It may also provide benefits if you suffer a permanent injury.
  • Can I Sue the Other Driver?

    • If the negligence of another party caused the accident, you can file a personal injury claim. This will be against the other party’s insurance company. Filing a personal injury claim will allow you to recover compensation for damages that aren’t covered by worker’s compensation. Damages such as pain and suffering, and any lost wages that were not reimbursed by worker’s compensation.

Even if you were partially at fault, you may still be able to recover compensation from the other party’s insurance.

What Is bad faith insurance?

Once we start paying the installments on our insurance, the insurance company owes us a certain number of things. These obligations include responsibility for all the types of coverages for which we have paid premiums. Also, the responsibility to act on any situation according to the terms of the policy. As well as, if there is an actual and valid claim then the company owes us the duty to pay that claim according to the policy. Apart from these obligations, the insurance company also owes us the duty to act in good faith on our behalf and to deal fairly.

Sadly, claims that we have with the insurance company are not always fulfilled. There have been cases where an insurer has refused to act according to the terms of the policy. Some have even failed to uphold its duties, which it promised in the policy in a fair and honest manner.

Learn more at our article on bad faith insurance.

What if I was partially at fault for a car accident?

Texas is one of 21 modified comparative fault states that follows the 51% Bar Rule. Simply put, “Comparative Fault” allows a plaintiff who is less than 50% at fault for an accident, to recover damages.

Never assume that you are ineligible for compensation until you speak with an attorney. Car accident claims can be complex. However, an attorney specializing in Car Accidents knows the state law and various insurance companies. They can guide you through the process towards a satisfactory conclusion.

Do I need to see a doctor after a car accident if I don't feel hurt?

The adrenaline produced by a car accident may actually delay the onset of pain produced by an injury. If you were in a car accident and you don’t immediately feel injured, that does not mean you weren’t hurt. It can take days or even a week for symptoms to finally show up. If injuries are not taken care of promptly, then they may worsen. This is often the case with whiplash and other soft tissue injuries. In some cases, delaying treatment may result in long-lasting consequences, such as chronic pain.

After a car accident, it is very important to visit a doctor for an assessment. This not only protects your long-term health and swift recovery, but also creates a paper trail for insurance compensation. It is always better to be safe and get checked early on than be sorry later when the other driver’s insurance company claims that your failure to see a doctor means you weren’t really hurt at all.

What is subrogation?

Subrogation is a term that insurance companies put into your insurance contract. This requires you to pay your insurance company back any money it paid out for medical treatment rendered as a result of injuries sustained by an at fault party if you are able to get a recovery from the at fault party. This duty generally applies when an insurance company pays for something (like a medical bill) on your behalf, and then someone else (the at-fault person or their insurance company) pays you for that same bill. At that point, you may have a contractual and/or legal duty to pay back the money you originally received. For example, if you have health insurance with Medicare, and it has paid some of your medical bills. Then you obtain a recovery or settlement as a result of your accident. You are now obligated to reimburse Medicare for the money it paid out. These funds come directly out of any settlement or recovery made.

It is important to note that insurance companies do not always have a right of subrogation. There may be exclusions or other Federal or State laws that reduce, eliminate or nullify the amount your Health Insurance Company is seeking to recover. Accordingly, it is important that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney before agreeing to pay a subrogation claim.

How long will it take to complete my case?

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on a number of factors. It is not advisable to settle your claim prior to finishing medical treatment. Only after medical treatment will the total extent of your medical bills, the amount of any future medical treatment, and the permanency of your injuries be known. Therefore, the severity of your injuries and the length of time you need to heal will determine the length of your claim. Additionally, factors such as the other party’s willingness to settle and the offers they make can extend time. If the offers are insufficient, your claim may have to proceed to trial. This will increase the length of the time line of your claim.

Do I need a car accident attorney?

Not every car accident victim requires an attorney. Minor collisions involving only property damage or minor injuries, may be able to be resolve with respective insurance companies with no problems. There are some circumstances, however, where a victim may need to consult with an attorney.

You may need an auto accident attorney’s help if:

  • The cause of the accident is disputed
  • The insurance company has denied your claim
  • You have been offered what seems to be an unfairly low settlement
  • Your claim has been unreasonably delayed
  • You were seriously injured
  • Missed a considerable amount of work
  • You have been left with a permanent disability.

 

Complicated cases may require an attorney’s attention. Cases such as where the cause of the accident is in question. This often occurs when the other party is trying to lay the blame on you when you did not cause the collision. Another instance is when your claim has been unfairly delayed or denied. Low settlement offers are another reason to engage an attorney. An attorney can review the offer in comparison to the actual injuries and losses you have suffered to see whether it is fair and in your best interests.

Catastrophic Cases

If you were seriously injured, you need an attorney regardless. In cases where a person has been catastrophically injured or has lost a loved one, it is far too easy for an insurance company to take advantage of the situation. They will typically try to offer a low settlement. Hospital bills, physical therapy, medication, in-home care, ongoing treatment and lost income from missed work can quickly add up.

These are instances where an experienced auto accident attorney can be beneficial. They will fight on your behalf. An experienced lawyer is your best chance of rebuilding your life through the recover a fair settlement or damage award.