According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car accident occurs somewhere in the United States every ten seconds. Fortunately, not all car accidents are fatal; but the probability of temporary or permanent injury is high in every Texas car accident. If you have been injured in a car accident, your injuries, pain and other losses are a physical, emotional and financial burden on you and your family. When the negligent or reckless act of another driver cause your injuries you have a right to receive compensation to make you whole. Car accident lawyers in Texas help clients get medical treatment and recover the compensation they deserve. Your Texas personal injury lawyer will work to investigate your case and present a case to obtain maximum recovery.
Car accident injuries
Car accident injuries can range from minor injuries to very serious injuries. No part of your body is safe as you are whipped around while glass shatters around you and metal is crushed towards you. It is critical that you receive prompt medical attention. Only medical professionals can determine the extent of your injuries and your treatment plan. It is critical that you follow your doctor’s treatment plan to regain your health. Sometimes people do not seek medical attention because they cannot immediately pay the bills or do not have health insurance. Your injuries may include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to major joints like the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of mobility
- Broken or crushed bones
- Ligament and tendon injuries
- Wrongful death
It is important that you still receive treatment immediately and let your personal injury lawyer fight to recover for those bills. If you do not receive necessary treatment then the negligent driver’s insurance company will say you didn’t receive treatment because your injuries aren’t bad enough to require a fair settlement.
Under Texas law you have a right to receive compensation for your injuries, pain, suffering and economic losses when another driver causes you injuries through his or her negligent or reckless driving. Texas law requires drivers to drive with caution to avoid injuring other drivers, passengers and pedestrians. When a driver fails to follow the law and you or your loved ones are injured, it is not your responsibility to bear the burden of that driver’s negligent or reckless driving. You have a right under the law to receive just compensation to make you whole for those injuries. Money can never undo permanent injuries or the pain you suffered but it is the only tool available under the law to give you a remedy. It is not greedy to demand justice. It is fair and reasonable.
Car accident laws in Texas
Rear end accidents are among the most common types of car crashes on Texas roads. Often these wrecks are considered minor collisions and nothing suffered real injuries. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Even at low speeds, a car accident can cause severe injuries. Under Texas personal injury law, you can recover for injuries and losses due to another driver’s negligence when that negligence is the cause of your injuries. Texas law also requires drivers to carry auto liability insurance that pays injured parties when the driver negligently causes injuries. A negligence claim under Texas personal injury law requires your attorney to prove:
- The driver operated a vehicle negligently
- That negligent driving caused the accident
- The accident caused your injuries
- Your injuries caused damages, including medical bills, other financial losses and other harm to you and your life
Car accident laws can raise other legal issues depending upon the driver and owner of the car. Your car accident lawyer will deal with these complicated legal issues while you focus on obtaining medical care and getting better.
Common causes of car wrecks
Negligent driving can lead to a car wreck on Texas roads in a matter of seconds. Some of the most common causes of car wrecks in Texas include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
- Failing to obtain traffic signs and signals
- Improper lane changes and turns
- Reckless driving
- Wrong way driving
These are not the only sources of negligence that may lead to injuries while driving or riding in a car. Drivers sometimes experience dangerous health conditions while driving, such as strokes, that cause them to lose control of their car and cause car wrecks. When these dangerous health conditions are known or foreseeable, it is negligent to get behind the wheel and put other people in jeopardy.
In addition to negligent driving, the vehicle and its maintenance may be the cause of a collision. Under Texas law, vehicle owners have a duty to reasonably inspect their vehicles for damage or wear and perform repairs to maintain a safe vehicle on the road. Similarly, car manufacturers and parts manufacturers have a duty to manufacture cars and parts that perform safely under reasonable circumstances. Even if the driver is driving in a safe manner, the vehicle itself may experience a malfunction or failure that causes injuries to you.
Texas car accident lawyers represent injured Texans in car wrecks caused by negligent driving, vehicle maintenance and manufacture. If you suffered injuries in a car wreck, contact car accident lawyers in Texas to discuss your case.
What are the most common types of car accidents in Texas?
Texas drivers and passengers are at risk of bodily injury due to negligence in several types of car accidents. If you suffer injuries in any of these types of injuries, talk to an experienced car accident lawyer in Texas.
Single vehicle accidents
Most car accidents involve multiple vehicles, but single vehicle accidents occur as well. These accidents often occur due to distracted driving or DUI. As a passenger in a single vehicle accident, you may experience severe injuries. These collisions often involve the car driving off road or driving into a stationary object like a road barrier or pole.
Rear end crash accidents
Rear end crash accidents are the most common types of car accidents in Texas. A rear end car accident can occur from speeding, tailgating, or just not paying attention. They can occur at both low and high rates of speed. You can suffer injuries in a rear end crash accident while moving or at a stop when the negligent driver fails to come to a stop. Rear end collisions can lead to serious bodily injury, even when your car does not appear to have severe damage.
Head-on car accidents
Head-on car accidents are among the most dangerous car accidents and lead to devastating injuries and fatalities. Head-on car accidents typically occur because one car drove into traffic the wrong way. That can occur due to making illegal turns, taking shortcuts the wrong way on one-way streets, or swerving into oncoming traffic. DUI is also a common cause of head-on car accidents.
Ride share and taxi crashes
You may also suffer injuries as a passenger in a taxi or a ride share, like Uber or Lyft. Ride share transportation is a growing form of auto transportation in Texas and taxis work hard to compete for that business. When you get into a taxi or ride share, you depend upon getting to your destination safely. You may suffer injuries in a car accident due to negligent driving by the driver of your car or another driver. Often in ride share and taxi car accidents, the business’s insurance company will try to deny or devalue your case to make sure they do not pay for your injuries and losses.
Car accidents involving a bus
Buses and other forms of public transportation are growing in Texas, especially in large metro areas like Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio. You may suffer injuries in a car accident involving a bus because you were a bus rider or a bus hit a car you were in. Car accidents involving buses can lead to serious injuries on both sides. Buses are large vehicles and when they hit a car, truck, or SUV, they can cause a significant impact. Riders on the bus involved in a car accident can also suffer serious injuries because there are few safety mechanisms in the bus. Most people are not restrained with seat belts and may be standing if the bus is full.
Car accidents involving a motorcycle
Although motorcyclists are often seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, they are not the only people who may suffer injuries. A motorcyclist can cause a car accident that results in injuries to people in the car as well.
Car accidents involving semi trucks
Car accidents involving semi trucks often lead to serious injuries for people in a passenger vehicle. The larger, heavier semi truck often inflicts significant damage on the car it hits and the occupants inside. Frequently, the semi truck driver experiences little or no bodily injury. Car accidents involving semi trucks can result in different types of bodily injury due to the difference in impact on the passenger vehicle due to the semi’s height and size. Typically, the semi truck driver, transportation company and their insurance company will work quickly to try to damage your case and deny your claim. An experienced car accident lawyer in Texas will stop them from taking advantage of you.
Car accidents involving a drunk driver
Car accidents involving a drunk driver often lead to devastating injuries or fatalities. Intoxicated drivers place everybody in danger: other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bike riders and even people inside buildings. Drunk driving accidents are always 100% preventable.
If you have been in one of these or a different type of car accident in Texas, contact an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss your case.
How do you know if you need to hire a Texas auto accident lawyer after a crash?
If you suffered injuries and have or need to see a medical professional, you should consult a Texas auto accident lawyer. Most people are not experts in valuing personal injury claims, filing lawsuits, or negotiating personal injury claims. The negligent driver’s insurance company will put your claim in the hands of an experienced insurance adjuster. Unlike most people, insurance adjuster spend all day adjusting personal injury claims. They have supervisors reviewing their claims as well. They will use their experience to devalue and deny your claim. If you refuse to go away or accept a lowball offer, you can file a lawsuit. The insurance company will hire insurance defense attorneys to defend your lawsuit. Meanwhile, you have to figure out how to get treatment, get treatment, and figure out how to get all the records together to pursue your case. Not an ideal situation.
An experienced auto accident lawyer can help make your case more valuable and your life easier. Your auto accident lawyer will use experience and expertise to properly value and fight for your case. Meanwhile, you can focus on getting the treatment you need and try to get your life back on track.
How do I choose the right Texas car accident lawyer?
Across Texas you can find thousands of personal injury attorneys who will take your car accident case. How do you choose the right Texas car accident lawyer? Outside of law firms that handle personal injury claims exclusively or as a core part of their legal practice, there are thousands more who will take a car accident or other personal injury case if it walks in the door. How can you know which of these attorneys to hire? Which ones will help you get the medical treatment you need? Which ones will help you get maximum compensation? These questions do not have easy answers.
There are many highly qualified Texas car accident lawyers around the state who can do a great job with your case. You should consider several factors before hiring a law firm to take your case. Some of these factors include:
- What experience does the car accident lawyer possess in car accident cases like yours?
- What contingency fee does the law firm take on your case?
- Who will be doing the primary work on your case and what work does the car accident lawyer do on your case?
- If you need help getting medical treatment for your injuries, what does the law firm do to help you get treatment?
- How often will I speak with my personal injury lawyer instead of a paralegal or other staff member?
There is no harm in talking to several law firms and turning down a lawyer or law firm that does not feel like a good fit for your case.
What kind of compensation is available in my Texas car accident case?
The amount of compensation you can get in a car wreck depends on many factors in your case, such as the injuries, severity of injuries and how those injuries affected your life. The kind of car crashes that car accident lawyers put in commercials and billboards often involve significant, permanent injuries that caused partial or total disability to one or more person. Many people have less severe injuries from car accidents and heal with little or no long term results. What kind of treatment and how long you require medical care are also factors in the value of your personal injury case.
Your Texas car accident lawyer will explore all of the issues in your case that contribute to the value of your case to make sure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Compensation in your Texas car accident case include:
- Past medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of use or mobility
- Pain and suffering, including mental anguish and emotional distress
Your Texas car accident lawyers will thoroughly analyze your case and and present the strongest case for the compensation you deserve.
What to Do if You Are in a Car Accident in Texas
The steps you take after a car accident are very critical to your health and preserving your claims to relief for your injuries.
Obtain immediate medical attention
If you are fortunate enough that you do not need to be taken by ambulance to a hospital after an injury, you should immediately take yourself to a hospital or your primary care provider for any injuries. Even if you only have bruising or soreness you should visit a doctor or hospital as these may be signs of serious internal injuries.
Follow your doctor’s treatment plan
The physician is the expert in medical care and advises you on what is best for your health. In addition to taking care of your body, following the physician’s advice will help preserve your injury claims.
Ask to file a police report
If the police did not arrive at the scene or did not take your statement at the accident scene ask the police if you can file a report that includes your statement about how the accident occurred. The police report may be used in settling or litigating your claims. File a Driver’s Crash Report/blue form: The “blue form” is a state crash report that each driver in an accident must complete and submit to the state if the police did not file a report. If the police filed a report on the accident it is not necessary to file a blue form.
Do not give a statement to any insurance company
Every insurance company involved will want you to give them a statement. You are not required to give the other driver’s insurer a statement and you should not give your insurer a statement until you have had the opportunity to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer. When the other driver’s insurer asks for a statement they will often try to trick you into saying you don’t really remember what happened or that you might have been at fault regardless of the truth. The insurer’s claims adjuster may ask for a written statement or might call you, “just to ask a few questions” where they will record the call.
- Make notes on everything you know about the accident: Although you may never forget being in the accident over time you may forget small details. Making notes of as much detail as possible will help you recall as many details as possible in the future. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of anybody involved in the accident or witnesses are especially important.
- Take pictures: Take pictures of as much as you can. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle. Also take pictures of your injuries as soon as possible. Also, if you can safely do so, take pictures of where the accident occurred. If there are skid marks or damage to the street, try to obtain pictures of these as well. Do not put yourself in harm to take pictures of the scene.
- Avoid discussing the accident or injuries on social media: You may want to let people know that you were in an accident and your condition. Social media is an easy way to do that. The problem is that the insurance company can use whatever you post against you. It’s easy to misconstrue a social media update casually worded between friends and family.
Steps in a Texas auto accident case
Often when people hire car accident lawyers in Texas, they don’t know what steps take place in the auto accident case or what their personal injury lawyer does. These are reasonable questions for a personal injury client. In many cases it can appear that the car accident lawyer has put the case on the back burner while the client does all the work seeking treatment. Here are the typical steps in a Texas auto accident case.
Notice of representation
After you hire an auto accident attorney, your attorney will notify all the insurance companies involved in your case that you retained legal counsel and how to reach them. Your attorney will inform them of limits on speaking with you about your injuries and may request information or evidence. Your attorney needs to put the insurance companies on notice not to speak with you about your injuries so they do not have an opportunity to trick you. Your attorney is a skilled advocate who will advocate for you and your claim. This also ensures you can focus on treatment instead of arguing with insurance adjusters about your case.
Investigating the accident facts
While you obtain medical treatment for your accident injuries, your attorney will investigate the accident. Your attorney will obtain police reports, medical records, photographs, interview witnesses and ensure all of the possible insurance claims are open to pursue maximum recovery.
Once your treatment reaches a conclusion, your attorney will be in a position to fully evaluate your injuries, financial losses and the extent you have long term injuries. Your auto accident attorney will prepare a demand package to send the insurance company. The demand package will include the medical records and bills, relevant evidence from the attorney’s investigation and a letter outlining the value of your case. The demand package begins negotiations with the insurance company.
Negotiating a settlement with the insurance company
After the insurance company receives the demand package, the adjuster evaluates it. The insurance adjuster may have some idea of the value of your case from discussions with your attorney and the insurance company’s own investigation. The demand package gives the adjuster the first full picture of the extent of your injuries. After the insurance adjuster evaluates the demand package, the adjuster will consider what the adjuster thinks is the value of your claim. Most insurance adjusters have a range of authority to settle cases. Above that amount, the adjuster must obtain additional authority from a supervisor. The adjuster will then set a settlement range for your claim and present an offer at the low end of the range.
Your attorney will discuss the initial offer with you and make decisions about settlement. If your attorney and the adjuster can reach an agreement on a settlement amount that you accept, then your case will settle. This process may take anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending upon how far apart both sides are and the adjuster’s willingness to negotiate.
Sometimes you and your attorney negotiates the adjuster to the top of the adjuster’s settlement authority, but it isn’t a fair offer or you do not want to accept it. In that situation, your alternative is for your attorney to file a lawsuit. Litigation is a long and expensive process. You may wait more than a year to see a trial and after that appeals may extend the process. You should consider the time involved for you and the added expenses on your case to litigate.
Another serious concern with litigation in your auto accident case is the unpredictability of the outcome. A jury may not award more than the last settlement offer. Your jury might award less or even decide to give you nothing. Your attorney will talk to you about the risks in your case and whether litigation is likely to put more money in your pocket than accepting a settlement offer. Ultimately, it is your decision whether to settle your case or let a jury decide what it is worth.
Frequently asked questions about Texas car accident lawyers
The statute of limitations for Texas car accident claims is generally two years. For some claims you must act quicker, such as claims where a governmental entity caused the crash. Cases involving minors can extend much longer because a child cannot file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations means you must either reach a settlement resolving your case or file a lawsuit before that date. If you do not file a lawsuit and your case is not settled, then you lose the legal right to pursue your case.
If you hired a Texas car accident lawyer, then your lawyer will take care of filing a lawsuit on your behalf. Filing a lawsuit is a convoluted process in Texas. First you must determine the courts that can hear your case and then decide which of those courts is best suited to hear your case. You then must file a complaint with that court’s clerk. The complaint alleges the basic facts supporting your case, the legal claims you want the judge or jury to decide, and what remedies you want to receive. Filing the complaint opens the court’s file on your case, but then you must serve the defendant with process. Process is a combination of a copy of the complaint with a summons. The summons alerts the defendant of the lawsuit together with the time and place the defendant must respond to the lawsuit to avoid a default judgment.
After you file your lawsuit, you begin several judicial processes that begins the long journey to a trial.
No, for a personal injury case you do not have to hire an attorney to represent you. In Texas courts you have the right to represent yourself in a civil lawsuit if you wish. If you file a lawsuit for a car accident in small claims court, you may decide not to hire a lawyer. In district and county civil courts, you can represent yourself but these courts involve complex legal procedures. Choosing not to hire an attorney will make the process more challenging and far less likely to have a good outcome.
The negligent driver’s insurance carrier has a duty to hire a lawyer to represent their insured. You will almost certainly have an experienced defense lawyer on the other side of your case. The defense lawyer will take advantage of your inexperience. The judge cannot help you. You are at a huge disadvantage.
Some lawyers suggest the average settlement in a car accident case in Texas is $16,000. Whether this is true is questionable. All car accident cases are unique and the value of a case depends upon several factors. An average case with one set of injuries might be $30,000 while the average with a more severe set of injuries might be $150,000. If you assume you will definitely get a certain amount of money, you are probably going to be disappointed at the end of your case.
No–Texas is a tort state. There are primarily two ways states treat auto insurance. These are no-fault (or PIP) states and tort states.
In Texas and other tort states, you buy auto insurance to protect yourself from liability for your own misdeeds. Your auto insurance policy’s core coverage is liability coverage. Liability insurance pays people injured due to your negligent driving. It does not pay you for your injuries.
In a no-fault state, you carry auto insurance that pays you for your injuries and losses in a car accident, no matter who is at fault. You decide how much coverage you want to buy for yourself. You can buy liability coverage that protects you from a lawsuit if you cause a car accident as well. No-fault insurance states are sometimes called PIP states because your primary coverage is through PIP coverage, or personal injury protection coverage.
Several types of insurance and insurance claims may become part of your Texas car accident case.
Property damage claims in Texas
In most cases, the damage to your car may be covered by the negligent driver’s liability property damage coverage. That liability coverage may also pay for your rental car while repairs occur. If you have collision coverage, your collision coverage may handle repairs and then pursue reimbursement from the negligent driver’s policy. Some people carry uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage instead of collision coverage. UMPD coverage pays if the negligent driver does not have liability insurance or does not have enough property damage coverage to repair your car. If your property damage claim goes through your insurance, your rental coverage will pay for a rental while you obtain repairs.
Bodily injury claims in Texas
Your bodily injury claim often involves several policies. You may receive treatment paid in part through your health insurance. If your health insurance paid for some of your treatment, you may have to repay the health insurance plan or policy out of a settlement.
You may also have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that pays while you seek treatment for medical bills and other financial losses, such as lost wages, in addition to any settlement on a liability policy. Most people carry $2,500 in PIP coverage, but you may have more. Your policy may have medical payments coverage (medpay) instead of PIP. Medpay is similar to PIP except it only pays medical bills. Often if you carry medpay, you carry $5,000. Both medpay and PIP are no-fault coverage, so you can use them even if you caused a collision.
The primary source of compensation in a car accident case is bodily injury liability coverages. The negligent driver’s liability coverage is first in line to pay for your bodily injury claim. A personal policy in Texas must carry a minimum of $30,000 per person up to $60,000 per accident. Commercial and personal policies can carry multi-million dollar limits.
Some car accidents involve drivers who do not have insurance or do not have enough bodily injury coverage to make you whole. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) on your policy, then you can also seek recovery from this coverage. UM/UIM coverage pays like the negligent driver’s liability coverage. If there is no coverage for the negligent driver, then the UM coverage pays up to the limit for bodily injury liability. If the negligent driver has coverage but your claim exceeds the driver’s policy limits, then your UIM coverage stacks on top of the negligent driver’s liability coverage to expand the amount you can recover.
Talk to car accident lawyers in Texas about your personal injury case
Car accidents can have a devastating effect on your life, even in the short term. While you try to juggle getting your car fixed and dealing with the pain and limitations of your injuries, the insurance company will work to try to hurt your case. Don’t get hurt a second time because you tried to handle this alone. Talk to experienced car accident lawyers in Texas about your case. Experienced personal injury lawyers know how to help you get the medical care you need and fight for the compensation you deserve.