After being injured in a car accident, your best bet is to hire a lawyer immediately. Some people believe that because they are going through an insurance company, they will receive the compensation they need quickly and easily; but it often does not work that way. Insurance companies are out for profit and have high-powered attorneys working for them. The second that the other driver’s insurance company has been notified of the car accident, they will already have begun to figure out how they will deny or devalue your claim. Hiring an attorney will level the playing field. Your attorney will counsel you on what you need to look out for and guide you through the endeavor.
Unless your car accident is a fender-bender with only minor property damage and no injuries, it’s best to let a car accident attorney handle the claim for you from the start. Injuries from car accidents can be serious and life-changing and result in high medical and rehabilitation bills at a time you are unable to work. Your financial losses can easily exceed the limits of a car insurance policy, so getting these financial costs covered usually requires filing a lawsuit against the parties responsible for causing the crash.
If you or a loved one was injured or someone has died in a car crash, a successful personal injury lawsuit can provide compensation that eases your financial burden by covering all your losses. At this difficult time, your attorney will alleviate your stress by handling all dealings and negotiations with insurance companies, legal requirements, paperwork, and court appearances, so you can focus on your recovery and rebuilding your life.
Do I Need A Lawyer After A Car Accident?
After a car accident, having a lawyer work for you will prevent your making costly mistakes. If you face the insurance companies on your own, you may find yourself at their mercy, and they have had lots of experience getting accident victims to settle for less. Before you sign anything with the other driver’s insurance company and take a minimal settlement for your injuries and damages, wait! Don’t sign yet! Don’t make the mistake of leaving money on the table.
There are many reasons why you should contact an attorney as soon as possible following your car accident. Here are some of them:
Medical Care. Your lawyer can ensure that you get proper medical treatment and that there is a record of all your injuries and how they progress. Even if you do not think you are seriously injured, you should see a doctor. Some injuries take time to show up, and many worsen over time. If you’re unsure of where you should go to obtain immediate medical treatment, your attorney may provide options to help you make the best possible decision.
Investigation. Your lawyer can begin investigating and building your case while evidence is fresh and witnesses can be found while they still have good recall of what happened. Your lawyer will want to interview witnesses and first responders and get photos and videos from the accident scene. Some evidence, such as tire tracks and vehicle parts will disappear over time, so the sooner you get an attorney working for you, the better.
Identify Potential Sources of Compensation: In a car crash, there may be more than one party who was negligent and contributed to causing the accident. For example, if a commercial truck hit you, the truck driver, trucking company, cargo company, and truck manufacturer may all be liable. Your attorney will identify all negligent parties and demand compensation from all of them.
Documentation. Your lawyer can begin documenting your losses and expenses from the start. When filing a car accident claim, your lawyer will fight for compensation for all your losses and expenses associated with the accident. In addition to medical costs, lost income, and car repair expenses, your attorney will ensure that losses you may not think of, such as the cost of transportation to doctor’s appointments and hiring household help, are also documented. In addition, your lawyer will help you calculate future losses and non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
Proving Negligence. To win your case, your attorneys would have to show that another party, the defendant in the case, was negligent and at fault for causing the accident that injured you. This means showing the following legal elements:
Duty: The defendant had a duty not to cause harm.
Breach: The defendant breached this duty by actions or failure to act.
Cause: This breach caused your injuries.
Damages: You suffered damages as a result.
Your attorney will know how to prove negligence by investigating your case, determining all at-fault parties who may have been negligent and contributed to the accident, and gathering evidence to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Insurance. Your attorney will handle dealings and negotiations with insurance companies. If the other driver’s insurance company requests a recorded statement, you should decline the request and let them know that an attorney represents you. The less you say to insurance adjusters, the better. They will use tactics such as trying to get you to say something they can twist into an admission that you were at fault, offering a settlement for less than your case is worth in the hope that you will accept it quickly and forfeit some compensation, or they may deny your claim altogether. When you have a lawyer, you can tell the insurance adjuster to speak to your attorney. Once they know you have an attorney on your side willing to go to court, insurance companies are more likely to come up with a fair settlement offer.
Take Your Case to Trial. If negotiations with insurance companies and their attorneys break down, your car accident lawyer will prepare your case and handle everything from depositions to arguing in from of a judge and jury to aggressively seek a fair settlement on your behalf.
Statute of Limitations. Texas has statutes of limitations, which are deadlines for filing lawsuits. Once the deadline is past, the courts are unlikely to hear your case. According to the law (CPRC Chapter 16, section 16003), for personal injury, claims must generally be filed within 2 years after an injury occurred. If the injury resulted in a wrongful death, claims must be filed within 2 years after death. Your attorney will start working for you immediately, collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, gathering documentation, consulting with experts, and building your case, and needs time to do so properly within the framework of the statute of limitations. (*Always speak directly to an attorney to learn the exact deadlines that apply to your potential claims.)
Damages a Lawyer Can Help Recover
In a successful car accident lawsuit, your lawyer can demand payment for damages, which are the costs you face due to an accident and injury. In Texas, your attorney can seek compensation for both your economic and non-economic damages as follows:
Economic damages for your monetary costs, which may include:
medical and rehabilitative bills
lost wages and earnings
property damage, such as to repair or replace your car
costs of modifying a home or vehicle, such as for a wheelchair
funeral costs in case of death.
Non-economic damages to cover damages that don’t have a specific monetary value, but negatively impact your life, such as:
pain and suffering
emotional mental anguish
loss of companionship or consortium
Punitive damages – In some rare cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. These are intended to punish a defendant who acted in an especially reckless or egregious manner and to deter such behaviors in the future.
Amounts of Damage Awards
There are a wide range of damages amounts your lawyer may help you recover after a car accident. Amounts you may receive depend on the circumstances of your individual case and factors that include:
the severity and permanence of your injuries
whether you will need continuing care
property damage and other costs you incur
loss of income from being unable to work
the availability of insurance and assets of the defendants
the individual judge and jury involved
how well your attorney can negotiate a settlement or litigate your case.
In general, the more severe the injuries and the higher the costs, the larger the settlement. Your lawyer will find out the true costs of an injury, to make sure to demand payment that covers all your losses.
What Should I Do After A Car Accident In Houston, TX?
What you do after your car accident in Texas will directly affect your case. If you are able to do so, remain on the scene and immediately call 911. If there’s anyone injured and needing emergency medical attention, ask the dispatcher to send the paramedics. Otherwise, let the dispatcher know that you were involved in an accident and wait for the authorities to arrive.
Even if you think that the accident was a minor one, stay at the scene of the accident until the authorities get there. When the authorities arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officer what happened. Make sure that an accurate police report is created. If you are asked whether you’re injured, and you’re not sure, tell the investigating officer that you’re not sure instead of saying no.
If you can get out of the car without further injuring yourself, go and exchange information with everyone involved in the collision. Obtain their full name, address, phone number(s), email address, license plate number, Driver’s License number, and insurance information. If you have your phone, take pictures of this information. Do not talk about the car accident with anyone else or argue about who’s at fault. Remain calm! If you cannot get out of the car without getting further injured, stay where you are and wait for the paramedics to assist you.
What else should I do at the scene?
Take pictures of the scene of the accident.
Take pictures of the property damage to your vehicle.
Take pictures of property damage to the vehicles of all others involved in the accident.
Take pictures of your injuries that are visible.
If anyone else witnessed the accident, get their name and contact information.
Are there other steps that I need to take?
Once the paramedics arrive on the scene, get checked out by them. If you have a life-threatening injury, you need to go to the Emergency Room. If you think your injuries are minor or not apparent at all, you should still seek medical treatment shortly after the accident. If your primary care doctor is not available, you may consider going to an Urgent Care clinic. Urgent Care clinics provide great quality care to their patients, and they are generally open 24/7. You should contact an attorney as soon as you can following your car accident.
Is It Worth Getting A Lawyer For A Car Accident?
Yes, it is worth it to get a lawyer! An unrepresented injury victim may lack the training or experience necessary to negotiate with an insurance company adjuster. Unrepresented car crash victims often make other mistakes, such as being tricked into saying something during a recorded statement that harms their claim. If your claim does not settle before filing a lawsuit, you will want a lawyer who has the financial resources to retain good experts to prove the injuries and related damages you sustained due to the accident. Previous case studies have shown that an injured party represented by an attorney will obtain more than three times more on their claim than those who try to handle it independently.
Get Help from Our Car Accident Attorneys in Texas
If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a car accident, the experienced car accident and personal injury attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are ready to help. Terry Bryant has been practicing law since 1985. He is a former judge and is Board Certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He will bring his wealth of knowledge and experience to your case. He and his handpicked legal team make sure clients are treated fairly and get the compensation they deserve.
We believe our job is to get justice for our clients — and we take it seriously. We combine a deep knowledge of the law, years of experience in negotiation and litigation, a compassionate approach to our clients, and the tenacity to go up against large corporations — and we win.
We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options, and there are no fees to you unless and until you win your case. Call us today to get started.
Terry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]