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How Do I Know If I Have A Case After A Car Accident?

Wrecked car

All auto accident cases have unique circumstances, some of which can affect your ability to recover compensation for your losses. However, you generally have a case if someone else is either partially or entirely liable for the accident and you suffered damages due to their negligence. Texas uses an at-fault system to govern car accident claims. Consider the elements you need to build a case and when you should consider contacting a car accident lawyer.

What Do You Need To Build a Car Accident Case in Mesquite, Texas?

The first step in recovering compensation for your losses after an auto accident is to file an insurance claim. Because Texas is an at-fault state, you must file your claim with the liable driver’s insurer and provide the evidence necessary to prove negligence and damages. If you face a combative insurance adjuster or an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may need to file a civil lawsuit. To better understand if you have a solid case, first consider the required proof.

Proof of Negligence

To prove liability in a car accident case, you must present sufficient evidence for the three components of a negligence claim:

  1. Duty of care. Did the other driver owe you a duty of care when the crash occurred? Every driver is responsible for maintaining safe actions on the road to protect every driver.
  2. Breached duty of care. Did the other driver breach their duty by acting in an unsafe way? For example, did they violate traffic laws like speeding or running through a stop sign?
  3. Causation. Did the other driver’s breach of duty result in the accident that caused your injuries and property damage?

There must be a direct correlation between the driver’s actions, the accident and your losses for the other driver to be liable for damages. Proving negligence is the foundation of a car accident claim, and specific evidence can help you build your case. For example, the police report can document traffic violations and even name an at-fault party.

Proof of Injury

As the victim of a negligent driver, you must also provide evidence to prove your injuries. One way to directly connect your injuries to the accident is to seek immediate medical care. If you suffered severe injuries and needed emergency medical attention, you already have documentation of your injuries. If you did not need an ambulance, you should still see a doctor, ideally within 72 hours of the accident.

You can see your primary care physician, an emergency room doctor or a practitioner at your local urgent care. Remember, the timing can be critical. If you wait too long, you risk a delayed diagnosis of internal injuries and allow the insurance company to claim you obtained your injuries somewhere other than the accident. Additionally, medical records are your most valuable source of evidence proving injuries.

Proof of Damages

Damages refer to the losses you sustained due to the other driver’s actions. To file a claim for compensation, you need damages. These include all compensatory losses you can directly correlate to the accident. Some are economic, and others are non-economic. Tort law in Mesquite, Texas, recognizes the financial value of both.

Economic Losses

Economic damages reflect how the accident affected you financially. While every accident has varying losses, some common examples include the following:

  • The cost of your medical care, including all current and future expenses related to your injuries
  • The total lost income caused by missed work or loss of the capacity to complete the duties required for your position
  • The cost of repairing or replacing your damaged property
  • Any replacement services you need during your recovery, such as assistance with household duties or childcare

You can support these claims with your medical bills and professional estimates for property damage. Submit your pay stubs and recent tax returns to show lost income, and provide any notes from your doctor to prove your need for replacement services.

Non-Economic Losses

Your non-economic losses refer to how the aftermath of your accident affected your mental health. For example, you can claim:

  • The pain and suffering caused by your injuries and the treatment you endured for them
  • The emotional distress and mental anguish often associated with post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression following an accident
  • The loss of consortium if the accident affected your intimate spousal relationship

Valuing these losses can sometimes be complex, given their lack of inherent monetary value. As a result, auto accident victims often turn to a car accident attorney to ensure they identify and adequately value all the damages available in their case.

When Should You Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?

You can contact a car accident lawyer anytime after your collision to ask questions about your case and how you can recover damages. If you need an attorney, they may offer their services and guide you through the legal process of building your case. One of the most common reasons people contact a lawyer following a car accident is to handle an uncooperative insurance company.

Recognizing Bad Faith Tactics by the Insurance Company

Sometimes insurance companies resort to bad-faith actions to protect their best interests. These tactics are often in violation of your right to compensation. Consider some common examples of an insurance adjuster acting in bad faith:

  • They avoid your attempts to communicate.
  • They undervalue your claim and offer an insultingly low settlement.
  • They delay the investigation into your accident, sometimes to ensure you miss the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.
  • They deny your claim without providing a reason.
  • They use harsh, accusatory language, often in an attempt to record you saying something incriminatory.

If you filed a claim following a car accident case and received pushback from the insurer, you would likely benefit from speaking with a car accident lawyer immediately. They will handle all communications with the adjustor so you can focus on healing without undue stress.

What if You Are Partially Liable for the Accident?

In Texas, sharing liability with the other driver does not automatically exempt you from recovering financial compensation. Instead, the court applies the modified comparative negligence rule, which requires a determination of fault percentages for both parties. If you are less than 50% liable for the accident, you can recover a percentage of the total damages equaling the other party’s portion of the liability.

However, if you are more at fault than the other party, you can no longer recover compensation. For example, suppose the court deems you 20% liable for the accident and values your losses at $10,000. In that case, you could still recover $8,000. However, if you are 55% at fault, you would need to cover the entire $10,000 in damages yourself without compensation from the other party. A car accident lawyer can help you understand how this rule may affect your claim.

Can an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Mesquite, Texas, Help You?

If you suffered an injury or lost a loved one because of a car crash caused by a negligent driver, an experienced car accident lawyer could help you understand your right to compensation and the legal options available. Fielding Law’s team of experienced car accident attorneys is always available to answer your questions and point you in the right direction, even if you do not need legal representation. Contact our office today at (877) 880-4090 to schedule your free consultation and talk to a lawyer.