In Texas, 205,498 people sustained injuries from car accidents during 2020. That is one person injured every two and a half minutes of the year. An auto accident can leave you with devastating financial losses, but you have options to help you recover payment for the damages you suffered. Most personal injury cases end in settlement. How much you receive is based on several factors, including the extent of your injuries, who is at fault, and when your claim is filed. The best way to determine the value of your claim and recover maximum compensation for damages is to seek the professional opinion of an auto accident attorney.
If you were recently injured in a car accident, you may have the chance to receive compensation for your injuries. However, you need to understand the state’s rules and laws applicable to your claim. In Texas, two laws that cover auto accident cases have the potential to impact your case: statute of limitations and comparative negligence rule.
The statute of limitations defines the limited timeframe in which you are able to file a civil lawsuit. In Texas, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident. For auto accidents, this law applies to anyone involved in the accident, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. It also applies to claims involving both physical injuries to your person as well as damages to your vehicle.
The rules are different if you sustained injuries due to the negligence of a state or municipal government employee. You typically have six months to make the government agency aware of your claim before giving them time to respond. The special rules vary across municipalities, and your attorney will know how to follow them accurately to ensure that you are compliant.
Determining who is at fault in a car accident is sometimes very clear and other times more complex. If the other driver in your case is found solely responsible for the accident, he or she covers the costs incurred. In cases where both parties retain some fault for the accident, states have a rule that governs comparative fault and how to compensate for the damages. Under this rule, both drivers cover a percentage of costs equal to the percentage of responsibility held.
Comparative negligence rules fall under two categories:
Determining the percentage of fault typically falls on the jury. If they determine that you bear any responsibility, the percentage of your fault is deducted from your compensation. Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule.
You face many challenges throughout the legal process surrounding a personal injury case. The ultimate goal is to recover the maximum amount of compensation to ensure that you are able to accommodate medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To build your case, you need to understand the factors that could impact your settlement.
Reaching a settlement in a car accident case requires negotiation with insurance agencies and attorneys. In order to negotiate effectively, you must have evidence to support your claim. Evidence can come in many forms. Examples include:
This list is not comprehensive, and your case may call for more or less documentation. However, not having the proper evidence can cost you thousands of dollars in settlement. If you have been injured in a car accident, file a police report. Also, see a doctor immediately, and speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
As previously discussed, Texas is a “modified comparative fault” state. If the other party involved in the accident is completely at fault, you do not need to worry about this impacting your settlement. Determining fault is part of the police investigation and is typically found in the report. However, police are not always able to determine fault at the scene. The insurance agency will conduct an independent investigation and attempt to name a responsible party as well. Since insurance adjusters operate in the interest of the company, having an attorney conduct an investigation into the accident is a vital source for your case.
One of the advantages of hiring a car accident attorney to handle your case is that they also handle communication with the insurance provider. Insurers are known to try to avoid large payouts in any way possible. For example, they often use bad faith tactics, such as refusing payment for a valid claim or failing to promptly conduct an investigation. They often behave better when dealing with a legal professional.
The amount of insurance coverage can also impact the settlement. Texas law requires drivers to have at least $30,000 coverage for bodily injury. If the at-fault driver only has the minimum, that is the most you could receive. In such cases, it helps if you have underinsured motorist coverage.
Financial damages fall under two categories:
Economic damages are easily calculated using tangible bills and treatment estimates. However, non-economic damages can be more difficult to quantify. An experienced attorney knows how to properly value your claim to get you the compensation you deserve.
What you do in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident can impact your settlement. If you speak to the other driver and offer apologies, the insurance agency might argue that you admitted fault and use that to undervalue or even deny your claim. If you wait to seek medical care, the insurance adjuster could claim that you sustained your injuries elsewhere after the accident. This is why it is important to refrain from speaking to anyone other than an attorney and seek medical treatment immediately following the accident, even if you feel okay.
The type and severity of your injuries have a profound impact on your settlement. The more severe your injuries are, the potential you have for a higher settlement. For example, a spinal cord or traumatic brain injury incurs more extensive medical treatment than whiplash, and more treatment equals more expenses.
Injuries that lead to a disability may affect your earning capabilities in the future. If you are young, highly educated, and working in a lucrative field, your claim for future loss of wages could be very high. Financial experts and medical professionals will help you estimate the impact that your injuries may have on your future.
With so many factors impacting your claim, the amount of your settlement will likely not reflect any average. The auto accident attorneys at Fielding Law have the experience necessary to value your claim properly and fight to ensure that you do not pay out of pocket for someone else’s negligence. Call us today and schedule a consultation.