Car Accident FAQ
Were you or a loved one injured in a car accident in Houston or anywhere else in Texas? Click on the links below for answers from our Car Accident Lawyers to frequently asked questions:
- What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
- What If The Driver Of The Other Car Doesn’t Own It?
- What Is PIP?
- Do I Need An Attorney for my Car Accident Case?
- How Do I Fix My Car After an Accident Claim?
- Should I Accept An Insurance Settlement?
- How Do I Replace Lost Wages?
- What Is Pain And Suffering?
- What If The Car Accident Happened On The Job?
- What If I Was Partially At Fault in the Car Accident?
- What Is Subrogation?
- What If The Other Driver Had No (Or Too Little) Insurance Coverage?
- Do I have To Give A Recorded Statement?
- How Do I Obtain a Car Accident Report in Texas?
What Should I Do After a Car Accident in Houston?
If this is the first time you have been injured in a car accident, you may not be aware of the steps you need to take to protect your right for full compensation. The insurance company of the other driver can take advantage of your inexperience to reduce the value of your claim.
To protect your rights:
- Call a Houston police officer or Sheriff’s deputy to complete an accident report.
- Do not admit fault or discuss fault with the other driver.
- After tending to the injured, take photos of the accident scene on your cellphone (or ask someone else to) and obtain names and contact information for any witnesses.
- Even if you do not feel injured, obtain medical care to make sure you are all right. Your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage is available to pay medical bills.
- If an adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, do not provide a recorded statement or accept a settlement offer without discussing your case with a lawyer.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible.
- Continue medical treatment until you have recovered from your injuries.
It’s important act quickly. A Houston car accident lawyer will work for you to collect and preserve evidence of liability and damages which are crucial for your case. Even if the other driver admits fault, his or her story may change when the bills become due.
What If The Driver Of The Other Car Doesn’t Own It?
Sometimes the other driver in a car accident isn’t the person who owns the car.
In this case, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to determine who is liable for your injuries. In most cases, it will be the party who drives the car.
However, you may also be able to file a claim against the owner of the other car in certain circumstances such as in a negligent entrustment situation or if it is a taxi or limo owned by another person or company.
At the Houston law firm of Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., we offer a free initial consultation to evaluate your case and explain your options. From our offices in Houston, we serve clients in Harris County and throughout Texas. Call 713-221-6800 or toll free at (888) 529-0018 to schedule an appointment.
Car Insurance Follows The Vehicle
In Texas, when you give someone else the keys to your vehicle, they are a permissive driver and are covered under your auto insurance policy unless they are specifically excluded.
The same rule applies to businesses. If a person is driving a company car and injures you in an accident, the businesses’ auto insurance is responsible.
If the owner of the vehicle does not have enough insurance to cover your damages, you may be able to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company as a secondary payer. For this reason, it’s important to seek the advice of an experienced lawyer who can evaluate all available sources of insurance.
What Is PIP?
If you are injured in a car accident in Texas, one source of coverage to pay for your damages regardless of fault is Personal Injury Protection coverage or PIP. Contact our car accident attorneys now and they will explain how PIP works.
Do I Have PIP Insurance?
In Texas, your insurance company is required to offer you $2,500 in PIP coverage. You can buy more coverage if you want. You can also decline the coverage, but you must do so in writing. If the insurance company cannot prove that you declined the coverage, you have PIP coverage.
What Does PIP Cover?
If you are injured in an accident in Houston or any place in Texas, PIP covers medical bills, 80 percent of lost wages if you are unable to work, plus the cost of hiring a caregiver in your home. For all services, PIP will pay a maximum of $2,500 unless you purchased a higher coverage limit.
What If My Damages Exceed $2,500?
If the accident was caused by the negligence of another person, our lawyers can help you seek full compensation for everything you have lost by filing a personal injury claim against the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Do I Need An Attorney for my Car Accident Case?
If you are involved in a car accident and you suffer vehicle damage only, you probably do not need a car accident lawyer to handle your claim with the other driver’s insurance company. In most cases, you will be able to resolve your property damage claim on your own.
However if you think you may have suffered an injury, you should at least discuss your case with a lawyer, even if the injury does not seem serious to you.
At the Houston, Texas law firm of Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., we will take the time to explain your options and answer your questions without cost and without any obligation to hire us. Call 713-221-6800 or toll free at (888) 529-0018 to schedule an appointment at our office in Houston.
What Can You Do For Me?
Some people put off talking to a lawyer about their case because they think they will have to pay a fee for something they could do on their own: negotiate with an insurance company.
However, it costs nothing to discuss your case with a lawyer up front. If we don’t think you need a lawyer, we will tell you.
The longer you wait before contacting a lawyer, the more likely it is that you could do something to damage your case. Here are some examples of mistakes that you may make without a lawyer’s advice:
- If you fail to seek medical treatment, you will not have documentation of your injury.
- If you make a recorded statement, you could say something that will damage your case.
- If you discontinue treatment, the insurance company will think your injury has been resolved, even if you are still experiencing pain.
- Crucial evidence you need to prove liability against the other driver could go missing.
- Witnesses’ memories could begin to fade.
- You could miss the statute of limitations and run out of time to file a claim.
Contact our car accident lawyers today to make sure your case is handled properly.
How Do I Fix My Car After a Car Accident Claim?
When you are recuperating from a car accident, it can be the worst possible time to deal with an insurance company over a vehicle damage claim. How can you be sure the insurance company is treating you fairly? At our firm inHouston, we often receive questions from our clients about vehicle damage claims.
If we are representing you in a personal injury case against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, we will handle your vehicle damage claim at no cost. We do this so you can focus on what is most important: recovering your health.
What Can I Do If The Insurance Company Is Not Treating Me Fairly?
When you suffer vehicle damage due to the negligence of another driver, his or her insurance company is responsible for repairing your car and providing a rental car during the time your car is in the shop.
If your car is totaled, you have a right to recover the fair market value. Most insurance companies will also provide a rental car while you are buying a new car.
Most auto insurance policies have an appraisal process for resolving disputes about the value of your vehicle. The Texas Department of Insurance is also available to help consumers resolve complaints against auto insurance companies.
The first offer you receive from an insurance company is usually less than the full amount you deserve. However, a letter from your attorney is usually enough to persuade the insurance company to treat you fairly.
DON’T NEGOTIATE with the insurance company.
Contact our lawyers for a free consultation 713-221-6800.
Should I Accept An Insurance Settlement?
Insurance companies are becoming increasingly aggressive about pressuring people to accept low-ball offers for accident injury claims. If you are offered an insurance settlement after a car accident, you should seek a lawyer’s advice before you sign anything.
What If The Settlement Offer Seems Fair?
Even if the offer seems fair, you should not resolve your case until you have reached what is known as maximum medical improvement. This is the point where you have either fully recovered or you won’t get any better. Only then will you know how the injury will affect your life.
Sometimes injuries are more serious than they first seem. For example, if you have a sore back in the first few weeks after your accident, you may assume that your back will heal and you will be able to get back to doing the things you did before the accident.
Most back injuries do get better in time. However, sometimes back pain becomes chronic and affects you for years in the future. You may need surgery to correct a herniated disc or other condition. You may even suffer a permanent disability.
If you accept a settlement, you will be asked to sign a release that means the insurance company is not responsible for any future claims related to your accident. No matter how much the injury ends up costing you, you would not be able to go back to the insurance company and demand more compensation.
An experienced Houston personal injury attorney will know when to resolve your claim and how much money to demand from the insurance company.
How Do I Replace Lost Wages?
Your bills don’t stop when you are laid up following an accident, but sometimes your wages do. If your injury is preventing you from working, contact our Houston-based attorneys for help.
When you are injured due to the negligence of another person, you have a right to seek compensation for everything you have lost, including wages if you are unable to work. It is important to get a note from your doctor stating that your injury prevents you from working.
The insurance company covering the person who injured you will not pay any damages until your case is resolved. That may be several months after your accident, so you may need other sources of disability income until your case is resolved.
One source of income replacement is your Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. If you are injured in an accident, PIP covers 80 percent of lost wages if you are unable to work. PIP coverage is limited, however, and you may not have enough coverage to meet your needs. You may also have disability insurance through your employer.
It’s important to contact our lawyers as soon as possible after your accident so we can:
- Collect and preserve evidence of liability
- Identify all sources of coverage for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages
- Document your losses so you can recover full compensation
What Is Pain And Suffering?
In many cases, compensation for pain and suffering is the largest component of a car accident case. It’s helpful to know the legal definition of pain and suffering.
In general, pain and suffering refers to non-economic damages associated with a serious personal injury. It can refer to not only physical pain but also to emotional distress. Determining how much you should be compensated for pain and suffering is highly personal to your case. Two people may experience the same injury, but the effect of that injury on their lives can be vastly different.
For example, if you are a new mother, a back injury may prevent you from picking up your child. If you are a runner, it can prevent you from doing the thing you enjoy. Because pain and suffering is highly personal, it’s important to keep a journal and record each day how the injury has affected you. That journal will be valuable evidence in your case.
Here are some factors in determining how much compensation you deserve for pain and suffering:
- The severity of your injury
- The medical treatment and rehabilitation you were forced to endure
- How long it took you to recover from your injury
- The long-term effects of the injury on your life, if you have suffered a permanent injury
The sooner you contact our attorneys after a car crash, the sooner we can go to work documenting your claim and helping you recover the maximum compensation.
Contact our car accident lawyers today.
What If The Car Accident Happened On The Job?
If you are injured in a car accident that occurred on the job, you may be entitled to 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 injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident, you are covered by Texas worker’s compensation regardless of who was at fault. “Work-related” generally means that you were driving on the job. The accident would not be covered by worker’s compensation if it happened while you were commuting to or from work or 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 accident was caused by the negligence of another party, you can file a personal injury claim 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, 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 If I Was Partially at Fault in the Car Accident?
In Texas, your compensation in a car accident case will be reduced by any percentage you were at fault. This area of law is known as comparative negligence. However, you can still recover compensation as long as your fault was not 51 percent or higher.
Since fault is such an important part of your accident case, it is important not to discuss fault with the other driver, the police officer, or any insurance company (yours or other driver’s) before you have discussed your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. You could make admissions that would reduce the amount of compensation you receive for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Here is an example. Suppose you are broadsided in an intersection by another driver who ran a stop sign. The other driver was clearly at fault. Unfortunately, a percentage of fault could be assigned to you if you made any of the following admissions:
- You were speeding
- You failed to look both ways before entering the intersection
- You were sending or reading a text
- You were drinking
Insurance company adjusters are experienced at getting people to make admissions that will reduce the value of their claim. Once you hire our lawyers to represent you, we will speak to the insurance company on your behalf.
Our lawyers will carefully review the facts of your case and protect your interests at every phase of your case, including determining comparative negligence.
Contact us today 713-221-6800 the call is free.
What Is Subrogation?
When you are injured in an accident, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will not pay damages such as medical bills and lost wages as you go. Rather, the company will wait until your case is resolved.
This could be several months and in some cases more than a year after the accident happened. As a result, you typically submit health care and disability bills to a secondary payer such as private or group medical insurance, short-term disability or Medicaid. After your case is resolved, the secondary payer will recover payments from your insurance settlement or award through a process known as subrogation.
Subrogation is an important issue in your accident case, as it determines how much money is left in your pocket after your case is resolved. For this reason, it is important to have an attorney represent you in the subrogation process.
As experienced Houston car accident lawyers, our job goes beyond resolving your case by negotiation or jury verdict. Our lawyers will:
- Evaluate all potential secondary payers to determine which is the most advantageous.
- Negotiate with the secondary payer so you keep as much money as possible. In many cases, secondary payers will accept less than 100 percent.
- Negotiate with the insurance company of the at-fault driver to maximize your recovery. For example, the secondary payer of medical bills may have provided services at a discount. We will seek the full cost of those services.
What If The Other Driver Had No (Or Too Little) Insurance Coverage?
The other driver failed to carry insurance or the insurance isn’t enough. Now What?
You may have options if you are injured and the at-fault party has no insurance or not enough insurance coverage.
Texas has financial responsibility laws that requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to help cover losses due to their own fault or negligence. In 2011, the minimum amount of liability insurance coverage for bodily injury was increased to $30,000 for one person (up from $25,000).
Often, $25,000 or $30,000 simply isn’t enough coverage to fully compensate persons injured through no fault of their own. Even with mandatory financial responsibility laws, many drivers in Texas simply do not carry insurance.
Your attorney can and should investigate the at-fault party’s personal assets to determine the possibility of recovery beyond liability insurance.
Texas also requires your automobile insurance company to offer you Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, known as UM/UIM coverage. This law helps protect drivers from devastating consequences of being injured at the hands of an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Because the law requires your insurance company to offer UM/UIM coverage, you can only reject it in writing. If your agent didn’t obtain your written rejection, then you may have coverage equal to the limits you carry for your own liability protection.
Your insurance company will have certain requirements of you before you can rely on your UM/UIM coverage. Those requirements should be outlined in your policy. Your insurance company may try to take offsets or claim credits against the amount of UM/UIM coverage it should pay you – some of which may not be allowed in Texas.
It is important to let your attorney investigate all available sources of recovery – beginning with liability and UM/UIM coverage – to compensate you for your injuries.
Do I have To Give A Recorded Statement?
The adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company keeps calling me. Do I have to give them my statement?
No. Often times an adjuster will attempt to pressure an injured person into giving a statement after a car accident. In Texas, liability is not established on the basis of what information the other driver’s insurance adjuster attempts to secure from you.
You are not required to provide a statement to the other driver’s insurance company’s representative. Remember, if you have serious injury, the adjuster’s job is to try to save the insurance company’s money – not protect your rights!
Rather than try to negotiate with a trained adjuster regarding your serious injuries, you should seek the advice of a qualified personal injury trial lawyer.
Contact us today the call is always free 713-221-6800.
How Do I Obtain a Car Accident Report in Houston or other cities in Texas?
Following an auto accident, many people do not know where to start to obtain a copy of the accident report. The first thing you should do is determine which law enforcement agency investigated the car accident.
Usually, the investigating officer will give you a slip of paper indicating their department name and the officer’s name. If the car accident investigator did not give you the information, you should figure out where the accident happened. Generally, a car accident will be investigated by one of three agencies – the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the County Sheriff or a city police officer.
If the accident happened;
- In the city limits of an incorporated city such as Houston, you can contact the police department of that city and ask about getting a copy of your car accident report.
- Outside the city limits then the County Sheriff probably investigated the matter and a call to the accident division of that department will probably work.
- If the sheriff did not investigate the crash, you should try the DPS office nearest the accident scene.
Some agencies allow you to order an accident report online while others might require a written request be sent in the mail. In all cases, the cost of an accident report is only a few dollars.
What are accident reports used for?
Car accident reports issued by law enforcement agencies can be powerful evidence when negotiating with insurance companies about your injuries. The opinions of the investigating officer will be shown in the report regarding the cause of the accident and fault of the parties involved.
You do not need to obtain a copy of an accident report yourself before you seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. We always obtain the report for our clients.