Car Accident FAQ Answered by Houston Lawyers
Were you or a loved one injured in an auto-accident in Houston or anywhere else in Texas? Click on the links below for answers from our car wreck attorneys to frequently asked questions:
- What Should I Do After an Auto Accident?
- What If The Driver Of The Other Car Doesn’t Own It?
- What Is PIP?
- Do I Need An Attorney for my Case?
- How Do I Fix My Car After an Auto Accident Claim?
- Should I Accept An Insurance Settlement?
- How Do I Replace Lost Wages?
- What Is Pain And Suffering?
- What If The Accident Happened On The Job?
- What If I Was Partially At Fault in the Car Crash?
- 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 Crash Report?
What Should I Do After an Auto Accident?
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.
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 auto accident lawyers today.
What If The 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 Crash?
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 car wreck 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 Crash Report??
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, 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.
If you have any questions about car accident reports or your claim, contact us by email or call 713-221-6800. We always provide a free consultation.
Contact Michael P. Fleming and Associates today!