Car accidents are a regular occurrence across Texas. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 15,764 injury-causing crashes in 2021, with over 19,000 people suffering serious injuries. The death toll of 4,489 was an increase of 15.22% from the total recorded in 2020. Sadly, these numbers do not appear to be declining in the near future.
When you are injured in a crash involving a negligent motorist, you deserve compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other losses. However, most people aren’t sure how car accident lawsuits work in Texas. At Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS, we have helped hundreds of clients get the financial recovery they deserve, and put together this blog to answer your questions about the legal process involved.
It Starts By Documenting Your Car Accident
The claims process begins right after an accident. Following the collision, you must gather and preserve as much evidence as possible. You will use this information to prove that the other party was at fault. To make your claim as strong as possible, take the steps below:
- Seek medical attention. See a doctor or go to the emergency room even if you do not feel you suffered injuries: some injuries may not be immediately apparent. You might not be able to cover accident-related expenses if you do not seek medical care.
- Photograph the scene from every angle. If your smartphone wasn’t damaged, take pictures of everything: vehicles involved, the road, street signs, traffic lights, and debris. If your phone is unusable, ask a witness to take pictures and email them to you.
- Get the other driver’s information. Accident claims are filed through the insurance of the at-fault party. Therefore, it’s important to obtain the driver’s information and the insurance company’s name, phone number, and policy number.
- Exchange information with witnesses. Be sure to get the names and numbers of any other drivers or pedestrians who witnessed the accident. Their testimony can help determine fault and give an objective account of what happened.
- Contact a car accident lawyer. Contact a personal injury lawyer after receiving medical attention for accident-related injuries. An attorney with experience in car accident cases can assist you in navigating the claims process more efficiently.
Your attorney can examine the information you collected after your accident (for instance, witness statements, injury pictures, and police reports). Upon analyzing the evidence, they will determine fault and build your case. Your lawyer will also examine medical records and bills to determine the extent of your damages and determine how much compensation you should demand from the insurer.
Sending a Demand Letter to the Insurance Company
Once your attorney has reviewed the evidence and medical information, they will write a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurer. The details of your accident, reasons why the other driver is liable, the extent of your injuries and losses, and your settlement expectations are all outlined in this document.
After you submit a claim with the other party’s insurance company, it will conduct its own investigation. (Be warned: the company will be looking for evidence to deny your claim or offer a lower settlement.) Under Texas law, an insurance company must accept or reject a claim within 45 days. If your claim is denied, the insurer must explain why in writing.
Should it make a low counteroffer, your lawyer will seek to negotiate until the insurer either accepts or refuses. If the latter occurs and you know the other driver was at fault, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the damages you are entitled to.
Going to Trial
If your case goes to trial, your attorney will present evidence in court to prove the other driver was responsible and should be held financially liable. The other side will also have the chance to present its evidence and explain why it shouldn’t have to pay your claim. In the end, a judge or jury will reach a verdict, hopefully in your favor.
It should be noted that a case may still be settled even after litigation begins. Relatively few car accident claims go all the way to a verdict, but you still want to work with a car accident lawyer who has the trial experience needed to fight for you in court.
What Happens If You’re Partially At Fault?
Texas is a modified comparative fault state, so damages for a car accident are divided among the parties at fault according to their percentage of fault. For example, if two other drivers were 60% and 40% responsible for your accident, then the first motorist would be required to pay 60% of your compensation while the second driver would be required to pay 40%.
Under the modified comparative fault rule, you can recover as long as you are not more at fault than the other party. If you are 20% at fault, you can still recover, but your recovery will be reduced by 20%. However, if you are 51% at fault or more, you can’t recover compensation.
What If The At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
While driving without insurance is illegal in Texas, some drivers break the law, so it’s essential to protect yourself. You can file a claim with your own insurance company if you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on your policy. The same applies if you are injured by a hit-and-run driver.
Your options are much more limited if you don’t have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Depending on the circumstances, your car accident attorney may be able to identify other possible compensation sources, including:
- Dram shop liability: Certain drunk driving accidents are covered by the Texas dram shop law, which allows victims to recover compensation from bars, restaurants, and other businesses that serve alcohol. If you wish to bring a dram shop claim, you must demonstrate that the business served alcohol to a patron who was dangerously intoxicated and later injured you.
- Vehicle manufacturer: If a manufacturer fails to meet its responsibility for making cars safe and reliable, they can be held accountable. In the case of a rear-end accident, you may be able to sue the manufacturer if the brakes on the car behind you failed.
When you’ve been injured in a car accident, it is important to hire an experienced lawyer so they can investigate and identify every possible source of compensation. The cost of some accidents can be high, so access to the widest possible range of compensation sources can make a difference in your recovery.
Get a Free Consultation with a Texas Car Accident Attorney
You will have many questions if you have been hurt in a car accident or lost a loved one. It can be very confusing and overwhelming, especially if you have never filed a claim before. Get help from a Texas motor vehicle accident lawyer at the Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS. We care about your future and will fight for all compensation you deserve. To learn more or discuss your case, call one of our offices or contact us online.