Did you know that you always have the right to contact a car accident lawyer after a crash? While your insurance company or representatives of the other driver may try to convince you that you can sort out the details on your own, claimants who work with a lawyer consistently walk away with higher payouts. While some accidents are minor, others cause catastrophic injuries. So, when should you reach out to a lawyer in Houston, TX?
7 Situations Where You Should Hire a Car Accident Lawyer ASAP
The most beneficial advice to follow is that you should always contact a lawyer after a car crash. Even if the damage appears to be minimal, the cost to treat your injuries and recover your other losses may be greater than you expect. In many cases, serious injuries present themselves days or even weeks after the accident. While every accident merits a conversation with a lawyer, here are some situations for which legal representation is especially important:
1. You Have Been Asked to Give a Recorded Statement
Insurance companies routinely ask claimants to consent to being interviewed regarding the accident. The recorded statements they obtain through these interviews become part of the legally permissible body of evidence relating to the accident. Insurance companies use recorded statements as an opportunity to ask leading questions in an effort to reduce their financial liability. The interviewer may try to exact an admission of partial responsibility from the claimant, or example, or get the claimant to say something that can be used to suggest injuries are not severe.
If the other driver caused your accident, you will likely submit a claim to his or her insurance company. In that case, you are not legally obligated to give a recorded statement. Furthermore, anything you say can be used against you. Your lawyer can help you handle communications with the other side by speaking on your behalf and informing you about which requests you must honor and which you can decline.
2. You Have Received a Settlement Offer
Many claimants make the mistake of believing that once they have received a settlement offer from the liable insurance company, justice for the accident has been served. In fact, many settlements fall far short of offering the amount of money the claimant is legally entitled to receive. Once you accept a settlement offer, you sign away your right to take the liable party to court, effectively closing the case. A fair settlement offer should cover:
- All medical expenses
- All lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and other kinds of emotional distress
- Loss of consortium and/or disfigurement (if applicable)
- Punitive damages (in the case of gross negligence)
Your lawyer can help you determine the amount of money needed to cover all of your losses. When a settlement offer comes in, he or she can advise you on whether or not to accept it or hold out for more money. If it is in your best interests to push the insurance company to increase the payout, your lawyer can present them with compelling arguments based on evidence collected from the scene of the crash.
3. You Have a Preexisting Condition
In the context of a car accident, a preexisting condition is a health issue that arose before the crash occurred. A common defense strategy in accident cases is to argue that the plaintiff’s injuries resulted from the preexisting condition as opposed to the physical trauma he or she experienced during the crash. In Texas, having a preexisting condition does not necessarily preclude you from receiving a settlement.
To demonstrate your right to receive compensation for your accident-related injuries, your lawyer will use your medical records to illustrate which aspects of your current condition are directly related to the crash. Any aggravation to a preexisting condition merits compensation, along with any completely new injuries.
4. The Other Side Claims You Were Partially At Fault
In Texas, rules of comparative fault apply. In a comparative fault case, two or more drivers share responsibility for causing the accident. For example, one driver could have been speeding while the other turned without signaling. By proving that you were partially to blame, the defense could significantly reduce the value of your settlement.
According to personal injury law, the amount of money you are eligible to receive is lowered by a percentage equivalent to your share of responsibility. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you can prepare evidence to counter the defense’s claims.
5. You Were the Victim of a Hit-and-Run
What happens if you cannot locate the person who caused the accident or if that person was uninsured? Your lawyer can help you find alternative ways to pay for the damages while avoiding out-of-pocket expenses. Common recourses include using a Personal Injury Protection policy or an uninsured/underinsured driver insurance plan.
6. You Suffered a Catastrophic Injury
As a general rule, the higher the value of your claim, the harder the insurance company will fight to avoid paying its full amount. Catastrophic injuries often leave people with permanent, disabling conditions that can severely affect their ability to work and/or their quality of life. The compensation for these types of injuries can equal hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
If you suffered a catastrophic injury, you will need to work with an experienced lawyer who has a strong track record of securing high settlements. Only consider hiring someone who will is willing to litigate if necessary because the insurance company may refuse to offer a fair payout until they are faced with the real possibility of going to trial.
7. Your Accident Involved a Commercial Truck, a Government Vehicle, or a Wrongful Death
Accidents that involve one or two personal-use vehicles tend to be easier to sort out than more complex scenarios. In particular, if your accident involved a commercial truck, a government vehicle, or a wrongful death, Texas laws necessitate an extended investigation.
Working with an experienced lawyer can ensure that unnecessary delays are avoided. He or she will make sure that no evidence in your favor is overlooked. Since complex accidents tend to generate more severe injuries, the stakes are often high, and you can expect the liable party to put up a strong fight. A qualified lawyer is the best asset you can bring when you go up against the defense.
Is It Ever Too Late to Hire a Lawyer?
There are distinct advantages to contacting a lawyer immediately after an accident occurs. You will receive advice on how to document the crash, handle your interaction with the other driver, talk to the responding officers, and receive the medical attention you need. However, our personal injury attorneys in Houston, TX have successfully taken on many cases at a later stage. As long as you have not already signed a settlement offer, we can work with you to maximize your claim.
Meet With a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, TX
Car accidents are traumatizing events that often involve multiple complicating factors. Our attorneys are prepared to represent you even in challenging circumstances. To schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer who can give you a clear, knowledgeable perspective, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.