If you’ve been in a car accident in Houston, TX, calling a car accident lawyer with knowledge of local laws and regulations is essential to getting the compensation you need. A car accident is a traumatic event, and in the aftermath, you might be reluctant to call a lawyer just because it seems like one more thing. What you need to know is that a lawyer can protect you, fight for you, and will actually make the whole process of getting compensation easier, not more difficult.
If I Call a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, TX, What Happens After That?
You Have a Free, No-Pressure Case Review
Immediately after a car accident, you’re likely to feel a bit shell-shocked, and this is normal. Not long after, however, the reality of medical bills, recovery issues, and lost income can quickly put you into panic mode. Instead of panicking, call a car accident attorney and meet for a free review of your case. A case review can give you enormous peace of mind.
Questions You’ll Be Asked
The purpose of the review is to find out whether you have a good case to bring and a general idea of how much you can expect and to get, and when. Your lawyer will ask questions about how you were injured, where the accident occurred, whether the police found just one driver at fault or assigned blame to both, and what kind of medical bills you have accumulated so far and whether your doctors anticipate more medical bills in the future.
You might also be asked about your job and personal life to find out if you’ve lost income, lost out on opportunities for promotions or overtime, whether your spouse has lost income by staying home to care for you, and whether you’ve had to hire someone to take care of your home, kids, or yourself as you recover. You might also be asked about what kind of property loss you’ve suffered. The most obvious property loss is, of course, your vehicle, but if you had a smartphone, computer, or another high-value device in the car, that could also be important to know.
Finally, your lawyer will also want to know if there are any odd or unusual circumstances worth noting. For example, was the other driver a city or state employee or acting on the behalf of the city or state? In Texas, you have a certain amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident, but if the state is involved, your time frame is much shorter. Other complicating factors could include an accident that involved multiple drivers, a vehicle malfunction, or a problem with signage or road conditions.
Why Is Fault Important?
Texas is a “fault state.” That means your own insurance company doesn’t automatically cover you after an accident. Instead, the insurance companies of all the drivers involved have to determine who was at fault, and the insurance company covering the at-fault driver must pay compensation for all injuries and property damage to all parties. The rule in Texas is that anyone who was found to be 51% or more at fault in the accident cannot recover damages. If you were 50% or less at fault, you can recover damages, but your compensation will be reduced by the same percentage at which you were at fault.
So, for example, if you have medical bills and other damages amounting to $43,000, but you were found to be 45% at fault for the accident, you would only be able to recover a maximum of $23,650. If you were found to be 15% at fault, you would be able to recover $36,550. If you were not at fault in any way, you could recover the entire $43,000. Your degree of fault in the case is important in understanding how strong your case is.
Your Lawyer Will Protect You
After an accident, you’ll find probably be inundated with phone calls by insurance companies. Insurance companies, by their very nature, are incentivized to avoid paying a single cent more than they absolutely have to. And in a fault state, an insurance company is also incentivized to “prove” that their coverage holder was not at fault so they don’t have to pay at all.
What this means is the insurance company is likely to call and ask you questions. They are hoping to trip you up. If they can get you to say something that they can later twist to show that you were at fault, they will. If they can get you to say something that makes it seem your injuries or losses aren’t as great as you claim, they will. It’s not uncommon for them to ask about contact information for friends, family members, or social media. Their purpose in doing so is to do research they can use to argue that your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim.
Even if an insurance company has no underhanded motives at all, the very fact that they keep calling can be stressful, annoying, or simply time-consuming. Once a lawyer takes your case, you can refer the insurance company to your lawyer as soon as they call. At that point, they should only interact with your lawyer. If they keep bugging you, your lawyer will call them on the carpet for it, and it will hurt them.
Your Lawyer Will Fight for You
How do you prove you weren’t at fault? How do you prove your injuries are what you claim? How do you prove your income losses or expenditures or your property claims? There’s a lot of paperwork involved, and your lawyer knows all about it. A skilled car accident attorney has been down this road many times and knows what evidence is necessary, where to get it, and how to present it in the best possible light during negotiations so you will get the compensation you deserve.
As just one example, if necessary, your lawyer could connect you with medical professionals who can evaluate your case, testify on your behalf about your current and probable future medical needs, and present a convincing argument in negotiations with the insurance company. A good attorney is there is to tell you precisely what documents, pictures, or other evidence to get (and keep) and help you find any you’re missing, taking all the stress off of you. You can also count on your lawyer to talk to potential witnesses for you: no awkward meetings on your part are necessary.
Your Lawyer Will Keep Track of Legal Specifics
What documents have to be filed, and with which county court, and when? The laws of Texas are complex and sometimes even seem purposefully obtuse, but your lawyer has experience. A car accident lawyer in Houston, TX knows the players involved in personal injury law and all the deadlines and requirements necessary to file a case, if necessary.
While it’s always best to settle out of court if you can, a good lawyer isn’t restricted to only out-of-court negotiations. They are prepared to take the case all the way if necessary, which in itself is often enough to bring an insurance company to the bargaining table in good faith.
If you’ve been in an accident, don’t hesitate to call a lawyer. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers now and get a free case review.