Recovering from a car accident is a lengthy and often expensive process. From medical expenses to lost wages to damaged property, your losses can feel like they are spiraling out of control. By talking to a car accident lawyer in Houston, TX, you can get the information you need to start pursuing compensation. The good news is that you may be eligible for a settlement that will cover your expenses.
What Expenses Can I Get Reimbursed After an Accident?
The compensation you can receive after a car accident depends on your ability to prove your losses and whether you will submit a claim against your own insurance or another driver’s policy. The types of losses that are typically reimbursed include medical expenses, lost wages, noneconomic damages, and property damage. In rare cases, punitive damages are available as well. In this article, you will learn what is included in the categories listed above and how you can secure your settlement.
Getting Compensated for an Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault
If you have valid evidence that another person caused the accident through negligent driving, there is no reason why you should have to pay for the damage out-of-pocket or even through your insurance. Texas is an at-fault state, meaning that the liable party is legally responsible for covering a variety of accident-related expenses, including:
Any costs associated with your medical treatment should factor into the settlement you receive from the at-fault party’s insurance company. A ride in an ambulance, an overnight stay at the ER, diagnostic tests, imaging, surgery, follow-up appointments, other treatments, prescription medication, and at-home equipment are all medical expenses that warrant compensation. You can also list the cost of transportation to and from the hospital where you are seen.
If your accident required you to take time away from your job, you can seek compensation for the income you missed. In addition to your wages and your salary, your settlement should reflect:
- Missed bonuses
- Missed promotions
- Lost contributions to a retirement plan
- The value of unearned sick and/or vacation days
- Other benefits that you did not accrue
Even if you had no monetary expenses as a result of your accident, the stress, disruption, and physical discomfort associated with incurring an injury warrant compensation in their own right. Therefore, personal injury law allows courts to assign a financial value to “noneconomic” damages including:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages are a little different from the other kinds of damages you may be eligible for. Instead of compensating you for something you lost, they are intended to punish the other driver for gross negligence. Examples of gross negligence include drunk driving and road rage.
Submitting a Claim to Your Own Insurance
Your auto insurance policy might cover your damages if no other driver was liable. For example, if the accident was your fault or if your car collided with a stationary object, your insurance would be responsible for any damages covered by your policy. Your lawyer can help you review your policy to determine what expenses are covered. The types of coverage that are helpful after an accident are:
Collision coverage pays for property damage to your vehicle. You would use this type of coverage if any parts need to be repaired or replaced or if the accident was a total loss.
Medical Payments Coverage
If you had medical expenses resulting from an accident and no other party was liable, you could submit a claim against your medical payments coverage policy. In addition to covering motorists, this type of policy can sometimes be used by passengers traveling in another person’s car, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP)
PIP is similar to medical payments coverage in that it can be used towards medical expenses. However, it often goes a step further by covering lost wages and some noneconomic expenses.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Even if another driver was at-fault in the accident, going through your own insurance may still be beneficial. Specifically, your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage could cover the damages incurred from a hit-and-run or a driver who did not have a liability policy.
Your policy might provide additional compensation for some of the smaller losses associated with a car accident, such as towing and labor. Some policies will also cover the cost of renting a vehicle or use a ride-share service for a limited number of days.
How to Get the Compensation You Are Due
In most cases, your compensation will come from an insurance company. In some rare situations, it may be necessary to sue the other driver directly. For example, you might want to file a lawsuit if an uninsured driver hit you and you do not carry uninsured/underinsured driver insurance.
Your lawyer can help you determine your legal options if an insurance settlement is unobtainable. For most people, however, it is important to know how to submit an insurance claim.
1. Report the Accident and Go to the Emergency Room
Your claim will have a better chance of being approved if the accident was well-documented. After the crash occurs, you should report it to the police and to your insurance company as soon as possible. Even if you don’t feel any pain, going to the emergency room will create a medical record and give the doctors a chance to address any conditions which might develop later if left untreated.
2. Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Getting in touch with a car accident lawyer at an early stage in the process of seeking compensation can increase your chances of success. Your lawyer’s first task will be to coach you on how to interact with representatives of your insurance company, any claims adjusters who come to examine your vehicle, and any other individuals who may look for reasons to devalue your claim.
3. Itemize Your Losses
When you have chosen a lawyer, the two of you will work together to understand the maximum value of your claim. Your lawyer may look at your medical records, your tax returns, and your employment contract to determine how much of a financial impact the accident had on your life. He or she will also help you determine the potential value of your noneconomic damages.
4. Submit a Claim to the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company
When you have a clear understanding of your losses, you will submit a claim to whichever insurance company is responsible for covering them. Your lawyer may help you draft and send a demand letter explaining your losses and stating the amount to which you are entitled. The insurance company will then have a few weeks to investigate the claim and issue a determination.
5. Maximize Your Payout
Simply submitting your claim correctly does not guarantee that you will walk away with the amount of money you deserve. A good personal injury attorney will see the process through by helping you review any settlement offers you receive and going back to the insurance company for more money if necessary. If the liable insurance company refuses to pay a reasonable amount, you may have the option to take them to court.
Our Attorneys in Houston, TX Are Here to Help You Win
Our biggest priority is to help you get the compensation you deserve in as little time as possible. To speak with a car accident lawyer in Houston, TX about submitting a claim or filing a lawsuit, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.