Car accidents can have life-changing consequences. Injuries from car accidents can affect your ability to work or care for your family. Besides the potential for lost wages due to a car accident, there’s also the issue of medical bills. If you sue the other driver and receive a car accident settlement, you can receive compensation to offset your medical bills. Houston, TX law allows for such claims, and with the help of an expert car accident lawyer, you can win.
Although many people are first concerned about their car after an accident, medical bills can quickly become a nightmare. You may not even be able to insist on going to an in-network hospital if you were rendered unconscious in the collision. Perhaps you were too far from an in-network hospital to receive medical attention covered by your insurance. And even when you are able to stay in-network, medical bills can quickly skyrocket. How can a car accident settlement help?
Will a Car Accident Settlement Include Your Medical Bills?
How Car Accident Settlements Work in Houston, TX
Houston, TX adheres to the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, also known as the Texas Civil Code. This code of laws regulates how civil lawsuits are to be handled by the court system. It also determines how much compensation one can receive for various injuries and what constitutes a valid case. In particular, Title 4 of the code, chapters 71 and 72, are most relevant for Houston, TX cases.
Chapter 71 outlines rights to file claims for wrongful death. However, these same rules apply to cases of nonlethal injuries as well. Chapter 72 explains the rules that apply specifically to motor vehicle accidents in Texas. Between these two sections, the law clearly defines the compensation you can receive from a car accident settlement.
Understanding Damages in Civil Lawsuits
Damages are a legal term to refer to compensation that must be provided after the court rules in favor of the plaintiff. When you file a civil lawsuit, you specify the damages that you seek. First, there are economic damages. Second, you may also pursue non-economic damages. These two kinds of damages combine to form the total compensation you would receive if the court rules in your favor.
Understanding the difference between these two kinds of damages is critical. If you aren’t sure exactly what you can claim, you should consult a lawyer. Your lawyer can make recommendations for both kinds of damages and help you document your case to increase the likelihood of receiving fair compensation for your injuries. Consider the differences between the two kinds of damages so you can begin to form an idea of what to expect:
Economic damages can be measured in dollars and cents. This is the category of damages that your medical bills fall into. You should order an itemized bill from the hospital to accurately present your medical expenses in court. Doing this also often reduces the amount of the bill significantly, which makes it easier for you to win your case. Economic damages can also include lost wages from being unable to work or additional expenses related to your injuries.
For example, if you had to build a wheelchair ramp to access your home, that additional expense may also be considered when you file your claim. There are many other hidden costs and lost income opportunities after a car accident. That is why it’s so important to speak with a lawyer. You only get one opportunity to sue for damages, so you need to make the most of it. Don’t leave damages on the table. Talk to a lawyer.
Non-economic damages in the Texas code are known as “exemplary” damages. Quite literally, this name refers to the fact that exemplary damages are meant to make an example of the defendant. Exemplary damages are also known as punitive damages, which likewise express the goal of these damages. The aim is to deter other people from committing the same negligent act as the defendant in your case. Exemplary damages serve to punish the defendant beyond simply covering your medical bills.
As the plaintiff, if you win your case, you should receive the full amount of economic damages, provided they are properly proven. Make sure you document your expenses and show proof of medical bills. When it comes to non-economic damages, it’s up to the judge to decide how much they will award. While you can request a certain amount in your lawsuit, ultimately the court will decide. That is, if you even go to court. Consider another alternative.
Settling Out of Court
Today, few lawsuits actually result in a trial. In most cases, if the other party is at fault for the accident, they will likely offer a settlement to close the case without taking it to trial. This process begins when you first file your lawsuit. The defendant will be notified that you have filed suit and named them in the case. They will see how much you seek in damages, which will serve as a guide for their settlement offer.
Of course, you have the right to refuse any settlement offer made to you. However, you should consult your lawyer. It may be better to accept a generous settlement than to pursue the case all the way to trial. The jury or judge may not support your case in a trial, while a settlement is a guarantee. What happens if you decide not to accept the offer, or if the defendant doesn’t make one?
Taking Your Case to Trial
In the absence of a settlement, the court will set a date for your trial. You will need to prepare carefully for your trial. Your car accident lawyer will tell you what documents you will need to bring and how you should act during the trial. Your lawyer will do most of the work, though you may be asked to testify in court. Always heed the advice of your lawyer in these situations.
Your case will be determined by a jury of your peers as Texas law requires. If the jury finds you not to be at fault for the car accident, you may be awarded damages. Note that in Texas, the jury may find you partially at fault, which could reduce your damages. For example, if you didn’t use a turn signal, but were then struck by a car that ran a red light, you could be considered partially at fault.
The Value of an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, TX
Having a veteran attorney is vital if you want to have a chance at succeeding in court. Expect the other side to have their own lawyer as well. You likely do not know the ins and outs of the legal system. Instead of leaving it to chance, bring in expert assistance. Your lawyer will help you prepare your case, negotiate settlements, and present your case in court if need be.
Personal injury claims are difficult to navigate, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on what is rightfully yours. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers to schedule an appointment with our team to discuss your case.