After a serious motor vehicle accident in Texas, you may have medical expenses for the ambulance ride, emergency room treatment, and even hospitalization. You could potentially miss weeks of work while you are recovering; You could experience a substantial loss of income as well as the financial stress that comes with it.
If another motorist caused you injuries from being in a car accident, Texas law allows those who are injured to seek monetary damages from that at-fault driver. Settlements vary based on the severity of the injuries and facts of the accident. motorists and car accident victims cannot control whether another driver is driving carelessly or not abiding by the rules of the road.
However, car accident victims can control how they respond after a Texas car crash. Our attorneys at Herrman & Herrman have settled thousands of car accident claims in Texas for accident victims. With such experience, we’ve created a list of steps after a car accident that can help you get maximum compensation for your injury following a Texas car accident.
Steps to Follow to Get The Best Compensation after a Texas Car Accident
First, Call the Police
You should call the police immediately and report the car accident. Remain at the scene until the officer arrives. Request an ambulance, if anyone needs medical attention. A police accident report will document the key details of the Texas accident and the drivers involved. Here are a few things to note:
- Police are trained to investigate crashes.
- Answer the questions from police honestly.
- Do not blame yourself or try to blame others.
- The police will decide about fault based on the facts of the accident.
Insurance companies will look to this police report to provide a credible summary of the accident. It is not uncommon for the other driver to change their story and decide to blame you.
Without an accident report, you will not have an official record to support your injury claim, and it will simply be your word against that of the other driver. This is why the police report is essential to making your case.
Gather Evidence at the Scene
If you are physically able after a crash and can do so safely, you should take photos of the accident scene before the vehicles are moved. Here are a few things to note:
- Photograph the damage to the vehicles from a variety of angles as well as your injuries.
- Take photos of any traffic light or stop sign and any skid marks in the road.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident.
- Photograph any vegetation that was blocking lines of sight.
Following these steps will allow you to preserve evidence of the accident. Once the accident scene is cleared, certain evidence may be lost, so take as many photographs as possible. It is these pictures that may provide evidence to support your accident claim and help you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.
Seek Medical Treatment
You should seek a medical evaluation after a car accident, even if you do not need emergency medical care. Here are a few tips:
- Inform the doctor that you have been in an auto accident.
- Some injuries such as concussions may not be apparent immediately after a collision, except to a trained medical professional.
- Adrenaline can mask some injuries.
- A doctor’s report will document your injuries and when they occurred.
- The report may be used as evidence to support your injury claim later.
Getting the maximum compensation for your claim requires medical documentation of your injuries. You’ll need a doctor’s report that connects your injuries to the car accident. It’s important to seek medical treatment promptly after a car accident and to keep all follow-up appointments. You may find yourself wanting to skip the doctor’s visit if you are only a little sore, but it’s important to see a doctor so please do not skip these appointments.
Call Your Insurance Company
Your car insurance policy requires you to report accidents in a timely manner. Some injuries are not apparent at the accident scene. If you don’t notify your insurance company of the accident at the time it happened and then try to make a claim weeks later, the insurance company may deny your claim.
Your auto insurance policy provides coverage such as uninsured motorist coverage that you may need to utilize if the other driver is driving without insurance. It’s more common than you might guess.
Keep in mind that notifying your insurance company is not the same as filing a claim. Don’t be concerned that simply notifying your insurance company will prompt an increase in your insurance premiums. It won’t.
Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer
Inform yourself of your legal options by talking with a qualified personal injury lawyer. A knowledgeable Teas car accident attorney can discuss whether you are entitled to demand compensation from another driver after a car crash.
Understanding your legal rights is critical. A Texas car crash attorney will have a sense of whether a settlement offered by an insurance company is fair.
Don’t Give Statements or Sign Papers Without Your Attorney’s Approval
Beware of insurance adjusters. Anything you say to an adjuster may be used against you to undermine your claim.
You should never accept a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company without having a personal injury lawyer review the settlement. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible to settle claims to protect their profits. An insurance adjuster’s offer may seem reasonable at first glance, but it may not cover all your medical expenses, especially if you require ongoing care and can reasonably expect future expenses.
Don’t Talk About Your Case
There are people who you should talk to after a car accident and people who you should avoid engaging in a conversation about your accident.
You should talk to:
- The police—Report the accident and wait for a law enforcement officer to arrive. Answer the officer’s questions honestly with facts. Avoid speculation. Do not blame yourself or cast blame on others. The police will determine who is at fault. Ask the officer when a copy of the accident report will be available and how you can obtain a copy. You will need a police report describing the accident and the parties involved if you wish to maximize the compensation.
- A doctor —Seek medical attention, even if you feel unhurt. Inform the doctor that you were involved in a car crash. A surge of adrenaline may mask your injuries initially. But you may feel much more sore and achy two or three days afterward. Seek medical attention promptly. A doctor’s report connects your injuries to the car accident. If you wait two or three weeks to go to the doctor, then the insurance companies may question whether your injuries were related to the collision.
- Your insurance company—Report the accident to your insurance company promptly and provide the name of the other driver and the driver’s insurance company.
- A Texas car accident lawyer—Have a personal injury lawyer review the details of the accident and explain whether you are entitled to file a car accident injury lawsuit. Being well-informed about your legal options is the best way to maximize your compensation.
You should not talk to:
- The other driver—You should not engage the other driver involved in the collision in conversation about the accident. Don’t apologize for the accident or try to reassure the other driver that you are uninjured. Such comments may be used against you. You should exchange license and insurance information with the other driver, but wait for the police to arrive to discuss the accident.
- Social Media— It may be tempting to alert your friends about your car accident on social media. You should resist the urge to talk to your friends about the accident. Don’t post any comments or photos on social media about your car accident. If you are claiming serious injuries and your Facebook page shows photos of you playing with children or your latest vacation, insurers may use these images to call into question the seriousness of your injuries.
- The other driver’s insurance company—If an adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, you should not discuss details of the accident or sign anything sent by the other driver’s insurance company without seeking legal advice. The adjuster may use a statement you give to minimize your claim.
How Much is Your Car Accident Case Worth?
As most lawyers will answer in this scenario, I will answer this important question with: “it depends on the totality of the circumstances.” Every case, injury, or car crash is its own entity and carries a value independent of any other case. And the value of your personal injury case depends on several factors that are looked at to determine the “whole picture” from the insurance company’s standpoint. One of the questions that really should be asked is ‘how long will my medical treatment last?’ The law firm cannot begin to negotiate with the insurance company until their client is done with treatment completely. And, as it were, medical treatment is one of the several factors looked at when determining the value of your auto accident case.
The attorney representing the plaintiff (i.e. the “injured party”) cannot settle or attempt to settle the personal injury claim until the attorney knows the FULL extent of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. In other words, Herrman and Herrman and other law firms will not know how much money to demand from the insurance company if we do not know the full extent of the injuries. Any plaintiff attorney would be doing a bad job if he or she negotiated and settled your claim while you were still treating for the collision! That would border on legal malpractice. The injuries that you get in a car crash are often tied to how severe the collision was. There are some other factors that make a claim more valuable like if the other driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the damage to the property (i.e. how do the cars look? Was the impact severe? Or minor).
Juries HATE drunk drivers. For example, when a drunk driver causes an accident, the collision is inherently more valuable because the jury wants to punish the at-fault drunk. The claim is more valuable to jurors because the only thing a jury can do to punish a drunk driver is to penalize the tortfeasor with more damages against him or her. Studies have shown that factors such as drunk drivers enrage, anger, and infuriate the members of the jury. The insurance companies know this bit of data, and as a result, the insurance companies are more willing to properly compensate the victims, our “plaintiff” clients.
In Corpus, it is against the law to text and drive or to use your cell phone while driving. Any tickets that are given to the adverse party for inattentive driving or consumption of an illegal drug can enrage the jury and make the claim more valuable. And one of the most important factors related to an injury case value is the damage to the car. If the damage looks severe to the blind eye, it will likely yield a higher offer than a minor impact.
How Much Money Is My Case Worth?
This is the number one question I get from clients during sign up. The only issue is at that point, I typically have no answer for the client. They usually sign up shortly after the accident and unfortunately, there is no real way to put a dollar amount on their case. During sign up, we may not even know if there is valid insurance to cover the incident. Also, we do not know the value of the case until we can evaluate the injuries sustained by our client.
If we’re able to establish liability and there’s valid insurance to cover the collision then we can begin to look at the injuries. Of course, all the medical bills that the client racks up due to another person’s negligent act should be covered under the policy of the adverse driver. The insurance company is forced to pay those medical bills AND compensate the injured party for pain and suffering.
As a personal injury attorney, it is within our expertise to negotiate your settlement and get you as much money in your pocket at the end of a settlement as possible. However, any attorney that gives you a dollar figure amount of what you’ll get in your pocket during sign up is not being honest. There are several factors that can occur that can alter your settlement. It’s important to be patient and continue therapy until you are as close to 100% as possible before trying to settle any personal injury case.
Below is an example of a settlement. Please keep in mind no two settlements are alike. This is just ONE example of what a settlement may look like:
The amount you receive from a settlement is based on the total settlement received from the insurance companies after attorney fees are deducted and costs and expenses are subtracted. For example, most personal injury attorneys will charge the standard one-third contingency fee (1/3rd). Suppose you get a settlement of $30,000, the state minimum insurance policy for the State of Texas, has $10,000 in outstanding medical bills, as well as $500.00 in case expenses. The calculation would be as follows:
-$10,000 One third contingency fee (1/3rd)
-$10,000 Outstanding Medical Bills
-$500.00 case expenses
= $9,500 total amount due to client.
Examples of Case Expenses
Case expenses in a personal injury case include:
- medical records
- police reports;
- expert witness fees;
- filing fees;
- depositions; and
- trial exhibits.
*This is NOT meant to be construed as legal advice, but rather general information for those seeking guidance during a personal injury claim.
Never Underestimate Your Losses
Your losses after a car accident are not just your car repairs and medical expenses. Your losses may include loss of income if you have to miss work, and the emotional trauma you feel and diminished quality of life.
You want to work with a lawyer who is committed to seeking full compensation for your losses and not accepting a low-ball settlement.
Take a step toward pursuing compensation for your car accident injuries by contacting a car accident attorney at Herrman & Herrman. Our legal team has more than 100 years of combined legal experience, and we have helped people throughout south Texas. Herrman & Herrman has offices in Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi South Side, Brownsville, McAllen, San Antonio, Houston, and Ft. Worth to serve clients.
Call (361) 882-4357 to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. We offer a free case review.