Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Our attorneys have been helping crash victims for years. In our experience, we’ve found that our clients tend to have a lot of similar questions. We’ve done our best to address some of the questions and concerns we hear most from car accident injury victims like you.
Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions clients have after a car accident. Is there a question we didn’t answer? Contact our Houston office for more information.
Should I get a lawyer for a car accident?
It will certainly help. You’ve got a lot going on right now. You need to focus on getting better, which is tough to do if you’re trying to figure out how to navigate an injury claim. At the same time, having a car accident lawyer on your side can level the playing field and make sure that other parties involved take your case seriously.
At Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C., our lawyers really care about our clients. We know that we represent people who are struggling. To us, your case is about more than just fighting to get a financial recovery. It’s about helping you get through this tough time. We hope that the support we provide helps in a multitude of ways.
How do I know if I have a case?
Our Houston car accident lawyers offer a free consultation. This gives you an opportunity to get some legal insight and feedback about your case. When you sit down with our team, we will listen to your side of the story and analyze the details you provide. We can help you fully understand your legal rights, as well as provide a preliminary assessment of whether or not you have a case. If you have a case, we can discuss potential legal options for financial recovery and provide an overview of what your injury case might look like.
Should I accept a settlement offer?
It depends. Remember, insurance companies are interested in limiting how much money you get after a car accident. If they extend an offer right away or before you get an attorney involved, there’s a good chance that it’s for much less than your case is really worth. How can you know? Our lawyers will thoroughly review any settlement offers extended to you by at-fault parties or their insurance providers.
We’ll tell you if we believe, based on your case, we believe that it’s a fair offer. We’ll also discuss whether or not it makes sense to settle now, negotiate further, or push to bring your case to a jury. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind, and we’ll be fully transparent about the pros and cons of accepting and rejecting an offer.
Should I see a doctor after a car accident?
Absolutely. There are several benefits to seeing a doctor after your car accident. First and foremost – your health and wellbeing. After an accident, you might not think that you’ve gotten hurt. Or, you might think that your injuries are relatively minor.
However, some injuries aren’t symptomatic right away. Other injuries might not pose an immediate threat to your health, but quietly cause damage from the inside. The only way to avoid complications and keep yourself safe is by making sure that your injuries are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
A simple medical examination can accomplish that. Second, you have a responsibility to mitigate your injuries. You have to keep them from getting worse. If you don’t seek medical attention, that can happen. If you allow your injuries to worsen, at-fault parties will use that to make it difficult for you to recover compensation. They’ll only be liable to the degree they caused your injuries, not for the complications that arose when you didn’t seek help.
Which injuries did they cause, and which are the result of delayed medical care? Figuring that out can be time-consuming, difficult, and costly. Avoid this headache by getting to the emergency room or your doctor’s office right away.
Finally, it’s important to seek help right away because, ultimately, you’ll have to prove that your injuries are a result of your car accident. When you visit the ER, there will be a record of your visit. This record will document your injuries and any care you receive. Your lawyers will be able to use this medical record to create a causal link between your injuries and the crash. The less time that lapses between the accident and your trip to the doctor, the stronger the link.
What happens in a personal injury lawsuit?
For most car accident victims, insurance is the first source of compensation after an accident. This means that you’ll try to recoup damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company first. There are times when insurance companies deny claims in bad faith or the extent of your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits. That’s when you might have to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit to get the money you need.
The personal injury lawsuit process in Texas is fairly complicated. There are a lot of different rules and procedures that have to be followed. Mistakes can be costly, which is why it’s best to trust an experienced personal injury lawyer with your case. At Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C., our car accident lawyers will handle all aspects of your injury case, including:
- Investigating, researching, and crafting a formal legal complaint
- Filing the lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations
- Serving copies of the lawsuit and relevant motions on opposing parties
- Navigating the discovery process, subpoenaing relevant documents and witnesses, and deposing interested parties
- Negotiating with the defendant(s) and interested parties
- Arguing your case before a jury in Houston, if necessary.
It’s true that most personal injury lawsuits settle privately before either side ever has to set foot inside of a courtroom. However, you never want to take the threat of a trial off the table. The thought of having to go head-to-head against our accomplished Houston trial lawyers can make a huge difference in how other parties approach settlement negotiations. It can force them to extend a serious offer, in the hopes that you’ll accept it and avoid a showdown in court.
Should I hire a lawyer for a minor car accident?
Don’t underestimate the costs and consequences associated with a car accident – even one that seems relatively minor. A minor accident, such as a fender bender or low-speed collision, can still cause a lot of damage. You might have suffered injuries and just not know it right away. Those injuries could, over time, get worse and impact your ability to go to work and earn a living. Your car might have sustained more damage than is apparent at first glance. These costs can add up and put you in a really tough financial situation.
If someone else caused your car accident, they should be held responsible. So, it helps to bring in a lawyer for help, even after a minor crash. Our attorneys will make sure that your injuries are documented in full and that your accident is subject to a thorough investigation.
If your injuries get worse or if the accident costs you anything, we’ll be prepared to move forward with a claim for damages. Remember, there’s no risk in asking for our help after a crash. We work on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we recover compensation on your behalf. If you get better, you’ve lost nothing in the process.
Should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t my fault?
Absolutely. Remember, insurance companies would love for you to navigate your claim on your own. They’d much rather deal directly with you than with an attorney who will force them to play by the rules. If you negotiate on your own, insurance companies will attempt to confuse you, make you jump through unnecessary hoops, and try to extend the claim process for as long as they can.
They’ll want you to accept a lowball settlement offer or give up before you’ve gotten the money you deserve. Our Houston car accident lawyers won’t stand for those practices.
We’ll stand up to these scrupulous companies and challenge them every step of the way. Our team will present them with solid, expert-backed evidence. When our attorneys are on your side, insurers will know that going to trial is a very real possibility, because we don’t shy away from litigation.
So, insurance companies are often more inclined to extend a reasonable settlement offer to avoid court. This, alone, is reason enough to enlist the help of our car accident lawyers, regardless of your role in an accident.
What is pain and suffering?
Some car accident-related damages are easy to identify – medical bills, lost wages, property damage. They’re relatively easy to calculate in terms of dollars and cents. Other injuries aren’t so straightforward, like the pain and suffering you endure because of an accident and resulting injuries.
This includes your emotional distress and anguish, depression or anxiety, PTSD, embarrassment, and your overall loss of enjoyment of life. You can’t see or touch pain and suffering. These types of injuries are difficult to value because they’re so intimate and personal. They certainly don’t come with receipts. Despite that, pain and suffering are very, very real. And, you’re entitled to be compensated for your pain and suffering after an accident.
How are damages for pain and suffering calculated? Typically, pain and suffering – and other non-economic damages – are calculated after your economic damages have been determined. Insurance companies will take your economic award and apply a multiplier – a number between 1.5 and 5.
The more severe your pain and suffering, the higher the multiplier. So, if your economic damages totaled $100,000 and your pain and suffering was quite severe, it might get a multiplier of 4-and-a-half. Your pain and suffering would be valued at $450,000 ($100,000 multiplied by 4.5). In total, you’d be awarded $550,000. For cases that proceed to trial, pain and suffering damages are calculated by a jury.
What is subrogation?
After a car accident, your insurance company might cover the costs of your medical bills – even if you weren’t responsible for the crash. Your insurer will probably want to recover those costs from whoever is actually responsible for your injuries. Subrogation refers to an insurance company’s right to do so.
Specifically, subrogation means that the insurance company can step into your shoes – so to speak – and pursue monetary damages from a negligent third party. In other words, the insurance company can attempt to get reimbursed for the money it paid to you for your medical bills and other accident-related costs.
What does subrogation mean for you? In most cases, probably not much. Subrogation claims are typically done quietly behind the scenes without you knowing. After all, you more than likely gave your insurer the right to subrogation when you signed up for insurance coverage. However, it’s good to know that you could benefit from subrogation if you paid your insurance provider a deductible after your accident. If your insurer’s subrogation claim is successful, they might have to reimburse you for the amount(s) paid. After all, the at-fault party is responsible for your costs – not you.
What if the adjuster keeps calling?
Insurance adjusters have one job – to protect insurance company profits. To do that, adjusters have to either deny claims or get car accident victims to accept the least amount of money possible. After an accident, you might find that adjusters call you non stop. Why are they doing this? They want to get your case resolved as soon as they can. They want to get you to accept a lowball settlement and move on before you have the chance to hire a lawyer.
So, what should you do if they keep calling? Don’t feel pressured to answer or talk to them. You don’t have to – despite what they might say. You don’t have to give a recorded statement and you don’t have to explain yourself. Red button them and send them to voicemail. Tell your lawyer and have us return the call. Or, answer and firmly explain to the adjuster that all communication must involve your attorney.
How do I obtain a car accident car crash report?
A crash report can be invaluable as you pursue compensation after an accident. So, it will be important to secure a copy. Where should you look? It depends on where you got into your car accident.
Car Accidents in Houston: If your crash was within city limits, you’ll have to request a copy of the crash report from the city. After the report is submitted by a Houston Police Officer, it’s typically available within 5 to 8 business days. To get a copy, you’ll have to provide at least two of the following pieces of information: the incident number, date of the crash, location of the accident, and/or the name of someone in the accident.
Car Accidents in Harris County or Outside of Houston: If your accident took place near Houston, you’ll have to reach out to the County Sheriff or Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). For all accidents that occurred in 2018 or later, DPS crash reports are usually available online, typically within two weeks. To download your copy, you’ll have to provide at least one of the following pieces of information: driver’s name, driver’s license information, vehicle identification number (VIN), or the TxDOT Crash ID. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay a small administrative fee to get a copy of your crash report.
What are accident reports used for?
Accident reports can contain a lot of valuable information. This might include:
- The names and addresses of drivers, passengers, and other interested parties
- Witness information and statements
- Insurance information
- The time, date, and location of the crash
- Weather and traffic conditions
- A diagram of the scene or location of the collision
- The officer’s preliminary assessment of fault
- Information regarding citations or tickets issued at the scene, or
- Other details related to the crash.
So, there’s a lot of information there that you might not remember down the line. Our attorneys can use the information contained in this report to help us investigate your car accident. It can paint a picture of what happened and point us to evidence that might be relevant to your case. We can also bring in experts to help us understand how certain factors – such as weather conditions or the time of day – might have potentially contributed to your car accident.
What if the Auto Collision Happened on the Job?
If you were driving a company car or driving your own car for company purposes at the time of the crash, personal injury lawsuit or claim might become more complicated. That’s because, in Texas, employers can be vicariously liable for accidents involving their employees. So, your employer could potentially be financially responsible for any damage you cause in an accident. Similarly, if the other driver was executing job-related duties at the time of the car accident, their employer might be on the hook for your crash-related costs.
Are car accidents covered by Texas workers’ compensation?
Not all employers in Texas are required to carry a workers’ compensation insurance policy. If yours does, and you’re injured in a car accident at work, you can potentially recover no-fault benefits. This means that you (or your family) can receive medical benefits, income benefits, and death benefits, regardless of who caused the accident. What does “at work” mean? It means that your accident occurred in the “course and scope of employment.” This includes any business-related activity that’s done in furtherance of your job duties.
Generally speaking, car accidents that occur while you’re commuting to and from work aren’t covered by workers’ compensation. On the other hand, a crash that occurs while you’re running an errand for your boss or delivering products to a consumer likely would.
Claims for workers’ compensation benefits should be straightforward. Sadly, they usually are not. Insurance companies and employers will go to great lengths to draw out claims and limit how much money injured workers receive. At the same time, you might also be entitled to additional compensation through a lawsuit.
So, it can be incredibly beneficial to have our Houston personal injury attorneys handle your injury case after an accident. We’ll fight tirelessly to make sure that you recover all of the money you deserve – from a workers’ compensation insurance policy and any at-fault parties.
How Can I Get Compensation For My Car Wreck?
You could be entitled to a financial settlement or award if you’ve been injured in a car accident in Houston. Here’s what you need to know about pursuing compensation and getting money in your hands after a wreck.
What is the average settlement for a car accident?
Most car accident injury cases settle. That means that most victims can get money from an at-fault party or insurance company without ever having to go to court. However, it’s hard to say what an “average” car accident settlement is. That’s because every car accident case is different.
There are a lot of different factors that can influence what your case is worth.
- Were your injuries mild, severe, catastrophic, or fatal?
- Have your injuries affected your ability to work?
- Will your injuries limit your ability to earn an income?
- Have your injuries caused a permanent disability?
- Do you now require medical equipment, medical devices, or nursing care because of the extent of your injuries?
- Are you able to take care of yourself? (e.g., eat, shower or bathe, use the bathroom, drive)
- Do you struggle with emotional distress because of your car accident?
- If so, how pervasive is your suffering?
- Did your accident cause disfigurement, scarring, or paralysis?
- Are you unable to participate in aspects of your life that you enjoyed before, such as playing sports or spending time with your family?
- Was property in your accident damaged or destroyed?
Every car accident victim will answer these questions differently. The answers will ultimately impact how a case is valued and, in turn, what type of settlement is extended. The best way to make the most of your injury claim is by having a skilled attorney on your side.
How should I deal with insurance company adjusters?
The best course of action is to limit any interactions and communication you have with insurance adjusters. Provide basic information – such as your name, address, and phone number – but do not expand and provide any additional details. Don’t put anything in writing or allow adjusters to record you.
Why? An adjuster’s job is to investigate your accident, determine fault, and calculate what your claim might be worth. Since they work for the insurance company, they’ll work hard to find a reason to deny your claim or drive down its value. They could take something you say out of context and use it against you, or word a question in a way that’s confusing, trucking you into saying something that harms your case. Let our car accident lawyers handle any communications with adjusters to be safe.
What to do when an insurance company offers a settlement?
Car accidents can be incredibly expensive; there’s no doubt about that. So, you might get excited when you’re offered money not long after the crash. You might even be tempted to take it. However, you need to understand that early offers are usually for much less money than a case is worth. Insurance companies might be offering an early settlement because they know you have a solid case and want to limit how much they ultimately pay out.
When you accept a settlement offer, you’ll typically sign a paper that waives your right to pursue any additional money in the future. That’s true, even if you find out that you accepted way less money than you deserved for your car accident. So, while that offer might make a difference in the short term, accepting it could really do more harm than good. The best thing to do is bring the offer to our lawyers and have us take things from there.
Can I sue an insurance company without hiring a lawyer?
Sure. However, that’s what insurance companies would prefer. They’d much rather deal with you, not an attorney who has experience and considerable financial strength. You might be able to get an insurance company to extend an offer, but know that it’ll probably be for less than your case is worth. By hiring a car accident attorney, you can take away any advantage the insurer might have had and really force them to take your demands for compensation seriously.