Car Accident Settlement Timeline in Houston, TX
Being involved in a car accident is undoubtedly a stressful event. Beyond the shock and emotional toll it takes, it can have far-reaching impacts on all aspects of your life, including physically and financially.
It is crucial to know what steps to take following a car accident. Understanding the typical settlement timeline after an accident and what affects it, will help ease some of your stress and ensure you get what you’re entitled to.
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What To Do After a Car Accident for the Best Chance of an Adequate Settlement
Taking specific steps immediately after the accident is crucial to give yourself the best chance of obtaining an adequate car accident settlement. Here’s what you need to do:
Make Sure You’re Safe
Ensuring that you are safe after an accident should be your top priority. Check for injuries and move to a safe spot while waiting for help. This means getting away from oncoming traffic to avoid further accidents.
Contact Law Enforcement
Contact law enforcement and inform them about what occurred without dеlay – this is required if the accident involved injury or death.
An officer will arrive at thе scеnе and compile information from you, other involved drivers, and witnesses. Thеy will thеn crеatе an official accidеnt report, which can play a pivotal role in future claims related to thе accidеnt.
Seek Medical Attention
Prompt medical attention is essential not only to address immediate health needs but also to record your injuries for any future legal proceedings. Do this even if you feel fine; some injuries may not manifest until later on.
If you’re severely injured, tell law enforcement when you call them so they can send appropriate medical care to the scene.
Document the Scene
Documenting thе scеnе of thе accidеnt is another crucial step to take following a collision. This can be done by taking pictures and videos of the involved vehicles, surrounding areas, and any visible injuries you’ve sustained. Also, take notes about what happened and what you bеliеvе caused thе accidеnt if you’re able to do so.
Contact a Car Accident lawyer
Finally, reaching out to a car accident lawyer is potentially the most important step in securing an adequate settlement. Working with an attorney who specializes in car accidents early on will provide you with professional guidance and advice tailored to your circumstances.
They can help safeguard your rights, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, investigate the accident, and determine who is liable for the accident.
How Does the Car Accident Settlement Process Begin?
With the help of a lawyer, you will begin your journey into the personal injury settlement process. Here’s an overview of the timeline:
Initiate Insurance Claim
First, you and your attorney need to initiate the insurance claims process. Your attorney will help you fill out any necessary paperwork, notify all relevant parties about your claim, and make sure everything is documented correctly and filed on time.
Send a Demand Letter
Next comes sending a demand letter to the responsible driver’s insurance company. In this letter, your lawyer will detail the facts surrounding the accident and demand compensation for damages incurred. This could include medical bills, lost income due to an inability to work during your recovery, and even pain and suffering as a result of the accident.
The investigation process follows, where both your legal representative will investigate further, and the insurance company will conduct their respective inquiry. The investigation will reveal further details about what happened and the cause of the accident.
Upon completion of the investigation, negotiations will begin. Your lawyer negotiates with insurance adjusters to attempt to arrive at an acceptable settlement figure on your behalf. The insurance company will likely make a low settlement offer at first. But, your attorney can present evidence and argue why it should be higher.
Filing a Lawsuit
Should negotiations fail to result in an acceptable settlement offer, your attorney might advise you to file a lawsuit. This can push the defendant to offer a fair settlement, or your case may move forward in court, where a judge or jury will determine the award.
Once an agreement is reached, either through negotiation or litigation, compensation will be disbursed as soon as possible. This allows you to begin paying off medical bills and other costs from damages suffered during your accident.
While this is a simplified timeline, it provides the general stages of a car accident settlement process.
Types of Evidence Gathered to Prove Liability
Now that you know the basic steps in a car accident settlement, it’s also helpful to know what types of evidence will be used in your claim so you can make informed decisions after the accident. Typically, your lawyer will collect the following information:
The law enforcement officer who responded to your accident will file a report, which often indicates the party they believe to be at fault. If law enforcement believes the other person involved was at fault, this can be particularly helpful in your claim.
Photographs and Videos
Pictures or videos of the scene can reveal valuable details like the point of collision, weather conditions, traffic signals, etc. This could help establish how an incident occurred.
Those present at the time of the accident – whether pedestrians or other drivers – can provide accounts that tell what happened and who was responsible for causing the crash. Your lawyer can interview witnesses and subpoena them to testify if your case goes to trial.
Medical records play a significant role in proving your claim’s legitimacy. Providing medical reports, bills, and statements proves that you have injuries directly related to the accident. They can show the severity of your injuries, outline the cause of the injuries, and show the prognosis for your recovery.
Expert witness testimony can provide an authoritative account of the incident, your injuries, or other relevant details about your case. This could be a traffic accident reconstruction expert who works to recreate how the crash transpired based on available evidence. Alternatively, it could be a medical expert to explain the extent of your injuries and their impact on your future health expenses or lifestyle changes.
If available, video surveillance footage from nearby properties or street cameras can provide objective documentation of the accident. This footage can show exactly what actions each party took leading up to and during the collision. From this evidence, it’s often possible to determine which driver was at fault for causing the accident.
The exact type of evidence available will depend on the specifics of your accident; this is something a lawyer can help you with.
Contact a Houston Car Accident Lawyer for Help With a Car Accident Settlement
Understanding the car accident settlement timeline in Houston, Texas, can offer you some solace and predictability in a challenging time. Working with an experienced car accident attorney will give you the best chance of success.