At Dax F. Garza, P.C., our award-winning Houston car accident attorneys will fight to protect your best interests. Our car accident lawyers have years of experience helping victims recover the financial compensation they deserve.
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Given the increase in car accidents across Texas, insurance companies may be more likely to fight claims and issue rejections. Injured car accident victims may see their legitimate claims denied and be forced to navigate a complicated system of appeals. An experienced Houston car accident lawyer can simplify the situation and help car accident victims recover fair compensation..
What to Do if You’re Injured in a Houston Auto Accident
The immediate aftermath of an auto accident is, at the very least, stressful and, for serious accidents, chaotic. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and create a smoother path forward as you pursue a potential injury claim.
Preserving the health and safety of all involved in the car accident is of the utmost importance. If you can safely move your body, get yourself and your car out of the path of traffic. Check to see if others involved need help, and call 911. If you cannot move safely, for example, if you have experienced head, neck, or back trauma, stay where you are and wait for emergency medical care to arrive.
Even if you do need emergency medical treatment at the scene, get medical attention as soon as possible following the auto accident. The effects of some injuries, even very serious ones such as brain trauma or internal bleeding, can take time to show, and any delays can lead to worsening or possibly fatal outcomes. Further, if you do not get medical treatment and your injury becomes more debilitating as your adrenaline subsides or you return to typical activities, the at-fault party can blame that debilitation on your delayed care rather than their negligence.
Be sure to get insurance information from the other drivers involved in the accident. Along with the other party’s auto insurance policy information, write down or take pictures of their license plate. If there are witnesses, collect their contact information as well.
Take pictures and video of your injuries, damage to your property, and the accident scene overall. Be sure to capture anything that could be useful as evidence, such as skid marks (or a lack of them), broken traffic signals or streetlights, or traffic signs that are not clearly visible. Take photos of the damage to the other car or vehicles as well.
Your Houston car accident lawyer will use this insurance information and potential evidence to start investigating and building your case.
Houston Car Accident Attorneys Will Fight the Insurance Company for You
Typically, an insurance adjuster will call soon after an auto collision. You are not required to speak to the insurance company without representation. Our Houston car accident attorneys can speak to the adjuster on your behalf, shielding you from any unsavory tactics the insurer may use to hurt your claim.
Insurance adjusters are, unfortunately, skilled in intimidating accident victims. They often use bullying strategies to frighten victims into believing they will see no financial relief if they do not accept the lowball offer the adjuster is “generously” putting forth. Your personal injury attorney will not be intimidated or let the insurance provider get away with paying you less than you deserve.
Rather, a Houston car accident lawyer can negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. Negotiations can involve a great deal of back-and-forth communication. Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators whose main goal is to minimize any claim payout. Having a lawyer negotiate on your behalf will ensure your claim is treated fairly.
Determine All At-Fault Parties in A Car Wreck
In a car accident injury claim, accident victims must prove the other driver is at fault. Insurance companies may hold their bottom line above your needs, offering settlements far below the insurance policy amount. In addition, insurance adjusters will look for ways to minimize the potential value of your claim.
Car accident claims are dependent on fault. Texas is a comparative negligence state, meaning the at-fault designation in an auto accident may be assigned to multiple parties. Our dedicated legal team will determine all of the parties responsible for your crash and hold them accountable.
If the insurance company believes you to be partially at fault for the crash, it may severely reduce their payout offer. In other cases, an insurance company may attempt to delay a claim by requesting additional paperwork a little at a time. Prolonging the claims process can significantly hurt injury victims, forcing them to settle for a lower amount than their case is worth.
Potential At-Fault Parties in a Motor-Vehicle Accident
Car accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Though every accident is different, some causes are more commonly seen than others.
The Other Driver
Another driver’s reckless or negligent behavior is one of the most common reasons for crashes. Drivers who speed, drive under the influence, drive while texting, engage in distracted driving, and/or ignore the rules of the road put all others who share that road in danger.
Sometimes, drivers just make errors. Perhaps they misjudge a highway entry or exit or do not leave enough time to brake. Inexperience also plays a role in driver error, with newer drivers not practiced in anticipating other drivers’ moves or avoiding collisions.
Car or Part Manufacturers
Vehicle manufacturers are responsible for producing safely performing vehicles. If there is a defect in design or production that goes unseen and ultimately causes an accident, perhaps an inadequate braking or steering system, the car manufacturer may hold fault.
If specific parts of a car fail, such as airbags or other safety features, the party or company responsible for installing those devices may be culpable as well.
Government offices, whether at the municipal, county, or state level, are responsible for maintaining roads and ensuring traffic signals work and are visible. If roads are allowed to fall into disrepair and contain potholes or other obstacles, or if the traffic lines or signs are worn away, those unsafe roads can lead to accidents. In these situations, the entities overseeing those areas may be at fault.
Texas Car Accident Settlements
Most car accident claims in Houston are settled out of court. However, if an insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement, you will need a car accident lawyer to represent you in court. Our trial attorneys are highly skilled negotiators with a long history of obtaining exceptional verdicts in court.
Comparative negligence also allows those who are partially at fault for a car accident to still file an injury claim. Those involved in the collision are assigned a portion of the blame that is reflected by a percentage value.
Under Texas law:
- A claimant may file a personal injury suit if they are 49 percent at fault or less
- Claimants may recover compensation proportionate to their percentage of fault
For example, suppose two drivers are involved in a collision. The first motorist was driving distracted, while the second driver was speeding. The first motorist may be assigned 49 percent of the fault, while the second driver is given 51 percent of the responsibility for the car accident. In this scenario, the first motorist can recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit; however, the claim value will be reduced by their percentage of fault. If the claimant is awarded $100,000 in damages, then they can collect 51 percent of it, or $51,000.
Keep in mind that while comparative fault allows you to pursue a settlement or take a case to trial even if the victim holds some fault, it is also an incentive for insurance companies to inflate your level of blame. By increasing your percentage of fault, they lower their payout, making it essential that you have strong legal representation to counter these arguments.
As our client, our experienced legal team will handle all of the details for you. Our car accident lawyers will pull together the critical evidence you need to support your claim, including:
- The police report
- Witness statements and testimony
- Expert testimony
- Medical records and statements from your treating physicians
- Pictures of the scene of the accident, property damage, and your injuries
- Video evidence from surveillance cameras or witnesses
More evidence may be needed, depending on the circumstances of your case. Your Houston car accident lawyer can discuss the details of your situation to find and preserve all available and necessary evidence.
Calculating Damages in a Car Accident Claim
When a person is injured in a car accident, they may incur any number of expenses, including medical bills and property damage. Victims may be entitled to receive compensation for their physical and emotional pain. Car accidents can cause a wide range of serious injuries. Broken bones and neck sprains are very common. In some cases, injuries can be catastrophic and debilitating, causing lifelong pain and discomfort.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Do not underestimate the severity of your injuries. While you may not think you have sustained serious harm, it is very possible that the initial shock of the car accident is masking your symptoms. Further, “small” injuries can exacerbate over time, causing you problems in the months or years to come. Take care of the injury right away, so your minor or moderate injury does not become a major problem.
Whiplash is the colloquial term for a neck sprain due to a car accident. When a vehicle is moving and comes to a sudden stop, the body is jerked to a halt. The trauma can strain muscles and other soft tissue without breaking bones. Whiplash can be a long-lasting injury, causing pain for several months or years.
Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Many victims of car accidents hit their heads hard on the steering wheel, windows, and seats of the car. This can cause severe bruising, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries. In many cases, head trauma leads to long-term problems with brain function. In addition, victims may experience lifelong headaches and sleeping difficulties.
Lacerations, Abrasions, and Soft-Tissue Damage
Scrapes, cuts, and bruises are very common auto accident injuries. When a car accident victim hits part of the vehicle, broken glass, and/or flying objects, they can receive minor or major abrasions and lacerations. Victims can also suffer damage to their abdomen and lower extremities.
Broken and Fractured Bones
Broken arms, legs, hips, and ribs are very common in car collisions. When an unnatural amount of force is placed on the body during a car accident, bones can become dislocated, fractured, or broken entirely. Bone breaks are very painful and require immediate emergency medical attention.
In some cases, complications can occur. Fractures are especially vulnerable to infection or a full break in the near future. Broken bones often tear ligaments and hurt the surrounding tissue. Victims may suffer pain in the area for the rest of their lives.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are common in car collisions. The force of the impact can cause disc herniations, fractures, and sprains. Spinal cord damage is a serious injury causing severe pain. Some spinal cord injuries can even lead to paralysis, whether paraplegia or quadriplegia. These types of injuries must be treated quickly and delicately to prevent permanent damage.
While not immediately visible after a car accident, internal injuries are common. Sufferers can experience internal bleeding or damaged organs. Immediate medical attention is required to prevent internal injuries from becoming fatal.
PTSD and Other Psychological Pain
While car accident victims sustain a range of physical injuries, many people also suffer mental and emotional injuries after a crash. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, and other types of mental distress can prevent a person from returning to their normal routine. Accident victims may experience:
- Survivor’s guilt
- Clinical depression
Speaking to a skilled Houston car accident lawyer can help you through this difficult time. And while it can be difficult to put a dollar amount on some of your losses, our auto accident attorneys can assess your damages with precision and fight for the true value of your claim. Insurance companies will heavily scrutinize your car accident claim to look for ways to deny financial compensation. As your car accident lawyers, we will pull together the critical evidence needed to get the true value of your damages so you receive a settlement or verdict that meets your needs and brings you justice.
Types of Car Accident Cases We Regularly Handle
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Truck accidents
- Rear-end accidents
- T-bone accidents
How Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Though you might think your personal injury case is straightforward, expect the at-fault party to think otherwise. Their story will differ from yours, and their insurance company will do its best to deflect blame onto you, even by distorting the wreck details or using your own words against you. Your well-intentioned “I’m sorry the accident happened” can easily be misrepresented as an admission of fault.
By securing legal representation from a skilled personal injury attorney, you have someone who can and will defend you against false accusations, uphold your legal rights, and take your case through the legal process efficiently.
Navigating the Legal Process
The legal process is intimidating for anyone without a legal background, and for accident victims who are in especially vulnerable situations, attempting to navigate it alone is risky. You can easily make a small error that will have significant and negative implications for your case.
Taking a case through the legal process is just another day at work for a Houston car accident lawyer. This familiarity with the process allows your lawyer to focus on the specific details of your situation and construct a customized case to bring you the highest settlement possible.
And there is no risk of error. Your personal injury attorney will prepare, complete, and file all documentation accurately and on time.
Texas Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Every state has a legal window of opportunity for accident victims to file an injury claim. In Texas, this window remains open for two years from the date of the accident. After the two-year deadline, legally called a “statute of limitations,” it is very difficult to have your case heard unless there are extenuating circumstances. If there are, your car accident attorney in Houston will fight to have that deadline reconsidered for your case.
Still, it is best to partner with an attorney promptly so you can file well within that timeframe and avoid any complications. Plus, an early partnership gives your attorney time to investigate your case thoroughly and build a solid case while still filing on time.
For Claims Against Texas Government Entities
The statute of limitations for cases against the Texas government is considerably shorter, and the legal process for a claim follows different rules. For example, if you are in an auto accident with a state-owned vehicle, you have to file your claim within six months.
Claims against federal government entities, such as United States Postal Service vehicles, also follow a different process.
Whether your claim is against a privately owned, state owned, or a federally owned vehicle, your best way forward is to put your case in the hands of a skilled car accident lawyer in Houston.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
When you secure prompt legal representation, you have someone who will protect your rights from the start. The at-fault party’s insurance company will reach out to you quickly, claiming you are required to give them a recorded statement about the accident. Remember, the insurance company is not on your side. They are hoping you say something they can somehow use against you. An attorney’s guidance here is critical.
Your insurance policy may require that you provide a statement to your own insurance company. Even here, your lawyer will examine your policy and help you prepare.
When pursuing an injury claim, gathering as much relevant information as possible is crucial. Sometimes, however, victims do really know what information they need or how to acquire it. A Houston car accident lawyer has the wherewithal and resources to gather these important documents and details.
Along with other evidence and input from experts, your attorney will access the crash report filed with the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT), which provides the “official” account of your accident.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Houston Car Accident Attorney Dax Garza
At Dax F. Garza, P.C., our exceptional auto accident lawyers will handle your personal injury claim with the respect, attention to detail, and responsiveness you deserve. We will guide you through the claims process step-by-step, working tirelessly to secure full financial compensation. Contact our Houston car accident lawyers for a free consultation today. We will discuss the details of your case and determine the best course of action for your needs.