Your Legal Questions Answered
- What if I have just been in an accident?
- Is there a time frame in which I have to file my claim?
- If I am at fault, even a small amount, can I recover?
- Do all claims go to court?
- What do you do if you are my lawyer?
- What happens when I recover?
- What does the insurance company do?
- What happens if my case settles without going to Court?
- What happens if the claim cannot be settled?
- What can I expect to be paid for in my claim?
Do I need a Lawyer?
What if I have just been in an accident?
If you have been involved in an accident, we urge you to move quickly to document your claim. If you have not yet hired an attorney make sure you get photographs of your vehicle. Get 2 to 3 estimates of repair on your vehicle. If you are injured, see a doctor immediately and follow the doctor’s advice. If a doctor places you out of work, get a written note and keep a copy. Notify the defendant’s insurance company immediately. Be prepared to be without a vehicle until the insurance company can investigate the accident. They will not pay for your vehicle, a rental, or your injury until they are satisfied you had no fault in the accident. You should also at least consult with a lawyer to make sure you understand your rights.
Is there a time frame in which I have to file my claim?
In Texas, injured victims have three years from the date of the accident within which to file suit or settle the claim. If the victim is killed as a result of the accident, the statute of limitations becomes two years.
If I am at fault, even a small amount, can I recover?
Texas also has what is called “contributory negligence”. We are one of the few states remaining that still have this law. What it means simply is that if you were 1% at fault you cannot recover for any damages. For that reason, it is especially crucial that you seek the advice of a lawyer if you feel you have a claim for injuries arising out of a vehicle accident.
Do all claims go to court?
No. We handle many more claims that settle without filing suit. About 2 out of 10 cases result in trial. The insurance company generally wants to avoid trial and if a law firm has a reputation for trying cases it will work harder with that law firm to settle a claim. While we make every effort to settle claims, we are also prepared to move the case quickly through the Courts system.
What do you do if you are my lawyer?
Once you hire us, we move quickly to preserve the evidence and notify the insurance company you are represented. We routinely obtain photographs of vehicles and the accident scene. We interview the witnesses, if any. We notify your medical providers we are involved. We give the insurance company an overview of your claim and keep them updated with your progress during recovery. We document your claim with medical reports, bills and any lost wages you may incur. We will also will get a great deal of personal information from you so we can present your claim in the best possible light.
What happens when I recover?
We strongly tell our clients do not attempt to settle your case until you are pain free. Doctors will routinely release you presuming you are 100% pain free. We also suggest you wait 30 days to make sure you have no recurrence or pain. Once you are comfortable that you are fully recovered, we begin putting together your settlement package and send it off to the insurance company with a request for settlement.
What does the insurance company do?
The adjustor takes the package and reviews it and makes a recommendation to his or her supervisor for settlement authority. The adjustor and your attorney then discuss the issues and what is a reasonable amount for your claim. Negotiations for settlement usually take four to six weeks before it is determined if a case can settle without filing suit.
What happens if my case settles without going to Court?
The insurance company issues a check for the total amount of settlement and sends it to our firm. A settlement statement is prepared that will show the deductions for our fee, the costs, and payment to medical providers. It also shows what you will receive as the net proceeds. This usually takes one to two weeks to conclude.
What happens if the claim cannot be settled?
If your claim cannot be settled, then we promptly file a Complaint for you. Once a lawsuit has been filed, the average time to get before the Court is twelve months. This is because our courts have heavy backlogs. However, we fast-track our cases so that any delay is not ours but the Courts or the other side. In Texas, you sue the defendant not the insurance company. In fact, you may not mention the word “insurance” in a trial. A jury hears your claim and the jury decides who was at fault and how much you are allowed to recover.
What can I expect to be paid for in my claim?
As an injured person you are entitled to claim:
- Medical bills
Other medical devices and costs
Out-of-pocket expense related to the injury
Lost wages if a doctor places you out of work
Pain and Suffering during recovery
And if your injury is permanent (as defined by a medical doctor) you can also claim future damages as set out above.
Do I need a Lawyer?
While not every injured person needs a lawyer, we encourage everyone to at least consult one to make sure you understand your rights. We caution everyone NEVER TO SIGN ANYTHING until you have talked to a lawyer. Many valuable rights were lost because the injured person believed what he or she was told by the insurance company. Just remember, the only person truly working in your best interests is the lawyer you hire.