Car accidents can leave victims reeling. They don’t just cause property damage but can also lead to life-changing medical issues that often require continuous medical care. Pursuing compensation is often the only choice many have to ensure they have enough money to pick up the pieces.
If you are considering taking legal action against the party or parties at fault, you might be wondering what settlement amount you may be eligible for. Moreover, because insurance companies often try every trick in the book to get victims to accept the lowest possible offer, it helps to know what to expect.
Each time a traffic accident occurs, different circumstances affect each casualty. Because of this, each auto accident claim is unique and is based on the specific conditions of the incident and the injured person.
Firstly, to qualify for a settlement, which is an agreement that someone enters into to pay a victim for their injuries and property damage, the injured party must either file a lawsuit for personal injury against the at-fault motorist or make a third-party claim with the driver’s insurance provider.
A motorist must have been accountable for initiating the collision for them to be held responsible. They must have acted carelessly in some way. There are so many irresponsible behaviors that breach a reasonable, safe standard of driving.
Common Causes of Auto Accidents in Texas
Drivers must follow traffic laws, pay attention to traffic conditions, behave responsibly, and check that their vehicles are safe to operate before they travel. Failure to do so is considered negligence.
All motorists have a duty of care to other drivers, passersby, and passengers, and breaching this duty is what causes accidents. There are several ways to drive negligently. By getting behind the wheel while intoxicated or distracted, you endanger the lives of others.
Here are other common reasons why car accidents occur in Texas:
- Failing to stick to the speed limit
- Vehicle defects
- Failure to yield to another motorist
- Drowsy driving
Additionally, poorly designed motorways or inadequate road maintenance can also lead to car accidents. In these cases, victims need to bring a lawsuit against the authority in charge of maintaining roads to obtain compensation.
First Steps After a Car Accident
After an accident, knowing what to do can help to minimize damages and ensure that you have a strong case if you choose to pursue damages. Here are some of the things you should do if you are involved in an auto accident:
Contact the Local Authorities
After a vehicle collision, it’s a good idea to phone 911 even if you don’t believe you are injured. Law enforcement officers will examine the cars involved and interview all parties involved. After that, authorities will write a police report.
Important information from this report can be used to substantiate your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Get the Other Driver’s Details
If you are able to, it is important to obtain important information from the other driver. Make a note of the make and model of the vehicle, the driver’s name and contact details, along with their insurance information.
As soon as the accident occurs, take pictures at the scene. It’s also a good idea to take a photo of the license plate numbers of the vehicles involved in the collision. Additionally, it would help if you took pictures of the surroundings and any debris in the area from the accident.
The path both cars took, the place of collision, and the speed at which they were moving can all be determined from even little details like paint scratches on a vehicle or skid marks on the road. This can serve as evidence when proving liability in a personal injury case.
Get Legal Advice
After a car accident, it is a good idea to seek legal counsel from a reputable attorney. Your car accident lawyer can help gather and retain crucial evidence that will support your case and identify who was responsible for the collision and who may be liable for your damages.
To determine precisely how the crash occurred, they may also consult experts in crash reconstruction.
What Damages Can You Pursue in a Car Accident Case?
Once your attorney has established who is at fault and gathered evidence, the next step is understanding the expenses you may claim in a personal injury lawsuit.
Pursuing legal action, especially if the incident resulted from gross negligence on the other motorist’s part, can give you a higher settlement amount than you would receive from an insurance claim.
This is because non-economic and punitive damages are also added to the settlement amount. We’ll explore these damages below.
Any accident-related cost that can be adequately defined and demonstrated through receipts, bills, or other supporting documents qualifies as economic damages.
When injuries occur, victims have to seek medical treatment, which results in paying emergency and/or ongoing hospital expenses and missing days at work while receiving medical attention or recovering.
Here are some of the economic damages that your personal injury attorney can help you claim:
Lost Wages or Earning Capacity
If you’re seriously hurt, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to go to work. In this case, you can pursue compensation for your lost income. A letter from your employer, timesheets, and pay slips can be used to prove your regular pay and the number of work hours you have lost because of the injury.
You may be entitled to further compensation for lost earning potential if your impairments force you to change your work duties or prevent you from continuing in the same position. Professional witnesses, such as medical doctors and economists, can be called by your auto accident attorney to determine your expected losses.
When a person is injured in an auto accident, they often require emergency medical care. Suppose the injuries are serious. In that case, surgery, bloodwork, and other procedures may be necessary. Ongoing care is also needed in these situations, and hospital bills can quickly start to pile up.
The good news is that you can claim these damages with the help of an experienced car accident lawyer. Moreover, working with an attorney from the start may even afford you access to medical treatment without any upfront payments.
Your attorney ensures the healthcare practitioners will be paid later if a settlement is achieved via a legal document called a “letter of protection.” If you have previously paid for hospital treatment out of pocket, you may still be refunded by presenting the related bills in your claim.
Damage to property is inevitable in a car accident. Fortunately, you will be compensated up to the worth of your vehicle at the time of the collision if it was totaled. Moreover, you may be eligible for compensation for the cost of replacing any other personal belongings you lost in the crash, such as a smartphone.
It’s important for victims to know that they are free to select the auto repair facility of their choice. Never let a towing service provider or insurance consultant choose one for you.
In addition to these monetary damages, victims are entitled to compensation for their emotional and mental suffering.
Damaged property can be replaced, but the trauma and suffering you may face after an accident can live with you for a long time, which is why these damages are often added to personal injury claims.
Here are some of the non-economic damages that you can claim:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages can sometimes be awarded in specific circumstances involving gross negligence. These penalties, sometimes referred to as exemplary damages, are not intended to provide victims with immediate relief.
Instead, they are intended to hold accountable the careless perpetrator responsible for the accident. Punitive damages are more likely to be awarded if the person who caused the incident was performing a criminal act at the time.
Factors That Affect the Amount You Can Claim
There are many possible damages you can pursue in a personal injury case, so it is essential to get advice from a trusted legal advisor. An attorney will help you determine what damages you may demand. They will also consider the factors affecting your case to calculate a fair settlement amount.
These factors include:
People respond to injuries and treatment differently, and the specifics of your medical care will have an impact on the settlement amount. The more treatment you require to make a full recovery, the greater the value of your claim.
If the injuries involve cognitive and behavioral impairment or have a serious emotional impact, then you will likely be able to claim a higher amount. Moreover, if your injuries impact your ability to work or causes permanent disfigurement, your lawyer will pursue a greater settlement.
Failing to Receive Prompt Treatment
After your vehicle accident injuries, it’s critical to demonstrate a history of prompt and regular medical treatment. Suppose you wait too long to receive treatment or fail to attend doctor’s appointments. In that case, you could harm your case. Insurance companies will argue that you aren’t really injured and deny or reduce the value of your claim.
If a car strikes you on a deserted road, you’ll likely only be looking for recompense from the other motorist’s insurance provider.
However, there could be other options for a settlement if you were struck by a commercial truck or were a part of a multi-car collision. Your auto accident attorney will meticulously look into all of the options and identify any responsible parties.
Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are restrictions placed on the time a victim has to pursue compensation following an auto accident. If you fail to meet this deadline, your case can be rejected entirely, and you won’t be able to get any money back.
Keep in mind that the statute of limitations will vary from state to state, so it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure that you get due compensation for your injuries.
In Texas, you will have two years from the date of the incident in which to file a personal injury claim. However, it’s best to start as quickly as possible to ensure that your lawyer has enough time to prepare your case.
Furthermore, seeking prompt legal counsel ensures that evidence is not lost, improving your chances of obtaining a higher settlement.
The amount you receive will also depend on the legal fees you must pay, as this amount is deducted from your settlement before being sent to you.
What Is a Contingency Fee and What Does It Have to Do with a Car Accident Claim?
Contingency fees are legal fees that you pay for your lawyer’s services. Rather than charging upfront fees for their services, many attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.
This can be advantageous because many injured victims are already facing financial strain and the contingency fee will ensure that they can pursue legal action with complete peace of mind. Lawyers are reimbursed from the settlement or judgment that is granted.
If the lawsuit is settled out of court, the costs and contingency fee will be covered by the settlement funds, and the claimant will get a net check at the end of the proceedings.
The contingency fee is typically agreed upon at the start and is generally 33 percent of the overall settlement. To learn more about the contingency fee, you can talk to your attorney!
Calculating Your Settlement Amount
We understand that you have read this far to find out the amount you can expect from your personal injury claim.
The truth is that a typical financial settlement for a traffic accident cannot be determined using a magic formula or algorithm. Every case will have a different result since every victim is different.
However, a vehicle accident attorney can assist you in determining the worth of your case. They will take the unique circumstances of your case, your medical treatment, recovery rate, property damage, and more into consideration to determine a suitable amount.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to get an idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that it will likely be inaccurate, and you will need to contact a lawyer to determine a more accurate settlement amount.
Calculate Economic Damages
To work it out on your own, you will need to first calculate your economic damages. This is achieved by totaling all the expenses for current medical expenses, anticipated medical expenses, and damage to property.
Then, include both your past lost wages from employment and anticipated future lost wages. These figures vary according to your income, the length of your absence from work, and the expected length of your absence.
How Has the Incident Affected You?
You may also be entitled to non-economic damages, depending on the specifics of your case. Moreover, you can present images of your injuries to show the full degree of your damages if you’re asking for non-economic compensation due to apparent injuries or long-term scarring.
To demonstrate how your injuries have an impact on your quality of life and capacity to enjoy life, you will need the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Personal injury lawyers generally take the amount of your economic damages and multiply it by a factor between one and five. Again, this will depend on the specifics of your case.
What Happens If an Insurance Provider Fails to Offer a Fair Amount?
The sad truth is that you can get a contemptuously low offer from the insurance carriers after you’ve gone through the trauma of a car crash. We advise never settling for anything less than what you deserve. This is why hiring an attorney is so essential.
Not only will your lawyer ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal proceedings, but they will also negotiate with insurance providers to ensure you get the highest possible settlement.
Depending on how well your lawyer negotiates, your settlement can increase. A competent personal injury attorney won’t just settle the case right away. They will continue negotiating until a reasonable offer is made, but how do attorneys know what a fair amount is?
This is because of experience. Because the average of past settlements and judgments for occurrences with comparable injuries in the same setting are considered when determining the amount of a car accident settlement, an attorney for auto accidents might considerably raise your settlement offer.
The best part is that lawyers take contingency work. Consequently, they won’t charge you anything upfront and only receive compensation if you do!
Contact a Reliable Attorney to Pursue Compensation!
Car accidents can completely change your life. One day you’re doing just fine, and the next, you’re paralyzed and unable to work. At [Law Firm Name], we understand how important getting a high settlement amount is, which is why we will do whatever it takes to get the highest offer!
Get in touch with us today for more information or to book your free consultation with one of our respected personal injury lawyers.
Joseph Rogelio Echavarria graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Texas at San Antonio, receiving degrees in Political Science and Criminal Justice. In 2007 he graduated Cum Laude from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
Mr. Echavarria started his legal career by serving two years as an Assistant Criminal District Attorney for Bexar County. After leaving the District Attorney’s Office, he joined Carabin Shaw. Since then he has concentrated primarily on personal injury and automobile claims. Joseph Echavarria remains Of Counsel to Carabin Shaw.
In 2019 Mr. Echavarria became Managing Partner of the Echavarria Law Firm. He believes the mission of the Echavarria Law Firm is to help others through difficult times. He and His Wife, Elizabeth, have made sure their family-owned practice prioritizes client attention and care, making sure their family takes care of yours. See profile Here