Proud to be Rated Among the Best Accident Lawyers in Houston
If you’re here because you have recently suffered injuries due to a car crash in or near Houston, let us first say that we are truly sorry for what you’re going through.
We understand how difficult this time is for you and your family. Your only job right now is to focus on healing, both mentally and physically, from your accident. As your accident lawyers, our job is to take care of everything else. That includes gathering evidence to support your case, negotiating with the insurance company, and ultimately, fighting to get you financial compensation that is just and fair.
Our law firm exists to help you pick up the pieces after a car wreck and move on with your life.
If someone I know needs a lawyer, I tell them to call Sutliff & Stout…
“I was rear-ended. At first, I tried to work with the insurance company to get the help I needed, but it became apparent to me the insurance company had no interest in helping. That is when I turned to Sutliff & Stout. The Firm helped me find good doctors[…]and they filed suit on my case right away. If I ever had any questions, I could call and get a lawyer on the phone to address my concern (even on the weekends). If someone I know needs an accident lawyer, I tell them to call Sutliff & Stout.” – Bill H. Read and watch more client testimonials…
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident in the Houston area, please consider these two questions:
- Did your accident result in injuries?
- Was your accident caused by negligence of the other driver?
When you contact our Firm, you’ll speak to one of our helpful staff members who will listen to the specifics of your auto accident. If we determine that you have a viable case, we will take you on as a client on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Contacting us is 100% free and obligates you to nothing.
Recent Auto Accident Case Results
Below we’ve provided details of a few of our recent auto accident case results. To see more sample case results click here.
Agreed Judgment: Drunk Driving Case
In exchange for a $6,000,000.00 agreed judgment, Sutliff & Stout settled a claim against a drunk driver who caused significant injuries to our client. He was hit by the drunk driver’s vehicle causing him to lose his leg. After significant discovery and investigation and multiple negotiating sessions with the drunk driver’s lawyers, Sutliff & Stout was able to obtain this $6,000,000 result for our client. Attorneys fees and expenses were $72,978.84.
Auto Accident Settlement
Sutliff & Stout successfully resolved a case against Russell Transport, Inc. relating to a head-on collision. As a result of the collision, our client had to have back surgery. Using an aggressive and proactive approach to the case, we were able to successfully resolve the matter for $2,300,000.00 in less than nine months. Net recovery to the client was $1,320,000.00
Trucking Accident Settlement
Sutliff & Stout successfully resolved a significant trucking accident case where liability was hotly contested. Our client was forced off the road by an eighteen wheeler, which caused his vehicle to roll over several times. As a result of the collision, the client required a two level lumbar fusion. Given the nature of the client’s surgery, his doctor limited his work activities to light duty work and, thus, the client was unable to return to his prior employment.
Auto Accident Settlement
Mark died while he was driving a truck for his employment. Mark’s death was a single vehicle accident for which his employer blamed Mark for speeding. The employer tried to convince the family of Mark to settle the case without a lawyer for $250,000.00. Instead, Mark’s family hired Sutliff & Stout, and after 4 months of litigation, we were able to get the family over three times that amount. Attorneys’ fees and expenses were $313,000.00.
Top 10 Things to Remember After a Car Accident
The lists below contain pro tips from attorney Hank Stout on what you must do after an auto accident in Houston, and tips for handling your own insurance claim.
- Move to safety. Bodily safety is always the first priority. Make sure you vacate a busy road and get yourself to safety before proceeding with collecting information.
- Call the police. Make sure the authorities collect data on the scene, as they will be able to help you file a police report. For accidents on private property, the police will not likely create a report, but you can nevertheless file a report regarding what occurred.
- Exchange information. Photograph the other person’s driver’s license, proof of insurance and license plate. Make sure you have all of the necessary information for identification and insurance purposes.
- Take pictures of the scene. After a car accident, photographic evidence will be instrumental in proving who was at fault for the collision. Take pictures of the vehicles involved, their positioning on the road, and the damage to each vehicle. Make sure you have everything you need to prove the facts of the collision.
- Watch what you say. Insurance companies will do everything they can to blame you for the collision, so don’t say anything that could be used against you. Do not indicate fault, even by saying “My bad” or “I’m sorry”. Any statement, no matter how small, can be used against you. Make note of what the other driver says as well.
- Medical attention. If you are feeling pain as a result of the collision, DO NOT WAIT to see if the pain will go away. See a doctor as soon as possible. This will serve to help you on your road to recovery, as well as protect you from the insurance company claiming that your injuries weren’t too bad because you waited to see a doctor.
- Set up a claim. Call both your insurance company and the at-fault insurance company to start the process of setting up a claim as soon as possible.
- Do not give a recorded statement to the at-fault insurance company. The at-fault insurance company may ask you to give a recorded statement. You are under no obligation to do this regardless of what they may say. It will only serve to hurt your case in the long run.
- Know your coverage. When calling your insurance company, make sure to get them to explain to you your available coverage. You need to have an understanding of what protections you are entitled to, and the specific areas for which you are insured. For example, ask about rental coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection coverage. A clearer understanding of your exact coverage will lead to a more comprehensive settlement.
- The claims process. Learn about the insurance company’s claims process and decide if you think you need help in navigating the process to make sure you get a fair result.
Top 10 Things to Remember When Trying to Handle Your Own Claim
- No matter how nice the representative may seem, the insurance company is not your friend. Their job is to give you the smallest possible settlement for your car accident.
- Keep your communications. Always try to communicate in writing with the insurance company and keep any correspondence. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. Also, make sure to include your claim number in all of your letters to the insurance company so that your letter is addressed in a timely manner.
- Don’t wait too long to file a lawsuit. In Texas, you generally have two years to file suit after a car accident. If you wait too long, your claim will be denied under the statute of limitations. We hear from lots of folks who say the adjuster promised to pay a claim, waited for the statute to run out, then said they couldn’t help.
- Know what types of damages you are legally entitled to seek for your claim.
- Follow up quickly with treatment. If you are hurt, see a doctor right away and make sure your treatment is consistent. Oftentimes, insurance companies will claim you’re not hurt because of a gap in your treatment.
- Obtain complete medical records. Once you finish treatment with a particular doctor or medical facility, make sure to get a complete copy of your medical and billing records and submit them to the insurance company.
- Get all the information. Do not start negotiations until you know the extent of your medical problems and the necessary course of treatment. You only get one shot at a settlement, so you need to understand the extent of what you need.
- Understand your medical expenses. Make sure you know the full extent of your medical damages and expenses. In Texas, you can only include the paid/incurred number, which means you get the lesser of what was paid or currently owed.
- Many people think the insurance company will make the check for the claim payable to them alone. This is misleading. In reality, this only happens when there are no liens on file, no health insurance company involved and no payments by Medicare or Medicaid. If any of these entities are involved in your case, the check will be made payable to more entities or individuals than you.
- Keep your work documents. If you missed work due to your injuries, make sure to keep documents proving your absence. For economic damages such as those sustained by missing work due to injury, there must be written support to prove the damages.
If you feel you are being treated unfairly or getting the runaround from your insurance company, you should hire a auto accident attorney to help recoup the damages that you deserve.
Why Hiring a Lawyer After a Car Accident Is So Important
The hiring of an attorney after a car accident could be one of the biggest financial decisions you make so you want to make sure that you hire a lawyer who knows how to handle a car accident claim and has the resources necessary to make sure that you are treated fairly during the process.
It is the lawyer’s job to explain your rights and options and help you navigate the process. When hiring a lawyer, we suggest you hire someone who has the experience, contacts and resources necessary to handle your case. Things to look for:
- Has the lawyer handled other auto accidents successfully?
- If you have substantial injuries, does the lawyer know of well-qualified doctors that will help with your recovery (a lot of doctors won’t treat individuals who have been in car accidents).
- Is the lawyer willing to invest the necessary time and money to make sure you are treated fairly? The reality is that big car accident cases take a lot of work and are quite expensive. Not all accident lawyers are equipped to invest the money necessary to hire the right experts to properly handle a case. If your lawyer can’t afford to hire the right experts then the chances are that he or she won’t be able to maximize the value of your case.
How to Prove Negligence in a Car Accident Lawsuit
Whether you can secure financial compensation after an car accident depends on whether or not the party that caused your injuries was negligent. Under Texas law, there are four required elements for a negligence claim:
- Duty: A duty exists where the person or company should have acted (or not acted) in a certain way. For example, motorists have a duty to pay attention to other vehicles on the road, to observe traffic laws, and to not be distracted by cell phones or other stimuli.
- Breach of Duty: A breach of duty occurs where someone acted or failed to act in a way that violated their legal duty.
- Causation: The breach must have caused or contributed to your injury.
- Damages: You must have suffered a legally recognized harm that can be remedied by financial compensation. Types of damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
An experienced accident lawyer can evaluate your case and give you advice about your legal options.
Types of Damages Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you were injured in a car accident, you will likely be able to make a claim for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical treatment, including ongoing care by specialists, caused by the collision.
- Lost wages for missed work and loss of future income if your earning capacity has been diminished.
- Compensation for damage to your vehicle and other personal property.
- Past and future pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of your injuries.
If you have a more specific question about your damages, we suggest you give us a call for a free consultation.
Common Auto Accident Injuries
The following are some of the most common types of injuries our lawyers see after a car accident:
- Whiplash. The term whiplash is used to generally refer to a neck sprain or neck strain. While this type of injury can be minor, it can also cause major problems including the need for neck surgery.
- Back or neck injury. These types of injuries are very common in car accidents, even when all passengers are wearing their seatbelts. A back or neck injury can cause lifelong health problems and may require surgery and ongoing chiropractic care.
- Shoulder injuries. It is common to see various shoulder injuries including torn rotator cuff injuries after a car accident.
- Broken bones. A high-impact auto accident may cause broken bones. Recovering from a broken bone can be a difficult and painful process, and you may need to take time off of work so that you can fully heal.
- If you suffered lacerations or skin wounds as a result of a high-speed or serious car accident, you may need costly surgery to fully recover. Some people require reconstructive or plastic surgery to return their appearance to normal after a bad car accident.
- A serious car accident can lead to engine fires, and drivers and passengers may suffer burns. Airbags can also cause chemical and thermal burns when deployed.
- Brain injury. A high-impact car crash may result in concussions or traumatic brain injuries. These serious injuries can permanently alter your brain chemistry and may have devastating long-term consequences.
If you suffered these or any other serious injuries as a result of someone else’s careless driving, an auto accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident
A car accident can be a traumatic, life-changing event. Not all of your injuries may be physical. You may be struggling with anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks, flashbacks, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Although these injuries aren’t visible from the outside, these psychiatric issues can be even more difficult to recover from than physical wounds.
If you are struggling with the emotional burden of recovering from a bad car accident, a Houston car accident lawyer can help you recover damages for pain and suffering. Texas law recognizes the right of accident victims to receive compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other emotional injuries. You can use this compensation to seek therapy and treatment for the anguish you’ve had to endure.
Texas Auto Accident Laws
There are a certain state laws that apply to car accidents in Texas.
Duties After a Car Accident
Texas law requires drivers to stop at the scene of any accident involving serious injury or death. The driver is required to provide certain information at the scene of the accident and provide reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident. If a driver fails to stop at the scene of a serious car accident and comply with these laws, he or she may be charged with a criminal offense. These requirements are found in Texas Transportation Code Chapter 550.
Police Report After a Car Accident
Texas Transportation Code § 550.062 requires law enforcement officers who investigate car accidents that result in injury, death, or property damage greater than $1,000 to submit a written report of the car accident to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) within 10 days of the accident.
A police report can be critical evidence of fault in an insurance claim or lawsuit. Your car accident attorney can review the police report on file with TxDOT and determine how to use this evidence to establish negligence in your claim or lawsuit.
Texas Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits
The statute of limitations is a procedural rule that requires lawsuits to be filed within a specified time period. In Texas, the statute of limitations for auto accident lawsuits is generally two years from the date of the accident. There are some exceptions to this rule, but only an experienced car accident lawyer can tell you whether these exceptions apply to your case.
Because the Texas statute of limitations will disqualify you from filing a lawsuit if you miss the deadline, it’s important that you talk to an accident lawyer right away after a car accident. The Texas statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is found at Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 16.003.
Texas Car Insurance Laws
Texas law requires drivers to pay for the accidents they cause. This means you can file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the driver who is responsible for your injuries.
Because every driver can be held financially responsible for the injuries and damages he or she causes in a car accident most people purchase auto insurance with at least the following minimum limits which are set forth in Texas Transportation Code Section 601.072:
- $30,000 for each injured person;
- $60,000 total for injuries in an accident;
- $25,000 in property damage.
Texas Insurance Code Section 1952.101 requires insurance companies to offer uninsured motorist coverage, but drivers are not required to purchase it. A vehicle accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options if you were involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Houston Roads Are Among the Most Congested in Texas
Each year the Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranks the 100 most congested roadways in Texas. According to their 2017 study, Harris County is home to six of the top 10 most congested roads in the state. The six Harris County roads on the list are likely all too familiar to Houston drivers:
From: Katy Fwy / IH10/ US90
To: Southwest Fwy / US 59 / IH 69
From: W Loop Fwy / IH 610
To: South Fwy / SH 288
From: SH 288
To: IH 10
From: N Eldridge Pkwy
To: Sam Houston Tollway W
From: IH10 / US 90
To: S Loop E Fwy/ IH 610
From: Sam Houston Tollway N
To: N Loop Fwy / IH 610
The trend observed by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute is that growth-induced traffic gridlock is getting worse every year. Simply put, busier Houston roads create more opportunities for serious car accidents. And if ever increasing traffic weren’t enough for drivers to contend with, the data shows that accidents caused by distracted drivers are also on the rise.
Distracted Driving Crashes in Houston Are on the Rise
We’ve all seen it (and some of us are guilty of it ourselves): Drivers cruising down Houston highways at 70 MPH staring directly at their cell phone. While there are many different forms of distractions that can contribute to car accidents, none are more common or more distracting than cell phone use.
Last year we surveyed over 900 Texas drivers, asking the simple question: How often do you use your phone while driving? We were surprised when 60% of respondents answers that they never use their phone while driving:
Crash data from the Texas Department of Transportation suggests that many in that 60% group may not be telling the truth. According to our analysis of raw crash data, crashes caused by distracted drivers have increased each year from 2012 to 2016:
Distracted Driving Crash Increases in Houston from 2012-2016
Crashes in 2012: 5,998
Crashes in 2013: 6,605
Crashes in 2014: 7,276
Crashes in 2015: 7,319
Crashes in 2016: 7,373
Doing the math…
From 2012 to 2016 the total number of distracted driving car accidents in Houston has increased each year. There were 1,375 more distracted driving crashes in 2016 than 2012, which is an increase of nearly 20%.
Drunk Driving Causes Thousands of Crashes in Houston Every Year
The dangerous of drunk driving are well known. The impairment caused by alcohol consumption frequently leads to devastating vehicle collisions which often result in incapacitating injuries and even deaths. According to crash data from the Texas Department of Transportation, drunk driving causes thousands of crashes and hundreds of fatalities each year in Houston:
Learn More: Important Texas Car Accident Information
- Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
- What to Do After an Accident
- What NOT to Do After a Car Accident
- How to Get Your Houston Police Accident Report
- Who is At Fault for My Car Accident?
- Who is at Fault for a T-Bone Accident
- Who is at Fault for a Changing Lanes Accident?
- Can I Sue for Emotional Distress in Texas?
- Texas Car Accident Statute of Limitations
- Auto Accident Lawsuit Timeline
- 10 Tips for Car Accident Depositions
- Bad Faith Insurance Tactics
- Personal Injuries and Drunk Drivers
- Texas Auto Insurance Requirements
- When to Contact Insurance and What to Say
- Is the Settlement Offer Fair?
- Can I Get “Pain and Suffering” Compensation?
- Auto Accident Settlement Tips
- Does Medicare Cover Car Accident Injuries?
- Does Health Insurance Cover Car Accident Injuries?
Sutliff & Stout are Experienced Houston Car Accident Attorneys
If you were seriously injured in a car accident and live in Houston or the surrounding areas, call Sutliff & Stout today for a free and confidential case review. Our lawyers will work with you every step of the way and will be dedicated to helping you secure the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, give us a call, shoot us a text, or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.