A car accident can be an overwhelming and disorienting experience. Being in a car accident is traumatic enough, but the hard part often comes after the car accident when you are forced to deal with the aftermath. Many of our clients come to us with questions about what to do after a car accident, and are unsure about what steps to take.
Here, we have answered some of the questions we are most frequently asked by potential clients who have been in a car accident. If you are in need of additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us by calling (713) 987-7111. You may also contact us online.
After a Car Accident: Frequently Asked Questions
You can browse through the answers to these questions below, or click on a specific question to jump to an answer.
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How much will a lawyer cost me?
Most car accident and personal injury lawyers work on what is known as a contingency fee basis. When a lawyer represents a client under a contingency fee agreement, the client does not pay the lawyer any money unless his or her claim is successful. If the client’s claim is successful, the lawyer collects a fixed amount of money from the settlement or verdict awarded to the client. This amount is generally calculated as a percentage of the award.
Our lawyers can help you better understand how a contingency fee case works, so do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your case. Remember, you pay nothing unless your lawsuit is successful.
What legal claims do I have if I have been involved in a collision?
Depending on how serious your car accident was, you may have a number of civil claims that arise from the collision. These might include claims for negligence, property damage, or even intentional conduct (such as assault or battery).
If you were injured in a car accident, you likely have a claim for negligence against the driver or party responsible for your injuries. If someone hurt you while driving irresponsibly, he or she can be held accountable for money damages if a court finds that his or her conduct was negligent.
You may also be able to recover money to compensate you for damaged property. If the other driver was reckless or caused your accident intentionally, you may be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are substantial damage awards granted by courts to deter bad conduct.
A car accident lawyer can help you better understand what claims are available to you based on the specific details of your case.
What types of insurance are available to me for my claim?
Whether insurance will cover the property damage and/or injuries you suffered as a result of your car accident depends not only on your insurance policy, but on that of the other driver’s. A car accident lawyer can review your policy to determine whether insurance will cover your injuries, property damage, and other losses.
To discuss your options with respect to insurance, contact our office today.
Can I handle this without a lawyer?
If you were involved in a very minor car accident, you may not need to hire a lawyer. But if anyone was injured in your car accident, or there was serious property damage, you should probably hire a lawyer. To learn more about the signs you should hire a lawyer after a car accident, click here.
An experienced car accident attorney will help protect your rights in court and during the settlement negotiation process. At Sutliff & Stout, we pursue all available forms of compensation for our clients who have been involved in car accidents. Often, car accident lawsuits involve complicated legal claims. Therefore, we typically recommend that you do not proceed without a lawyer.
Can I recover for my medical bills?
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you may be entitled to recover the costs of your medical bills. This includes not only the costs of the treatment you needed immediately after an accident, but the costs of medical treatment you may require in the future.
We understand that medical bills can be very expensive and difficult to deal with. This is one reason why it is so important to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as quickly as possible after your case. A car accident lawyer can help secure funds to pay for necessary and costly medical treatment.
Can I recover for my lost wages?
If you missed work as a result of your car accident, you may be able to recover money to compensate you for lost wages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. If your earning capacity was permanently reduced as a result of your injuries, you may also be able to recover damages to account for the earnings you will lose over time.
It can be difficult to calculate the exact amount of wages you are owed. A car accident lawyer can help calculate the amount of wages you are owed, and will fight for your right to be compensated for your lost income in court.
What if I can’t work as a result of my injuries?
If you cannot work as a result of your injuries, you may be entitled to receive disability benefits. Even if you receive disability benefits, you may still be entitled to recoup lost wages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Securing disability benefits after a serious injury can be a very complicated and lengthy process. To discuss whether you are entitled to receive such benefits, contact our office today.
What types of damages are recoverable?
There are many types of damages recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit filed after a car accident. These include:
- Damages to compensate you for damaged property (such as your car),
- Damages to compensate you for lost wages,
- Damages to compensate you for reduced earning capacity,
- Damages to compensate you for your medical expenses,
- Damages to compensate you for pain and suffering, and
- Punitive damages to deter the driver who hurt you by driving dangerously.
A lawyer can help you better understand what types of damages will be available to you based on the specific facts of your case.
What should I do after a car accident?
After a car accident, you should call 911 immediately. If you did not call 911 from the scene of your accident, you should contact the Houston Police Department to report your accident as soon as possible. To learn more about reporting a car accident in Texas, click here.
If you were injured in your car accident, you should seek prompt medical treatment. Even if you do not think you were hurt or seriously injured, you should visit your primary care provider as a precautionary measure. Keep a file containing all of your medical records and bills related to your treatment.
You should contact your insurance provider to let them know you were in an accident. You should not lie to your insurance company about what happened, but never admit fault for the accident under any circumstances. Do not speak to the other party’s insurance company without a lawyer. Insurance companies may try to use your statements against you.
If you or anyone else was injured in your car accident, you should contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. An experienced car accident lawyer can help defend you against legal claims by the other party or parties involved in your accident, and will work hard to make sure you are compensated for your injuries.
We recommend that anyone involved in a car accident keep a “car accident diary” or “car accident journal.” In it, you can detail how you are feeling after the accident, take notes about your communications with the insurance companies involved, and log your visits to doctors office. A car accident journal can provide critical evidence should you file a personal injury lawsuit.
What should I look for in a lawyer?
The lawyer-client relationship is a very important one. You should look for a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable communicating. Ask if the lawyer has experience handling cases similar to yours. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from past clients.
In personal injury cases, it is important to have a lawyer who will aggressively pursue your claims. Make sure your lawyer has experience trying cases before a jury, as well as negotiating favorable settlements for his or her clients outside of court. Ask your lawyer to discuss their techniques with you.
Be sure that you are clear on how much your lawyer plans to charge you if your case is successful. Your lawyer should never be unresponsive to these types of questions. If you ever feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied with your lawyer, you have the right to terminate the relationship.
What if I don’t have medical insurance?
If you were injured in a car accident and do not have medical insurance, you should contact a car accident lawyer right away. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to have the necessary funds available to pay for your medical treatment.
Medical bills can be very expensive. Many people are forced to file bankruptcy as a result of unmanageable medical bills. If you do not have health insurance, a compassionate and experienced car accident lawyer can help.
What are my rights concerning repairs to my vehicle?
If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident, whether you are entitled to have it repaired or replaced depends on the insurance policies of the parties involved in the accident (including your own). If you feel as though your insurance company, or the insurance company of the another driver, is denying your claims for vehicle repairs in bad faith, a car accident lawyer may be able to help.
In many cases, insurance companies will try to avoid paying repair costs. If you have been denied a claim for car repairs after a car accident, contact a car accident lawyer right away.
Is the at-fault driver’s insurance company required to provide me a rental car?
Whether the at-fault driver’s insurance company is required to provide you with a rental car depends on his or her insurance policy. A car accident lawyer can review the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to determine whether you are being unfairly denied access to a rental car after an accident.
You may also be able to obtain a rental car through your own insurance provider. If you need help with this process, contact a car accident attorney today.
What happens if my car is totaled?
If your car is totaled, you may be able to recover the fair market value of your car right before the accident occurred by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
In the meantime, you will need to secure alternate means of transportation. You may be able to obtain a rental car through your insurance policy or that of the other driver. Depending on the policies, you may also be entitled to receive a check in the amount of your vehicle’s fair market value to replace your car.
If your car was totaled in a car accident, a lawyer can help you navigate the often complicated process of obtaining a replacement vehicle.
What if I owe more than my car is worth?
If your car is considered a “total loss” (or “totaled”) after a car accident and you still owe money on the vehicle, you are not relieved of your obligation to make your car payments.
Ideally, you will receive a check after your car accident from your insurance company (or the other party’s insurance company) that covers the amount of money you still owe on the car. However, the value of a vehicle is not determined by the balance of the car loan. Instead, it is determined by the fair market value of your car right before the accident. You may end up still owing money on a vehicle that has been destroyed in a car accident.
If you are concerned about making payments on a vehicle that was totaled in a car accident, a car accident lawyer may be able to help. Contact us today to discuss your options.
If my health insurance is paying for my medical bills, do I have to pay it back?
You may be required to reimburse your health insurance provider or Medicare after winning a personal injury lawsuit or settling the lawsuit out of court. Whether you are required to do this depends on a number of factors.
A lawyer can help you understand whether you must repay your health insurance provider after a personal injury lawsuit or settlement, and how to go about doing so.
How long will my claim take?
How long it will take to settle a claim through insurance or to pursue a personal injury lawsuit to completion depends on a number of factors. These factors include the seriousness of your accident, whether you or others were injured in the accident and how badly, the total amount of property damage or loss caused by the accident, and whether all the parties involved in your accident were insured.
Typically, a personal injury lawsuit takes between one and two years from filing to completion. If you file a personal injury lawsuit, the other party may wish to settle the lawsuit before it reaches court. This can save everyone involved a lot of time and money.
There is no way to predict exactly how long your claim will take, but a car accident attorney may be able to provide some guidance. Contact our office today to discuss your case.
Should I go to the doctor?
We recommend that you go to the doctor after a car accident, even if it’s just for a precautionary check-up. Often, people don’t realize that they may have been injured in a car accident. The symptoms of common car accident injuries like whiplash, back and neck injuries, and muscle stiffness may take time to develop. If left untreated, some of these injuries can become worse over time.
Make sure to ask for copies of your medical records and any billing statements associated with your medical care. These records will be important to have on hand during the insurance claims process, as well as if you file a personal injury lawsuit.
What if I don’t have a doctor?
If you do not have a doctor, we may be able to help you find one. Contact us today to discuss options for your treatment.
What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Texas law requires all people who drive in Texas to pay for the accidents they cause. Most drivers do this by buying auto liability insurance, also known as car insurance. Texas specifies a minimum amount for all drivers. The current minimum liability limits are $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This basic coverage is called 30/60/25 coverage.
If the other driver involved in your car accident doesn’t have insurance, or was underinsured at the time of the accident, we can help you file a civil lawsuit against the driver to recover money damages. Sometimes, this is the only way to get you the money you deserve to compensate you for your injuries and other losses.
If you have insurance, you may have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as part of your policy. This means that your insurance company will help cover some or all of the costs of your accident if it was caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Getting in an accident with an uninsured driver can lead to complicated legal proceedings. A car accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and recover the money you deserve.