While it's possible to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, you need to know what you're getting into. You will have to handle each step in the process on your own, which can be time-consuming and overwhelming for many injured accident victims. For this reason, it is always recommended to hire a Houston car accident lawyer from the start.
If you are seeking a car accident settlement, a lawyer can answer your questions, evaluate your claim, and decide if you have a good case. Reputable personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and will represent you for a contingency fee, so you'll never pay out of pocket for legal services.
Issues You May Encounter When Seeking Houston a Car Accident Settlement
Though the claims process outlined above may seem straightforward, issues may arise at any stage. In particular, you will likely experience pushback from the insurance company when you submit a claim.
You must understand that an insurer's goal is generally to pay out as little as possible for each claim, and insurance adjusters will look for any reasons to devalue or deny your claim. Some tactics the insurance company could use against you include:
Lowball Your Claim’s Value
When assessing car accident claims, an insurance adjuster will often make a lowball offer early on with the hope that you will accept the settlement and move on. However, this settlement amount rarely reflects the true value of your damages. Once you accept a settlement offer, you cannot go back and try to pursue additional compensation later. This means you will have to pay any future expenses and losses that come along.
In this scenario, the insurer is relying on the fact that you are facing medical bills and time away from work due to your injuries. They hope that you are desperate for money and have little time or energy to fight for a larger settlement. When you hire a law firm to represent you, however, an auto collision lawyer will handle negotiations for you and will never settle for less than you deserve.
Take Your Statements Out of Context
Watch what you say immediately after the collision, especially in conversations with the insurance adjuster and online. Any statements you make about the accident or your health could jeopardize your financial recovery.
During interviews with the adjuster, discussing your potential fault or your actions before the crash could undermine your claim that the other driver is responsible. One careless comment could invalidate your case. Even saying you're sorry for the accident just to be nice can come back to haunt you. Fortunately, you don't have to walk on eggshells. A car accident attorney can communicate on your behalf to protect your claim and your rights.
Suggest You Caused the Collision
The insurance company could also blame you and reject your claim altogether, suggesting that your actions caused the collision or your injuries. In this case, you must decide whether to search for additional evidence to support your claim or take the at-fault driver to court.
Either way, you will need to fight to prove your right to damages, and this fight could go on for months. A lawyer knows what it takes to prove a car accident claim, and uses this knowledge to fight for you.
Advantages of Having a Car Accident Lawyer on Your Side
After suffering injuries in a car accident someone else caused, you deserve time to heal without worrying about how you will afford your medical bills or how soon you can get back to work. Instead of adding more stress to your plate—and potentially worsening your injuries in the process—you can hire a car accident attorney to take care of your case.
Personal injury lawyers take on many tasks when representing car accident victims. Through it all, their goal stays the same: to secure compensation for you efficiently and reduce your stress of dealing with the settlement process. From the moment our firm signs on to your case, you can leave everything to us. All final decisions are yours to make, however, and your lawyer cannot accept a settlement for you without your approval.
Some ways a Houston car accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation include:
Putting Time and Resources into Investigating the Car Accident
Your auto accident injuries could keep you physically, mentally, and financially preoccupied for weeks or even months. We understand you may not be in a position to invest the time or resources a successful personal injury case requires. However, that shouldn't mean you have to miss out on compensation from the liable party. The point of hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you is to have someone on your side taking care of every legal detail so you don't have to. Attorneys work on car accident cases every day, so they know what is required to meet your goals and guide you through a successful recovery. An attorney can handle it all, including:
- Collecting evidence
- Ensuring you get proper medical treatment
- Reviewing your medical records to assess the full extent of your injuries
- Analyzing police reports of the accident to determine fault and liability
- Obtaining witness statements
- Consulting experts like accident reconstructionists
- Compiling everything into a strong case for financial recovery
Attorneys give their clients' cases the attention they need to seek fair compensation.
Bringing in Reliable Experts When Necessary to Support Your Claim
Sometimes, input from industry experts is necessary to understand what caused a car accident and the full extent of the damages. When possible, your lawyer will work with such experts to ensure they paint a comprehensive picture for the insurance company and provide enough evidence to support your right to compensation.
For instance, medical experts can shed light on the seriousness of your injuries and provide a prognosis, explaining what your recovery will look like. This information will help the legal team estimate your future medical expenses.
Identifying Damages You Might Not Know You Can Recover
If this is your first auto accident, you may not be aware of all the damages you could recover. The effects of a car accident can be far-reaching, touching many areas of your life both now and in the future. A lawyer will discuss your case and injuries with you, taking the time to identify your current losses as well as all of your potential future damages. For example, you could collect compensation for:
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Transportation to doctor's appointments
- Missing out on promotions or other work benefits due to your injuries
- Pain and suffering damages
- Reduced future earning capacity
- Disfigurement or disability damages
- Loss of consortium (intimacy with your spouse)
The goal is to ensure that you are not left footing the bill after your claim resolves. Note that car accident compensation depends on the specific damages you suffered. In addition, state laws may limit the type and amount of damages you can seek from the liable party.
Assigning an Accurate Value to Each Recoverable Damage
Beyond identifying all of your damages, it's crucial to assign an accurate value to each of them. For economic damages like medical bills, this process is fairly straightforward, but it does take time. The damage calculation process requires:
- Gathering all of your receipts and invoices related to the aftermath of the car accident
- Requesting pay stubs to estimate your current and future lost income
- Acquiring an estimate for car repairs or replacement of your vehicle
Some damages, like reduced earning capacity and non-economic losses, require even more information to properly calculate. However, our firm is familiar with performing such calculations. You can rest assured that your case will receive an accurate value before we enter settlement negotiations with the at-fault driver's insurance company.
Protecting Your Rights and Advocate for You with the Insurance Company
As outlined above, insurance companies generally are not looking out for your best interests. To minimize your interactions with the adjuster and protect your case, a car accident attorney will:
- Communicate on your behalf, whether in writing, over the phone, or in person
- Assist you in preparing any statements you need to make to the car insurance company
- Prepare and file paperwork with the insurance company
- Present your case evidence and draft a demand letter
- Steer negotiations in your favor and advise you on any settlement offers you receive
- Let you know when it may be necessary to take the case to court
Providing Informed Legal Advice as You Make Decisions in Your Case
Not everyone is familiar with civil matters and the legal system in general. Insurance companies are counting on the missteps of vulnerable victims. This is why hiring a lawyer is often beneficial after an auto accident.
Attorneys understand what it takes to settle a car accident claim or fight for compensation in court. They stand up against insurance companies regularly and fight for the rights of victims just like you. Car accident lawyers know what a fair settlement offer looks like, so they can give you their informed opinion on any offers you receive. While you get to make the final decision on when to accept an offer, your lawyer will aim to give you as much knowledge and support as possible so you can make the right choice for yourself and your family.
Navigating Any Issues that Arise During the Claims Process
Filing a car insurance claim isn't always smooth sailing. Many different issues can pop up while pursuing compensation from an at-fault driver. Having served personal injury victims for multiple decades, your lawyer will have seen a variety of difficult scenarios and guided their clients through them. Common car accident claim complications include:
- Multiple parties may be liable. Determining liability in car accident cases can get complicated when more than two parties are involved. Multiple insurance companies enter the fray as well.
- It may be necessary to seek a court award. Though the majority of personal injury cases are settled without going to court, this is not always the case. Bringing your claim in front of a jury could be the best option for seeking fair compensation.
- You may face partial fault. Some states consider the fault of all parties in an accident, including the victim. Depending on the state, this could reduce the amount of compensation you can receive—or bar you from financial recovery altogether.
If one of these or a similar complication occurs in your case, a car accident attorney will make sure you are ready for it.
Keeping Your Case on Track for Timely Filing
Time is a critical factor to consider when seeking personal injury compensation. Some evidence is time-sensitive, especially in car accident cases. You must collect it before it disappears. In addition, every state sets a deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits. For instance, Texas allows you only two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in civil court.
For this reason, it is vital to begin the process as soon as possible and file within the time limit. When our firm represents you, one of our first steps will be identifying this deadline (known as the statute of limitations) so we can use the time available wisely.
It Costs Nothing out of Pocket to Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Many accident victims hesitate to hire legal representation because they believe they can't afford an attorney. No one wants to rack up more bills when they're already under financial stress. However, most personal injury firms operate on a contingency fee basis. This arrangement means that they only receive a payment if they secure compensation for you first. If they do not deliver a settlement or court award, you owe nothing for their services. When they do take payment, it comes from a portion of the compensation they recover for you.
Your lawyer will outline the details of the fee structure before you commit to hiring them, so you never have to worry about surprise expenses. We're happy to address all questions and concerns at your initial case evaluation.
Discuss Your Car Accident Case with A Lawyer for Free
After a car crash in Houston, your health is likely your number one concern, followed by your finances. Even if you are facing significant medical debt and are unsure of when or if you can return to work, this shouldn't stop you from seeking legal help.
You're not alone, and you do not have to settle a car accident claim without an attorney. You deserve to have a personal injury lawyer in your corner and a team that is ready to support you with no upfront cost. Reach out now for a free consultation to learn how we can provide the legal representation you need to help you get the money you deserve.