CAR ACCIDENT CLAIMS PROCESS IN TEXAS
Every one minute and seven seconds, a reportable car accident occurred in Texas in 2020. That means that every one minute and seven seconds, someone’s life is potentially altered for the foreseeable future as they deal with potential injuries, property damages, and more. If you have never been in an accident before, knowing what to do next can be difficult.
Knowing a little about auto insurance claims and how to file a bodily injury claim may make the process easier. Of course, working with an experienced Texas personal injury attorney who has handled claims for numerous clients can relieve much of your stress.
Here at my firm — Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law — I am dedicated to providing aggressive and meticulous representation to clients who have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence. I proudly serve injury victims in Houston, Webster, South Houston, and Pasadena, Texas, and would be proud to provide legal guidance and representation for you if you’ve been injured.
What You Should Know About Personal Injury Claims in Texas
The first thing you should know about personal injury claims arising from car accidents is that Texas is considered an at-fault state. That means that the person who caused a crash will be liable for paying any damages to the injured victims involved in the crash.
The second thing to know is that Texas exercises a modified comparative fault rule. This means that if you are found to be partially responsible for an accident, any financial settlement will be reduced by the percentage of fault you bear.
For example, if a car drives through an intersection without yielding the right-of-way to you and T-bones your vehicle, but you were on your mobile phone at the time, you could be assigned percentage of fault for the accident. If the other driver is found to be 70% at fault for the accident for neglecting to yield at the intersection, but you are found to be 30% at fault for distracted driving with your phone, then the settlement awarded to you would be reduced by 30% to account for your level of fault in the accident.
Furthermore, if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, you will not be allowed to pursue a claim at all.
What You Should Know About the Claims Process
There are four key areas you should be aware of when it comes to understanding the claims process in Texas.
Reportable Accidents Must Be Reported Immediately
If someone involved in a car accident in Texas is injured or killed, or if any of the vehicles are damaged to the extent they cannot be removed from the scene on their own, then the crash must be reported to authorities. Anyone involved in the incident should immediately notify law enforcement. Calling 911 will ensure that the proper law enforcement office, first responders, and emergency vehicles are dispatched to the scene as quickly as possible to assist everyone involved.
You Can Pursue Compensation Three Ways
If another driver caused the crash and you are injured as a result, there are three ways to attempt to recover compensation:
File a Claim with Your Own Insurance - You can file a claim against certain coverages on your own auto insurance policy. First, you can access your personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payment coverage to help pay medical expenses. If you have PIP coverage, it will also pay lost wages while you are unable to work. You can claim these benefits no matter who was at fault for the crash. Second, if the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability policy limits are lower than your damages, or if they did not have any insurance at all, you can file a claim against your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
File a Claim Against The At-Fault Driver - You can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage. Texas auto owners are required to carry bodily injury liability coverage of at least $30,000 per person.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit - If the at-fault driver’s insurance company will not settle your claim, you can file a lawsuit against the driver. Their insurance company attorneys will defend their insured in the case.
You Need to Prove the Other Driver was Negligent
The at-fault driver’s insurance company will work very hard to place blame on you. It’s important to remember that insurance companies do not want to pay claims. You will need to prove that the other driver had a duty to not harm you, that they failed to do so, and that their failure caused your injuries.
Any Settlement You Accept Is Final
When you accept an offer proffered by the negligent driver’s insurer, you are agreeing to accept that sum in full as a final settlement of your claim. You will be required to sign a release which states you will pursue no further action against the driver in exchange for the settlement. This is why it is extremely important that you know the full extent of your damages before agreeing to any settlement of your claim.
How Much Time do I Have to Settle My Claim?
The statute of limitations is the length of time you have to settle a claim or file a lawsuit. In Texas, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims is two years for a bodily injury claim.
What Compensation Might I Recover?
You can recover compensation for damages including the cost of your current and future medical care and treatment, lost income due to your injuries, and for any additional pain and suffering. If you choose to work with an experienced firm, your attorney can help you accurately assess the extent of the injuries and damages you’ve suffered so that you can pursue compensation that ensures that you are well taken care of.
Experience You Can Trust: Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law
Perhaps the most important thing to know about the auto accident claims process is that insurance companies work very hard to avoid paying you fair compensation for your injuries. They will spend time trying to reduce the percentage of fault of their insured with a goal of proving that you were at least 50% at fault. Should they succeed, you will not be able to collect any compensation for your injuries.
Here at my firm, Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, I work hard to help my clients pursue the justice they deserve. I negotiate aggressively and if the insurance companies refuse to compensate you, I’m well prepared to help you fight in court. I am proud to represent injured victims and their families in Houston, Texas, and the surrounding areas of Webster, South Houston, Pasadena, Clear Lake, Friendswood, League City, Alvin, Dickinson, Bacliff, Kemah, Seabrook, and Santa Fe.
The clock that you have to file a claim or lawsuit against the negligent party that caused your injuries ticks quickly, so don’t wait. Call or reach out to my office today to schedule a free consultation. Together we can discuss the details of your case and outline an immediate plan to help you pursue the compensation you need and deserve.