Most holiday injuries can be chalked up to a moment of carelessness. However, if the incident that injured you was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you may be able to pursue compensation.
Being prepared for a deposition can help victims get the best outcome for their car accident case. An experienced personal injury attorney will tell their clients what to expect before, during, and after a car accident deposition. Following the deposition, a lawsuit will either go to court or settle before trial. Depositions are used as part of the discovery process in a case. They can be used to lock in testimony, meaning that the other attorney will use a client’s deposition to uncover discrepancies between what they say in the courtroom and what they said while being deposed. Depositions are also commonly used to enter testimony of witnesses who can’t be present for some reason.
Deposition will take place out of court. Sworn testimony will be given under oath in the presence of a court reporter and attorneys. In car accident lawsuits, depositions will typically cover three subjects including your background, how the collision occurred, and the severity of your injuries. A car accident deposition is a formal question-and-answer session that gives lawyers from both sides of the case a chance to:
- Hear everyone’s account of events
- Evaluate the weight of the testimony
- Decide if this witness may sway a judge or jury
Eight Tips for a Smooth Car Accident Deposition
Being in the hot seat and giving sworn testimony can be uncomfortable. If clients keep these eight tips in mind, the deposition is likely to go much more smoothly.
- Be prepared and go over the facts of the case beforehand.
- Always be truthful.
- Be mindful of the transcript and provide clear answers.
- Answer only the question presented and avoid volunteering information.
- Answer only as to what you know and don’t speculate.
- Stay calm and avoid showing anger or apologizing.
- Ask to see exhibits when asked about them.
- Don’t be bullied or allow the examiner to rush you or interrupt.
What Types of Questions Will Be Asked During a Car Accident Deposition?
Before a car accident deposition, a client and their lawyer will go over the things that might be asked to make sure responses to questions are honest, but in a manner that is in the best interest of a client’s auto accident claim. The following are examples of questions that might be asked during a deposition:
- What is your educational background?
- What is your marital status?
- Do you have children? How many?
- Do you have any health issues?
- Did you have any injuries that existed before this accident?
- What doctors have you seen during the last 10 years, and what types of treatment have you received?
- What jobs have you held in the last 10 year?
- Does your current job have physical requirements?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
- Have you ever filed a lawsuit?
- What, when, and where did the automobile accident occur?
- How fast were you going?
- Exactly what did you do after the accident?
- What were the weather conditions?
- What injuries did you suffer from the accident?
- When did you initially noticed that you were injured?
- Did you visit a physician after the accident?
- What medical treatment are you currently receiving and/or will you need?
- How has this injury affected your life?
- What financial losses have you suffered?
- Why do you think the defendant is at fault?
- Do you have any photos that show the accident scene? A client may be asked to draw a diagram of the accident scene showing how the accident happened.
How Long Are Car Accident Depositions?
The time limits for depositions in Texas are set by Texas Rule of Civil Procedure, which states that “no side may examine or cross-examine an individual witness for more than six hours.” It also states that breaks during depositions do not count against this limitation. This rule results in most depositions falling somewhere within the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. range, which is seven hours with a break for lunch. Depositions may be scheduled for multiple days or extend into additional days if needed.
What Happens After a Car Accident Deposition?
After the deposition is finished, the court reporter will process a transcription and provide copies and evidence entered into the record during the deposition for both parties. Each side has access to the same information and will often interpret the information differently to strengthen their claims or defenses. In this way, depositions are crucial in working up a case in preparation for either settlement or trial.
Having a highly qualified and experienced personal injury attorney at the deposition is helpful because they can state objections to the opposing counsel’s questions. A car accident deposition is merely one necessary step in the journey of obtaining the compensation you need to cover the costs of your injuries.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most common type of car accident is a rear-end collision. And one of the most common types of injuries resulting from a rear-end collision is whiplash. Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) are caused by the neck bending forcibly forward and backward severely. It’s an injury that involves the muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons in the neck. WADs often go undiagnosed. These injuries typically resolve themselves quickly but can turn into something more serious. If someone is suffering significant neck pain following a car accident, they should visit a medical professional.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Most people who have whiplash feel better within a few weeks and don’t seem to have any lasting effects from the injury. However, some people continue to have pain for several months or years after the injury occurred. These are the most common symptoms associated with whiplash:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Low back pain
- Pain in your arm or hand
- Numbness in your arm or hand
- Ringing in your ears
- Blurred vision
- Concentration or memory problems
How is Whiplash Diagnosed?
Whiplash injuries include damage to soft tissue that can’t be seen on X-rays. Tests for whiplash may include the following:
- X-Ray. Electromagnetic energy beams produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Large magnets and a computer make detailed images of organs and soft tissue structures in your body.
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan. X-rays and computer technology make horizontal, or axial, images of your body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of your body, including your bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
What are the Consequences of a Whiplash Injury?
It’s a common misconception that whiplash is a minor injury. The truth is whiplash can cause chronic pain and serious consequences. A driver doesn’t need to be speeding to sustain a whiplash injury. Many whiplash injuries occur in accidents at speeds as slow as 10 mph. Up to one-third of people who sustain a whiplash injury are left moderately to severely disabled. WADs can cause neurological and physical symptoms that may be chronic. Researchers have found that the symptoms of a whiplash injury can last for more than a decade for some victims. Consequences of this type of injury include:
- Central hypersensitivity
- Difficulty with memory and concentration
- Mood changes
What Damages Can I Recover After a Whiplash Injury?
If a claim is successful, a whiplash injury victim may be entitled to many forms of compensation for the damages they have sustained. These damages are designed to make them as whole as possible after their accident and may cover economic and non-economic damages. Depending on the details of the case, a client may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses, both current and future, related to the accident
- Lost wages
- Disability or reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
How is Whiplash Treated?
Some treatments for whiplash are most helpful right after an injury, while others are best if used to treat the long-term effects and chronic problems from a whiplash injury. The most common treatments for whiplash include:
- Cold application for the first week followed by heat application
- Exercise/physical therapy
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy
- Radiofrequency nerve ablation
- Spine surgery
How Can I Prevent or Reduce My Risk for Whiplash?
There are several actions people can take to reduce the risk of developing whiplash. Whiplash happens unpredictably, so there’s no way to prevent it entirely. The best ways to reduce risk include:
- Adjust Vehicle Seat
Putting a car seat into the right position and using the headrests can reduce the risk of developing whiplash from vehicle-related situations. There are also orthopedic seat cushions that can help adjust height or posture.
- Properly Fasten Seatbelt
If a seatbelt isn’t worn correctly across the shoulder or it isn’t snug against the body, it might not be able to stop a person’s forward motion before the momentum causes a whiplash injury.
- Drive Safely
Being cautious with driving can help avoid situations where the driver travelling behind can’t stop in time. An example of this is not driving too close to the car ahead. They could slam on the brakes, which might not leave the person behind enough time to stop.
- Position Head Against Headrest
If you see or hear something that indicates your vehicle is about to be rear-ended and there’s time, place your head against the headrest and face straight ahead. Having your head against a properly placed headrest keeps your head, neck, and body from moving at different speeds.
- Play Contact Sports Safely
Avoiding dangerous contact during sports can help avoid a whiplash injury to another player.
- Avoid Roller Coasters and Amusement Park Rides
A primary care provider can advise a person on whether they can or should ride roller coasters or participate in other high-movement activities that could lead to injury.
If you or someone you love has suffered a whiplash injury due to the negligence someone else, you may benefit from the assistance of a Board Certified Personal Injury attorney. Give our office a call at 817-440-3888 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how we can help you.
In personal injury claims, accident agreement settlements generally result in payment of compensation to the victim. The amount of compensation a victim receives for damages depends on several factors. The insurance company often prepares a car accident settlement agreement outlining the details of your settlement. An insurance adjuster from the company explains that you must sign the agreement before the company can pay your claim.
There are several reasons why a victim should consult an attorney before signing anything from the insurance company. For one, car accident settlement agreements are often lengthy and contain numerous clauses and legal terminology about liability, fault, claims, negligence, and third parties. It’s also important to remember that insurance companies don’t have a victim’s best interest in mind. The insurance company’s goal is to pay a little as they can on claims, or even to avoid paying at all. Before settling an injury claim and signing an agreement that the insurance company has prepared, there are some things that you should know about accident settlement agreements and your legal rights.
Five Things to Know Before You Sign a Car Accident Settlement Agreement
1. A Car Accident Settlement Agreement is Final
The agreement ends your claim against the insurance company and the driver who caused the accident. In other words, you are releasing other parties when the agreement is signed. An example of when this would be detrimental is when a car accident injury is made worse because of defective tires or an airbag that failed to deploy. You could pursue a product liability claim. But if they sign the settlement agreement, that would give up your right to pursue that claim.
2. Victims Don’t Know the Value of Their Car Accident Claim
It is in the insurance company’s best interest if car accident victims don’t know the true value of their claim. If they aren’t aware of how much their car accident claim is worth, they won’t know if the insurance company is undervaluing their damages. In most car accident cases, the accident victims are entitled to compensation for their economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include financial losses caused by the car crash, such as loss of income, travel expenses, medications, medical treatment, personal care, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages include the pain, suffering, discomfort, and inconvenience caused by the car accident.
3. There is No Formula for Calculating Settlement Amounts
There is no exact formula for calculating the average settlement amount for a car accident. An insurance company won’t admit it, but adjusters use a basic formula to predict what a jury may award you for an injury claim if the case goes to trial. Insurance companies use statistics to calculate averages for different accident scenarios. Because no two accidents are exactly the same, an accident hardly ever fits the profile of an average claim. An adjuster will take your total financial loss incurred by an accident and multiply it by a factor of two or three. The insurance company is going to offer the lowest amount it believes you will accept to settle your claim. Another incredibly important factor is whether or not a victim has completed their treatment. An insurance company could be trying to get a victim to enter a binding agreement before they realize the extent of their injuries.
4. Accident Settlement Agreements Aren’t the Only Option
There is no requirement for a car accident victim to settle their car accident claim. The insurance company may aggressively pressure someone to enter a settlement agreement because it wants to avoid a lawsuit. This should be a red flag. If a victim is unsure whether they want to go through the expense and stress of a trial, they should discuss mediation or arbitration options with a Texas personal injury lawyer. These options settle a case outside of court. Victims shouldn’t wait to explore options. The time to file a personal injury lawsuit is limited to two years following the date of the car accident. Victims give up their legal rights to file a lawsuit if they miss the deadline outlined in the Texas statute of limitations.
5. There are Laws in Texas Governing Insurance Claims
The Texas Insurance Code governs insurance companies within Texas. They have an obligation to investigate claims fairly and in a timely manner. There are laws against the use of deceptive practices when handling car insurance claims. Examples of tactics that might be considered bad faith include:
- Ignoring a claim or lack of communication
- Failing to investigate your insurance claim
- Delaying payment of claims without a valid reason
- Intentionally misleading you about your legal rights or options
- Requiring unnecessary documentation and information
- Making threatening statements
- Refusing reasonable requests for documentation
- Intentionally undervaluing a claim to avoid liability
If the insurance company engages in unfair claim settlement practices, it could be guilty of bad faith insurance practice. When an insurance company violates laws, you are entitled to compensation for a bad faith insurance claim. Navigating an accident settlement agreement can be extremely stressful and may lead to a victim recovering less than they deserve. Our Texas personal injury lawyers want to make sure our clients come out with a successful outcome following a car accident. Fill out our contact form or call our office at 817-440-3888 for a free consultation.
After a car accident, even if the injuries are minor, life can become chaotic. Victims may have to deal with an uncooperative insurance company, mounting medical costs, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This can be too much to juggle for many victims. If you’ve been in a car accident at the fault of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation. Every case is different, and the amount of your potential settlement depends on the unique facts of your case. Therefore, it is impossible to give a set amount that victims will recover in their personal injury cases. However, our Texas personal injury lawyers can provide a car accident settlement breakdown.
What is the Car Accident Settlement Breakdown in Texas?
Under Texas law, car accident victims are entitled to receive compensation equal to the value of their damages. Because all car accident claims are viewed on a case-by-case basis, the compensation that a client is eligible for depends on the severity and amount of damage they suffer. Examples of compensation car accident victims may recover after a car accident include:
- Damages to your vehicle and property
- Current and future medical bills
- Rehabilitative care
- Lost wages, including benefits, wages, and commissions
- Long-term disability
- Emotional distress
- Pain and Suffering
A car accident can lead to severe injuries that change your life forever. Figuring out how to navigate a settlement offer is challenging without the help of an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer.
What Factors Impact an Average Car Accident Settlement in Texas?
1. Severity of the Injury
It’s pretty clear that a broken bone merits more compensation than a bad bruise or a sprained ankle. Certain injuries following a car accident, like brain or spine injuries, will forever affect a victim’s ability to be independent. This will play a factor in quality of life and the ability to work and earn a living. Referred to as of injuries are often called catastrophic injuries, victims may need medical care for the rest of their lives. The settlement amount will be substantially higher for severe or debilitating injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the total national annual cost of a non-fatal traumatic brain injury is more than $40.6 billion; one-time emergency room treatment costs hover above $6,620 each; and 11 days of lost wages at upwards of $1,600 on average are typical. What victims of traumatic brain injuries may not anticipate is that there are expenses beyond hospitalization.
2. Statute of Limitations
Car accident claims have deadlines called statutes of limitations. If you miss this window of time, your case may be dismissed entirely. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a car accident is two years from the date of the accident.
3. Number of Parties Responsible
In the instance that another driver hits you on an quiet street, it is likely that a client will only be seeking compensation from that driver’s insurance company. It’s a different story if a driver is involved in a multi-car accident or if they are hit by a commercial vehicle. In these cases, a victim’s Texas personal injury lawyer may pursue multiple avenues for compensation.
4. Policy Limits
There are caps associated with the other driver’s insurance policy. In Texas, the minimum care insurance requirement for drivers is 30/60/25. What this means is:
$30,000 for injuries per person
$60,000 total per accident
$25,000 for property damage
When damages exceed these policy limits, which is often the case, a victim may suffer the consequences.
5. Gaps in Treatment
It is imperative to follow the orders of medical professionals following a car accident injury. Showing record of treatment will be extremely important in a personal injury case. If an injured victim fails to do this or waits too long to get treatment, insurance adjusters will use this against them and claim that they aren’t really hurt.
6. Length of Treatment
For most cases, a settlement won’t be reached until the victim has completed their treatment. So, what happens if a victim is severely injured and needs multiple surgeries or ongoing treatment. An experienced Texas personal injury can estimate the cost of future medical costs and recover these expenses in a victim’s claim.
7. Legal Costs
Often, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means their payment is contingent upon your success. At the end of your case, they will deduct their fees from your total settlement amount.
How Does Proportionate Fault Work in Texas Personal Injury Cases?
In Texas, there is a proportionate responsibility statute, which reduces the amount of a settlement after taking to account the victim’s negligence or fault in the accident. It also says that a person who is more than 50% at fault can’t recover any compensation from the other party. When considering car accident settlement amounts in Texas, one of the most important things to understand is that a finding of partial fault will reduce the value of your settlement, perhaps significantly. If two or more parties share the fault for the same Texas car accident, the financial liability will be divided by each party’s percentage of the blame.
Should Victims Work with the Insurance Company?
Insurance adjusters are not your friend. They represent the financial interests of the insurance company that is defending your claim. Victims should never sign anything presented by the insurance company following a car accident, nor should they rely on the advice of an insurance adjuster. Victims should get an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer by their side as early as possible to handle interactions with the insurance company. The Texas Insurance Code governs insurance companies within Texas. If the insurance company refuses to act in good faith and pay you the amount victims are entitled to receive, an attorney will be able to file a lawsuit.
Why Should Accident Victims Contact a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer?
Attempting to navigate the legal claim process by yourself is extremely stressful and may lead to a victim recovering unfair compensation. Our Texas personal injury lawyers have years of experience helping people recover the financial compensation they deserve. Our clients are part of our family, and we want to make sure you come out with a successful outcome for your personal injury case.