Texas Accident and Injury FAQs
When you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, it can be difficult to know where to turn for reliable and timely information. It’s natural to have many questions, and the legal team at Parker Law Firm is here to provide the answers and facts you are looking for. Browse our FAQs and learn about common accidents, compensation, and how an attorney can help. If you don’t see your question, don’t hesitate to reach out to our attorneys. Take a moment and fill out our online contact form to hear back from a knowledgeable and experienced legal team.
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How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
This is a common question attorneys are asked, and it’s a concern for most potential clients. After you’re injured in a car accident, many people are worried about how to get their car fixed, how to pay their medical bills, and how to make up for the time they’ve had to take off work. Hiring a lawyer to represent them for fair compensation probably seems out of reach. But the truth is, it’s not.
Hiring Us Costs Nothing Upfront
For personal injury cases, most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. You pay nothing up front and nothing out of pocket. If Parker Law Firm represents you, our attorneys are paid out of the settlement we negotiate for you, and we guarantee the following:
- We will be transparent about our fees. You will know what percentage of the settlement will come to us, and that won’t change. Additionally, our fee will never exceed your recovery.
- We will work hard to get you the maximum possible settlement. Because we don’t get paid unless we win, we are highly motivated to be successful. We will also fight on your behalf to reduce what you may owe your insurance company and medical providers.
- All of our services—investigating the accident, negotiating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, taking your phone calls and answering your questions and even going to trial—are covered by our contingency fee.
- Even with our fee, you are likely to recover more by working with us than by working alone. We know how to negotiate with insurers and how to negotiate fair compensation for you.
Call the Parker Law Firm
After you’ve been injured in a car accident, you want to focus on your health and well-being. By hiring Parker Law Firm, you can leave everything else to us. We will fight for the settlement you need and deserve, and there are no hidden upfront costs. Connect with us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Should I sign medical forms the adjuster wants me to sign?
The answer is no. While an insurance adjuster may make it seem like signing these documents is a necessary step in your claim for compensation, it is not. In fact, signing these forms could actually jeopardize the success of your claim. Our advice is to not talk to an insurance adjuster or sign anything until you have spoken with an attorney. Bedford attorney Brad Parker will be more than happy to explain what you should and should not sign when you meet for a free consultation. In the meantime, here are our general guidelines for the medical authorization form.
What Will I Be Asked to Sign?
Soon after your accident, you may receive a bundle of forms from the insurance company for the liable party asking for you signature. It may seem routine to sign a few forms, but these are not forms you want to sign right away. One of the forms will likely be the medical authorization form. While you will have to provide proof of your injuries and medical treatment at some point, this particular form allows the insurance company to have full access to all of your medical records. This could hurt your case in three ways:
- Revealing prior medical history. If given access, the insurance adjuster will scour your entire medical history looking for previous injuries that are similar to your current injuries. He could then use this to claim that it was not the accident that caused your injuries, but that you had a pre-existing condition.
- Releasing your private statements to doctors. The adjuster will also look for inconsistencies in your statements about the accident and your injuries. If he finds that you altered what you said to any of your doctors at different times, he could use this to undermine your claim.
- Establishing a pattern of doctor visits. Given your entire medical history, the insurance company could try to show that you were generally fragile or unhealthy before the accident and discount the seriousness of your current injuries.
There is no reason for the insurance company or anyone else involved in your car accident claim to have access to your entire medical history.
How Brad Parker Can Help
To get the maximum settlement to which you are entitled, you will have to present a strong claim that proves the other driver’s liability and establishes the seriousness of your injuries. To establish these injuries, you will need to provide certain medical records but not all of them. Attorney Brad Parker knows how to build a strong case and will give you sound advice about releasing medical records and signing authorization forms. Contact our office today to learn more.
Should I talk to the insurance adjuster?
Life can quickly become very confusing following a car accident. You may need emergency medical treatment, the police will ask you questions, you will have to take care of your damaged car, and soon after, you will be contacted by an insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver. It’s important to understand why you shouldn’t speak with him.
Dealing With Your Own Insurance Company
You may be required to notify your own insurer when you are in an accident. If so, or if you aren’t sure what your policy says, you should inform your insurer about the accident within 72 hours. This is especially true when there are injuries and/or significant property damage as a result of the accident. You do not have to provide details, and you should never admit fault—even to your own insurer.
A Call From the at-Fault Driver’s Insurer
You will likely be contacted by the other driver’s insurance adjuster soon after your accident. You are under no obligation to talk to him, no matter who was at fault, and we advise that you do not for the following reasons:
- The adjuster is hoping to avoid paying out on his driver’s policy by passing fault for the accident to you and your insurer. He will do his best to get you to admit that you did something to contribute to the accident.
- Insurance adjusters use tricks to confuse and scare you. For example, they may attempt to make a quick settlement, give you an arbitrary deadline for accepting the settlement or say that you don’t need a lawyer.
- Even if you give only facts, you may say something slightly different later on, and the adjuster will use this to raise questions about your credibility.
Texans are raised to be polite, but now is not the time to use your best manners. Even a casual “I’m sorry” can be used against you later on. It’s best not to speak to the other insurance company at all.
Who Should You Talk to?
To protect your claim for compensation, the first person you should talk to following a serious injury accident is car accident attorney Brad Parker. He will take over all communication with both insurance companies, the police, the other driver, and anyone else who may be involved. Call Parker Law Firm for help with your car accident injury case.
How can a truck’s black box data be used to help my truck accident case?
You’ve probably heard of black boxes related to airline crashes. This vital piece of equipment can tell investigators a great deal about what might have caused a crash when no other evidence exists. People are often surprised to learn that many commercial semi-trucks also have black boxes. Known as an Event Data Recorder (EDR), this device records important information about the truck driver’s actions. If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a crash with a semi-truck, the EDR could provide the evidence needed to show fault and support your claim for compensation.
Information Provided by a Black Box
According to crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large trucks were involved in 433,000 police-reported crashes in 2015, leaving 116,000 people injured and 4,067 people dead. If you are affected by a semi-truck crash and did nothing to cause the crash, you will need strong evidence to prove that the truck driver was at fault. One possible source of evidence is the truck’s EDR. If a semi-truck has an EDR, it will record the following information:
- Acceleration rate
- Length of time driving
- Idle time
- Fuel consumption
- If a seatbelt was engaged
- If the airbag deployed
Data from the EDR could show if the truck driver was speeding, if he didn’t apply the brakes—which can be an indication of distracted driving—and whether he took the required rest breaks. Any of these violations could prove his liability and support your claim for compensation.
You Need an Attorney to Secure This Important Evidence
The trucking company and its insurance company are not going to hand over this evidence easily. When you work with Parker Law Firm, you can be sure that we will fight to get the proof necessary to present the strongest claim possible. And our fee will never exceed the recovery you receive, so you will not pay us out of your own pocket. Contact us as soon as possible after a crash with a commercial truck, so we can do what is necessary to protect this valuable evidence.
How much is my accident case worth?
When you suffer a serious injury in a Texas motor vehicle crash, your first question may be, “How much is my case worth?” You may wonder if all of your medical bills, lost wages and other costs will be covered by the settlement, or you may feel unsure if it’s worth it to hire a lawyer and pursue the at-fault party. Moving forward after an accident, it’s important to understand how your case might be valued.
Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Crashes Are Very Different
Each accident is unique with its own special circumstances, and each type of crash can result in very different outcomes. Depending on the type of vehicle involved in the accident, here are some things that might factor into how your claim is valued:
- Trucks. When you are injured in a commercial truck crash, there may be multiple liable parties, including the driver, trucking company and truck manufacturer. If you suffer catastrophic injuries, this could significantly increase your damages.
- Motorcycles. Injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash are often catastrophic, sometimes resulting in permanent disability and long-term care and treatment needs. These can increase the value of your claim.
- Cars. Car accident settlements are based heavily on the extent of injuries suffered and the amount of insurance the liable party has.
No matter what kind of crash you were involved in, an experienced accident attorney can often negotiate for a larger settlement than you would be able to get on your own. And if the liable party is uncooperative in negotiations, an attorney can sue for damages on your behalf.
What Kind of Damages Are Available?
In Texas, car accident victims may be awarded economic, non-economic and punitive damages. Damages that have a clear monetary value are considered to be economic damages and may include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation costs
- Long-term homecare expenses
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
When injuries are significant, it is important to wait until the extent of treatment and long-term prognosis are known before settling on economic damages.
Damages that don’t come with an invoice are known as non-economic damages. These may include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
These damages are difficult to quantify, and you will need an experienced Texas accident attorney to negotiate for the highest possible damage award.
In cases where the at-fault party acted intentionally or with malice to cause harm, such as by driving drunk, the judge may award punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and are often significant. An attorney can argue on your behalf for punitive damages if the at-fault driver’s actions were egregious.
Insurance Plays an Important Part in the Process
Compensation for accidents most often comes from insurance. In the case of a negligent driver in a car or motorcycle accident, his liability insurance policy will be used to cover the costs. However if he is only carrying the Texas minimum of $30,000—or if he has no insurance at all—your losses may not be covered. In this case, you may have to look to your own auto insurance or health insurance to pay your medical expenses. Our attorneys are skilled at negotiating with not only your insurer, but with your medical care providers to reduce your costs.
In the case of a commercial truck crash, the trucking company may carry up to $1 million in liability insurance. Likewise if a manufacturing defect played a part in the crash, the manufacturer’s liability policy may be used.
Our Legal Team Will Work Hard to Maximize Your Recovery
When you work with Parker Law Firm from the beginning, you can be sure that all avenues of compensation will be pursued, and we will fight to get you the maximum possible recovery. Reach out to us today to schedule your free initial consultation. We will review your case and let you know if we can help. If we take your case, your fee will never exceed your recovery.
What if the driver who hit me was uninsured?
If you were in a car accident with an uninsured driver, it’s much more difficult to get money for damages. Even if you sue the driver in court, if he doesn’t have insurance, he’s not likely to have other assets that could compensate you for your injuries. That’s why it’s important to hire a personal injury attorney to help.
How Will I Receive Compensation If the Other Driver Was Uninsured?
Even though Texas does not require drivers to purchase insurance, drivers are still obligated to pay for any damages they cause in a car accident. Most people meet this requirement by carrying insurance, but those who don’t are still liable for your medical costs and other losses if they cause your injuries. Our legal team will first determine if the uninsured driver has other assets that can be seized to pay your settlement. However they rarely do.
The next source of compensation will be your own insurance policy—specifically your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This coverage must be offered by all insurance companies, and you must reject it in writing if you don’t want it. Most Texas drivers have the coverage, whether they know it or not. If your UM/UIM policy does not cover all of your medical expenses, your health insurance provider should cover the rest.
Parker Law Firm Works for You
After your accident, Parker Law Firm will work tirelessly to find sources of compensation, and our fees will never exceed your recovery. Additionally our team will fight to reduce the amount that must be paid back to your health insurance company and medical providers out of your settlement. These payments can be negotiable—when you have the right negotiator on your side. We will always put your needs first. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
Can I sue for damages if I wasn’t wearing a helmet during my motorcycle accident?
As a Texan, you have the right to not wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. There has not been a mandatory helmet law in Texas since 1997, although you must be over the age of 21, have taken a motorcycle riding safety course, and carry insurance in order to qualify for the helmet exemption. However just because it may be legal for you to not wear a helmet, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In fact, not wearing a helmet could hurt your chances at a fair settlement when you are injured by another driver.
How Wearing a Helmet Affects Compensation
Riding a motorcycle in Texas presents many challenges. Drivers don’t always yield the right of way when they should, and sometimes they don’t even see motorcyclists at all. Poorly maintained roads can throw dangerous obstacles into your path, and law enforcement and the courts sometimes assume you are at fault in a crash just because you ride a motorcycle. If you are injured in a crash and you were not wearing a helmet, your claim for compensation could be affected in the following ways:
- You could be assigned partial fault. Depending on the injuries you sustain, a judge may determine that you contributed to the severity of your injuries by not wearing a helmet. This should not be a factor if you suffered a broken leg or pelvis, but if you sustained a head injury, a judge could rule under the comparative negligence law that you are partially responsible for your injuries. If this happens, the other driver would not be responsible for the entire cost of your medical treatment.
- Your compensation could be lowered. Even if you are awarded damages, the amount could be lower than what you would have received if you had been wearing a helmet. Medical costs following a head injury can be expensive, and if it is determined that the head injury occurred because you chose not to wear a helmet, you will be unlikely to recover the maximum possible settlement from the other driver.
You Need an Experienced Attorney
If you chose to exercise your legal right to not wear a helmet and you are injured by a careless or negligent driver, you will need an experienced motorcycle attorney in your corner to fight for the highest possible settlement. Call Parker Law Firm to schedule a case review before you talk to an insurance company. If we think we can help you get the settlement you deserve, we will gladly take your case.
What if I was partially at fault for my car accident?
Car accidents are not always the fault of a single driver. In fact, in many crashes, both drivers are determined to have played a role in causing the crash. When this happens, neither driver will be awarded full compensation for his losses. Instead, a percentage of fault will be assigned to each driver, and eligibility for compensation will depend upon that. How eligibility is determined will depend on the state where the accident took place. In Texas, the law of modified comparative fault is followed.
Types of Comparative Fault Systems
The following three types of comparative fault systems are used around the country:
- Pure contributory negligence. Only followed in four states, this system says that no compensation can be recovered if you are even 1 percent at fault for the accident.
- Pure comparative fault. Just 13 states follow this system, which says that you can recover damages even if you are 99 percent at fault, but your award will be reduced by the amount of fault you are assigned.
- Modified comparative fault. The majority of states (33) follow one of two variations of this system. Those following the 50% Bar Rule say that you may not recover damages if you are 50 percent or more at fault. Your damages will be reduced by your degree of fault. The remaining states—including Texas—follow the 51% Bar Rule, which works the same way as the 50% Bar Rule but sets the threshold at 51 percent.
How Modified Comparative Fault Works in Texas
Known officially in Texas as “proportionate responsibility,” this system can be confusing for injured victims of car accidents. As an example of how a shared-fault car accident recovery would work in Texas, consider the following. You were seriously injured in a crash on East Loop 820 when a car cut into your lane suddenly and you hit him. The responding officer cited the other driver for reckless driving but also cited you for speeding. You decided to seek damages from the other driver, and a jury decided you were 20 percent at fault because you were speeding. This means you can still recover from the other driver, but you will only get 80 percent of the total damages. If those are determined to be $50,000, you will receive $40,000.
You Need an Attorney by Your Side
When you are injured in a car accident in Texas and are assigned partial blame, you will need an attorney to help you fight for your right to a fair recovery. From the original traffic citation to the hearing to determine degree of fault, an experienced car accident attorney can argue on your behalf to maximize your settlement. Call the Parker Law Firm to see if we can help.
Should I call the police after a car accident?
If another driver hit your vehicle but there was limited damage and no apparent injures, you may be tempted not to call the police. You may think it would be sufficient to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, hoping he’ll be cooperative when you need to get paid for your minor damages. However this is almost always a mistake. It’s important to contact the police and obtain a copy of the police report.
Reasons You Should Contact the Police Following Any Car Crash
Right after an accident, the police can provide help on many different fronts. They can call for medical care for any injured victims, as well as investigate the crash and document the cause of it. Even if you don’t believe you’ll need to make an insurance claim, you want to contact the police for the following reasons:
- Hidden injuries. Symptoms of some injuries, including traumatic brain injury, back and spinal injuries and mild internal bleeding, can take days or longer to develop. Once you start experiencing them, you could discover that your injuries are much more severe than you initially thought. Some of these injuries can be caused by a “minor” accident. You want to strengthen your potential claim for compensation by contacting the police immediately after the crash.
- Incorrect insurance information. The negligent driver could provide you with incorrect or expired insurance information. Although he might give this information to the police, too, the officer will be able to provide you with accurate contact information for the driver and witnesses, investigate the crash and write a report. You will need this information if you have to file a claim.
- Changed story. As part of his investigation, the police officer will take the other driver’s statement, as well as your own. It will be harder for the negligent driver to change his story and claim that you were at fault if he gave a statement at the accident scene.
- Expensive property damage. Vehicle repairs are expensive, and yours may cost more than you think. Depending on how long it will take to complete the repairs, you may need to rent a car. If you later decide to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company or your own, it will be helpful to your claim to provide the adjuster with a police report.
If you or a family member suffered injuries in a car accident, you need to hire an experienced car accident attorney before accepting any settlement from the negligent driver’s insurance company. To be certain that you receive what you deserve, call the Parker Law Firm to schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session to get your questions answered and discuss your options for compensation.
Do Insurance Companies Generally Defend Against Personal Injury Claims?
Typically, insurance companies will put up numerous defenses and contest any claim at every possible junction, even in rear-end collision cases. You will often see a defense asserted that you stopped too quickly and that it is your fault they ran into the back of your car. We see that all the time, even in traffic light cases where someone plows through a red light. They will try to argue that no; it was you that blew through the red light. Usually, there is no witness there, but if there is you have to rely on their interpretation of the facts or the events caught on traffic light cameras.
But past that, they will start to argue that your damages and injuries are not real or that you somehow malinger and you missed your doctor’s appointments. That is why your injuries have not progressed or healed the way they should have or that somehow this was a pre-existing injury and not something new from the accident. So yes, we see defenses asserted by the insurance companies in almost every single case.
Why is it Helpful to Understand the Defense Mechanisms Employed by Insurance Companies in Auto Accident Claims?
It is helpful to know and understand what defenses may be raised by insurance companies. We can anticipate what might happen ahead of time and try to head it off if we have the right information. For instance, we always make certain that our clients follow up with their doctor’s appointment and receive the recommended treatment so we can avoid the defense arguing that somehow you have not followed up or that you show gaps in your treatment process. For instance, if you have a bad back and it hasn’t bothered you for years, and then all of a sudden you have a flare-up. The event that caused the injury prior gives us a chance to go back and check prior medical records for this injury. We can demonstrate that this is not a pre-existing injury but may be an aggravation of an existing condition.
Likewise, if we even sense that there may be some type of a defense concerning liability, we can gather those facts early on in the process. Having been in this business for 30 years and representing folks who have been injured by the negligence of others, I know and understand from each individual case what I can probably expect from the defense, and it gives us an edge on trying to beat those defenses at the outset.
What are the Common Tactics of Defense for a Car Wreck Case?
The defense will first try to contact for a statement even before you retain an attorney. That is probably the single biggest mistake that someone can make when they give a statement to the other person’s insurance company. You would think that they just want to get the case resolved and that they are very nice and helpful, but in reality what they are trying to do is get you committed to certain facts and the extent of your injury so they can use that against you later. Oftentimes they will ask you to give them authorizations for your medical records, but that is not limited in time or scope.
They can even go back and retrieve your pediatric records if they think it is necessary and if it will help their case. You never want to do that. The other issue is that they will oftentimes make you think that they are going to negotiate and pay your bills. It can be several months if not years before you realize that they are not going to do that. What they try to do is wear you down so that you finally just give in, throw in the hat so to speak, and take whatever they offer you. Every time the insurance company acts, it is because they are trying to defeat you and your claim. This is a well-known tactic that they use over and over again, and that is why it is so critically important to get legal assistance as soon as possible.
How Can an Injured Person Defend Their Claim Against an Insurance Company?
First and foremost, never talk to an insurance company if you do not have a lawyer with you. They are not there to help you, and they are not there to be your friend. They are there to minimize and or defeat your claims. Secondly, do not give them authorizations to get all of your medical records. If you have been in a car wreck and you have been injured, what difference does that make? If you give them authorization, they can obtain any and all of your medical records from any healthcare professional. Thirdly, do not let the insurance companies drag this on for months or possibly even years.
There are statutes of limitations that apply in all states. But besides the statute of limitations, witnesses and evidence will fade out. The likelihood of filing a witness or filing a witness who is willing to get involved evaporates over time. If there is some type of digital evidence, it may be rewritten, destroyed or concealed. It is so critically important to start early in this process because the insurance companies are starting early on their end gathering evidence and materials to defeat your claim. It is critical that you do too, either on your own or by hiring a board certified personal injury trial lawyer.
For more information on defenses used by insurance companies, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling The Parker Law Firm at (817) 503-9200 today.