Frequently Asked Legal Questions about Car Accidents in Texas
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 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.
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.
Will Automated Cars Cause More Or Fewer Dallas/Fort Worth Accidents?
Although California gets to be the testing ground for Google’s automated car, the technology, if successful, could soon be coming to the Dallas/Fort Worth highways. The hopes are the car’s advanced technology will make the nation’s highways safer; something Texas could use as it ranks highest in the nation for yearly traffic fatalities.
The car’s sensors, cameras and computer programs enable the vehicle to operate safely in a variety of conditions with no input from the driver. Advocates of the cars say that the cars will even allow the visually impaired to drive since the vehicles will do all the “seeing” for the driver.
Advocates also claim that the cars will reduce accidents since the sensors and programs can respond much more quickly than human drivers and are not prone to human error. Some believe the cars will eliminate distracted driving, since owners will be free to text and engage in other activities while the vehicle drives for them.
Developers state that the cars have been undergoing tests for years and the only accident in 300,000 miles was a minor rear-end crash that could be prevented in the future by installing heat-seeking technology in the trunk to detect approaching cars.
Critics remind advocates that technology is imperfect and computers and computer programs develop glitches or crash unexpectedly. Drivers in an automated car may not to watch the road and notice a problem in time to prevent an accident.
Time and further testing will tell whether these cars make the roadways safer or more hazardous.
What’s Behind Hit and Run Accidents in DFW?
Most people couldn’t ever imagine leaving the scene of an accident, but hit and run accident levels are on the rise across the country. According to authorities, there are four main reasons why at-fault drivers leave the scene of a traffic accident in the Dallas/Fort Worth area:
- The driver has no insurance. This is fairly common, as there are many uninsured and under-insured drivers and when one of these drivers causes an accident, they flee the scene of the collision because they fear the costs of having to pay for the accident. Quite often as well, the drivers are not even licensed to drive.
- The driver panics. A lot of drivers panic after being in an accident. Being in an accident is frightening and some drivers are simply unsure of what to do. Texas law is very clear, however. Failing to stop and offer assistance and exchange information after a vehicle accident is a crime.
- The at-fault driver is wanted by police or has a record. In many hit and run accidents the driver who leaves has a criminal record, is driving a stolen car, or is otherwise wanted by police. In these cases, the driver hopes that if the authorities cannot find them, they will not be charged for the accident and for any other crimes.
- The driver is driving under the influence. In many cases, a driver who is driving under the influence doesn’t even realize he or she has hit someone, and will leave the scene of an accident. In other cases the driver knows he’d face an additional charge of a DUI, but it will be harder to prove intoxication if the driver cannot be found at the time of the accident.
How To Prevent Your Teen From Driving Distracted
Distracted driving related accidents killed 3,328 United States citizens in 2012 alone.
Also in 2012, distracted driving accidents caused 21% of all the fatal automobile accidents involving teenagers aged 15 to 19 years old. All of these are preventable deaths.
Though you are more than likely aware, distracted driving involves the driver of the vehicle doing any of the following actions while behind the wheel:
- using a cellphone to talk or text
- eating or drinking
- talking to, or looking at, another passenger in the vehicle
- using a GPS system
- watching a video
- adjusting the radio
- grooming in the mirror
Every American who gets behind the wheel of a car and drives on the roadways within our country is increasingly risking their safety. Distracted driving is clearly an epidemic and, without a doubt, a very serious safety issue and risk for all drivers.
Those less experienced are especially susceptible to injuries and fatalities in distracted driving related crashes. Studies have shown, in fact, that younger drivers who have just received their driver’s license have a false sense of security and confidence in their driving ability. This, in turn, places them at a much higher risk.
According to Charlie Klauer (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute leader), stated that,
“…novice drivers are more likely to engage in high-risk secondary tasks more frequently over time as they become more comfortable with driving.”
Studies show that this rate of secondary task engagement (as listed above) that teens engage in is one of the leading causes of auto accidents. This should lead all of us to do more to deter teens from this dangerous practice. We need to be talking to, and teaching, teens the rules of the road and safe driving behavior.
Here are some things parents can do to help prevent their teenagers from driving distracted, and perhaps save a life:
- Install a monitoring system in their car and make them aware of the system. These can be purchased at discounted prices from some insurance companies.
- Make sure they are aware of the laws in Texas, or the state you reside in. Make sure they are also fully aware of the consequences and penalties for distracted driving.
- Make sure you are setting the right example by putting your phone away and focusing on the road one hundred percent of the time you are driving.
- Take a pledge or sign a contract as a family to always drive phone-free and encourage friends to do the same.
No matter what the specific cause of an automobile accident is, if there was a distracted driver at fault, that driver could be held responsible for injuries of those involved. If you or a loved one are seriously injured or a life has been lost in such an accident, contact the Parker Law Firm. You will find legal counsel that is experienced in distracted driving cases. Not only this, we truly care about people and we put our clients first. Call us at (817) 503-9200 for a Complimentary Strategy Session today.