A car accident lawyer in Houston can be a huge help after a traffic accident. This article provides information on why you might want to consider reaching out to one.
After a car accident, crash victims are usually left with pain from injuries, medical bills they can’t afford, and stress from having to deal with everything. It’s not fair to be responsible for all these burdens when the accident wasn’t your fault. That’s why Texas law allows injured parties to file personal injury claims for their accident injuries. You’ll most likely be going against insurance companies after a car accident.
Insurance companies are notorious for being difficult to work with, and that’s where Houston car accident lawyers step in. A lawyer can assist with all aspects of your claim, from gathering evidence to negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
Let’s go over some common causes of car accidents, injuries you may be dealing with, and the different ways a car accident lawyer in Houston can help.
What Are the Common Causes of Houston Car Accidents?
Motor vehicle accidents are so frequent in America that people think they’re inevitable. However, the reality is that driver error is the leading cause of collisions. Drivers owe a legal duty to other road users and pedestrians.
This duty of care states that drivers must exercise reasonable cautiousness while driving and obey traffic laws, which were put in place to keep people safe. Unfortunately, many vehicle drivers disregard these rules and cause devastating injuries to innocent victims. Below are some of the leading causes of Houston car accidents.
Reckless driving endangers both the driver and other parties. A typical example of reckless driving is speeding. That’s why most roads have speed limits. They exist for a reason, and exceeding such limits often leads to preventable collisions.
Disobeying Traffic Laws
Traffic rules exist to protect all road users. For example, traffic lights direct the flow of traffic on busy roads. However, many drivers ignore these rules, causing numerous accidents throughout Texas.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol
Every day, 32 people die in drunk driving accidents in the US. So, drunk drivers are a significant cause of crashes in the US. Intoxicated driving is dangerous because being impaired affects the driver’s focus, reflexes, and judgment. Impaired drivers often have trouble concentrating and cannot react quickly to sudden changes around them.
Driving under the influence poses a significant risk to all road users. If a drunk driver caused your crash, reach out to a car accident lawyer in Houston for help.
Several things can distract a driver. These elements include:
- Mobile phones
- Vehicle stereo
- Animals on the road, etc.
Taking your eyes off the road for a second is sufficient for a fatal car accident. Statistics show that 9 people die daily because of distracted drivers.
Bad Weather Conditions
Terrible weather conditions also cause crashes in Houston. For example, adverse weather such as heavy rains and flooding can make driving difficult. Fog can also block a driver’s view of the road. In both cases, even experienced drivers may still get into accidents.
Bad Road Conditions
This is another scenario where human beings aren’t responsible for the crash. Bad roads can affect your driving experience. For example, potholes and unevenly paved roads are dangerous for all users.
It’s often worse for drivers who’re new to the area. This is because they cannot spot such issues early and avoid them. Consequently, they may not escape accidents.
What Types of Car Accidents Occur on Houston Roads?
Houston car accident lawyers handle several types of motor vehicle crashes. Usually, we can distinguish collisions based on how they occur. In addition, some classifications of accidents depend on the number of cars involved.
Below are some examples of vehicle collisions.
Single Vehicle Accidents
As the name implies, these are collisions involving one car. Shockingly, these types of crashes are prevalent. Single-vehicle accidents usually involve the driver striking an object. This could be an animal darting across the road or stationary objects. Similarly, a single-vehicle collision can happen when a driver veers off the road.
Multi-vehicle accidents involve three or more cars. Consequently, several people may suffer injuries or death. Furthermore, there could be multiple parties at fault. These issues mean that the victims could have to deal with several insurance companies. Because they tend to be complicated, multi-vehicle accidents can benefit from an experienced Houston car accident lawyer.
Head-on collisions occur when both vehicles are moving towards each other when they collide. Accident victims in these crashes often suffer severe injuries because of the increased force of impact. In addition, the head and brain are the most endangered in head-on car accidents. This is because the crash can cause a vehicle occupant to smash their head against the steering wheel, dashboard, or other car parts.
Rear-end collisions are also common. They occur when drivers don’t maintain sufficient space between their vehicles. For example, where the front car stops suddenly, the back driver may not have enough time to brake, causing a collision.
A rear-end collision is unlikely to cause catastrophic injuries. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get medical care after such an accident. The rear driver is usually responsible for this type of accident. However, in some instances, the front driver may be liable.
There are several other types of motor vehicle collisions. Some of them include:
- Blind spot accidents (common with trucking accidents)
- Pedestrian collisions
- Rollover accidents
- Low-speed crashes
- Merging accidents
- Spill-over truck accidents involving passenger cars
Whichever type you’re dealing with, it’s worth contacting a Houston car accident lawyer. Most lawyers offer free consultations, so there’s no risk in reaching out.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents often result in bodily injury. The severity of your injury depends on the severity of the crash, though. So, minor collisions tend to leave minor injuries.
However, severe accidents often leave catastrophic or permanent injuries. Whatever the case, it’s always best to see a medical professional after a crash. A Houston car accident lawyer can help you file a claim for damages such as medical bills.
Common car wreck injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head wounds
- Internal organ injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Herniated discs
- Scrapes and cuts
- Burns and bruises
- Broken ribs
- Internal bleeding
- Facial injuries
- Neck injuries
- Knee, foot, and ankle injuries
- Shoulder dislocations
- Wrist and hand wounds
- Crush injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
Emotional and Psychological Injuries
Car accident consequences aren’t always physical. Victims often suffer emotional distress and mental anguish. These are all forms of emotional suffering. In addition, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety sometimes follow a severe crash.
Whatever the case, it’s always best to get medical care after an accident. The medical records you get from your doctor will be vital for personal injury lawsuits or insurance claims. Furthermore, getting medical treatment means the insurance provider cannot argue that your injuries weren’t serious.
How a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston Can Help You
After an accident, the victims are often looking for financial compensation. This is understandable because of the high cost of medical expenses and other bills. However, desperation often makes survivors act without legal counsel.
An insurance adjuster would prefer that you don’t hire a Houston car accident attorney. This way, they can persuade you into accepting a lower settlement than you deserve. If you choose to work with a lawyer, they can deal with the insurance company for you. An attorney has the knowledge and experience to stand up to insurance companies and demand fair compensation.
Below are three ways a car accident lawyer in Houston can help with your car accident claim.
Calculating Your Losses
People without legal experience usually only focus on physical injuries following the crash. However, the reality is that you can recover other types of damages. So, personal injury attorneys will help you evaluate all the losses you sustained from the crash.
After this, they’ll attach an exact dollar amount to these damages. Experienced car accident attorneys have several methods for determining fair compensation, and they may find opportunities you might miss if you handle your claim on your own.
Investigating the Cause of the Accident
Fault is a crucial component in all car accidents. Therefore, you’ll need to establish liability for the crash. An excellent Houston car accident lawyer will use evidence to determine who caused the collision. In addition, an attorney is a big help in complicated cases, such as a multi-vehicle crash.
Legal Representation During Settlement Negotiation and Lawsuits
Houston car accident victims typically have two choices for financial compensation. Firstly, they can accept a settlement from the liable party’s insurance provider. Conversely, they can file a lawsuit against the fault parties. Whatever legal process you choose, a car accident lawyer in Houston can help.
As we discussed above, insurance companies don’t like paying claims. So, they usually offer low settlements or deny claims. In some cases, you may have to file a lawsuit if the insurance company isn’t cooperating.
Winning a lawsuit is challenging. You must convince the judge and jury that the other driver is responsible for your injuries. Then, you must also convince them to award a large sum as compensation. Houston car accident lawyers have experience both in and out of the courtroom and are well-equipped to handle either scenario.
How Can You Pay Your Houston Car Accident Lawyer?
Many car accident survivors don’t want a personal injury lawyer because of high legal fees. Fortunately, injury lawyers typically offer a form of payment plan that doesn’t include any out-of-pocket costs. Legal fees and expenses will come out of your compensation award.
This type of payment is referred to as a contingency fee. Plus, hiring a Houston car accident attorney on a contingency basis means you only pay them if they win your case. That is, their legal fees are CONTINGENT on winning your case.
A win could be a settlement or a favorable court judgment. Whatever the case, you don’t have to pay if your attorney isn’t successful. Working on a contingency fee agreement benefits the client because it motivates the attorney to work harder, since their paycheck depends on success.
Advantages of Contingency Fee Agreements
Firstly, you can initiate the legal process without having any money. Secondly, contingency fee arrangements encourage the lawyers to dedicate their all to your case. Note that Houston car accident lawyers don’t foot all the bills in this arrangement.
Instead, the client will have to cover some costs. These include:
- Court and filing fees
- Cost of expert witnesses
- Discovery costs
- Cost of obtaining and storing evidence
Finally, a contingency fee agreement usually specifies how much your lawyer takes from your settlement. This sum is traditionally defined in percentages. So, you’ll discuss it with our lawyers before signing the contract.
How Long Do I Have to File a Houston Car Accident Claim?
You don’t have all the time in the world to file a car accident lawsuit. Instead, the Texas Statute of Limitations specifies the period you must initiate your claim. This law generally applies to personal injury claims in Texas.
The idea is that plaintiffs should quickly pursue their cases when they arise. In addition, the at-fault driver shouldn’t live their entire lives expecting litigation. Houston car collisions often result from negligence, and you have two years to file your claim.
The clock starts ticking from the accident date. Furthermore, you may lose your right to compensation if you miss this statutory period. That’s one advantage of working with an experienced car accident lawyer in Houston. An excellent lawyer will work to get your claim filed on time.
We already explained that some crashes result in wrongful death. The deceased’s representatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit in such cases, but they also have to approach the court within two years.
However, their time starts counting from the death date. Actions for damages to personal property also fall within the two-year deadline.
Exceptions to the Texas Statute of Limitations
Many laws, including the Statute of Limitations, have exceptions. Therefore, there are scenarios where the law can pause the clock on the Statute of Limitations. Consequently, the suspension period will not count when computing time.
A typical example is where the plaintiff is a minor. Here, the time would only start counting when the victim turns 18. In addition, suppose the defendant is outside Texas. Then, the law will pause the clock until the defendant returns to the state.
Recoverable Damages in a Houston Car Accident Claim
Financial compensation is often the goal of any lawsuit after an accident. This is also the case when victims file insurance claims. Therefore, knowing the types of damages you can recover is vital.
There are two major types of compensatory damages. They include:
- Economic (financial) damages
- Non-economic damages.
This refers to actual financial losses you suffered because of the accident. Usually, there’s already a dollar figure attached to this kind of damage. However, you can also understand this as specific out-of-pocket expenses you incurred following the crash.
Another name for economic damages is special or actual damages. Furthermore, lawyers rarely encounter difficulties when calculating monetary damages. They only have to rely on your documentation of out-of-pocket expenses.
Therefore, crucial sources of evidence would include receipts and paystubs. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Cost of medical equipment
- Cost of physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Value of lost or damaged property
- Loss of earning capacity
- Cost of ambulance services
- Cost of vehicle repairs
- Prescription and pharmaceutical bills
Non-economic damages are the intangible consequences of the crash. Here, you didn’t directly lose money. However, you suffered in another way for which you’re asking for financial compensation.
Therefore, this class of damages is highly subjective. Lawyers and the courts use different methods to assign dollar values to your losses. In addition, there aren’t any receipts showing the actual value of your loss.
Common examples of non-financial losses include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Physical impairment
- Reduced quality of life
Wrongful Death Damages
The death of the accident victim doesn’t extinguish the right to compensation. Instead, their representatives can file a lawsuit. However, such personal representatives can recover an extra class of payment. These include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s future earnings
- Loss of guidance and companionship
- Medical bills incurred before the victim died
- Loss of parental care and guidance
The decedent’s estate will only have a right of action if the deceased could sue if they survived the crash.
Punitive Damages in Houston, TX
Finally, punitive damages can be awarded in some cases. Courts award this class of damages to punish the defendant for their actions. So, you cannot get punitive damages in insurance negotiations. This is because the fault party cannot punish itself.
However, the courts don’t always award punitive damages. Houston courts can only grant this class of damages where the defendant is guilty of:
- Gross negligence
- Intentional misconduct
This means that the defendant was reckless or careless. However, their conduct must also show a conscious disregard or indifference to your life, safety, or rights.
Intentional misconduct means that the defendant knew that their conduct was wrong. In addition, they must understand that injury or damage is highly probable from their actions. Suppose the fault party still performed the harmful behavior. Then, they may be liable for punitive damages.
Statutory Caps on Punitive Damages
In most cases, punitive damages in Texas cannot exceed more than twice the amount of economic damages, plus the amount of non-economic damages up to $750,000 or $200,000, whichever is greater. In addition, there are some specific circumstances that may affect punitive damage caps in Texas, such as a case involving a government entity or healthcare practitioner.
Punitive damages don’t get awarded very often. If you believe you’re entitled to punitive damages, it would be a good idea to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer to help you navigate this complex process.
Contact Our Houston Car Accident Lawyers Now!
Our lawyers have dedicated their lives to helping victims of motor vehicle collisions. In addition, we’ve won large settlements for our clients. Furthermore, we aren’t scared of going to trial against insurance companies.
Since we work on a contingency fee basis, you won’t have to pay any upfront fees. Call us today to schedule a free consultation!