Car accident injuries can range from relatively minor soft tissue injuries to temporary or permanent paralysis, disability, disfigurement or death.
The amount of compensation you are entitled to in Texas depends largely on how serious your injuries are and how much mental, emotional and physical pain and suffering you have endured.
But it also depends on other factors, such as the actions you take after the accident, whether you appoint an experienced car accident injury lawyer to help, the evidence you can gather, and your interactions with the insurance company
The following is what you need to know about car accident injury settlements in the Houston area.
Determining who is liable for your car accident injury
It is easier to determine fault in some car accident injury cases than in others. Accidents on the roads are extremely varied, and the details of each case are critical to determining who was to blame.
In the Houston area, we typically see many of the following types of accidents:
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Rollover accidents
- Tractor-trailer truck accidents
- Motorcycle and bicycle accidents
In most cases, the at-fault party is one of the drivers. Drivers on Houston roads have a duty of care to other road users. If they disobey road laws, this duty of care may be breached due to negligence (e.g., distracted driving), recklessness (e.g., speeding), or criminal activity (e.g., drink-driving).
Rear-end collisions are usually relatively simple to apportion fault with because the following driver should allow enough time and space to brake. However, many times, it is not that simple. For instance, defective brakes can lead to serious accidents where a parts manufacturer may be held liable.
To protect your rights after a car accident in Houston, where you suspect another party is at fault, call 911, get thoroughly checked out medically, take photos and other evidence of the accident or injury, and speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Your lawyer will help you determine fault. This is the critical first step in claiming fair compensation for your injuries.
What is typically included in an accident injury settlement?
Car accident injury claims rarely make it to a court trial in Texas.
Generally speaking, it is not in the interests of either party to let a judge or jury decide how much compensation you are entitled to, providing it is reasonably clear who the at-fault party is. An experienced and skilled lawyer will already know how much you can claim based on previous cases.
Your lawyer will use his or her persuasive powers, as well as the law and the threat of litigation/a trial to convince the insurance company to settle for a fair amount out of court. This is often in both party’s best interest as it avoids delays and court costs.
Most people are not well equipped to handle the often-laborious settlement process for accident injuries. It requires some patience as well as legal strategy. Your personal injury lawyer will be accustomed to managing this process.
An accident injury settlement in Houston generally includes three elements:
Which factors affect the size of the settlement?
When calculating the potential size of your accident injury settlement, there are many variables to consider. It is impossible to provide a fixed amount for a particular type of injury without knowing the details of the accident.
The following questions should be considered by your lawyer before arriving at an estimated settlement amount:
How serious are your injuries?
Car accident injuries range from minor to catastrophic. This is unsurprisingly a major factor in a settlement and the extent of your injury will be assessed based upon the following:
- The length of time in hospital
- The extent of treatment received
- Physical, cognitive, and behavioral impairments
- Recuperation and recovery time required
- Rehabilitative therapy required
- Whether you were forced to miss work
- Whether there is permanent disability or scarring
- The emotional impact of the injuries
- The effect of the injury on daily life
Are there witnesses?
Witnesses to the accident may be required but other witnesses are also important in accident injury cases. You may need expert testimony confirming whether you can return to work, how much pain and suffering you have endured or the future medical expenses required.
The extent of your access to such professional opinion – and how well it supports your case – will impact how much your settlement is worth.
Was a crime committed?
Sometimes, if a crime was committed by the at-fault party, punitive damages may be awarded on top of economic and non-economic damages, as mentioned previously.
How many at-fault parties were there?
Not all accident injury claims are a simple case of dealing with the insurance company of one at-fault party.
Sometimes, multi-vehicle pile-ups or accidents involving commercial vehicles complicate matters and can affect the size of the payout.
What are the policy limits?
In Texas, certain policy limits cap the amount of compensation you can recover from the insurance company of the at-fault driver:
- $30,000 for injuries per person
- $60,000 total per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
What is the statute of limitations?
In Texas, the statute of limitations for a car accident is two years from the date of the accident. This makes it important to file a claim promptly after your accident.
What are the legal fees?
Most personal injury lawyers handle cases on a contingency basis, meaning that they only get paid if you are awarded compensation.
This fee, which often includes a percentage decided upfront, will be deducted from your compensation payment.
How can you calculate your settlement?
There is no magic formula to apply. The best strategy is to discuss the matter with a lawyer experienced in car accident injuries as soon as possible after your accident.
Once the details are known, the various economic and non-economic damages can be calculated (taking into account the many variables outlined above) and your lawyer should be able to provide an estimate of how much you can expect from a settlement.
One thing you can be sure of is that the insurance company will try everything possible to minimize losses – which usually means offering the smallest settlement possible and playing down the physical, mental and emotional impact of your injuries. Trying to tackle this situation without legal help can be daunting.
If you have suffered injuries on the road in the Houston area, contact experienced personal injury attorney Ryan A. DeHoyos for a free case evaluation here or call (832) 745-4878.