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Car crashes are one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths in the United States. In fact, estimates provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest more than two million drivers suffer injuries in collisions each year. When car accidents lead to serious harm, the potential consequences for survivors and their families are life-altering and devastating. In addition to being a highly traumatizing experience, serious car accidents can saddle victims with millions of dollars in expenses over the course of a lifetime.
Texas law allows car accident survivors and their family members to recover compensation for their damages. In cases where the other driver’s negligent or reckless actions caused a crash, it may be possible to file a lawsuit. The same is true in cases where a defective vehicle or auto part caused an accident. By filing a lawsuit after a crash, you may be able to obtain the means to pay for medical bills, funeral expenses, home modifications, lost income, loss of future earnings and costs associated with pain and suffering.
At the Law Office of Dorothy Hyde, we have a commitment to helping victims of negligence seek justice. Dallas car accident lawyer Dorothy Hyde is fearless and unrelenting in her pursuit to help clients obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible.
When Can You File a Lawsuit for a Car Accident?
It is not always necessary or possible to file a lawsuit after a car accident. However, there are cases where survivors or family members should consider filing a lawsuit. You could consider this option if another driver caused the accident and you suffered major damages as a result of that party’s negligence. Insurance companies play an important role in what happens next.
Survivors with serious injuries or family members who lost loved ones should avoid taking the first settlement offered by an insurance company, as it is almost certain to not be an adequate amount to cover their damages. One option is to negotiate a larger settlement with the insurance company with the help of an attorney. If the insurance company refuses to offer an adequate settlement, then it may be a good idea to consider filing a lawsuit.
Texas law has certain legal requirements for filing a personal injury lawsuit. First, you must be within the statute of limitations or the court would dismiss your case. Under the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code section 16.003, you generally have two years from the date of the accident or death of a loved one to file a lawsuit against the other party. Claims against state and local entities have a shorter statute of limitations requirement. There are nuances to these rules, so you should speak with an attorney if you are unsure whether you are still within the statute of limitations.
You must also show the other party’s negligence led to your injuries or loss for your lawsuit to be successful. Your attorney must demonstrate that the other driver failed to exercise the degree of care required to minimize the risk of harm to others, and that this failure led to your damages.
With this point in mind, it is very important to pick an attorney with experience handling car accident claims because it is impossible to predict the outcome of the settlement negotiation process. While many car accident cases settle, it may be necessary to consider filing a lawsuit if the other party’s insurance company will not negotiate a settlement that covers all of your damages.
An experienced attorney will know how to protect and recover evidence that is crucial to the success of a lawsuit. Texas’ modified comparative fault rule could limit the amount of compensation you receive from a lawsuit. In the worst-case scenario, it could keep you from recovering compensation for your damages. State law dictates that no party can recover damages from a judgment if they are 51 percent or more at fault for the accident.
Speeding, texting, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failing to signal, making dangerous moving violations or ignoring traffic signs can be important factors when assigning fault to the defendant and plaintiff. Commercial drivers have a higher standard of care owed to other motorists and pedestrians. Truck and bus accident lawsuits may take additional factors, such as compliance with FMCSA regulations, into account when assigning fault.
Do I Need to File a Car Accident Lawsuit Against the At Fault Driver?
You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a serious accident to determine whether it would be necessary or possible to file a lawsuit against the other driver. In fact, you should speak with an attorney before beginning the claims process. Insurance companies are likely to rush you into accepting the first settlement offered. It is also very easy to make mistakes during the early stages of the claims process. Anything you say to the other party’s insurer may be used against you to deny or limit your claim.
Some accident survivors and their families should file a lawsuit to recover adequate compensation. Insurance companies are unlikely to negotiate a fair settlement, as their bottom line is to make money and not to ensure you are compensated in full for your damages. They may do this by claiming you were partially at fault for the crash or that a separate third party caused the crash. When an insurance company denies or limits a claim, a lawsuit can help overcome this obstacle. An attorney can use evidence and knowledge of state laws to negotiate on your behalf, and if need be, take your case to trial.
The amount of damages suffered is an important factor to consider when deciding whether to file a lawsuit. Catastrophic injuries can lead to millions of dollars in expenses over the course of a lifetime. Spinal cord injuries are a great example of a car accident injury that can lead to millions of dollars in medical and life expenses. You should give yourself the best possible chance of obtaining compensation that can help pay for damages associated with serious injuries or the death of a loved one, as it is unlikely you could cover these expenses by taking the first settlement offered.
There are a couple of possible legal outcomes after a car accident. One possibility is that the other driver’s insurer negotiates with your attorney for a fairer settlement that can cover your damages. Another outcome is that the insurer refuses to settle, and it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit. It will take longer to receive compensation for your damages if the latter situation occurs. However, it may be the only means left of obtaining a verdict that is capable of covering the expenses caused by your injury or loss.
How Else Can I Obtain Car Accident Compensation?
There could be additional options for recovering car accident compensation if an investigation finds the other driver is not at fault. Your insurance policy could pay for a portion of your damages. However, you should know that insurance companies sometimes act in bad faith by unfairly denying a claim. An attorney can help defend your claim if that happens.
Manufacturing and design defects may also cause car accidents. In that case, you would file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the auto product or vehicle.
Some car accidents involve drivers who lack insurance coverage. If an uninsured driver did not bother buying the minimum amount of insurance required by state law, it is unlikely they have the means to pay your damages. While being hit by an uninsured driver complicates matters, you should still review your legal options with an experienced attorney.
Car insurance policies are confusing by design. An attorney can help you determine which types of coverage on your policy can help pay for your damages and whether other parties may be at fault for the accident.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
There are certain steps you can take after a car accident to maximize your chances of obtaining a fair settlement or jury verdict. The following steps can help protect your ability to recover compensation for your damages.
- Seek medical attention and call 911. Your first step after a crash should be to seek medical attention and contact the authorities to investigate. Texas law dictates that you must report car accidents that result in injuries or severe property damage. Contact emergency services if necessary so a doctor can treat you at a hospital. Certain types of injury symptoms can take hours, days or even weeks to materialize. You should consider seeking medical attention after a serious crash even if you do not believe you suffered an injury. Another benefit of receiving medical care is that it can establish a physical record of your injury and resulting damages.
- Record evidence. Evidence is crucial to the success of a lawsuit or negotiating a settlement. If you are able, you should take photographs of your injuries, your vehicle and the crash scene. Gather the contact information of any witnesses and the contact and insurance information from the other driver. Write down what happened immediately before, during and after the accident. Adrenaline can make it easier to forget important details. Since you must stay at the accident scene to be in compliance with state law, you can use this time to gather evidence that may help a future claim or lawsuit.
- Follow police instructions. Police will arrive at the scene of the crash shortly after you or the other driver call 911. It is very likely the police will ask you questions about the accident. Answer any questions the police ask you honestly and follow their instructions.
- Call your insurance provider. You will need to contact your insurance provider and report the accident because of your policy’s contract requirements. However, you do not have to speak with the other driver’s insurance company nor should you before consulting with an attorney.
- Consider calling an attorney. The other driver’s insurer may deny or reduce the value of your claim. You should speak with an attorney to determine whether it is necessary to seek additional compensation through other means. An attorney can also help you avoid common mistakes after a car accident.
We encourage you to reach out to our Dallas car accident lawyer if you have any questions about what to do after an accident. Attorney Dorothy Hyde has experience helping car accident survivors and their families with the claims process.
Call Our Dallas Car Accident Lawyer for More Information
You can schedule a free consultation with Dallas car accident lawyer Dorothy Hyde by calling (214)624-3190 or by using the online contact form. Our law firm takes cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we front of the costs associated with litigating and investigating your case. This means you do not owe us fees unless we recover a settlement or verdict.
By taking cases on a contingency fee basis, we ensure that people from all walks of life have the opportunity to seek justice against the parties responsible for their suffering.