Texas Car Accident FAQ
Our attorneys have more than 200 years of combined experience. Following are some of the most common questions we hear in car accident cases.
How much is my car accident claim worth?
Every car accident claim is different, therefore it is impossible to determine how much your car accident claim is worth without consulting with a skilled attorney. With that being said, the value of your claim will be highly based on factors such as the severity of your injuries, the amount of time you are required to miss work during your recovery, the amount of evidence supporting your claim, and the skill of your legal representation. Claims involving more severe injuries such as brain damage, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones tend to yield higher payouts than those involving whiplash or other soft tissue injuries.
What if I was partially at fault for the crash? Can I still be compensated?
Generally speaking, yes, you can still recover some damages after a car accident even if you are found to be partially at fault. The amount will be determined according to your percentage of blame for the accident. For example, if you suffer $10,000 worth of losses due to a car accident but are found to be 20% to blame for the crash, you may still be able to recover $8,000 worth of damages (or $10,000 less 20%). However, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you will not be able to recover any money.
What if the driver who hit me doesn’t have insurance?
If the driver that hit you does not have insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for your damages, you may still be able to recover compensation through your own insurance if you elected to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Under this coverage, your insurance company will help pay for your damages up to the limits of your policy.
If you do not have UM/UIM coverage, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver in pursuit of compensation. Unfortunately, the chances are high that if they do not have insurance, they likely also have little in terms of income and personal assets, making it difficult to actually collect on any civil judgment you may receive. This is why it is extremely important for all drivers to purchase UM/UIM coverage ahead of time to protect themselves from this type of scenario.
What if my accident was caused by a hit-and-run driver?
Unfortunately, sometimes the driver who causes an accident never stops and simply drives away. In many cases, this happens because the driver wasn’t supposed to be driving in the first place. Sometimes, the police are able to identify the driver. This will give you the ability to seek damages against the driver through either an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. However, if the driver is never identified, you may still be able to seek compensation under your own UM/UIM coverage.
I was in an accident while driving without insurance. Can I still be compensated?
Possibly. It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle without insurance in the state of Texas. If you are involved in an accident and do not have insurance, the police will likely give you a ticket and you may be required to pay a fine. If you were at fault for the collision, you may face a personal injury lawsuit for any damages you cause as well as potential criminal penalties depending on the unique circumstances. If the other driver caused the collision, there is a chance you may still recover compensation for some damages but you can expect the opposition to argue that you acted negligently and without regard to your legal responsibilities, reducing your eligible payout. These situations are highly complex and almost always require the expertise of a trained attorney.
How long will it take to resolve my claim?
Just as every car accident case has a different value, every claim will have a different timeline that can be difficult to predict. Some car accident claims can be resolved in a few months while others may take several months or even years from start to finish. With that being said, the length of your claim will be heavily influenced by the following factors:
- The extent of your injuries and the length of time needed for your medical treatment
- The cooperation of the involved insurance companies
- Whether or not your case needs to go to trial
Claims involving minor injuries such as whiplash are often resolved more quickly than those involving catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or paralysis. It is best to speak with an attorney to get a more accurate expectation of your case’s timeline.
Will I have to go to court?
Not necessarily. The vast majority of auto accident claims are settled through out-of-court negotiations, but if your attorney believes that the insurance company is not offering you what you deserve, a trial may be necessary to secure full compensation on your behalf. While nobody wants to go to court, pursuing a trial may sometimes be a far better option than agreeing to an insufficient settlement that does not cover the full value of your losses.
I was given a ticket at the accident scene. Does this mean I am at fault?
Not necessarily. While tickets may sometimes be taken into consideration when assessing fault for a collision, they are not the only piece of evidence that may be relevant to your case. It is entirely possible that an investigation of your crash may reveal new evidence proving the other party’s role in causing the collision. Signing your ticket is not an admission of fault, but merely an acknowledgment that you have received a notice to appear in court.
I feel okay after my accident. Do I still need to see a doctor?
Yes. One of the biggest mistakes people make is failing to receive timely medical care after a car accident. Get medical help as soon as possible. There is a chance you may have suffered internal injuries and do not even realize it. If you do not get examined and treated, you could suffer serious medical complications. Additionally, seeing a doctor soon after a crash can help to strengthen your injury claim and establish a record of your injuries.
Am I required to notify my insurance company that I was involved in an accident?
Yes. Almost all auto insurance policies require insureds to promptly report a car accident so the company can get the information they need to open a claim. If you do not report your crash to your insurance company, you could end up with a loss of coverage.
What should I say to the insurance adjuster?
You can expect to be contacted by an insurance adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurance company within a few days of your collision. It is wise to talk to use before you speak to the other driver’s insurance company. If the other driver’s insurer contacts you after you have contacted us, you can tell the insurance adjuster that we will be handling all communications regarding insurance.
When you speak with your own insurance company, be very careful what you say. You might assume that your own insurance company is on your side, but their sole purpose of speaking with you is to find ways to minimize or deny your compensation. When you report your crash to your insurance company, stick to the facts and do not speculate about or exaggerate what may have happened. Avoid providing details of your injuries other than that you have been injured and that you have consulted with a health care provider to determine your medical treatment. Take notes of your conversation, and most importantly, do not accept any settlement offers or consent to any recorded statements. An attorney at our firm can help you craft a statement that protects your right to compensation, and we can help you collect all the necessary information you may need to provide.
Is it really necessary to hire a lawyer after a car accident?
It is true that not all car accident cases require the expertise of an attorney. If your accident resulted in only cosmetic damage to your vehicle or a few minor bruises, you probably don’t need an attorney to handle your car accident claim. However, it is in your best interests to hire an attorney if any of the following apply:
- You or a passenger was seriously injured
- Someone was killed in the collision
- You were forced to miss work due to your injuries
- You are being blamed for the accident
- The insurance company is disputing your claim
- Your accident has caused you severe pain and suffering
- You do not feel comfortable handling your own claim
Call Our Knowledgeable Car Accident Attorneys
At Templeton Smithee Hayes Heinrich & Russell, LLP, we have decades of experience in the legal and procedural machinery at play in car accident cases. We have dedicated our careers to providing outstanding advocacy for injury victims and their families. For a free consultation, please call us in Amarillo at (806) 547-2022 or complete our contact form. Our lawyers represent clients throughout the Texas Panhandle and Eastern New Mexico.