Amarillo Car Accident Lawyers
Providing Stellar Advocacy for Injured Drivers in Texas
Have you been injured in a car accident? You might qualify to receive compensation for your injuries if they were the result of another driver’s negligence. If so, you should consult with an experienced car accident attorney to help determine if you are entitled to a legal remedy for your injuries.
At Templeton Smithee Hayes Heinrich & Russell, LLP, we have countless years of collective experience in injury litigation, including car accident injury claims. We offer award-winning legal representation backed by hundreds of successful cases and personalized to fit the unique circumstances of your case.
Liability for Car Accidents in Texas
You are entitled to recover compensatory damages for injuries that resulted from the negligence of another driver. In general, drivers are liable for negligence if they breach their duty to act like a reasonably prudent driver would act in similar circumstances.
The Texas Transportation Code contains provisions that regulate road traffic to ensure public safety. When a driver injures another person in an accident stemming from their violation of the Texas Transportation Code, the law considers that driver to be negligent per se.
Our law firm handles a variety of car wreck situations, including:
- Hit & run accidents
- Underinsured motorists
- Government liability for road conditions
- Drunk drivers
- Negligently maintained motor vehicles
- Commercial vehicles
With over two hundred years of combined experience, our legal team knows what it takes to prove liability in a motor vehicle accident. If you've been seriously injured and are looking to recover full compensation, please do not hesitate to contact a seasoned auto accident lawyer from our firm today!
Common Causes of Car Accidents
The causes of car accidents are nearly as varied as their effects, though many collisions can be attributed to some form of driver negligence. Some of the most common driver-related errors that cause collisions include:
- Speeding or driving too fast for weather conditions
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Ignoring right of way laws
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Changing lanes without checking blind spots
- Drowsy driving
Not all car accidents are caused by driver negligence, however. For example, a defectively manufactured tire could result in a blowout at high speeds, causing a collision. Other situations may involve a dangerous road condition such as a pothole, exposing the local government agency responsible for maintaining the roadways to liability for any resulting collisions.
Compensation for Car Accident Victims in Texas
Individuals injured in a car accident caused by negligence have specific rights to pursue compensation for the damages they have sustained. Proving negligence is one aspect that must be understood, but for the victim, it’s imperative to recognize what damages may be available for compensation.
Commonly, two types of damages exist, but there are some instances when a third type of damage may be considered for a victim. These include economic and non-economic damages, as well as the potential for punitive damages in some types of cases.
When you hear the term economic damages, it refers to losses the injured individual suffered that can be attributed to a direct monetary value. For example, if you have to go to the hospital following any injury, you will receive a medical bill. The final total on the receipt is seen as the direct loss and is included in economic damages.
Other types of economic damages can be lost income and property damage as they can be calculated and the courts can award an injured party the exact amount necessary to cover these expenses caused by negligence.
Non-economic damages are the most crucial part of a car accident case because they award the injured party compensation for expenses not directly related to a quantifiable number. The idea behind non-economic damages to award for pain and suffering the injured party endures.
While many accident settlements involving the insurance company include the non-economic damages based on an agreed-upon number, a case that goes to trial relies on the jury and court to decide the exact value your pain and suffering would be worth in your matter.
In both Texas and New Mexico, punitive damages may be available to an accident victim under very specific circumstances. The law states that a person may be responsible to pay punitive damages when their actions are considered intentional or otherwise reckless. Punitive damages don’t have a direct value as they are designed to serve as a punishment to the negligent party.
Don’t Wait - Time Is Money
Under Texas law, you are required to file an auto accident claim with the court no later than 2 years from the date of the accident. Failure to do so can result in losing your right to a legal remedy for your injuries. Moreover, your insurance company may require you to file an insurance claim within a specific time frame after your accident as well. Therefore it is important to consult one of our car accident lawyers soon after your accident.
Amarillo Car Accident FAQ
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. Be very careful what you say to them as their sole purpose is to find ways to pay you the least amount of money for your claim. Stick to the facts and do not speculate or exaggerate what may have happened. Avoid providing details of your injuries other than that you have been injured 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 can help you craft a statement that does not affect your claim and 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 Henrich & Russell, LLP, we have an intimate understanding of the legal and procedural machinery at play in a car accident situation. We have dedicated years of our practice to providing our clients with results-oriented advocacy to help maximize their recovery under the law.