Were you or a family member injured in a car accident? If so, you need to get help from a qualified car accident lawyer – and get it fast. After all, you have hospital and medical bills to pay. You may have lost wages by being unable to work. And the clock is ticking on your potential injury claim.
We know how important all this is for you, and you probably have many questions. We’re ready to answer for you as soon as you contact us for your free case review. Until then, let us give you answers to these frequent Texas car accident questions:
What should I do right after a car accident?
There are many steps to protect your legal rights, including:
Call police and get a police report at the scene. If police issue you a traffic ticket (citation), it’s your duty to sign it, which is not an admission of guilt. Get police officers’ names and identification.
Get contact information from other drivers involved.
Determine if witnesses at the scene can support your account of the accident and, if so, get their contact information.
Take photos with a cell phone or other camera of all damages to all vehicles involved and of the nature of the scene, including street layouts, traffic signs and weather and road conditions. Also take photos of injuries due to the accident.
If medical care is needed, seek care from a physician or hospital and get records of the nature of injuries to you or your passengers.
Contact your insurance company.
Contact an attorney with the Jim Adler & Associates law firm to ensure your legal rights are protected and to help you prepare for a future injury claim.
Why should I hire a car accident lawyer?
It is highly recommended that you hire a car accident lawyer immediately after a wreck if any of the following apply to you:
1 or more persons were injured or killed,
Multiple parties were involved,
One or more parties were uninsured,
Police report does not match the incident.
DO NOT try to handle things with the insurance companies alone. Their job is to make sure you get as little as possible for your vehicle and any injuries sustained from the accident.
“You can settle your own case, but it’s highly likely you’ll undervalue your claim compared to what an attorney can achieve for you,” says Texas Injury Lawyer, Bill Adler.
“While you have a legal right to settle your own case, keep in mind that an insurance company will want to pay as little as possible. An attorney can help in many ways to get a fair settlement,” says senior briefing attorney Kyle Schnitzer of the firm.
What are common auto accident injuries in Texas?
Many kinds of injuries can occur in Texas auto accidents. Some are more common than others. These include:
Soft tissue injuries such as tears or stretches to ligaments, tendons or muscles.
Cuts and scrapes, which can vary in severity.
Bruises and contusions, which can vary in severity.
Fractures or broken bones, anywhere in the body, but often in the arms and legs after an auto accident.
Back and neck injuries such as whiplash (neck muscle and ligament damage from a sudden stop), strains, sprains and cervical dislocation.
Spinal injuries including spinal cord damage and herniated discs in the back, possibly causing a loss of sensation or movement.
Brain or head injuries, including concussions, fractures of the skull, internal bleeding, lacerations and traumatic brain injuries.
Burn injuries of varying degrees, with severe burns causing scarring and needing skin grafts.
Are there up-front costs or charges for hiring an attorney?
Our law firm charges clients no up-front money, but instead works on a contingency fee basis. That means if the firm fails to settle a case, it’s paid nothing. And when it does settle a case, the firm is paid only from a part of the total recovery or settlement, and nothing from a client’s own pocket. You will never write us a check.
What are attorney contingency fees?
As for how much is a contingency fee, “Most attorneys, including us, charge 33⅓ percent of the gross settlement if a case is settled without a lawsuit,” Bill Adler says. “If a lawsuit must be filed, the fee goes to 40 percent. But most cases are settled out of court, with no lawsuit necessary.”
“And we won’t file a lawsuit without a client’s permission,” Schnitzer adds.
What does this mean in dollars and cents? If your car accident lawyer negotiates a $60,000 settlement of your claim from an insurer, you receive two-thirds of that amount, or $40,000, while your attorney gets one-third, or $20,000. However, from that two-thirds amount, your medical bills and all liens are paid and you keep the remainder.
How do settlements for car accidents work?
“Settlements are paid out of the insurance company’s checkbook and usually in a lump sum,” Bill Adler says. “Insurers don’t designate different amounts for different things like a jury would do. Insurers pay one sum.”
Out of that amount will come the car accident lawyer’s fee, payments for medical bills, and any existing liens such as child support. For such things as lost wages and pain and suffering, “the rest goes to the client,” Adler says.
Can you hire a car accident lawyer even if you’re at fault?
Yes you can. But key things may apply, such as whether the fault was shared in the wreck.
If the other driver was partly to blame, he or she must be more than 50 percent responsible for you to receive anything, Adler says. It’s Texas law.
That means if you were found to be 40 percent at fault, and the other driver was 60 percent at fault, you’d receive 60 percent of your claim. But if you were deemed more than 50 percent at fault, you’d get nothing.
Keep in mind that just because you received a traffic ticket does not mean you were legally to blame.
“If it’s a swearing match — someone says green light, and you say red light — part of our job is to argue that it wasn’t your fault,” says Schnitzer.
Even so, a police report which goes against you may weigh heavily with an insurance adjuster, who may try to deny or underpay your claim.
Can you sue an insurance company without a car accident lawyer?
“You could,” says attorney Bill Adler, “but it’s not a good idea. I don’t think a layman would know the rules of evidence, and I’d strongly advise against it.”
The court will expect you to know the rules and procedures,” Schnitzer says. “And the other side will take advantage of you.”
“Lawyers go to law school for three years just to learn the basics of the law,” Adler says. “An individual with no formal legal training will likely get hammered. You need a qualified car accident lawyer to represent you.”