Car Accident Settlements
Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
After a car accident you may feel overwhelmed as the medical and car repair bills pile up, leaving you to worry about your future and the future of your family. And after calls with insurance companies you might feel even worse – insurance claims can be complicated, especially if you and the other driver disagree about who caused the crash. Even if the insurance company agrees that the accident wasn’t your fault, they will try to minimize your injuries and losses, pay you the least amount possible or not pay you at all. Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is the only way to defend your rights and get the compensation you need to get your life back on track.

For more information on what to do right after a car accident, click here.

At Jim Adler & Associates, our lawyers will collect evidence, speak with experts, and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf so you can focus on what you need to do to get your life back together. And if it comes down to it, we’ll take your case to trial to get you the compensation you deserve.

Regardless of where in Texas your accident happened, fill out our free case review form or call 1-800-505-1414 for a free consultation. Let attorneys in our Houston, Dallas or San Antonio offices review your case and help you decide the best way to go forward with your claim or lawsuit.

Below, we’ve outlined what happens after a car accident, how we charge, and what type of compensation you might receive from a settlement, as well as how to negotiate and maximize your car crash settlement.

What is a car accident settlement and how does compensation work?

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, you probably need help covering your medical expenses, lost wages and fixing your car. To do that you’ll first want to look into an insurance settlement. A settlement is an end to the dispute as well as payment for injuries and losses. Most times, settlements also prevent any further recovery in the future.

Most car accident claims are settled by an insurance company, but most insurance companies try to get out of paying the full value of a case or try to avoid paying at all. This can be a lengthy and complicated process. It’s even more difficult to go through if you’re trying to recover from your injuries and your bills are continuing to pile up.

You’ll want an experienced car accident attorney to look at your case and tell you what your case might be worth and how to proceed. If you decide to hire Jim Adler & Associates, you’ll have your own set of lawyers and legal staff in your corner. If the insurance company won’t agree to pay a fair settlement, we might file a lawsuit and take your case to court.

How much do we charge?

At Jim Adler & Associates we work on a contingency fee, which means we only get paid if you get paid. In other words, we only collect a fee if you win a favorable settlement or verdict, but our fees won’t come out of your pocket. If we are able to resolve your case without filing a lawsuit, we charge 33 1/3 percent of the recovery. However, if a lawsuit is filed, we charge 40% of the recovery. For example, if we didn’t file a lawsuit and your total gross recovery is $100,000.00 then our fees would be $33,333.

Make sure to come to us first before talking to the insurance company.

What factors determine a car accident settlement amount?

The facts of the case, your injuries and where the crash happened factor into how much you can get in a car accident settlement. The quality and dedication of your attorney is another critical element for your case – a good lawyer can make all the difference.

Some additional points that will be considered in calculating your settlement include:

1. Type of insurance policy and maximum limits of the policy: Depending on what type of insurance policy you and the at fault party have will affect the value of your claim. The maximum payout limit of the policies is also a factor. If you or the other driver don’t have insurance that could negatively affect your claim.

2. Who was at fault: Texas is a comparative fault state – that means that each driver pays their share of the fault in the crash. For example, if you were found 40% at fault and the other driver is 60% at fault, you receive 40% less than what your settlement would be worth if it had been entirely the other driver’s fault. The good thing is that even if you were partially at fault you can still get compensated.

Under Texas law, if you were over 50% at fault for the crash, you are not entitled to compensation. But don’t decide that for yourself – determining fault can be complicated and is best left in the hands of an experienced personal injury attorney.

3. Medical bills (current & future): This includes the bills you had to pay after the accident, for example, hospital bills and any medications or devices that were prescribed for you. It might also include costs for future doctor visits you’ll need because of the accident, rehabilitation, surgery, imaging, etc.

4. Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering is a legal term which describes the physical and emotional pain caused by an injury. For example, burn injuries and the resulting treatment cause some one of the most excruciating pain imaginable – that’s pain and suffering.

5. Lost wages (current & future): If you missed time from work because of the accident or will continue to miss time from work due to your injuries, those facts will come into consideration for your settlement.

Hold onto your pay stubs and tax records to provide evidence for lost wages. Also, make sure a doctor is taking you off work and providing you with a written note.

6. Property damage: This could include the cost of car repairs, or replacement, towing, storage, a rental vehicle, etc.

7. Other out of pocket expenses: For example, did you have to rent a car while your car was being fixed? Or did you have to take a taxi to and from doctor appointments or rehabilitation appointments? Did you have to hire someone to do household chores you can no longer do yourself as a result of the accident? All of these could be part of a claim for out of pocket expenses.

How long does it take to close a car accident settlement?

There are numerous factors that could affect how long it takes to get paid in a car accident settlement. For instance:

1. Type of action taken: If you try and settle on your own there is a high likelihood that you’re going to receive less than if you hire an experienced lawyer. However, if you and your legal team decide to settle with the insurance company that will usually takes less time than if you end up taking the case to court. Leave it up to Jim Adler & Associates to decide with you what’s the best path.

2. Full extent and duration of your medical treatment: Insurance companies might try to avoid paying the full value of your injuries and losses until the full extent of your injuries and losses are known.

*Be careful if an insurance company offers you a quick settlement: It’s likely to be a much lower figure than what you could recover with an experienced car accident attorney handling your case. After settling with the insurance company, you will likely sign a release which will bar you from recovering any further compensation, even if you were paid significantly less than what the full claim was worth.

3. Is fault (liability) disputed? When a negligent driver admits to being at fault or where the police issue a traffic ticket (citation) – these cases tend to settle quicker. But if the other driver and/or the police accuse you of causing part or all of the crash – the insurance company will likely deny your claim.

A proper investigation, eye-witness statements, 911 audio recordings, and even surveillance video from nearby businesses or homes could help make your case. Most importantly, an experienced car accident attorney will be the best weapon for defending yourself and getting compensation for your injuries and losses.

4. Insurance company or defense attorney: Some insurance companies are known to fight every case or offer settlements far below what the case merits. It could take considerable negotiation by an experienced attorney to get the maximum compensation allowed.

If the insurer just won’t budge, then a lawsuit might be filed.

5. Your case has large damages and a low insurance limit: Unfortunately, some cases reach a quick settlement because the case’s value is considerably greater than the insurance policy limit. In Texas, the minimum per person limits are $30,000.

How to negotiate a car accident settlement

Negotiating a settlement with an insurance company can be complicated and intimidating. You will be fighting experienced adjusters and attorneys who know insurance and personal injury law.

Remember that the adjuster or attorney’s job is to save their company money, not to help you. If liability is accepted, you’ll receive an offer to settle. Insurance companies will often tell you “we’ll take care of your medical bills”. But the first offer is usually low, and you don’t have to accept it. Patience and planning are critical here. You have the right to reject the offer and try to negotiate a higher amount based on your injuries and losses.

Our best advice: don’t fight insurance companies on your own. At Jim Adler & Associates we have decades of experience negotiating the confusing legal and insurance process to ensure our clients get the maximum compensation they deserve.

How to maximize your car accident settlement

1. Hire an experienced personal injury attorney: The best way to maximize a car accident settlement is to hire an experienced car wreck attorney. We know how to get you the best possible settlement and we’re wise to the tricks that insurance companies might try to use to underpay you or avoid paying you at all. Before you accept any insurance adjuster’s offer call Jim Adler & Associates for a free consultation about your case. You have nothing to lose and might have a lot to win.

2. Preserve evidence: You, the plaintiff, have what’s called the “burden of proof” in a personal injury case. This means that you have to present enough evidence to prove that what you’re saying happened actually happened and that your injuries are what you say they are. So, it is critical to preserve evidence as soon as you can after the accident. Remember, people’s memories fade, papers get lost and physical evidence of a crash otherwise disappears with time.

Some tips for preserving evidence include:

  • Take photos of the accident. This includes injuries, the vehicles involved, stop signs and lights, the weather, etc. Remember that you want to paint a clear picture of what happened and how things looked immediately after the crash.
  • Record the accident location and how the accident happened. Write down everything about where it happened, the time of day, the weather, landmarks, etc. Think like a journalist: who, what, why, when, where, and how.
  • Ask for the other driver’s information. Get their insurance company’s name and policy number, license plate number, driver’s license, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. Try to be polite – getting into an argument or fight won’t help your case.
  • Get witness contact information. This includes full names, addresses, emails and phone numbers. Again, remember to be polite.
  • Report the incident & get checked out for injuries. Call the police after the accident and be cooperative.
  • Get Video Surveillance. Be vigilant for video surveillance cameras that may have recorded the incident and request a copy.
  • Keep all reports, receipts, photos, etc. Make copies of all documentation and keep it in a safe place all together.
3. Get necessary medical attention. If you’re hurt, you need to get immediate medical attention. And even if you don’t think you’re hurt, get checked out anyway. Don’t tell people “I’m fine”, without a doctor telling you that, first. Some injuries like back or brain injuries can take time to show up and other injuries like internal bleeding might not be immediately obvious.

Also, follow your doctor’s orders for tests, treatment and therapy. The treatment you get could be important evidence of your injuries. But if you don’t follow your doctor’s orders or don’t get medical attention at all, then that could be used against you by an insurance company.

4. Stay off social media and other digital messaging applications. The insurance company will be looking on the internet for anything to use against you. They might say that you’re exaggerating your injuries, or that you said you were “fine” or posted a video which shows you doing something you claim you couldn’t do.

If you want to tell a family member that you had an accident, then give them a call. Don’t send a text, email or any other type of traceable digital message.

5. Be honest with your attorney and with your insurance company. We’re not saying minimize your claim – don’t say “I’m fine” if you haven’t been checked out by a doctor or spoken with a lawyer, first. What we are saying is don’t exaggerate your injuries or losses. It’s against the law and could hurt any legitimate claims you might have for compensation.

6. Patience is key. Keep in mind that the more patient you are throughout the process, the higher the settlement you could get.

Remember, don’t try to settle your claim alone. Rely on an experienced car crash attorney to maximize your compensation and fight for a fair settlement after your car accident. At Jim Adler & Associates we’ve been hammering insurance companies for over three decades and we won’t let them take advantage of you. Let our family take care of your family.

Fill out our free case review form or call 1-800-505-1414 for a free consultation. Attorneys in our Houston, Dallas and San Antonio offices will review your case and decide how to proceed with your claim or lawsuit.
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