Is Texas a No-Fault State for Car Accidents
If you have suffered an injury after a car accident, then expenses can quickly mount up. Between increasing medical bills and lost wages, you may be tempted to accept the first settlement offer that comes your way.
However, it is important to seek advice from an attorney first, or you may end up with much less than what you deserve. Once you accept a settlement, you forfeit your right to fight for more, even if your expenses surpass what you received in compensation.
At Chris Morrow Law, PLLC, we offer a free consultation to all car accident victims, so you can seek professional legal counsel before you agree to a settlement offer.
Remember, whether your settlement offer is coming from your own insurance company or that of the at-fault driver, insurance companies are always driven by profit. If they are offering you a settlement, it could be a tactic to save money and avoid paying you what you are truly owed.
We understand that car accident claims can be stressful, and you might want it over quickly, but when you have representation from an experienced car accident attorney, they will take over the entire process, from investigations to negotiation, so that you can focus on what is important, your recovery.
Settling a Car Accident Claim Quickly
Many victims are tempted to accept the first offer given to them because they need the money. However, there are no rules for how much insurance companies need to offer you; for example, they could only offer you 20% or even less of what they may otherwise end up paying when you have the help of a car accident lawyer.
Although it is often possible to receive a settlement quickly if you accept a low offer, it is important to ask yourself whether it is worth accepting less.
It is important to consider why your case could take a long time. There could be legal and technical issues slowing it down, or the facts of the case may require time to work out. Establishing who is at fault and how much damages you should be awarded can be a long process.
For example, if you were in a truck accident, then your case would inevitably be complex. There may be more than one liable party, such as the trucking company, manufacturer, truck driver, or government agency. It may take a while to establish who is liable and the percentage to which they are faulty.
The best thing you can do is seek advice from an attorney in a free consultation. They can review your case and help you decide whether you should accept an offer or continue to fight for more.
Chris Morrow Law, PLLC – The Attorney That Works!
At Chris Morrow Law, PLLC, we will fight to secure fair compensation as quickly as possible without ever compromising on your rights. We will establish the extent of your damages, including your injuries and lost wages, and how they will affect you in the future.
We will negotiate with the auto insurance company involved in your case and will provide substantial evidence for your damages that is difficult to argue with. If they refuse to accept a fair settlement, we will also be prepared to go to court to fight for your right to fair compensation.
We will keep you informed at every stage and will always provide you with options and the probability of various outcomes based on specific actions.
How Much Does a Car Accident Attorney Cost?
One of the reasons why some people are tempted to accept the first offer from an insurance provider is because they are concerned about what an attorney will cost them. Car accidents are traumatic experiences, and the last thing you need is additional bills.
At Chris Morrow Law, PLLC, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we only take a percentage of your settlement if we are successful. If your case is unsuccessful, then we will not receive anything. We assume all the risk so that you don’t have to worry.
Most car accident victims who seek the help of an attorney when making an insurance claim end up with a higher amount of compensation than those who don’t, even when legal fees are considered.
What Happens if I Reject a Car Accident Settlement Offer? Will They Revoke It?
No. Rejecting a car insurance’s first settlement offer will not generally lead to a revoked offer. In the vast majority of cases, the first settlement offer is simply the first step in fighting for fair compensation.
How long it takes to secure a fair settlement in your case will depend on the quality of your representation, how clear the liability is, how willing the other party is to settle, the severity of your injuries, and a host of other factors.
Generally speaking, unless your case has little merit and you have just been offered a few hundred dollars as a goodwill gesture, your insurance adjuster will expect you to reject the first offer, which will serve to begin the settlement negotiation process.
What To Do After Receiving the First Settlement Offer
If you haven’t done so already, then you should seek a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer so that they can advise you on your next steps based on your specific circumstances.
The first thing they are likely to do is send a demand letter to the insurance company.
Send a Demand Letter to the Insurance Company
The demand letter is an opportunity for you to tell your side of the story. It will include details regarding how the accident happened, who is at fault, the damages you have incurred so far, and what your recovery is likely to look like.
It will also include a settlement figure that you would be willing to accept to settle the case. When you have an experienced car accident attorney by your side, the insurance adjuster is more likely to take your case seriously. It sends a message that you will not accept a lowball offer and are willing to fight for what you are owed.
The Next Steps
Every case is different; however, in simple terms, your case is likely to go through the following steps:
- Following your initial offer and your demand letter, the insurance adjuster is likely to respond with a second settlement offer. The offer may be close to what you and your attorney asked for, and you may be willing to settle at this point, or your case could require further negotiations.
- It is likely that your attorney and your insurance adjuster will exchange a few more letters to negotiate a fair settlement.
- If a fair settlement is established and you accept their offer, your attorney will take their percentage, and the rest will be yours.
- If a fair agreement cannot be reached, then your car accident attorney may need to represent you in court to achieve a fair outcome. However, court proceedings are timely and expensive, and so most cases will result in an out-of-court settlement.
What If the Insurance Company is Delaying My Claim
Some insurance companies try to use underhanded tactics in order to get you to accept less than what you deserve, such as delaying your claim. In accordance with the statute of limitations in Texas, you have two years to make a claim, so you have time to fight for fair compensation.
When you have an attorney on your side, they will be forced to cooperate. If they do not, your attorney can bring a personal injury lawsuit against them in court.
When Should I Accept a Settlement From a Car Insurance Company?
Your car accident attorney will help you determine what a good settlement looks like in your case, one which is truly representative of your damages. Before accepting an offer, you should consider if:
- You are aware of the extent of your car accident injuries and how much they are likely to cost you, and the offer is sufficient to cover all of your medical expenses both now and in the future.
- The car accident settlement is reflective of your emotional suffering, known as pain and suffering.
- You have a complete figure of what compensation is available to you through both your insurance coverage and those of any other at-fault parties.
- You have discussed your case with an attorney and have a clear idea of what a fair settlement looks like in your case, and the settlement offer is above, or at least near, that figure.
What Compensation is Available in a Car Accident Case?
The amount of compensation you may be able to receive following a car accident is dependent on the value of your damages, how clear the liability is, and the quality of your representation.
Damages are your economic and non-economic losses as a result of the accident. Past economic damages are relatively straightforward and simple to evidence, such as your past medical bills. However, your attorney may need to draw upon expert testimony to establish what your future expenses should be valued at.
Non-economic damages are referred to as pain and suffering; they are not easily quantified and can often be highly contentious. However, an experienced car accident lawyer will know how to evidence your emotional suffering to ensure that it is reflected in your settlement.
Damages that may be considered in your settlement include:
If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, then you will need to take time away from work to recover, resulting in lost wages. When you have medical bills mounting up, this can be particularly stressful. Your settlement should include compensation for all your lost wages.
If your injuries are so severe that you will be unlikely to return to work in the same capacity, then you could be compensated for a lifetime of lost earning potential.
Medical Expenses Past and Future
Often medical bills are the biggest concern for car accident victims. A good settlement will cover all of your medical expenses, from your hospital bills and medication costs, to the cost of transport to and from the hospital and additional childcare.
If you accept a quick settlement, then your future medical costs are unlikely to be considered. An attorney may need to draw upon expert testimony to evidence what your future costs will be.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering describe your emotional suffering, including physical pain and emotional trauma. Car accidents are often traumatic, as are the injuries sustained from them. It is essential that this is properly considered when determining what a good settlement looks like in your case.
Pain and suffering also include things like loss of enjoyment in life. If you are unable to participate in hobbies you once did or play with your child in the same way, then this should also be reflected in your settlement.
To calculate the value of your pain and suffering damages, a common method your attorney may use is to calculate your economic damages, such as your lost wages and medical expenses, and apply a multiplier between one and five.
For example, if your injuries will prevent you from participating in hobbies you enjoy for the foreseeable future, but a full recovery is likely, then this multiplier could be two. On the other hand, if your injuries are life-limiting and permanent, then a multiple of five may be more appropriate.
Punitive damages can only be awarded in car accident cases that go to court, as they can only be awarded by a Judge. Most personal injury claims do not go to court due to the extra time and expenses.
In cases that do involve punitive damages, it is used as a way of punishing the defendant or discouraging similar behavior in the future. These damages are reserved for cases involving malicious intent or gross negligence.
Examples of car accident claims that may justify punitive damages include cases involving a hit-and-run, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or street racing.
Should I Accept a Quick Settlement if I am Partially at At-Fault For the Accident?
You should not accept a quick settlement just because you believe you are partially at fault for the accident; you should still seek advice from an attorney who can determine whether you have a strong case for compensation.
This is because Texas is a comparative fault state which means that even if you were partially at fault for an accident, you might still be owed compensation. In Texas, when a car accident occurs and more than one party contributes, each will be assigned a percentage of fault.
For example, if you were in a car accident where you were speeding, but the other driver ran through a red light, then you could be determined to be 25% at fault for the accident, while the other party is 75% at fault. When this happens, your eventual settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault, so in this case, your original offer could be $100,000, but you will receive $75,000.
So long as you are determined to be less than 50% at fault for the accident, you can still make a claim against the other party.
The insurance company may try to assign you fault in order to reduce how much they are required to pay you. However, when you have an experienced car accident lawyer, they will ensure that you are not unjustly assigned fault.
Do I Need an Attorney to Pursue a Car Accident claim?
In Texas, you are within your rights to pursue a car accident claim without the help of an attorney. However, you will be up against large insurance companies and their legal teams. Insurance companies employ insurance adjusters whose sole job is to devalue your claim. Therefore, if you try to make a claim without legal representation, you are likely to end up with less than what you deserve.
When you hire an esteemed car accident lawyer, you send a message that you mean business and will not accept less than what you deserve. Your attorney will take over all the legal paperwork, investigations, and negotiations so that you can focus on your recovery.
Additionally, if your case does go to court, your attorney will be prepared to advocate on your behalf in front of a Judge.
Finding a Car Accident Lawyer in Texas
Finding a good car accident attorney is important, but it can be a challenging decision, especially when you have so many options. It is good to remember that an impressive ad isn’t always representative of a high-quality law firm.
Factors you should look for in your law firm include:
- A Narrow Focus – A narrow focus, such as a personal injury law in Texas, ensures that your attorney will be helping people in similar positions to you on a daily basis. All of their professional time will be spent developing skills, resources, and experience which is relevant to them. A local lawyer will also have an in-depth knowledge of the state-specific laws surrounding your case. At Chris Morrow Law, PLLC, we are committed to helping personal injury victims and their families in Austin and surrounding areas.
- Experience – It is important that your attorney has the experience necessary to do everything possible for your case. Negotiating with insurance companies takes practice, and an experienced attorney will give you the best chance of receiving a fair settlement. Our law firm has been helping personal injury victims since 1994.
- Experienced in the Courtroom – Attorneys get a reputation over time, which means that insurance adjusters know which attorneys are willing to go to court and which are not. If your attorney does not have trial experience, your insurance adjuster may be more likely to offer a low settlement, as they know they will not be taken to court. At Chris Morrow Law, PLLC, we are experienced trial lawyers and will always be prepared to advocate on behalf of our clients in the courtroom if necessary.
- Personally Available – Car accident claims can take a long time to settle, and the process can be highly emotional. Some attorneys work through assistants and emails, and it is difficult to have a personal relationship with them. When you secure representation with us, your car accident lawyer will be personally available by phone and email. We will guide you through the process and be an important source of support.
- Contingency Fee Basis – It is important that your attorney is working on a no-win no-fee basis; that way, you can never be left out of pocket for an accident that wasn’t your fault. At our law firm, we promise no hidden costs, and all of our work is on a contingency fee basis.
- Testimonials From Previous Clients – A good attorney will always be more than happy to show you testimonials from previous clients who navigated similar issues to you. Our attorneys have a long history of happy clients and are always pleased to show testimonials to prospective clients.
- Free Consultation – A free consultation is an important first step. It is an opportunity for you to find out whether you have a valid claim and gives you an opportunity to ask questions to your attorney so that you can feel confident in your representation. At Chris Morrow Law, PLLC, we offer a free consultation to all car accident victims so you can gain clarity on your next steps.
Should I Take the Insurance Settlement After a Car Accident – FAQ
Every car accident claim is unique and how long your case takes depends on many factors, such as how willing the other party is to settle, the complexity of liability, the severity of your injuries, and the quality of your representation. Simple cases could be over in a matter of months, while overs could take over a year to settle.
Without an in-depth consultation, it is impossible to say whether you have a valid claim for compensation. In a free case evaluation, your attorney will be able to advise you on whether your case is worth pursuing so you can make an informed decision regarding your next steps. However, if you have already been offered a settlement, then it is likely you have a valid claim.
If the person who was at fault for your car accident was uninsured, then seeking the compensation you deserve could be difficult. Your own insurance policy may have uninsured motorist coverage; if so, this could be the best avenue for compensation. Either way, a car accident attorney can help you explore your options.
If you had an injury before the car accident, then you still have a right to compensation and should not be deterred. However, it can be difficult to establish your damages as you will need to show what damages were a direct result of the accident and which will not. These types of cases require the investigation of an experienced attorney who can help you evidence your claims.
Contact Chris Morrow Law, PLLC Today – The Attorney That Works
Every car accident lawyer here at Chris Morrow Law, PLLC, works under the same ethos – to support personal injury victims to recover just and fair compensation. We will fight to ensure that your past and future costs are considered as well as both your economic and non-economic losses.