Car crashes not only cause significant harm to all involved in the form of bodily injury and pain, but can also cost a great deal in the short and long term. Accident victims must seek compensation for property damage, medical bills, loss of income, and non-economic losses if they are to recover from the aftermath of the crash. A qualified car accident lawyer in Houston specializing in Houston car accident cases may be able to help you get a fair settlement for all your losses.
In Texas, the negligent party can be made to pay for all financial and non-financial damage incurred upon the victim due to their actions/inaction. But getting to that stage is not a one-step process. Instead, you need to do some things yourself before you see a car accident lawyer in Houston. The legal team at McDonald Worley is more than ready to assist you in all matters related to your car accident claim, and we’ll even take up your case without any upfront payments. Call today for an appointment.
For now, let’s get back to the topic!
What To Do After a Car Crash In Houston?
Following a car crash in Houston, you’ll have to muster up your strength, tolerate your physical pain for some time and complete a couple of preliminary steps on the crash scene. This may not be possible in all cases, but you can at least try your best to follow through with as many of the mentioned steps as you can. Your car accident lawyer in Houston will get a major headstart in the legal process if you gather some evidence at the crash site, alongside the accident report. The more you do here, the better your chances will be for fair compensation.
At-fault drivers are legally obliged to cooperate during this phase, but if they run away from the scene, it would be considered a hit and run. Suppose that’s not the case, and it was just a regular car accident. Here’s a step-by-step guide to what you should do after a car accident:
Personal safety takes precedence over everything else; you need to first ascertain that you and anyone riding with you are safe. Check yourself for injuries and notice any painful sensation you experience – you will have to fight it for some time to be able to go through this walkthrough unless it is critical, in which case you’ll probably be rushed to the hospital.
But considering that your injuries are not life-threatening, you should muster up all vestiges of your strength and then begin gathering evidence for later use. Before you do so, be sure to park your car by the side of the road (photograph the crash site first if you have to) so that the traffic flow continues unabated. Once you’ve parked the car by the roadside (hopefully, the other party has done the same), you can proceed with the next steps.
Calling emergency services is a must, even for minor accidents.
Ask the operator to send a police officer over to the accident scene. When the trooper comes, you should discuss the accident case with them, tell them as much as you remember about the occurrence, and answer any questions they may have for you. If you don’t remember certain details very clearly, be honest and let the officer know that your memory is a bit shaky at the moment. The officer will also ask the other party about their perspective – don’t panic, they’re supposed to do so. After some initial inquiry, the officer will report back to the station with their findings, and you can collect the police report on the accident (the insurance adjuster will want to see it, as per insurance policies) after a couple of days.
This report is documented evidence showing that the accident did happen and may even share some insights that can help you assert that the other party acted neglectfully. Remember, calling the police at the accident scene is a critical step, don’t skip it even if the accident is not as bad or if the other party says that you don’t need to call the police. And if the police can’t come to the crash site (you called and they said they couldn’t come), you should visit the nearest station (when you can, at your earliest convenience) and report the whole incident.
Photos, videos, audio clips, observations, and objects that can help explain the accident scene and give some perspective to an outside observer will be important for your case. The least you can do is to photograph your injuries, your car, the other party’s vehicle, the accident scene, and any tire marks on the road (signifying that the other driver was speeding and had to hard press the brakes), and so on. Videos are an excellent addition on top of photos as they provide a near-live display of the aftermath of an accident, allowing any outside observer to take a look at things the way that the people who experienced it saw – or at least the next best thing. Your evidence should encompass all details that your car accident lawyer in Houston can use to assert that the crash did happen, the other party was at fault, and that it caused you damage, as you claim.
Talk To The Other Driver
Exchanging information with the other driver is another standard practice – there’s nothing unusual about it. You need to avoid discussing fault, though. Now is not the time, even if the other party brings it up. Avoid saying anything that could be seen as a sign of admission of guilt – even if you don’t mean it. Anything like “sorry, but we have to do this” could be seen as an admission of guilt even if you’re not at fault. In the aforementioned sentence, you’re not apologizing for the “talk,” but are instead just being nice, so the other party does not feel like they’re under pressure. However, it includes the word “sorry,” so the at-fault party can use that against you.
No need to be hostile either. Be calm, and tell the other party that you need to exchange information to proceed with the rest of the protocol, and here’s what you need to ask them:
- Their name
- Contact information
- Driver’s license information
- Car license plate number
- Make and model of the car
- Insurance provider details
- Employer details, if it was a commercial car
You will also have to provide these details to the other party, and that’s fine.
But avoid discussing blame at this stage, and if the other driver asks you questions (or throws prompts at you) like “how fast were you going,” or “I think you made a mistake too,” and so on, be smart and don’t say anything you’d regret later. Even if you’re being nice (or sarcastic), your words can and will be held against you, so be very careful.
With this information, you can proceed with filing your claim against the liable parties (there can be more than one).
Talk To The Witnesses
Here’s another step for you. This one is optional, and you only need to go through it if you notice someone else on the scene who saw the whole thing. If you see witnesses nearby, some of whom might’ve shown up to help as well, you can ask them for their contact information. They might not give you their number just like that, but if you tell them how much getting a financial compensation means for you and how this would help you cope with the aftermath of the crash, they might be willing to help. For effective personal injury lawsuits, witnesses are an integral part of the claimant’s argument, and lawyers dedicate their time and effort to preparing witnesses before presenting them before the jury. Any experienced car accident lawyer in Houston will testify to the importance of witnesses in this whole process, and this little extra step will strengthen your case even further.
Seek Medical Help
The common types of injuries resulting from car accidents can be serious even if they don’t look that way from the surface. Only a qualified medical practitioner can diagnose your injuries and identify the extent of the damage. Even if your bodily injury seems minimal, it can have deeper ramifications if you ignore them. After a thorough diagnosis, you will be able to understand the extent of the harm you’ve sustained and thus be able to demand compensation for that, but waiting a bit to assess the medical costs will be a better idea. Your doctor may also want to see your medical records to ensure that your injuries don’t cause more serious damage.
You can’t delay seeking medical help because that might be seen as a sign that your sufferings were not as severe as you claim (even if that is not the case). Also, the insurance adjuster might suggest that you worsened your condition by delaying your visit to the doctor. Ideally, you must visit a doctor on the same day as the accident, but at least within the next 72 hours. Although the latter is not ideal – it is best to do it as soon as possible. This way, you’ll be able to claim that the injuries did hurt you badly, as you claim, and that you did not worsen the condition by delaying medical help for your bodily injuries. Also, when you do visit the doctor, ask them for a thorough diagnosis and reports for your insurance claim.
Record & Document Your Losses
Next, it would help if you kept a grip on your total losses, including the medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning potential, extra out-of-pocket expenses, property damage, physical pain, emotional distress, and so on. You should keep all your bills and receipts with you and get documented evidence for your losses, such as a mechanic’s estimate to fix the car, an employer’s note showing the number of days or weeks you took off, and so on. As for your non-economic damages, you can document those as part of your journal (if you write one) and show that to your car accident lawyer in Houston so that they can advise you on what to do next. Just stay away from social media for the time being and don’t make any public statements regarding the intensity of the accident or the number of losses you’ve sustained. You need to first speak to a lawyer and discuss your case in detail to be able to understand how to best approach the situation from your standpoint. Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you can move on to the part where you claim your compensation for all your losses.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston & Draft Your Demand Letter
At this point, contacting a car accident lawyer in Houston is the best course of action, although the timeline for this is not fixed (more on that later). A lawyer can assess the details of your case and suggest the next steps to take in order to be compensated for all your losses. The initial consultation phase is free in most cases, and personal injury lawyers don’t charge any upfront fees for the legal process. This is called the contingency fee arrangement, and this way you only pay for your case when you’ve won your compensation sum. Your car accident lawyer in Houston will go through all the details of the case, draft a demand letter on your behalf or make tweaks to yours if you’ve drafted one yourself, and then proceed with the rest of the process.
When To Reach Out To a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston?
If you’re looking to work with an attorney, you can do so at any stage of the process. In fact, the sooner you do so, the better. Once you’ve completed the preliminary requirements, as much as you can, you will be able to proceed with the case further. At this stage, you should book an appointment with your selected law firm and seek further guidance regarding how you can maximize your compensation winnings.
But be sure to speak to a car accident lawyer in Houston before you discuss your case with anyone else because whatever you say or do can be used against you in the claim. The responsible parties want you to settle for your motor vehicle accident claim sooner and a nominal payout that their insurance adjuster is offering you. You must not speak to the insurance adjuster about your claims process except for the very basic details; the rest you should discuss with them only after you’ve spoken to a lawyer. Your car accident lawyer in Houston should be the first person to know fully about your case. This way, you can be sure that you’ve not compromised your chances of securing fair compensation for your losses.
How To Get Compensated Fairly?
Lastly, you’d want to be fairly compensated for all your losses. Your car accident lawyer in Houston will walk you through the rest of the process step by step so you can claim a meaningful and favorable settlement that can help you fully recover from your economic and non-economic damages. Here’s how it works:
Estimation Of The Losses
Your lawyer will first begin estimating the full extent of the damage. Generally, the losses incurred in distracted driving accidents, T-bone accidents, and pretty much all kinds of car accidents result in both financial and non-financial damages. Your lawyer will begin with the cost estimation for both such damages. But before giving you a final number (more like a range rather than a fixed number), they’ll probably explain to you what both of these categories mean.
Economic damages are losses that can be accounted for by bills and receipts. You can see how much you lost based on the amount you had to pay for certain things. Vehicle damage, for instance, will cost you as much as several thousand dollars in some cases. Medical treatment can also cost you a lot of money in the long term, and coupling these financial losses with loss of earning potential or lost wages will make the damage all the worse.
And of course, there is a non-economic aspect as well. You’ve probably sustained serious injuries that caused a whole lot of pain and emotional distress to you. Being involved in an accident can be quite heavy on the mind as well, for instance, a victim of a rear-end collision may feel naturally threatened by driving after a serious wreck. This is something that compensatory damages will fail to address. Also, in many cases, the accident can lead to loss of joy in life, loss of consortium (if a loved one died), loss of quality of life, and so on.
No bill or receipt can record such losses, thus to account for non-economic damages in your compensation demand list is hard.
But there is a proven way that lawyers use. Based on the intensity of the accident, the lawyers can multiply the total economic damages with a multiple lying between 1.5 and 5. This assessment is mostly based on the severity of the injuries caused, and this way, you’ll get compensated for not only your losses but also all that you had to endure alongside your financial troubles. However, for accurate and meaningful estimation, lawyers often wait a while to see if there will be any long-term medical costs or partial/complete disability benefits, and so on.
After going through all the factors and possibilities for your case, your car accident lawyer in Houston will present their value estimation for your injury claim.
This is the first and most commonly pursued option for seeking compensation for car accidents. However, the insurance adjuster will not want to negotiate their offer. They want to minimize their losses, and paying you as per your demands is the exact opposite of that. The biggest complication that can affect the flow of the negotiations is a comparative fault, in which case you might have a percentage of fault in the accident (remember how we told you not to discuss fault with the other driver on the accident scene?) If you’re going to be working with a car accident lawyer in Houston, let them handle most of these negotiations.
While having an attorney can stall the payout a bit longer than it would take normally, you stand a better chance of recovering more money than if you tried to deal with the claim on your own. Of course, since all personal injury cases have a time limit as per the statute of limitations, lawyers can’t waste all the time negotiating a settlement if none is to be reached. This can become obvious sooner or later, so lawyers usually start preparing for such a possibility in advance.
Pursuing a Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit becomes necessary when the other party refuses to budge and give you your rightful reimbursement. This may stem from some uncertainty in the fault or a gap in the evidence, or some other technicality that the liable party can exploit. Though going through a lawsuit can be complex, it may (as it does in many cases) yield you a greater payout than what you were negotiating for if you win. Of course, winning is not guaranteed, but your car accident lawyer in Houston will do their part to ensure that you maintain a strong position throughout. These steps include preparing you and your witnesses for the trial, documenting all the resources, assessing the evidence, getting private investigators on board, reaching out to accident recreation experts, and so on. In the case of a trial, nothing can be guaranteed except that your lawyer will do all things possible to give your case a fair fighting chance.
Reach Out to a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston
At the McDonald Worley Law Firm, our legal team is more than ready to assist clients with their accident injury claim process.
Whether you’ve been in a minor car accident, or a serious one, such as rollover accidents, high-speed traffic accidents, or drunk driving accidents, you should not hold back from contacting us to see if we can help.
Call us today for a free initial consultation with a car accident lawyer in Houston.