Among the worst things that may happen to you is a car accident – they may lead to fatalities, as well as serious or minor injuries. If this happens, you will require the services of a Houston car accident lawyer, especially if it was not your fault. After all, you need to fight for every cent that you deserve, yet insurance companies do not enjoy paying claims or they pay less than the stipulated amount.
However, once you have an experienced lawyer on your side, you will not need to go through the insurance company because the lawyer handles everything on your behalf.
In the case of wrongful deaths
When the car accident occurs and your loved one, spouse or family member dies, you have the right to seek compensation. This will mostly be through financial compensation; even in the case of the individual responsible has criminal penalty charges. A car accident lawyer can assist in easing this burden from the death.
These costs may include lost wages of the spouse, funeral expenses, medical bills, as well as other expenses. These should not fall into your hands because your loved one was not responsible for the accident, and your lawyer will hold a case with the insurance company until you receive the necessary payments.
Why do you need a car accident lawyer?
- You do not have a long time frame to pursue legal action
In many states of the U.S., the maximum time to file the case of a car accident is two years. If you do not file a case within this stipulated time, your case is lost.
- You need to get compensation from the insurance company
Many insurance providers seek to protect their clients and compensate them in case of any damages. However, keep in mind that they are businesses as well, so they want to maximize profits and decrease their overhead charges and other expenses.
Because your interests and the agenda of the company may not be on the same level, you need to hire the services of a Houston car accident lawyer that will take care of that aspect, while ensuring the company meets your interests.
- You must comply with certain regulations
If you or your loved one is in an accident, you will need to file a police report eventually. Your state may also place other requirements on you. When you hire the services of a Houston car accident attorney, the advantage is that they know the state laws regarding the issue, and they can therefore help you in making sure you avoid incidences that prevent your rights to sue.
- You may not know all the potential damages
Individuals that suffer injuries from accidents are eligible to get a host of damages. For instance, it is not just your medical bills that you can acquire, but also emotional distress, trauma, lost income from your job, as well as suffering and pain.
In case of incapacitation, your family members also need recovery from the loss of your companionship. When you do not hire a car accident lawyer, you may not be aware of all these fees.
- It is difficult to prove liability on your own
At the end of the day, it is hard for the responsible party to admit they were at fault. Even if there were witnesses at the scene and police reports proving the fault of the other party, it is additionally difficult on your part to prove the negligence of the other driver.
Many elements go to succeeding in personal injury lawsuits – therefore you will require the services of an attorney that understands accident laws, and can provide similar case references, in addition to other sources of law and citations that boost your case.
- You must follow complex rules while filing the case
Legal requirements are very tricky to handle on your own, particularly when you do not know all the documents and paperwork that goes into a case. These requirements include the font size of the case summary, as well as the permissible evidence and citations of legal precedents. You will therefore need the services from a car accident lawyer, who will guide you on the legal process.
- You must know the options you have in the settlement
The settlement of many cases will not be in court, but instead out of court. This means that the insurance company or the defendant will present certain offers to you.
Your car accident lawyer likely understands the implications and results of the offer, because once you accept it you lose the right to sue for compensation. Your lawyer will also guide you to know if this is the best route to follow or not.
- Different states, different rules
What many people are not aware of is that car accident rules and automobile insurance is dependent on the individual jurisdiction of each state.
For instance, there are some ‘no-fault’ states, where you cannot sue after a car accident unless in unique circumstances. In others, you can sue even though you were partially responsible for the accident, while in others you cannot sue if you were partially responsible. The Houston car accident lawyer can help you to understand the subtle parts of the law that are in your state so that you comprehend all your individual rights.
- Proving the case is more complex than you think
Similar to filing the case, proving the case is more difficult than you think. You can ‘discover’ certain information from the opposing side, while you have restrictions in the number of evidence and witnesses that you present to the court. Restrictions can also happen through the number of questions you can ask and the manner that you phrase them.
In addition to this, you must do thorough research – this will convince the court to agree to your case and for this reason, it is hard to do it on your own.
- You are likely to face financial loss if you do not hire an attorney
If you do not sue within the legal time or present the best defendants, you can lose your case due to presenting incorrect information. What makes it worse is the possibility of you receiving bans from suing ever again. That means that you waste your only chance at recovery and remain stuck with the costs that someone else should pay for.
Looking for a lawyer for car accidents
The lawyers that deal in auto accidents near you can cover a variety of issues ranging from wrongful death, personal injuries, liability determination and destruction of property.
When you are looking for an auto accident lawyer, look for the following aspects:
- The experience of the lawyer – they need to know transportation laws that apply to both the state and national levels.
- Skill level – their reputation in similar cases, how well can they argue the case. They should also know how to deal effectively with health care as well as insurance companies, and prepare the case well.
- Fee structure – some of the best car accident lawyers are affordable, so look for one within your budget. In addition, good lawyers will usually accept cases on contingencies of ‘no win=no fee’ basis, as long as they feel that there is merit within the case.
- Commitment – it is important that you look into the background of the lawyer
What questions should you ask the lawyer?
Before you decide on looking for an auto accident lawyer near you, it is vital that you have as much facts and information about the accident as possible.
It is also in your interest to show the lawyer some documents after the accident, which include the motor insurance policy, your medical records, exchanged information at the scene of the accident, as well as other things. Some questions to ask are:
- The experience the lawyer has in cases involving auto accidents
- The percentage of the law practice that the lawyer has in the specific area of car accidents
- The usual settlement ranges for similar cases
- The extent the lawyer will handle your case
- The out-of-pocket expenses that you need to pay
- The structure of the lawyer fees
You may wonder the documents that you need to present to your lawyer that will assist in the evidence of the case. These are:
- Insurance policy – your vehicle likely has an insurance cover, and your Houston car accident lawyer will want to see it to know the type of recovery that you require. Even if you do not have a copy of the policy, your lawyer can get one for you from the insurance company.
- Statements – most likely scenario is that after an accident, a representative from your insurance company calls you. The company wants to get a statement from you, and it is your right to have a copy of the statement.
- The evidence of premiums – the lawyer needs proof that you have paid the premiums of your insurance. When your lawyer gets this information, they can establish that the policy is active, since you already paid for it.
- Tickets relating to the accident – make sure your auto accident lawyer knows this information, for instance if you got a ticket for ‘failure to yield’ or a speeding ticket.
- Any information that the police provide at the accident scene – in situations of accidents, the requirement is that police arrive to the scene and draft a report. This includes diagrams of where the pedestrians or cars involved were at that time, and this information is vital to helping the understanding of the case. However, if you lack a police report, the lawyer can still get one on your behalf.
- Photographs of the scene – In the case that you lack pictures, a representative of your insurance company likely has them. If you have pictures with you, it is best to give them to your lawyer, but if you do not then the lawyer can organize to obtain some from the insurance provider.
- Medical history – car accidents may leave significant physical injuries on you, and leave you seeking medical care. Your lawyer will therefore require your medical records to establish the extent of injury and recovery time. If you lack the records, provide the lawyer with the address and name of any medical provider you visit and they can get your records.
- Pay records (salary or wages) – since many accidents result in loss of work time, the lawyer can assist you to recover your lost wages. They will need to know the money you have ‘lost’ by using your usual earnings before and after the accident.
- Psychological history – if the accident results in mental and emotional trauma, the lawyer needs to know and see the medical records related to that. This means you should provide copies of psychological names and addresses of the health care providers as well as a release form.
What to do after a car accident (before hiring a lawyer)
- Get some information from witnesses
This applies if you are physically able – inquire from nearby people if you can get their names and contacts. This is because the police report may not be comprehensive enough to include certain people at the scene who were witnesses to the whole event.
- Make sure you establish whether you really need a lawyer
Remember that you will need to pay 33-40% of your money to the lawyer if you win the case. Some accidents do not require lengthy court processes, unless under special circumstances. In addition, some insurance companies tend to underpay unrepresented clients.
- Order the police report
This will assist you in further proof. While different departments have different procedures for drafting a copy of the report, you can still obtain it easily.
- Obtain medical records and check-ups
This will be important in ensuring your recovery. It will also help in establishing a proper court case in the event that you decide to get the services of a lawyer.
It is important that you adhere to state laws as you file your case, and this understates the importance of hiring a Houston car accident attorney. The lawyer must guide you on the state legal laws and procedures, and this will boost your chances of receiving compensation, something that is very important in improving the quality of your life after the accident.