Catastrophic accidents can happen to anyone at any given point in time. After a serious car accident, the shock may make it hard to find out who is at-fault, or even identify each person that was involved. There are many causes of car accidents, and can happen because of driver error, or even because of a mechanical error in the vehicle itself.
When you are involved in a car accident someone else caused, there are many different types of damages you may be entitled to seek compensation for such as compensation for medical bills, property damage such as damage to a car after an accident, and other losses from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Texas Crash Facts
More and more people are spending their time on the road. According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s recent report, this means that car accidents are on the rise.
- The fatality rate in Texas increased over 4 percent. This means that Texas experienced more motor vehicle traffic deaths than the year before.
- There were 15,764 serious injury crashes in Texas.
- 19,448 people suffered from serious injuries.
- There was more than a 15 percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed.
- Almost half of the motorcyclists that died in traffic accidents were not wearing safety helmets.
- In almost half of the car accidents that resulted in someone dying, the person was not wearing a seat belt or other safety restraint.
- 24 percent of the fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes involved a drunk driver.
Based on reportable crashes in 2021:
- 1 person was killed almost every two hours,
- 1 person was injured about every two minutes, and
- 1 reportable crash occurred every 57 seconds.
With so many potential claims in Texas and across the nation, it is no surprise that most injured claimants need the help of skilled personal injury lawyers. The first step begins with informing the insurance company that it is responsible for covering some or all of the damages to begin with.
It is false that only the original insured person or policyholder can report notice of a claim to an insurance company. The insurance company cannot reject a claim by the injured claimant. In the past, only the paying client – the insured policyholder – can make and sustain a claim. Today, any injured claimant with a valid claim can give proper notice to the insurance provider. Regardless of who puts an insurance company on notice, it only matters that a qualifiying occurance happened, and that the insurance company’s rules were followed when it comes to how the company was notified of a claim. For example, there is often a section within the insurance policy contract with conditions that have to be met in order for a claim to be paid. Certain instructions have to be followed. This is why it is a good idea for an injured claimant and his or her attorney to make a claim directly with an insurance company from the start, even if an insurance agent is assigned from the beginning. This also prevents the insurance company from denying that it never got proper notice of a claim.
Because insurance companies always want proof, it is always worth the time to go back and document or put facts in writing. Sometimes, this means sending written documents by certified mail, return receipt requested which is a recognized way of confirming the recipient got notice of the documents delivered. When mail is sent via return receipt requested with the post office, this means that the sender gets notified about the date the recipient gets the mail.
Like many other companies, insurance companies have a complex, internal structure. Put simply, insurance companies are made up of many departments and an injured claimant needs to make sure that his or her insurance claim reaches the right department. In some instances, the insurance broker can help connect an injured claimant with the right point of contact. At times, the insurance company website provides useful claim information.
If all else fails, it is possible that a state’s department of insurance will have the information an injured claimant needs. For example, the Texas Department of Insurance can list enough information so that an injured claimant can locate a particular policyholder’s insurance provider.
In other cases, a third-party insurance broker receives notice of a claim. But it is important notice of a claim is given to the right, responsible party.
To create a uniform standard, there has been an effort to develop a universal standard regarding motor vehicle standards. Standards are set by the information at hand, including data, like that stated above, which requires constant monitoring and requires ongoing research to collect the most up-to-date statistics.
It is for this reason many state governments and many personal injury lawyers advise and suggest that drivers use black boxes. Black boxes record information before, after and during a specific car accident. Black boxes are often referred to as event data recorders. States value such objective records.
In Massachusetts, the State Police are currently trying to establish a pilot program that handles use of black boxes.
What kind of evidence do I need to prove my insurance claim?
In truck accidents or car accidents, insurance claim representatives will seek a copy of several types of documents as evidence to support the claim, including a police report, medical bills, medical report and lost wages statement. These have to be in writing, not just a verbal confirmation over the phone. Additionally, they need to be detailed, readable and able to be understood.
Personal injury lawyers also know that when he or she sends copies of these documents to the claims adjuster, they copies must clear and readable. Otherwise, these documents are worthless. If these documents are not able to be read and understood, this only creates a waste of time and expense since the insurance claims representative will have to contact the attorney again and ask for more additional copies.
What does auto insurance cover?
Auto Insurance has five parts that make up its coverage:
(1) liability damage,
(2) property damage,
(4) under-insured coverage, and
(5) medical payments.
Each state has its own unique laws. Today, many states require all insurance providers to have some underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage in their auto insurance policies.
In an accident, does auto insurance cover cars not named in the insurance policy?
In certain cases, a insured person may still have coverage after a car accident even if he or she is not driving the vehicle originally described in the insurance policy. A couple examples of times when a car not named in an insurance policy, but are still covered, include TSA (Temporary Substitute Automobile) and/or a NOA (Non-Owned Automobile).
What is a Temporary Substitute Automobile?
This kind of vehicle is usually a car an insured person drives when their own car is not working. The car they usually drive that was actually named in the insurance policy, like in the Declaration Sheet, was disabled for repairs. While the covered car is being repaired, the insurance policy may cover the vehicle the insured person is using in the meantime. It is a substitute that is used until the car actually identified in the insurance policy is returned and used again.
What is a Non-Owned Automobile?
A non-owned automobile is typically a car used by an insured person that actually belongs to someone else with his or her permission. For example, an insured person who borrows a friend’s car then gets into an accident may be covered under his or her own policy even though the friend’s car is not described in the policy.
What other insurance policies can affect my insurance claim?
Sometimes the person with insurance, the insured policyholder, has excess or umbrella policies.
An excess insurer is an insurance provider that covers a risk already covered by another policy. It increases the insurance coverage limit amount under the original, primary policy. Similar to excess insurers, an umbrella insurer is an insurance provider that provides an insurance policy that fills in any gaps in coverage left by a primary insurance policy.
How an insurance company is able to properly evaluate and process a claim, then provide benefits under the policy, depends on its ability to get facts and find out which insurance policy applies in this specific case.
Whether an insurance company is doing everything it is supposed to do can only be determined after the insurance claim is submitted and processed. Only after all of this does the insurance company owe the injured claimant money and payments become due.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer
Without experience in the insurance industry or legal experience, understanding which factors or evidence can help or hurt your case can be difficult to understand.
Are you trying to secure your financial recovery with the help of experienced attorneys? If so, we can help.
The Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm has helped countless Texans handle their insurance disputes. Our experienced trial lawyers have gone up against some of the biggest names in the insurance industry while successfully bringing home payouts for clients. Our successful reputation speaks for itself, and with offices in both Houston and San Antonio, we are well equipped to assist Texans who are in dire need of our services. Register online for a free case evaluation or call us today at 713-524-8139 (Houston) or 210-702-3000 to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.