It’s difficult for most car accident injury victims to imagine suing a negligent driver while trying to physically and financially recover. Hiring a Texas car accident lawyer eases the burden in many occurrences. Trusting one’s case in the hands of an experienced legal professional can influence a positive outcome under a valid personal injury claim.
You don’t have to fight your case alone. At Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm, PLLC, we understand what you are going through. Our decades of experience is to the advantage of our clients during settlement and trial discussions. We offer a free consultation to give you an idea of how we can help your family move forward. Contact our by calling 713-524-8139.
We look forward to learning more about your case. In the meantime, learn as much about car accident lawsuits in Texas as you can. We have done the heavy lifting for you by outlining the following issues:
Table of Contents
An Overview of Texas Car Accidents
Most Common Types of Car Accidents in Texas
Most Common Types of Injuries in Texas
What to Do After You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Texas
Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
Never Admit Fault to the Other Drivers
Tips for Dealing with Insurance Companies
Time Limits to File a Lawsuit
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, Texas
The Challenges of Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit on Your Own
When an Attorney Can Help in a Car Accident Case
What to Expect During an Initial Consultation
How Much Your Car Accident Case Is Worth
Why Working with Our Texas Car Accidents Lawyers Is Different
Areas We Serve
Contact Our Accident Attorneys Today
Part I: An Overview of Texas Car Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents in Texas injure thousands of people every year. The Texas Department of Transportation (TDOT) estimates one accident occurs every 61 seconds! The sad news is that most accidents are preventable.
Most Common Types of Car Accidents in Texas
Let’s look at the most common types of car accidents in Texas:
Drunk driving is a problem in Texas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites Texas as being a state with higher than average drunk driving related numbers when compared to the national average. In short, driving under the influence (DUI) accounted for more than 40% of motor vehicle fatalities.
Driving too fast carries consequences. The driver can lose control of the vehicle with little chance to recover. It also makes it difficult to recognize road hazards. Not to mention higher speeds equal harder crashes upon impact. Injuries may be more prevalent. There were more than 17,000 accidents in Texas involving high speeds during 2015 alone.
Distracted driving is the root cause of car accidents and represents twenty percent of all crashes. That’s more than 105,000 collisions every year! Examples of distracted driving include texting, talking on the phone, or turning toward other passengers behind you. Our state’s attempts to curtail the behavior have been due to enforceability measures.
Negligent Drivers Should Be Held Accountable
While the preceding list isn’t exhaustive, it’s important to understand that a negligent driver should be held accountable for injuries caused. You may or may not have a case depending upon the circumstances. However, speaking with a car accident injury lawyer in Texas is one way to gather insight for your potential case.
Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries in Texas
Injuries sustained in a car accident vary from minor to permanent. Sometimes it takes a few days to recover, and others may result in disfigurement, disability or even death. However, there are some injuries that are more common than others. Injuries sustained in an accident may be affected by the following elements:
- Whether the car had passive or active restraint features
- Where the car was hit relative to the driver and passenger
- The cause of the car crash
- Whether passengers were seated properly in the vehicle.
There are two main types of car accident injuries: penetrating injuries and impact injuries. Penetrating injuries involve the tissue under the skin being damaged with things like sharp objects and broken glass. Impact injuries are caused by blunt force trauma events like hitting one’s head on the windshield.
Here are a few examples of penetrating and impact injuries most common during car crashes in Texas:
Soft Tissue Damage
Soft tissues are the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that connect your body. Damage to soft tissue is the most common type of injury during a car accident. For example, whiplash is an injury to the muscles and ligaments in the neck when it is stretched out from sudden ‘whipping’ of the head area. People also experience muscle spasms and back sprains if damage to soft tissue occurs.
Scrapes, Cuts, and Bruises
A car crash also commonly involves a series of scrapes, cuts, and bruises to injured parties. This is especially true if the crash was more violent and people weren’t wearing seatbelts. Keep in mind that, on impact, the car stops but you and its contents do not. While most injuries of this kind are minor, they can be significant and cause damage to soft tissue and internal organs.
Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injury
Head injuries can be the most devastating of all car accident injuries. A person’s entire life can change in the blink of an eye. On the mild end, a concussion may be the most promising. On the more significant end, people can contract a permanent emotional, mental, or cognitive disability. Some may even end up in a coma or permanent vegetative state.
Injuries to the chest and thoracic cavity can be severe. People tend to experience broken ribs, bruises, cuts, scrapes, and punctured lungs. Chest injuries are usually dealt to the driver upon impact with the steering wheel. Even passengers, who wear seatbelts regularly can experience chest injuries due to the amount of force between their bodies and the seatbelt.
Injuries to Legs and Arms
Force plays a major role in legal and arm injuries. A side-impact crash means that the collision could crush a person’s arms and legs. Sometimes an individual’s knees are pushed into the seat or dashboard in front of them. Cuts, bruises, and scrapes are also common to these areas of the body.
Injuries Are Not Always Prevalent
Car accident injuries are not always prevalent immediately following an accident. It can take months for symptoms to reveal themselves. If you were in a car accident, seek medical treatment immediately. It could affect your ability toward a future claim against negligent parties.
At Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm, PLLC, we know what car accident injury victims in Texas go through. Let us make this transitional period of your life go easier as you recover. Contact one of our personal injury lawyers by calling (713-524-8139) today.
Part II: What to Do After You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Texas
If you were recently involved in a car accident, there are a few steps you should take before even speaking with a Texas car accident lawyer. This will help prevent breaking any laws that might negatively affect a case and insurance coverage claim in the courtroom.
Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident, even one you did not cause, is considered to be criminal and charges could be brought against the responsible party. You only need to exchange information with the other driver(s) and the police. Information to provide should include driver’s license, license plate number, and insurance details.
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
Some injuries do not present themselves at the time of a car accident. After filing an accident report, take yourself to the nearest medical treatment facility, especially if you are in pain. The treating hospital will be able to provide you with a medical assessment and prognosis of future medical care.
Never Admit Fault to the Other Driver(s)
Even if you believe that you are 100% responsible for the accident, do not admit fault to the police or other parties involved. There may have been something else that triggered your response of which you were not aware. The best you can offer is your personal information and save the information of the other parties involved.
Tips for Dealing with Insurance Companies
When a person is injured in an accident, he or she may have to submit a claim to the relevant insurance company. Many times, this process can be long and confusing. This situation is exacerbated when the victim is trying to recover from the accident.
While many insurance companies perform their duties as required under the law, some cut corners and use deceptive practices in order to protect the financial interests of the insurance company by denying or paying only minimal amounts on valid claims. Being aware of this dynamic can help personal injury victims carefully go through the process of submitting and substantiating a claim. Some tips that a personal injury lawyer may provide you are:
1. Do Not Befriend Insurance Company Adjusters
Insurance adjusters may seem to be friendly. However, they are not your friends. This strategy is used to get you to trust them. Then, you may be more comfortable talking to them. You may inadvertently say something that can damage your case. Remember that insurance company agents represent the insurance company’s interests, not yours. Therefore, insurance adjusters often are not really concerned about the victim’s injuries and are only concentrated on resolving the claim for as little as possible.
2. Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury lawyer helps accident victims with recovering compensation for the injuries that they sustain. A personal injury lawyer can often complete many of the tasks associated with submitting and substantiating a claim with the victim’s authorization. In most cases, having a lawyer helps the victim receive a higher settlement when compared to plaintiffs who do not have a lawyer. Additionally, this helps level the playing field between the victim and the insurance company. Insurance companies may try to deceive accident victims or not completely inform them of their rights. Having an attorney on their side can help them protect their own interests.
3. Handle Communications Promptly
Some insurance policies specify that the insured must report claims within a certain period of time and must submit information within a given timeline. These rules apply when the insured is filing a claim against his or her own insurance company. Additionally, not handling necessary communications with the insurance company promptly may send a message that the claim is not important to the claimant. In any event, all claims should be completed and a lawsuit filed before the statute of limitations expires, which would forever bar the claim.
4. Let Experts Negotiate
Claimants should avoid trying to negotiate a settlement on their own. Insurance agents deal with this aspect of claims on a daily basis. Most laypeople do not. Some insurance agents may offer a prompt settlement to entice the claimant to accept it and not hire an attorney, which may mean a larger payout down the line. Having a personal injury lawyer handle negotiations places this task in the hands of someone who is more experienced in this realm. In contrast, not having a lawyer may wind up having a denial of the claim or receiving an inadequate amount of compensation.
5. Determine All Recoverable Damages
Before negotiating with the insurance company, you should be aware of the full extent of your damages. Your attorney can help you identify sources of damages. Consider the amount of property damage you have sustained. Add in your medical expenses, including hospital bills, visits to follow-up treatment, travel costs associated with seeking treatment, prescription medication costs, rehabilitative care and any anticipated future medical expenses. Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation related to your lost wages, decreased earning capacity, disability and other economic damages. In some states, you or your family can receive compensation for loss of services, loss of support, loss of companionship and loss of consortium. Talk through the possible damages for which you may be able to receive compensation with your personal injury lawyer.
Once you have identified these areas, gather documentation to support your claim. For example, provide your personal injury attorney with copies of your medical records and bills. Ask your employer for a printout that shows how much time you lost or the benefits you had to expend because of the accident. Keep organized records and provide them to your attorney for review and to use to supplement a demand letter. Not being aware of the types of damages that you may be entitled to receive compensation for or not substantiating these damages can mean that you do not recover the compensation that you are entitled to receive.
Time Limits to File a Lawsuit
In Texas, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to submit a claim for injury to person or residential or commercial property. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. The reason states have a limitation is to protect people from complainants, who drag defendants into court for much older cases, after all proof has vanished and memories have faded.
Contact a car accident attorney
Finally, if your insurance claim was denied, or the accident settlement falls short of your injuries and damages, it may be in your best interest to contact a local personal injury attorney who specializes in auto accident cases like yours.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident around Houston, call our Texas auto accident lawyers immediately to schedule a free consultation. With our contingency fee options, there’s no commitment on your part. Just answers. If we don’t win, you don’t pay. Contact Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm, PLLC today by calling 713-524-8139.
Part III: Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, Texas
Life isn’t exactly ‘business as usual" after a car accident. Physical and mental recovery is a constant struggle to get back to your old self again. In some individuals, pain is now felt where it never existed before. Others find themselves bracing unnecessarily when sitting in the passenger’s seat of a vehicle. Injuries sustained in a car accident sting even more when the accident was not your fault in the first place.
As car accident lawyers in Houston, we see lives impacted every day. Many injury victims instinctively reach out to an attorney to ask questions. Others worry about the cost of even speaking to one and proceed on their own.
You are in the driver’s seat of fate as to whether you should hire an attorney or otherwise. It is our contention and experience that people recover more losses when working with an Texas personal injury lawyer versus managing a lawsuit without one.
Let’s take a look at a few points illustrating when it and is not advantageous to hire an attorney.
The Challenges of Filing an Injury Lawsuit on Your Own
Texas’s civil court system adjudicates car accident lawsuits for people with a valid personal injury claim. It’s at this judicial level where plaintiffs file a petition. Individuals filing lawsuits without an attorney are known as pro se litigants. However, filing pro se quickly becomes overwhelming for three reasons:
- Trying a lawsuit that complies with Texas’s Rules of Civil Procedure is not an easy feat;
- There are too many questions you don’t know how to answer; and/or
- Your injuries are too overwhelming to even think about doing it yourself.
While it’s your civil right to file pro se, the preceding list is cause enough to stop and drop some lawsuits before even getting to the discovery phase. It seems unnecessary. This is especially true if you had a good case. There are other compelling reasons to forgo the stress and hire an experienced lawyer at no up-front cost.
Most insurance companies will resort to the disputed liability tactic when possible to save money. “Disputed liability” is when an insurance company claims that either the policyholder is not at fault or not enough evidence exists to prove the policyholder is at fault. If an insurance company is successful with either claim, it will not be responsible for paying for the damages incurred. Individuals who have a disputed liability case on their hands can turn to a car accident attorney to help them prove the policyholder was truly at fault for the traffic accident.
Refusal to Pay
Similar to the disputed liability, “refusal to pay” is when the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer. In some cases, the insurance company may refuse to make a settlement offer at all.
When an Attorney Can Help in a Car Accident Case
Those facing powerful auto insurance companies and their equally powerful lawyers need the help of an attorney to help them win their car accident case. If you’re unsure whether you need to hire an attorney, here are a few ways a lawyer can help in a car accident case.
No Upfront Costs
The team at Pusch & Nguyen accepts cases on a “contingency-fee” arrangement which is common across the country. This gives an individual immediate access to a lawyer, and there are no fees unless a recovery, such as a monetary settlement or verdict, was made on your behalf. If we do not recover for you favorably, you owe us nothing.
Choosing a Car Accident Attorney
Just as in all life matters, all attorneys are not the same. While you will come across attorneys who are perfect for the job, you will also come across attorneys who you are better off without. To ensure you make the best choice, here are a few tips that will help you choose a law firm to handle your car accident claim.
Investigate the practice of the personal injury lawyer. Many people mistakenly believe any lawyer will be able to help them with their car accident case. There are many lawyers who may do divorce law or criminal law as well but will be glad to handle your case.
Evaluate the attorney’s experience.
It is sometimes said that, “all knowledge comes from experience.” In law, this axiom is definitely true. To improve your chances of winning your case, look for a car accident attorney who has the experience to back up his or her claims.
Schedule an appointment.
Before you hire a car accident attorney, you should meet with him or her at least once. Not only do you want to ensure the attorney has the expertise necessary to represent your case, but you also want to ensure he or she will take the time to address your questions and concerns.
Contact a Houston Auto Accident Attorney
Here at Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys are dedicated to helping the people of Texas receive the compensation they deserve after a traffic accident that results in injury or fatality.
If you would like to discuss your situation with our firm, you can schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers at no charge. Our goal is to advocate for your well-being so that you can enjoy peace of mind. Contact us at 713-524-8139 to find out how we may be able to help.
What to Expect During Your Initial Consultation
In the aftermath of an accident caused by someone else, you could be facing life disrupting injuries rendering you unable to work. The medical expenses you may incur could also be significant. Once you decide to seek legal representation to deal with this situation, it's critical to the success of your case to find the lawyer who can offer the most helpful support.
Now it's the time to wisely use your initial appointment with potential counsel and select the best attorney for your case. There are two main reasons for this meeting. The first is for the attorney to assess your case. The second is for you to make sure you're comfortable having this person represent you. Thoroughly planning your consultation will allow you to assess the compatibility with the would-be attorney. It's important that your inquiries reveal how familiar is the lawyer in handling similar proceedings.
Even if an initial consultation has taken place online or over the telephone, the attorney will not have a full picture of the facts and circumstances surrounding your car accident case until the two of you can sit down and talk.
The first step will involve you explaining the facts of the accident, and the damages you’ve sustained. This conversation will probably be with the attorney, and/or one of the attorney’s representatives, such as a legal secretary or paralegal.
After you've provided your story, you'll answer follow-up questions, such as:
- Have you spoken to any insurance company representatives about the accident? If so, which representatives, and what did you tell them?
- Have you spoken to anyone else about the accident? This can include friends, family members, first responders, and anyone else involved in the accident.
- What car insurance coverage and/or health insurance coverage do you have?
- Were there any witnesses to the car accident, and if so, do you have their contact information?
You'll also need to provide any documents you have relating to the accident, such as medical bills, car repair estimates/invoices, photographs, police reports, e-mails and letters from insurance companies (and copies of any insurance claims you’ve filed related to the accident).
Don’t hold back any relevant information about the accident, even if you’re worried that it’s embarrassing or will hurt your case. Even if you haven't hired the attorney, your first meeting is protected by attorney client privilege. Not to mention that if you withhold information that hurts your case, it will come back to haunt you.
For instance, your attorney may agree to represent you based on the information you’ve provided, but if that information is incomplete, sooner or later the truth will come out, possibly after you and your attorney have spent hundreds of hours preparing the case (and thousands of dollars on expert witnesses and court costs).
If the Attorney Doesn't Take Your Case
If the attorney declines to take your case, that doesn’t mean it's a weak one. Attorneys turn down cases for a variety of reasons, including workload, conflicts of interest, lack of confidence in your claim, or experience.
If the Attorney Offers to Take Your Case
If the attorney agrees to represent you, ask about potential outcomes. But keep in mind that the attorney won’t be able to accurately predict your chances of success and what type of damages award you can expect. There are so many variables and unknowns, including the overall unpredictability of personal injury lawsuits in general.
Deciding to Hire the Attorney
Whether the attorney represents you is your decision as much as it is the attorney’s. You need to find an attorney you feel comfortable with, and who you can trust. You also want to ensure your attorney will effectively and capably represent your legal interests.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Does this attorney have experience handling car accident cases like yours?
- How much trial experience does this attorney have? Most car accident cases settle. But in order to obtain the best outcome possible, your attorney must have the ability to take your case to trial and win.
- Who will actually handle the case? Some attorneys may give the impression that they’ll handle every aspect of your case, but many have inexperienced associates handle most of the work surrounding the case, with your attorney stepping in only when there’s a trial or during settlement negotiations.
- What is the attorney’s legal fee and who pays for litigation costs? Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. (Learn more about how much a car accident lawyer costs.)
If you decide to hire an attorney, you will need to sign a fee agreement, representation agreement, or some other document formally establishing the attorney as your legal representative. You may also need to sign other documents, such as medical releases, which will allow your attorney to access your treatment records on your behalf.
How Much Your Car Accident Case Is Worth
Life is precious. Personal injury lawsuits are a testament of that same sentiment. As human beings, we honor and cherish the idea that everyone is entitled to live free of pain, suffering, and crippling medical expenses for injuries one did not cause.
Fortunately, our American system of justice can intervene when needed to make sure that broken lives are being put back together. In this article, we are going to examine the background of compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, potential reimbursements, and any limits (or "caps") that are enacted by Texas courts.
What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The term damages is a legal word for what is owed to the injured person. The idea is to "make the Plaintiff whole" following an injury. In most cases, it's not possible to achieve this outcome. That's why people are awarded financial retribution from a comprehensive standpoint. A variety of considerations to damages will include:
- medical expenses;
- emotional anguish; and
- overall financial livelihood impacted
The objective of winning damages is to help the injured person regain the same quality of life as if the injury never occurred or as close as possible to it. Your Texas personal injury lawyer can help you determine what can be included in your lawsuit. He or she is able to counsel you in maximizing your award.
Types of Compensation Awarded in Personal Injury Lawsuits
In this section, our firm has listed a small handful of expenses and costs that may be awarded to the injured person on order by judge or jury. Take a look at the list of types of compensation awarded in personal injury lawsuits below.
Present and Future Medical Expenses
An injured person might be able to receive payment for all medical treatment associated with the accident. If he or she is injured to the point of needing continuous or lifelong care, the party responsible for the injuries caused may assume the role of paying for related expenses.
Current and Future Lost Wages
If you are injured and are unable to work, the end result could be lost wages. The person or entity responsible for the accident could become liable for paying these expenses, as well. This could also include wages related to debilitating injuries that prevent someone from working in the future. The responsible party may also be on the hook for paying a person's future lost wages.
Pain, Suffering, and Mental Anguish
Aside from medical bills, lost wages, and other measurable expenses, a person's exposure to pain and suffering should be compensated to the enduring and injured person. Not only does the injury cause physical trauma, it can also lead to other issues experienced by the individual, such as PTSD, depression, and other personality changes. These are conditions that can affect a person for his or her entire life. One can take legal action to obtain payment for these problems as well.
Are There Any Caps on Damages in Texas?
In some courts across the country, caps on certain types of damages that can be awarded to a plaintiff. Texas does not set a limit on compensatory damages except for pain, suffering, and mental anguish. These are usually limited to a maximum of 3 times the amount awarded for lost wages and medical expenses.
Texas is a comparative negligence state. In its simplest meaning, our state considers the role that the injured person played in the accident. This is called fault. Fault will be divided between the parties, in percentages, even if the complainant only played a small role in the incident.
Yet, this percentage can be difficult to determine. A personal injury lawyer can make sure your interests are being represented in the courtroom when determining the percentage of fault.
Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Texas
At Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm, PLLC, it's our mission to ensure that your accident is taken seriously by recuperating as many costs, damages, and expenses allowable by Texas law. Contactv our office today for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your injuries. You can reach us by phone at 713-524-8139.
Part IV: Why Working with Our Texas Car Accident Lawyers Is Different
Over several decades, the legal team at Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm, PLLC has made it our mission to excel in client service. We have the ability to communicate and move quickly on your case through our well-maintained service process. You receive the personal attention you deserve with the peace of mind knowing that you have put the right law firm in your corner.
Areas We Serve
Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm, PLLC serves families throughout Texas from our home office in Houston. We mainly serve Harris County, TX and surrounding areas while still representing clients in many parts of the state.
Contact Our Texas Car Accident Attorneys Today
Our Texas Personal Injury lawyers fight for the rights of our clients. We provide legal representation for those who have been injured in car accidents. Our goal is to help you and your family receive the highest compensation possible to make you as whole as possible once again. Schedule your free, no obligation consultation with Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm, PLLC by calling 713-524-8139.