If you need help from a Houston car accident lawyer, you have come to the right place. Sutliff & Stout Injury & Accident Law Firm has been recognized as one of the top 3 personal injury law firms in Houston, Texas, and has helped thousands of individuals with their car accident claims. Our founders, Graham Sutliff and Hank Stout, are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and have been recognized by Thomson Reuters as Super Lawyers in the State of Texas. We have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients.
We know that you are going through a lot and likely have a lot of questions. This Houston car accident page was designed to answer some of the more common questions we receive and to help you understand how the process works. Our lawyers are also here seven days a week to answer any questions you may have about your particular car accident claim or your legal situation. We offer free initial consultations and you don’t pay anything unless we are able to get a recovery for you. Call 713-987-7111 and speak to one of our lawyers today.
Do I Need a Houston Car Accident Attorney?
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident in the Houston area, please consider these two questions:
- Did your accident result in injuries?
- Was your accident caused by negligence of the other driver?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, it’s in your best interest to give us a call, shoot us a text, or send us an email to discuss your car accident injury case.
When you contact our law firm, you’ll speak to one of our attorneys who will listen to the specifics of your auto accident.
If we determine that you have a viable case, we will take you on as a client on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Contacting us is 100% free and does not obligate you to anything.
Why You Should Hire Sutliff & Stout
Sutliff & Stout Injury & Accident Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients. When we take on a case, we don’t back down until we are certain your damages have been recovered to the best of our ability. This includes lost wages, medical bills, funeral costs, pain and suffering, emotional damage, and other losses. We care about your rights and will fight until we get justice. Here are other reasons why you should hire Sutliff & Stout.
- We have recovered hundreds of millions for car accident injury victims. We are passionate about getting justice for our clients, and our results speak for themselves.
- Our lawyers are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, an accomplishment achieved by less than 7% of Texas lawyers.
- We will review your case for free. We will answer all of your questions honestly and transparently. By contacting us for a case review, you are not obligated to anything.
- We work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t pay us anything out of pocket. Instead, we take a percentage only if we recover money for you.
- We have hundreds of 5 star reviews. We encourage you to check them out on Google, Facebook, and Avvo.com and to watch testimonials from past clients here.
- Studies show that folks who hire a car accident lawyer receive a significantly larger recovery than those who do it themselves.
- Most of our clients come to us from referrals. We’re proud to be the type of lawyers that people tell their friends and family to hire.
We’re proud to be rated among the best car accident law firms in Houston
Not ready to talk to a car accident lawyer? No problem. This page has tons of useful information that will help you understand the car accident claim process and what you should do next.
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What Are The Most Common Types of Accidents?
Many types of accidents plague the roads of Texas. Every car collision is different and results in various types of injuries. Depending on the type of car crash, the victim can end up with life-altering damages. The following are the types of car accidents that frequent Houston roads, highways, and even neighborhoods.
Drunk driving is the second leading cause of car accidents. If a driver has a 0.08 percent or higher Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level, he or she is considered legally intoxicated and may become arrested for DWI. Even if you think you can handle your liquor, the fact is each time you consume alcohol; it decreases your coordination and judgment.
Distracted driving is the number one reason for most car accidents in the United States. In most cases, when we consider distracted driving, we think of someone talking or texting on their cell phone. However, distracted driving can include eating, applying makeup, adjusting the volume, programming GPS, talking to other people in the car, or anything that causes you to lose focus. Distractions are classified as auditory, visual, manual, and cognitive. Texting may involve all four types of distractions. In 2019, the Texas Department of Transportation reported more than 97,000 crashes were caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving covers any instance in which a driver takes their eyes off the road for a prolonged period. Although distracted driving is often unintentional, it is still unsafe behavior that is considered negligent.
Rear-end collisions occur when a driver collides into the back of another motorist’s car. The at-fault driver may have been speeding, tailgating, or distracted and unable to stop in time. A rear-end collision can happen when a driver suddenly stops and the other car collides into the first driver. These accidents most frequently happen in traffic jams, at a stoplight, or in a parking lot.
Head-on collisions happen when the front of two vehicles smash into each other. These types of accidents usually occur when one driver heads into oncoming traffic and crashes directly into another vehicle. Head-on collisions are more severe than minor fender benders or other types of car accidents. They often happen on highways or interstates. The injuries that result from head-on collisions are often serious and require immediate medical attention. The most common head-on accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
Rollover accidents usually involve one vehicle and are dangerous. If the driver is traveling at a high rate of speed and loses control, the vehicle can tumble several times, roll onto its side, or land on its roof. Unfortunately, these accidents have a high risk of fatality, but wearing a seatbelt significantly increases the survival rate.
Most rollover accidents are due to a driver’s negligence. Whether the driver was speeding or failed to stop at a stop sign, their mistake has serious consequences. Rollover accidents are unique because most rollover accidents involve only a single car. The most common reasons for rollover car accidents include:
- Unexpected road hazards
- Poor weather conditions
- Poor road conditions
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Driving under the influence
A single-car accident involves one vehicle, but the driver may not be at fault. In most cases, the driver reacts by swerving to avoid hitting something or someone but may end up hitting a guardrail, a pole, or a tree. Hydroplaning is a common cause of single-vehicle crashes.
Chain Reaction Accidents
An accident with three or more vehicles creates a chain reaction accident. A multi-vehicle collision can range from minimal to massive damage and multiple injuries or fatalities. Multi-vehicle accidents are caused by tailgating, low-visibility, distracted driving, and hydroplaning.
Accidents Involving Commercial Tractor-Trailer Trucks
Getting involved in a minor car accident can become an inconvenience. However, getting into an accident involving an 18-wheeler is a lot more complicated and burdensome. The standard length of a motor vehicle length is 14-18 feet and weighs up to 2,871 pounds versus a semi-truck that is 70-80 feet long and weighs up to 80,000 pounds.
The most frequent causes of 18-wheeler accidents occur when:
- The truck driver moves outside the lane into another lane or off the road. This may result in a head-on collision.
- The truck driver loses control of the steering due to speeding, weather, road conditions, or vehicle failure. A combination of these factors may cause a truck to hydroplane or jackknife.
- A rear-end collision from following too closely, speeding, or failing to brake properly. This may result in a pileup accident.
Jackknife accidents occur when a tractor towing a trailer swings out to the side, similar to a folding knife. Due to speed and velocity, the tractor and trailer may hit vehicles traveling in the same or opposite direction. Depending on the flow of traffic, a jackknife accident can lead to a multi-vehicle pileup.
If you find yourself injured in a truck accident, it is important to seek medical attention right away. In addition, obtaining a trusted and experienced truck accident lawyer will help you through the whole process. Because truck accidents are so severe and extensive, it takes teams of people to sort out the details before a decision can be made.
Crashes Caused by Dangerous Road Hazards
Some road conditions are uncontrollable due to weather conditions, such as wet or icy roads. Common road conditions that are controllable, but dangerous include construction zones, confusing sign placement, and poor road maintenance.
Debris on roads is also a dangerous road hazard. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, debris-related crashes occur four times more likely on interstate highways than crashes not involving debris. It’s recommended to avoid debris-related accidents by maintaining your vehicle, securing vehicle loads, and driving defensively.
Crashes Caused by Defective Vehicles
Cars today are packed with technology and equipment designed to make your ride more comfortable and safe. Unfortunately, car accidents are known to cause serious injuries that are sometimes made worse by a seatbelt or airbag, especially if they are defective. Common car defects include airbags, seatbelts, brakes, steering wheels, tires, and electrical systems to name a few.
Common examples of seatbelt malfunctions include:
- Seatbelt releases during an accident
- Failure to lock in place during an accident or sudden stop
- Seatbelts tearing or ripping during an accident
- False seat belt latching
Common examples of airbag malfunctions include:
- Airbag fails to deploy during an accident
- Airbag catches on fire during an accident
- Airbag deploys with no accident
- Airbag rips or breaks during an accident
An auto defect can create a dangerous situation that can lead to car accidents, personal injuries, or fatalities.
An uninsured driver is a person who does not have insurance. The driver is considered underinsured if he or she does not carry adequate coverage to fix repairs. In Texas, the minimum required coverage is $30,000. Uninsured motorist’s coverage will pay for your expenses if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance.
What Are The Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries?
One of the main consequences of car accidents is injuries. Depending on the type of crash and the impact, auto collisions can affect any part of the body and can lead to an injury, whether it be minor or severe.
Car accident injuries occur when a moving vehicle suddenly collides with something, causing your body to stay in motion while the vehicle stops. Whenever this happens, a part of your body will violently hit an object or jerk in an aggressive manner, resulting in traumatic injuries. No matter how many safety protections you have, injuries will occur. In some cases, an airbag or a seat belt may inflict additional damage to your person. All injuries will require treatment, ranging from a matter of weeks to several months, depending on the type of injury. In some cases, injuries are permanent and victims are left with life-changing consequences.
Below is a list of common car accident injuries inflicted on victims during a car accident.
Scrapes and Cuts
Car accidents cause a plethora of injuries. One of the minor physical consequences caused by accidents are scrapes and cuts. Scrapes and cuts don’t inflict major damage, but they can contribute to serious health conditions or infections if they go untreated.
Whiplash is a type of deadly neck injury that can cause a multitude of issues. It involves the rapid back and forth movement of the neck. Whiplash occurs more commonly in rear-end accidents. Victims who suffer from whiplash have neck pain, stiffness, loss of range of motion, headaches, tingling or numbness in arms, fatigue, and dizziness.
Brain injuries occur when trauma is inflicted on the head and the brain then becomes affected. When the brain suffers an injury, the area that is affected can have dire consequences. Cognitive abilities and physical mobility suffers as a result of massive head trauma.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI, is a neurological disease that causes brain dysfunction due to an immense force striking the head. TBI can lead to permanent damages such as paralysis and memory loss, and temporary damages such as dramatic mood swings, personality changes, anger, and insomnia.
Someone who suffers a traumatic brain injury will typically have worsening headaches, weakness, numbness, decreased coordination, and repeated vomiting.
Traumatic brain injuries are typically mild and result in a brief state or change in mental status or consciousness. However, some traumatic brain injuries can be severe and fatal. An extreme case of TBI can lead to a prolonged unconsciousness, also known as a coma, amnesia, or paralysis following an injury. Since the brain is connected to the spinal cord via the brain stem, it can affect the spinal cord and lead to paralysis.
TBI victims require costly medical and psychological treatments to recover from their traumatic brain injury. Treatments include surgery, expert consultations, speech and occupational therapy, psychotherapy, and much more. Additionally, TBI victims may be prescribed expensive medications that they may need to take the rest of their life.
Burn injuries make up over 700,000 trips to the ER, according to the American Burn Association. These types of injuries damage the skin and the deeper tissues underneath. There are four different types of burn injuries, including:
Thermal Burns – burns caused by fire, steam, hot liquids, etc.
Light Burns – burns caused by UV rays or light
Chemical Burns – burns caused by chemicals, acids, or alkalis
Radiation Burns – burns caused by nuclear radiation contact
Burns are generally described as a first, second, or third-degree burn—first being the least severe and third being the most severe. First-degree burns are typically red and sensitive to the touch. This type of burn only has damage to the first layer of skin. A second-degree burn affects the first and second skin layers. Second-degree burns come with redness, pain, blisters, and swelling. If this burn isn’t treated, it will evolve to a third-degree burn. A third-degree burn impacts all three layers of the skin. Nerve damage is common with third-degree burns so numbness and pain will occur.
It’s important that each burn should be treated appropriately since these types of injuries can easily become infected. If your burn becomes infected, seek medical assistance immediately.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are damages to the spinal cord and its corresponding nerves. The damage affects the nerve fibers that were harmed and will subsequently affect the muscles and nerves below the injury site. A traumatic spinal cord injury happens when there’s a sudden blow to a part of the spinal cord due to a brute force damaging the vertebrae that protects the spinal cord.
Vehicular accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, which affect thousands of Americans each year. Spinal cord injuries are some of the most dangerous, life-threatening, and debilitating injuries. Spinal cord injuries are catastrophic to an individual because they can lead to permanent paralysis. If any of the seven cervical vertebrae are injured, it causes quadriplegia, paralysis of the arms and legs or from the neck down. If the lower vertebrae are injured, it leads to paraplegia, a paralysis of the legs. Additional long-term consequences of paralysis include psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Spinal cord injuries come with a range of complications and symptoms. Any spinal cord injury can lead to respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal complications. Common signs are loss of movement, sensations, and bladder control; spasms; difficulty breathing; changes in sexual functions; and intense pain caused by damaged nerve fibers. Extreme symptoms involve weakness or paralysis in the body, typically indicated by numbness or loss of sensation. Fortunately, there are extensive treatment options for spinal cord injury victims and they have improved immensely over the years. But despite these advancements, there is still no cure for paralysis.
Sometimes victims will sustain injuries so severe it impacts their internal organs. These kinds of injuries are labeled as internal bleeding. It is a common cause of trauma, especially those caused by car accidents. When a brute force impacts the body, usually occurring at high speeds, the blood vessels are torn or crushed. Any organ in the body can be affected.
Internal bleeding can happen right away or steadily worsen over time. Common symptoms of internal bleeding are abdominal pain or swelling, vertigo, purpled skin; swelling, tightness, and pain; and headaches, seizures, or a loss of consciousness.
Broken bones are common injuries that occur as a result of car accidents. Also known as fractures, broken bones typically cause pain and take several months to recover. In some cases, when enough force is applied, like a car accident, bones may shatter. To fix a broken bone, patients will either need a cast or an operation to fix the injury.
Along with physical injuries, emotional and psychological trauma are injuries from which many, if not all, car accident victims suffer. These include depression, stress, paranoia, and for some severe cases, disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Mental injuries have an unknown recovery timeline – it all depends on the person and their mental journeys.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that comes as a result of a terrifying event. It’s triggered by experiencing or witnessing something traumatic. PTSD can last months, even years, and can interfere with daily functions, relationships, and work situations.
There are a variety of symptoms that come with PTSD, including flashbacks, nightmares, mental conditions like depression and severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts. Specifically speaking, symptoms are categorized into intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in reactions.
Intrusive memories are recurring memories of the traumatic event in which the victim was involved. This also includes reliving the traumatic event through flashbacks. They also can have nightmares based on the traumatic event.
Avoidance includes neglecting to address the traumatic event. Someone who is avoiding won’t think or talk about the event, and they will steer clear of places, activities, and people that remind them of the event.
Someone who suffers from PTSD will experience negative changes in thinking and mood. They will have negative thoughts about themselves or the world, have hopelessness over the future, feel detached from their close friends and family, and have difficulty sustaining close relationships. Their lack of interest will increase in things they once enjoyed, and their ability to experience positive emotion will decline almost to the point of being emotionally numb.
Lastly, changes in physical and emotional reactions are common to someone with PTSD. They’re easily startled and are always aware of their surroundings for potential danger. They also have issues with staying focused and have trouble sleeping. Their behavior will turn self-destructive, accompanied by outbursts or aggressive behavior.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
The events that immediately follow a car accident are crucial for your insurance claim compensation. If you become a victim of a car accident, be sure to follow the next ten steps in order for you to have a successful insurance claim for your car accident case.
1. Move to safety. Bodily safety is always the first priority. Make sure you vacate a busy road and get yourself to safety before proceeding with collecting information.
2. Call the police. Make sure the authorities collect data on the scene, as they will be able to help you file a police report. For accidents on private property, the police will not likely create a report, but you can nevertheless file a report regarding what occurred.
3. Exchange information. Photograph the other person’s driver’s license, proof of insurance and license plate. Make sure you have all of the necessary information for identification and insurance purposes.
4. Take pictures of the scene. After a car accident, photographic evidence will be instrumental in proving who was at fault for the collision. Take pictures of the vehicles involved, their positioning on the road, and the damage to each vehicle. Make sure you have everything you need to prove the facts of the collision.
5. Watch what you say. Insurance companies will do everything they can to blame you for the collision, so don’t say anything that could be used against you. Do not indicate fault, even by saying “My bad” or “I’m sorry.” Any statement, no matter how small, can be used against you. Make note of what the other driver says as well.
6. Medical attention. If you are feeling pain as a result of the collision, DO NOT WAIT to see if the pain will go away. See a doctor as soon as possible. This will serve to help you on your road to recovery, as well as protect you from the insurance company claiming that your injuries weren’t too bad because you waited to see a doctor.
7. Set up a claim. Call both your insurance company and the at-fault insurance company to start the process of setting up a claim as soon as possible.
8. Do not give a recorded statement to the at-fault insurance company. The at-fault insurance company may ask you to give a recorded statement. You are under no obligation to do this regardless of what they may say. It will only serve to hurt your case in the long run.
9. Know your coverage. When calling your insurance company, make sure to get them to explain to you your available coverage. You need to have an understanding of what protections you are entitled to, and the specific areas for which you are insured. For example, ask about rental coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection coverage. A clearer understanding of your exact coverage will lead to a more comprehensive settlement.
10. The claims process. Learn about the insurance company’s claims process and decide if you think you need help in navigating the process to make sure you get a fair result.
Do You Have a Strong Car Accident Injury Claim?
In trying to determine whether you have a strong claim, a car accident law firm will look at several factors to evaluate the strength of your claim. The key factors fall into three different categories: 1) fault or responsibility; 2) damages or extent of injuries; and 3) ability to pay. We will address each category individually so you will have a better understanding of what a car accident attorney looks for when evaluating a claim. To have a strong car accident claim, you need to have favorable facts in all three categories.
What happened in your car accident? Your car accident lawyer will need to determine what occurred and what evidence there is to demonstrate what occurred. This is one of the reasons most Houston car accident attorneys will tell you to get a police report. The police report serves as an independent source of information as to what occurred. It is important to remember that the police report is not the final word on who is at fault for the car accident, so if the police report is not in your favor, don’t give up. Car accident lawyers will also look for any witnesses to help describe what occurred. In addition to the police report and witnesses, an expert may be hired to survey the scene or pull electronic information from the vehicles depending on the extent of your injuries. This evidence can help piece together what occurred. In Texas, you must demonstrate that you are not more than 50% responsible for the collision in order to recover for a car accident. So the first thing that a lawyer will look at will be what happened and who he or she thinks is responsible.
Damages or Extent of Injuries
Were you hurt as a result of a car accident that wasn’t your fault? Just because you were involved in a car accident doesn’t mean that you have a claim for bodily injury damages. In order to have such a valid claim, you must demonstrate that you were hurt by the car accident. This can be done through testimony or medical records. Whether you need a lawyer after a car accident will depend on the extent of your damages. If you were not that injured and were just in a little pain that went away fairly quickly, we recommend not hiring a car accident lawyer unless the insurance company refuses to be fair with you. If you were injured and require treatment, we suggest speaking with a lawyer who is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law about your car accident claim. Your attorney will need to evaluate the extent of your injuries and how those injuries will impact your everyday life and your ability to earn a living. In certain cases, a lawyer will hire a vocational expert and an economist to help quantify the economic loss that a car accident injury will have on a person’s life.
Ability to Pay
You can have strong liability facts and significant damages, but that doesn’t mean you have a strong car accident claim. This is because unless the person or company has the ability to pay then all you will be left with is a paper judgment. The primary thing a car accident attorney looks at when evaluating the ability to pay is the available insurance and, if a company was involved, the size of the company. These are the two areas of focus because the Texas Constitution and Texas law protect many different assets from a judgment, such as a person’s home, 401(k) or IRA. Since this is where the majority of folks keep all the assets, the available insurance is typically all that you can use to try to recover for your harms and losses. When looking at insurance, an experienced car accident lawyer will look at all available sources of coverage. By way of example, does the at-fault have insurance, and, if so, what type? Do you have UIM coverage? Was the at-fault on the job at the time of the collision? If you were driving someone else’s vehicle, does that person’s policy apply to you?
Once you have analyzed these categories, you will be in a position to determine whether you have a strong car accident claim. If you have questions about any of this, we suggest you contact our Board Certified lawyers to discuss the details of your car accident claim. We have handled almost all types of claims and situations and have the experience you need to determine how to best proceed with your car accident claim.
Proving Negligence or Fault in a Texas Auto Accident Case
To hold someone responsible for an auto accident, you or your lawyer must show that the person or company was negligent. Negligence means failing to act as a reasonable person would have in the same or similar circumstances. For the most part, the law doesn’t define what is or is not reasonable. Instead, it is up to the judge or jury to decide based on the facts and circumstances involved in the car accident. This is where we recommend you get a car accident lawyer who knows what they are doing and what needs to be done to make sure you are successful with your claim.
Determining Who Is at Fault
In many cases, after a car wreck, the insurance company will refuse to take full responsibility for the collision even when the insured is clearly at-fault. Because Texas is a modified comparative fault state (i.e. a person’s recovery can be reduced by the percentage that he or she is at-fault for the collision and if the person’s fault is equal to or greater than 51% than his or her recovery is completely barred) auto insurance companies will often attempt to limit your recovery by claiming that you are at fault for the collision. Don’t accept this arbitrary reduction.
The Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyers at Sutliff & Stout can help you prove that the other person was at fault and that you bear no responsibility for the collision. Our lawyers have tried and true methods of establishing exactly what occurred and holding the at-fault person accountable. Some of these methods include the following:
- Gathering public records;
- Getting copies of 911 calls;
- Surveying the scene and surrounding area for surveillance;
- Obtaining body and dashcam video from law enforcement agencies;
- Retaining experts to inspect the scene and vehicles; and
- Having an expert download the ECM (“black box”) on the vehicles involved in the collision.
When it is in your best interest, our lawyers will file suit so that we can subpoena records, conduct discovery, and take depositions. If the insurance company refuses to be fair, our lawyers will take your case to trial so that a jury of your peers can decide what is fair.
Here are several examples of our recent auto accident case results:
Below we’ve provided details of a few of our recent auto accident case results. To see more sample case results click here.
How Do I Deal With the Insurance Company After My Accident?
Don’t be fooled; the insurance company has no intention of treating you fairly. When an insurance company says their insured is at-fault or that they are accepting responsibility for the collision, this just means that they are going to look for other ways to pay you as little as possible. You will likely hear that they are only accepting part of your care, the medical care was too expensive, the care was due to a pre-existing condition and not as a result of your car accident, or some other reason why your car wreck claim is worth less than what is fair. In fact, the biggest fight or dispute in most car accident cases centers around the value of your damages. Insurance companies are particularly unfair when addressing damages.
What Does Car Accident “Liability” Mean and Why Do Insurance Companies Accept It?
After a car accident, you must show that it wasn’t your fault (or at least that you weren’t primarily at-fault) and that you were injured as a result of the collision. If you were injured, you will have several different types of damages including past and future medical bills, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, and other types of damages. You and your lawyer need to understand the law that applies to your car accident claim and plan to make sure that the totality of your harms and losses is taken into account in the settlement.
Putting Together What You Need for Your Car Accident Case
As noted above, there are three categories to consider when evaluating the strength of your car accident claim. When you are putting together what you need for your automobile accident claim, it is helpful to use those three categories—fault, damages, and ability to pay—when gathering records and evidence to present your claim in the most favorable manner. Keep in mind that paper is your friend. This simply means that it is best to document everything. Insurance companies won’t take your word for it; they must see something on paper so they can document their file. The following is a list of things that you will want to gather, if possible, to help demonstrate and prove that the other person was responsible for the collision.
What is needed to show the other person is at fault for the car accident?
Police report: After a collision, it is important to call the police and ask that they document what occurred. Too often, a person who caused an accident will admit fault at the scene to avoid the police and then change his or her story when speaking to the insurance company. Getting a police report avoids this problem. To get a copy of your police report, click here and we can help you obtain the report for free.
Pictures of the scene and vehicle damage: It is often helpful to have pictures of the scene where the car accident occurred. This will allow you to better describe what occurred and how it occurred. When taking these pictures, to the extent you can do so safely, it is good to take some pictures from a distance so others will have a full understanding of what the scene looked like. Pictures of the vehicles involved in the car accident are also helpful. Here you want to be sure to get photos of all of the damage. Damage photos are helpful when getting your car repaired and to demonstrate that the impact was significant.
911 call recordings: After a car accident, we suggest obtaining copies of the 911 calls. Often, eyewitnesses will call and describe what happened. This can be very helpful when the insurance company or the at-fault driver is trying to say you were at fault.
Surveillance: If your car accident happened in the city or on the freeway, there may be surveillance video of your car wreck. You should contact nearby stores to see if they have security cameras and, if so, whether there is footage of your collision. If your car accident happened in a neighborhood, you should see if any of the nearby homes have surveillance cameras or ring doorbells.
Phone records: While you will likely not be able to get the other driver’s phone records without the help of a car accident lawyer, it is still helpful to get a copy of your records so you can demonstrate that you were not on the phone at the time of the collision. When requesting these records, be sure to get your call, text, and data records.
Miscellaneous records: There are a lot of other types of records that are typically available that may be helpful. These records can include black box reports from the vehicles involved in the collision, GPS data from the phones that were in the vehicles involved in the collision, and other records.
What is needed to show the extent of your damages?
The following is an overview of items you will want to gather, if possible, to help show the extent of your harms and losses.
Medical and billing records associated with the car accident: It is best to keep a list of all of the doctors and medical facilities you see because you will need to obtain medical and billing records from each. It is also important to keep track of all of the invoices and bills you receive after your collision because these documents help quantify your damages and indicate who else may have records regarding your treatment. By way of example, if you were taken from the car accident scene by an ambulance, you will likely need to get medical records from one source and billing records from another. If you were treated at the hospital, most of your medical records will be available through the hospital, but this is not the case when it comes to billing records. Oftentimes at the hospital, you will be seen by different doctors who are not directly employed by the hospital. In these circumstances, you will likely need to order billing records from multiple sources to fully understand the total cost of your treatment.
Insurance records: If your health insurance covered any of your treatment, you will need to speak with the insurance company and get what is known as an Explanation of Benefits for the treatment associated with the car accident. It is important to remember that you will be required to pay your health insurance company back in the event you receive money for the collision. Also, under Texas law, you are only entitled to recover what was paid or incurred. The insurance records will help you determine your paid or incurred number.
Prior medical records: Depending on the nature of your injury, it may be helpful to get medical records from before your car accident. Insurance companies will often try to say that a problem was pre-existing and not related to the car accident. You can use your prior records to demonstrate that you never had the problem before the car accident and, thus, such injury was caused by the collision.
Payroll records: If you missed time from work or missed out on a job due to the car accident, you should get copies of your payroll records or other documents related to the job you missed out on.
Pictures: While not all injuries can be photographed (e.g. back injuries or broken ribs), it is helpful to take pictures of any injuries you sustained as a result of the collision. This includes pictures of bruising, scarring, or other pictures that demonstrate what you had to go through as a result of your injuries.
What is needed to help determine a person’s ability or the coverage available for your car accident?
Most insurance companies will not provide information about their insured’s insurance policy unless you file a lawsuit against their insured. However, you can still gather information to understand what you are dealing with. First, you should figure out your own insurance situation by getting a copy of your declarations page so you can understand what type of coverage is available to you. Lots of folks say they have full coverage, but they don’t fully understand what coverage they have. In Texas, in addition to liability coverage, you can have coverage for the damage to your vehicle, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), uninsured motorist coverage (UM), personal injury protection (PIP), med pay, and accidental death benefits. Once you have a copy of your declarations page, you will know what coverage you have. If your insurance company says you don’t have UM/UIM or PIP coverage, you need to ask for the signed rejection of such coverage. If no such document exists, the insurance company must provide you with UIM/UM and PIP coverage.
Every car accident claim is different so we encourage you to give us a call so we can help you determine whether our Houston car accident lawyers will be right for you.
Determining the Settlement Value of a Car Accident Injury Case
When determining what your car accident claim is worth or the value of your damages, you must understand the law and the medicine associated with your injuries. Then you must articulate such damages in an admissible form. Insurance companies won’t just take your word for it; you must show them. If you were injured in a car accident, here are some things you or your lawyer should consider:
When people ask “what is my case worth?” a qualified car accident lawyer will answer with “depends on your injuries and how those injuries have impacted you and your loved ones.” The first place you will want to start gathering evidence will be your medical records and bills. In Texas, you are entitled to recover your past paid or incurred medical expenses associated with your accident. You are also entitled to recover the cost of your future medical expenses. You only get one chance at getting a fair settlement so you should make sure to hire an attorney that knows how to make sure your future damages are covered in any possible settlement. There are a number of ways to accomplish this including taking the deposition of your treating physician to get his or her opinion as to what treatment you will need down the road as a result of your collision. Depending on the extent of the damages, you may need to hire a life care planner expert to help assess your future financial needs. The reality is that if you have a significant injury then you will have future needs that you will want to make sure are covered in your damages.
If you were injured in a car accident, you may not be able to work or you may have missed time from work. If so, you are entitled to recoup this loss as part of your claim. Past lost wages are typically easy to determine through paycheck stubs showing the time you missed. If your car wreck permanently prevents you from doing your job, you are entitled to recover for this loss of wage-earning capacity. Demonstrating your future wage loss as a result of a car accident is more difficult. Usually you will need to take the deposition of your treating doctor to determine what physical or mental limitations you have as a result of the collision. Once you have these limitations, you can retain a vocational expert to evaluate what types of jobs in the market place are available to you based on your new limitations and how much such job pays. With this information, you can then retain an economist to help calculate the loss you will experience over the course of your work-life expectancy.
Pain and Suffering
Medical expenses and lost wages are typically known as economic damages. After a car accident in where you are injured, you are also entitled to recover what are known as non-economic damages—pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement. Unlike economic damages, there are no reports, invoices, bills, or other documents that you can present to help establish these damages. Instead, you will want a lawyer that knows how to help the insurance company and, if necessary, the jury understands the extent of the harm you have sustained. This can be done in various ways such as using photographs, day-in-the-life videos, and witnesses who knew you before and after the car accident.
What Should I Look Out for When Dealing with the Insurance Company?
The insurance adjuster is not your friend and is not on your side (regardless of what the commercial says). Insurance companies only make money in two ways: 1) collecting premiums, and 2) paying as little as possible towards claims. Make no mistake the adjuster’s primary function is to pay you as little as possible on your claim. If you decide to handle your car accident claim on your own, here are some things to watch for.
Quick settlement—a quick settlement to your car accident claim is rarely in your interest for a number of reasons. First, you probably don’t know what your medical bills are from your treatment. If you sign a release before understanding what you owe, you could end up without enough money to cover the treatment you received as a result of your car accident. Second, some injuries take time to develop and, thus, it takes even more time to determine what treatments you will need to address your injuries. Again, once you sign the settlement agreement, you can’t go back to the insurance company for more money. It is important to fully understand the totality of your damages so you can make sure you are treated fairly. Third, a quick settlement is designed to allow the insurance company to quickly and cheaply close its file. It is not typically a fair representation of the harms and losses you suffered as a result of your car accident.
Liens—If you received medical treatment after a car accident, you probably have a lien of some type against your settlement. Most folks don’t know about this or how it affects their recovery, but the insurance company is all too familiar with the lien process. When discussing settlement, be sure to know your lien amounts and whether the proposed car accident settlement includes such amount or if the insurance company will pay these amounts separately. In most car accident cases, the settlement is all-inclusive, meaning the agreed-upon amount is for your damages and to cover any applicable lien. If you are not careful, the check you receive will be made out to you and the various lien holders, which means you will not be able to deposit the check.
Recorded statements—While you have an obligation to cooperate with your insurance company, no such obligation exists with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. As such, we recommend that you do not agree to give a recorded statement to the insurance company. You may hear that the insurance company can’t determine fault without getting a statement. This is a lie and is just designed to trick you into doing something that is not helpful for your case.
Delaying—After a car accident in Texas (unless an exception applies), you have two years from the date of your injury to file a claim. The insurance company is very aware of this fact and will oftentimes try to delay claims process so your statute of limitations will run. Adjusters will say things like we will take care of your bills or we are going to get this resolved for you, but never send you an agreement to sign. Instead, they will drag out the process, and then the day after your statute of limitations runs, you will typically be transferred to a different department and told that they will not pay you on your claim.
Refusing to cover the care you need after your car accident—Car accident adjusters often speak as if they are medical doctors who can diagnose what care you needed after a car accident. They say things such as “I am accepting this care, but not that,” or “I don’t feel that was medically necessary.” When pressed for their basis to say what they are saying, they don’t have an answer. The truth is that, within reason, they can say whatever they want about your care and the only way to hold them accountable is to file suit and allow a jury to decide.
Arbitrary allocation of fault—After a car accident, your adjuster may try to say that they are only accepting partial responsibility (you often hear 60% to 80%) on behalf of their insured. When asked how they came to this conclusion, you will often hear an illogical explanation that lacks any basis in reality. They have been known to make up speeds and situations that did not even occur. In this situation, just gather evidence regarding your collision and try to find witnesses to dispute such accounts. The primary reason a car accident adjuster will assign you at fault after a collision (even when there is no basis for doing so) is so that the insurance company can try to pay you less in settling your claim.
If you are dealing with some of these problems after your car accident, fear not, because help is just a phone call away. Our car accident attorneys are well versed in handling and addressing these unfair tactics. And when the insurance company refuses to be fair with you after your car accident, our lawyers can help you file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to hold the person accountable for what occurred. Remember, just because the car insurance company says it, doesn’t make it true. Under our justice system, the jury has the final say regarding who was at fault for the collision and the value of your damages as a result of your car accident.
Texas Car Accident Laws
Every state in the United States has its own set of laws by which citizens must abide. For the state of Texas and people who get involved in a car accident, it’s important to know these laws to determine the outcome of the insurance or accident injury claim.
Texas Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Injury Claims
According to Sec. 16.003 of Texas’ statute of limitation on negligence and personal injury:
“A person must bring suit for trespass for injury to the estate or to the property of another, conversion of personal property, taking or detaining the personal property of another, personal injury… not later than two years after the day of the cause of actions accrues.”
In other words, you have two years to file a personal injury claim after a car accident in Texas. The time to file begins the day the accident took place. It includes all injuries related to the accident, whether it be a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck accident, bicycle accident, or pedestrian accident. Even if there were no injuries and only property damage occurred, the two-year limit still stands. The exception to the rule is if the person is a minor.
The statute of limitations applies to all personal injury claims, from slip-and-falls to car accidents to even dog bites. Texas is strict on its statute of limitations and there are rarely any exceptions to the rule.
It is important to file within the two-year mark due to affirmative defense. This means the statute of limitations only applies if the party being sued asserts it. If you do file a claim after the statute of limitations, the defense party will argue that your claim is barred since you waited until after the two-year limit. Additionally, the defense can file a motion to have your case dismissed. The courts may grant this motion, since you failed to timely pursue your claims. It is also important to note that to file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim is 4 years because this claim is a breach of contract claim.
When it comes to car accidents, Texas’ statute of limitations applies to civil personal injury lawsuits only. It does not apply to when you should contact your insurance company. Indeed, the deadlines are entirely separate.
When filing a claim with your insurance provider, most companies require that it be done as soon as possible after the car accident, but this will be discussed in your individual insurance agreement. The timeline can be found in the details of your insurance policy or possibly on your provider’s website.
Is Texas an At-Fault State?
Texas is an at-fault state, so that means you can file an insurance claim or suit against the driver who is “at fault,” or someone responsible for the damages and injuries in a car accident. At-fault drivers can cover the damages by purchasing liability insurance. There are minimum limits with liability insurance, which are:
- $30,000 for each injured person;
- $60,000 total for injuries per incident;
- $25,000 for property damage
Within 15 days of receiving your information, the insurance company must accept or reject your claim. If they reject your claim, they are required to explain why. If they accept any part of your claim, they are required to issue payment within five business days.
There are also laws if you and the other driver are both at fault for the accident. This is called modified comparative fault and this allows the claimant to recover damages as long as he or she was 50% or less at fault. The courts will determine the percentage through investigation of the crash in question. After investigating, the courts will reduce the claimant’s compensation by a percentage that matches the claimant’s amount of fault.
Additional Texas Laws
While statute of limitations and insurance requirements are vital to know, here are other laws Texas residents should be aware of:
Accident Involving Personal Injury or Death
According to Texas Transportation Code Sec. 550.021.,
(a) The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident that results or is reasonably likely to result in injury to or death of a person shall:
(1) immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible;
(2) immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident;
(3) immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident and if a person is involved in the accident, whether that person requires aid; and
(4) remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Section 550.023.
(b) An operator of a vehicle required to stop the vehicle by Subsection (a) shall do so without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person does not stop or does not comply with the requirements of this section. An offense under this section:
(1) involving an accident resulting in:
(A) death of a person is a felony of the second degree; or
(B) serious bodily injury, as defined by Section 1.07, Penal Code, to a person is a felony of the third degree; and
(2) involving an accident resulting in injury to which Subdivision (1) does not apply is punishable by:
(A) imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for not more than five years or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year;
(B) a fine not to exceed $5,000; or
(C) both the fine and the imprisonment or confinement.
Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle
According to Texas Transportation Code Sec. 550.022.,
(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:
(1) immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic more than is necessary;
(2) immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and
(3) remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Section 550.023.
(b) If an accident occurs on a main lane, ramp, shoulder, median, or adjacent area of a freeway in a metropolitan area and each vehicle involved can be normally and safely driven, each operator shall move the operator’s vehicle as soon as possible to a designated accident investigation site, if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location to complete the requirements of Section 550.023 and minimize interference with freeway traffic.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person does not stop or does not comply with the requirements of Subsection (a). An offense under this subsection is:
(1) a Class C misdemeanor, if the damage to all vehicles is less than $200; or
(2) a Class B misdemeanor, if the damage to all vehicles is $200 or more.
(c-1) A person commits an offense if the person does not comply with the requirements of Subsection (b). An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.
(d) In this section, a vehicle can be normally and safely driven only if the vehicle:
(1) does not require towing; and
(2) can be operated under its own power and in its usual manner, without additional damage or hazard to the vehicle, other traffic, or the roadway.
Immediate Report of Accident
According to Texas Transportation Code Sec. 550.026.,
(a) The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be normally and safely driven shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the accident to the:
(1) local police department if the accident occurred in a municipality;
(2) local police department or the sheriff’s office if the accident occurred not more than 100 feet outside the limits of a municipality; or (3) sheriff’s office or the nearest office of the department if the accident is not required to be reported under Subdivision (1) or (2)…
Under Texas Transportation Code section 550.026, the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident must immediately (“by the quickest means of communication”) report the accident to the local police department (if the accident occurred in a municipality) or to the local sheriff’s office (if the crash occurred outside a municipality) of the crash resulted in:
injury or death of any person, or
damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be safely driven from the scene.
Interview with Houston car accident attorney Hank Stout
In the summer of 2018 the Houston Chronicle published a report entitled Out of Control: Houston’s roads, drivers are country’s most deadly. Among other shocking statistics, the report states that Houston sees 640 traffic deaths per year in addition to 2,850 serious injuries.
So what is it like to be a car accident attorney in the deadliest metro area in the country? Houston auto accident attorney Hank Stout explains:
What would you most attribute Houston’s problem with car wrecks?
HS: From what we see daily, inattention, other unnecessary distractions and bad decision making are the root cause of most collisions.
What are the common causes of car accident cases?
HS: Some common causes we see are cell phone inattention, speeding, not following traffic control devices such as stop lights and yield signs and drinking and driving. Except in the case of a product failure such as a tire blowout, almost all car accidents are caused by a person or company’s carelessness or bad decision making.
What’s the most common mistake you see people make after a car accident that you wish you could stop?
HS: There are three primary mistakes people make after a collision. First, failing to call the police or waiting on the police to obtain a report of the collision. Without a report, the at-fault driver may change his or her story to avoid taking responsibly for the collision.
Second, not going to the doctor to get checked out after the collision. Many people assume or hope the pain will go away so don’t seek medical attention until weeks or months after the collision. We encourage everyone to see a doctor to ensure there are no serious injuries of which you may be unaware.
Third, some people make the mistake of assuming they will be treated fairly by the insurance company or worse that the insurance company is on their side. To the contrary, the business of insurance is handling claims and their goal is to save as much money as possible (which means as little to the injured party – you – as possible). If you were injured, you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer, someone who is paid to fight FOR you, not against you like the insurance company.
What should Houston driver’s do if they are in an accident with someone who has inadequate or no insurance?
HS: Statistics show that approximately 20% of drivers do not carry insurance. This problem is compounded by the fact that most divers do not carry enough under insured motorist coverage or uninsured motorist coverage (UIM/UM) or any UIM/UM insurance.
If you have been involved in a accident with an uninsured driver or a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages, you may be able to look to your own insurance carrier for coverage if you have UIM/UM coverage.
These are often tough situations for the injured person, but in certain circumstances a lawyer can help you navigate the process in a way that covers your medical bills and still leaves you some money for expenses.
What made you want to be a car accident lawyer?
HS: My initial experience with personal injury litigation was from representing large oil and insurance companies. Through defending these companies, I saw the impact that these cases had on the lives of the injured person and how a good lawyer could help make a substantial difference in that person’s life.
After a few years of defending personal injury claims, I decided that I preferred to help individuals and families rather than defend the companies fighting against them and often responsible for the accident.
What Houston car accident case that you’ve handled had the biggest impact on you?
HS: The case with the biggest impact on me was the first personal injury case I handled. I was still working for a large defense firm when a close family friend came to me with a problem. She had been involved in a significant collision with a company truck that almost claimed her life.
After the collision, her problems were compounded by the fact that she hired a sign and settle lawyer (i.e. a lawyer who just wants to get a quick settlement regardless of the amount). The lawyer she hired was trying to settle her case for a very small amount without her approval. She came to me and I took over the case and stopped her prior lawyer from settling the case.
Instead I filed suit for her, hired a number of different experts and worked hard to prepare the case for trial. As a result of all my efforts, the case settled the day before trial and the company paid my client several million dollars. Helping ensure that my client and friend had ample means necessary to pay for medical care, rehabilitation and other expenses for life following this horribly debilitating accident was hugely impactful to me.
Houston Car Accident Statistics
Each year the Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranks the 100 most congested roadways in Texas. According to their 2019 study, the Houston-metro area is home to five of the top 10 most congested roads in the state. The five roads on the list are likely all too familiar to Houston drivers:
|2019 Rank||County||Road Name|
|1||Harris||W Loop Fwy / IH 610|
|3||Harris||Southwest Fwy / IH 69 / US 59|
|4||Harris||Eastex Fwy / IH 69 / US 59|
|5||Dallas||Woodall Rodgers Fwy / SS 366|
|6||Harris||Gulf Fwy / IH 45|
|8||Dallas||Stemmons Fwy / IH 35E / US 77|
|9||Harris||Katy Fwy / IH 10 / US 90|
The trend observed by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute is that growth-induced traffic gridlock is getting worse every year. Simply put, busier Houston roads create more opportunities for serious car accidents.
And if ever-increasing traffic weren’t enough for drivers to contend with, the data shows that accidents caused by distracted drivers are also on the rise.
Distracted Driving Crashes in Houston Are on the Rise
We’ve all seen it (and some of us are guilty of it ourselves): Drivers cruising down Houston highways at 70 MPH staring directly at their cell phone. While many different forms of distractions can contribute to car accidents, none are more common or more distracting than cell phone use.
In 2017 we surveyed over 900 Texas drivers, asking the simple question: How often do you use your phone while driving? We were surprised when 60% of respondents answered that they never use their phone while driving:
Crash data from the Texas Department of Transportation suggests that many in that 60% group may not be telling the truth. According to our analysis of raw crash data, crashes caused by distracted drivers have increased each year from 2012 to 2016:
Distracted Driving Crash Increases in Houston from 2012-2016
- Crashes in 2012: 5,998
- Crashes in 2013: 6,605
- Crashes in 2014: 7,276
- Crashes in 2015: 7,319
From 2012 to 2016 the total number of distracted driving car accidents in Houston has increased each year. There were 1,375 more distracted driving crashes in 2016 than 2012, which is an increase of nearly 20%.
Accidents Caused By Drunk Driving
Making the decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking alcohol is a serious crime. Texas ranks in the top five of the most dangerous states when it comes to drunk driving fatalities. In 2019, there were 886 people died and more than 14,000 people injured in a car accident when a driver was under the influence of alcohol.
In Texas, an individual is legally intoxicated with a 0.08 percent Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level. An individual may be arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) if he or she meets or exceeds the limit. Any driver under 21 who indicates a BAC above 0.00 percent can be issued a ticket. Any amount of alcohol consumption can impact your driving ability. Starting with one drink can cause your BAC to go up to 0.02 percent. Here are some common ways alcohol impairs your driving ability:
- Reduced concentration
- Blurred vision
- Lack of coordination
- Delayed reaction time
Drinking and driving can result in some heavy consequences. The first offense starts with a fine up to $2,000, at least three days in jail, and loss of your driver license up to a year. The punishment gets worse after each offense. Whether you are the driver or the passenger, you can be fined up to $500 for having an open alcohol container in a vehicle.
In addition, others can be held liable for drunk driving car accidents. Under Texas statute, a bartender or another person who serves, sells, or provides alcohol to a person when it is apparent that the person is intoxicated to the extent that the person presents a clear danger to themselves and others and the intoxication of the person was the proximate cause of the damages caused, then the bartender or other person providing, serving, or selling the alcohol may be held liable. In Texas, however, the bartender may be shielded from liability under safe harbor laws if:
- The employee is required to attend a commission-approved seller training program;
- The employee attended the training program; and
- The employer did not directly or indirectly encourage the employee to violate laws related to the selling and serving of alcoholic beverages.
If your accident involved a minor driving under the influence, the person who provided the minor with alcohol may also be liable for your injuries. Under Texas statute, an adult can be held liable for an accident caused by a minor if the adult was not the minor’s legal guardian, parent, or spouse and the adult knowingly provided or served the minor alcohol that contributed to the minor’s intoxication, or allowed the minor to be served or provided alcohol that contributed to the minor’s intoxication on the premise owned or leased by the adult.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, someone dies from an alcohol-related crash every 51 minutes. The best way to stay safe and to prevent drunk driving crashes is don’t drink and drive. If you are going out and plan to drink, get a designated driver or use a rideshare service to get home safely. At Sutliff & Stout, we have defended plenty of clients against drunk driving accidents. We know how traumatic it can be for an individual to be injured or the family to lose a loved one due to the negligence of drinking and driving. Each major holiday we offer our No DWI Free Holiday Rides, where we reimburse you for your Uber or Lyft ride. Holidays are a time to celebrate; however, incidents usually increase during holiday weekends. As car accident attorneys, we know the importance of keeping the communities we serve safer.
Answers to Your Car Accident Questions
Being in a car accident is traumatic enough, but the hard part often comes after the car accident when you are forced to deal with the aftermath.
Many of our clients come to us with questions about what to do after a car accident, and are unsure about what steps to take.
Here, we have answered some of the questions we are most frequently asked by people like you who have been in a car accident in Houston.
How much will a car accident lawyer in Houston cost me?
Most accident attorneys work on what is known as a contingency fee basis.
When a lawyer represents a client under a contingency fee agreement, the client does not pay the lawyer any money unless his or her claim is successful.
If the client’s claim is successful, the lawyer collects a fixed amount of money from the settlement or verdict awarded to the client. This amount is generally calculated as a percentage of the award.
Our lawyers can help you better understand how a contingency fee case works, so do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your case. Remember, you pay nothing unless your lawsuit is successful.
How long after my car accident do I have to file a claim?
The statute of limitations is a procedural rule that requires lawsuits to be filed within a specified time period.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits is generally two years from the date of the accident.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but only an experienced car accident lawyer can tell you whether these exceptions apply to your case.
Because the Texas statute of limitations will disqualify you from filing a lawsuit if you miss the deadline, it’s important that you talk to an accident lawyer right away after a car accident.
The Texas statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is found at Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 16.003.
What legal claims do I have if I have been involved in an auto collision?
Depending on how serious your car accident was, you may have a number of civil claims that arise from the collision.
If you were injured in a car accident, you may have a claim for negligence against the driver or party responsible for your injuries. If someone hurt you while driving irresponsibly, he or she can be held accountable for money damages if a court finds that his or her conduct was negligent.
You may also be able to recover money to compensate you for damaged property. If the other driver was reckless or caused your accident intentionally, you may be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are substantial damage awards granted by courts to deter bad conduct.
We can help you better understand what claims are available to you based on the specific details of your case.
What types of insurance are available to me for my auto accident claim?
Whether insurance will cover the property damage and/or injuries you suffered as a result of your car accident depends not only on your insurance policy, but on that of the other driver’s.
A car accident lawyer can review your policy to determine whether insurance will cover your injuries, property damage, and other losses.
Can I handle this without a car accident lawyer?
If you were involved in a very minor car accident, you may not need to hire a lawyer. But if anyone was injured in your car accident, or there was serious property damage, you should probably hire a lawyer.
Related Article: Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
An experienced car accident attorney will help protect your rights in court and during the settlement negotiation process. At Sutliff & Stout, we pursue all available forms of compensation for our clients who have been involved in car accidents.
Often, car accident lawsuits involve complicated legal claims. Therefore, we typically recommend that you do not proceed without a lawyer.
Can I recover for my medical bills?
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you may be entitled to recover the costs of your medical bills.
This includes not only the costs of the treatment you needed immediately after an accident, but the costs of medical treatment you may require in the future.
We understand that medical bills can be very expensive and difficult to deal with. This is one reason why it is so important to contact an experienced car accident law firm as quickly as possible after your case.
A Houston auto accident lawyer can help secure funds to pay for necessary and costly medical treatment.
Can I recover for my lost wages?
If you missed work as a result of your car accident, you may be able to recover money to compensate you for lost wages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
If your earning capacity was permanently reduced as a result of your injuries, you may also be able to recover damages to account for the earnings you will lose over time.
It can be difficult to calculate the exact amount of wages you are owed. A car accident lawyer can help calculate the amount of wages you are owed, and will fight for your right to be compensated for your lost income in court.
What if I can’t work as a result of my injuries?
If you cannot work as a result of your injuries, you may be entitled to receive disability benefits. Even if you receive disability benefits, you may still be entitled to recoup lost wages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Securing disability benefits after a serious injury can be a very complicated and lengthy process. To discuss whether you are entitled to receive such benefits, contact our Houston car accident law firm today.
What types of damages are recoverable?
If you were injured in a car accident, you will likely be able to make a claim for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical treatment, including ongoing care by specialists, caused by the collision.
- Lost wages for missed work and loss of future income if your earning capacity has been diminished.
- Compensation for damage to your vehicle and other personal property.
- Past and future pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of your injuries.
If you have a more specific question about your damages, we suggest you give us a call for a free consultation.
What should I look for in a Houston car accident lawyer?
The lawyer-client relationship is a very important one. You should look for a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable communicating.
Related Article: Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer
Ask if the lawyer has experience handling cases similar to yours. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from past clients.
In personal injury cases, it is important to have a lawyer who will aggressively pursue your claims. Make sure your lawyer has experience trying cases before a jury, as well as negotiating favorable settlements for his or her clients outside of court. Ask your lawyer to discuss their techniques with you.
Be sure that you are clear on how much your lawyer plans to charge you if your case is successful. Your lawyer should never be unresponsive to these types of questions.
If you ever feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied with your lawyer, you have the right to terminate the relationship.
What if I don’t have medical insurance?
If you were injured in a car accident and do not have medical insurance, you should contact a lawyer right away.
You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to have the necessary funds available to pay for your medical treatment.
Medical bills can be very expensive. Many people are forced to file bankruptcy as a result of unmanageable medical bills. If you do not have health insurance, a compassionate and experienced lawyer can help.
What are my rights concerning repairs to my vehicle?
If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident, whether you are entitled to have it repaired or replaced depends on the insurance policies of the parties involved in the accident (including your own).
If you feel that your insurance company, or the insurance company of the other driver, is denying your claims for vehicle repairs in bad faith, we may be able to help.
In many cases, insurance companies will try to avoid paying repair costs. If you have been denied a claim for car repairs after a car accident, contact an attorney right away.
Is the at-fault driver’s insurance company required to provide me a rental car?
Whether the at-fault driver’s insurance company is required to provide you with a rental car depends on his or her insurance policy.
A lawyer can review the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to determine whether you are being unfairly denied access to a rental car after an accident.
You may also be able to obtain a rental car through your own insurance provider. If you need help with this process, contact a car accident attorney today.
What happens if my car is totaled?
If your car is totaled, you may be able to recover the fair market value of your car right before the accident occurred by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
In the meantime, you will need to secure alternate means of transportation. You may be able to obtain a rental car through your insurance policy or that of the other driver.
Depending on the policies, you may also be entitled to receive a check in the amount of your vehicle’s fair market value to replace your car.
If your car was totaled in a car accident, a lawyer can help you navigate the often complicated process of obtaining a replacement vehicle.
What if I owe more than my car is worth?
If your car is considered a “total loss” (or “totaled”) after a car accident and you still owe money on the vehicle, you are not relieved of your obligation to make your car payments.
Ideally, you will receive a check after your car accident from your insurance company (or the other party’s insurance company) that covers the amount of money you still owe on the car.
However, the value of a vehicle is not determined by the balance of the car loan. Instead, it is determined by the fair market value of your car right before the accident. You may end up still owing money on a vehicle that has been destroyed in a car accident.
If you are concerned about making payments on a vehicle that was totaled in a car accident, we may be able to help. Contact our auto accident attorneys to discuss your options.
If my health insurance is paying for my medical bills, do I have to pay it back?
You may be required to reimburse your health insurance provider or Medicare after winning a personal injury lawsuit or settling the lawsuit out of court. Whether you are required to do this depends on a number of factors.
A lawyer can help you understand whether you must repay your health insurance provider after a personal injury lawsuit or settlement, and how to go about doing so.
How long will my auto accident case take?
How long it will take to settle a claim through insurance or to pursue a personal injury lawsuit to completion depends on a number of factors.
Related Article: What Is the Average Time to Settle a Personal Injury Case?
These factors include the seriousness of your accident, whether you or others were injured in the accident and how badly, the total amount of property damage or loss caused by the accident, and whether all the parties involved in your accident were insured.
Typically, a personal injury lawsuit takes between one and two years from filing to completion. If you file a personal injury lawsuit, the other party may wish to settle the lawsuit before it reaches court. This can save everyone involved a lot of time and money.
There is no way to predict exactly how long your claim will take, but a car accident attorney may be able to provide some guidance. Contact our office today to discuss your case.
Should I go to the doctor?
We recommend that you go to the doctor after a car accident, even if it’s just for a precautionary check-up. Often, people don’t realize that they may have been injured in a car accident.
The symptoms of common car accident injuries like whiplash, back and neck injuries, and muscle stiffness may take time to develop. If left untreated, some of these injuries can become worse over time.
After visiting the doctor, it will be determined what treatments such as surgery or physical therapy are needed for your recovery. Make sure to ask for copies of your medical records and any billing statements associated with your medical care. These records will be important to have on hand during the insurance claims process, as well as if you file a personal injury lawsuit.
What if I don’t have a doctor?
If you do not have a doctor, we may be able to help you find one. Contact us today to discuss options for your treatment.
What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Texas law requires all people who drive in Texas to pay for the accidents they cause. Most drivers do this by buying auto liability insurance, also known as car insurance.
Texas specifies a minimum amount for all drivers. The current minimum liability limits are $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This basic coverage is called 30/60/25 coverage.
Related Article: Texas Car Insurance Requirements
If the other driver involved in your car accident doesn’t have insurance, or was underinsured at the time of the accident, we can help you file a civil lawsuit against the driver to recover money damages.
Sometimes, this is the only way to get you the money you deserve to compensate you for your injuries and other losses.
If you have insurance, you may have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as part of your policy. This means that your insurance company will help cover some or all of the costs of your accident if it was caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Getting in an accident with an uninsured driver can lead to complicated legal proceedings. Our Houston car accident attorneys can help you navigate the legal process and recover the money you deserve.
Speak With Our Board-Certified Houston Car Accident Attorneys Today
The Sutliff & Stout Law Team understands the logistics and intricate legalities that are involved in a car accident case. We know how to investigate a case, speak with insurance companies and, when they’re being difficult, file a lawsuit if need be. The lawsuit and claim process is lengthy and tiresome, so having a Houston car accident attorney on your side will be in your favor for your case.
The team at Sutliff & Stout is committed to the care and safety of our clients and justice in their cases. We fight to recover the maximum compensation available for our clients, and we won’t stop until we do. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Houston or the adjacent areas, do not wait to contact our law firm. Call us at 713-987-7111 for a free, no-obligation consultation with the Board-Certified car accident lawyers from Sutliff & Stout.
If you’re looking for a competent and experienced attorney to build a viable case, look no further than the top-rated team at Sutliff & Stout. We are Board-Certified personal injury attorneys guided by a passion for serving others and the belief that everyone deserves competent legal representation. Our firm is recognized by Texas Super Lawyers and has been named one of the National Trial Lawyers 40 under 40. Over the years, we have won our clients millions of dollars in settlements and will work tirelessly to do the same for you.
What it’s Like Being a Client
If you have been in a car accident, you are probably feeling a little overwhelmed and nervous about this new process. Our car accident attorneys understand these feelings and what you are going through and we are here to help. From the moment you call our office, our staff and lawyers will listen to you and try to understand your particular situation. We understand that every person’s situation is different and requires a personalized approach to effectively assist that person through the process. While we cannot undo what has occurred, we can help you through the car accident claims process and help you get the medical treatment you need to get on the road to recovery. We will walk you through the process and explain each aspect of the process to you. We do this so that you can make the best decision for you and your family as to how to proceed after a car accident.
Recent Houston-Area Accident News
The list below contains links to recent stories about serious auto accidents in Houston and throughout the state of Texas. If you’ve recently been in an accident in Houston and are in need of a copy of the police report, click here. To browse more accident news reports, click here.
- Woman Killed in Fatal Head-On Collision (11/22/2020)
- Drivers Killed in Fatal Wreck (11/22/2020)
- Young Woman Killed in North Houston Wreck (11/22/2020)
- One Dead, Four Others Injured in Fatal Three-Vehicle Wreck (11/21/2020)
- Two Children Killed, Three Others Injured in ATV Wreck (11/21/2020)
- Young Woman Killed in Beaumont Wreck (11/20/2020)
- Two People Killed in Fatal Crash in Von Ormy (11/18/2020)
- Driver, Dog Killed in Fatal Collision (11/18/2020)
- Crash in Tyler Left Woman Injured (11/16/2020)
- Woman Killed after Fatal Wrong-Way Collision (11/16/2020)
Sutliff & Stout’s Annual Scholarship Contests
At Sutliff & Stout we are tremendously grateful to be in a position to help students across the county realize their potential. Over the past several years we have awarded tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money to deserving students. You can read about the recipients of our scholarship contests here.
20% off Attorneys’ Fees for Texas Community College, Undergrad, and Graduate Students and Faculty
At Sutliff & Stout, we offer a 20% discount off our attorneys’ fees for community college, university, and graduate students and faculty across Texas.
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we don’t take an up-front fee for our services. Rather, we collect our fee as a percentage of the final settlement or verdict that we are able to achieve. With this discount, we’ll take 20% off that fee.
To claim this discount simply present your college or university ID at the time of signing on as a Sutliff & Stout client.