Quick Answers to Your Top Questions About Injuries in Texas
Wayne Wright LLP keeps our clients and the public informed. We provide answers to frequently asked questions to help our clients face their own legal battles. Contact Wayne Wright LLP to speak with an experienced injury attorney in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, El Paso, or Austin offices. We will schedule a free case review and answer your specific questions. Our law firm will not stop working until you receive the justice you deserve.
Please click one of the following categories of our Frequently Asked Questions:
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Can I still recover damages if a government vehicle hits me?
When you’re involved in a car accident with a private individual or a commercial entity (such as a semi truck or a delivery van), you typically have the right to file a personal injury claim. This lets you seek compensation for your injuries as well as the other expenses involved in a crash that wasn’t your fault to begin with. However, the situation can get a little more complicated if the vehicle that caused the crash belonged to a city, state, or federal agency.
If a police car, ambulance, postal worker, or other official vehicle or agent caused your crash and you want to pursue compensation, you still may be able to. You should be aware that the rules and regulations are different in this situation, and you may need to act fast. Here’s what you should know.
Government Immunity Laws and Car Accidents
Broadly speaking, police officers, fire trucks, ambulances, and other government employees usually have what’s called government or sovereign immunity. This law protects government workers for liability in many cases. However, there are often exceptions that may depend on the agency involved in the crash, and federal, state, county, city, or other local regulations can play a part, too.
In 1969, the state of Texas realized that there are times when it’s right and appropriate for there to be liability for state or local agencies and organizations. The Texas Tort Claims Act allows governmental units to be held legally responsible for personal injury or wrongful death, provided some conditions are met. These conditions include:
- The person responsible for the accident (government employee) must have been acting within the scope of his or her employment; and
- If the employee had been a private individual at the time of the accident, he or she would have faced liability for the accident.
The Texas Tort Claims Act also limits the amount of recovery that you can receive, to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per incident for injury, and $100,000 per incident for property damage.
There is a similar federal law, called the Federal Torts Claim Act, which also allows for lawsuits against federal employees in situations where negligence on the job is involved. However, the federal law may be even more restrictive than the Texas version and there are strict policies and legal procedures to follow to make a successful claim. Your attorney can help you determine the best way to get started with a federal claim.
Making Your Personal Injury Claim
If a city or municipality is involved, you and your attorney will need to take the claim to that municipality. If you were injured in the city of Austin, for example, you can visit the City of Austin Legal Department online to find out the right procedures and what you need to do to file a claim.
It’s important to note that, unlike a regular personal injury claim, the statute of limitations for making a claim against a government entity can be very short. You may have as few as thirty days or as long as six months, so every day counts between when your accident happened and when you contact a personal injury attorney to begin investigating your claim. If the statute of limitations has already expired, it’s likely that you will not be able to make a successful claim or receive any compensation at all.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident with a federal, state, county, city, or other local employee or agency, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries, but you have to act fast. An experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with the tight deadlines and strict procedures of filing a claim against a government agency can help you seek the justice that you deserve in a court of law.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by negligence, carelessness, and recklessness for decades, and we’re here to help you recover from your accident.
To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional at Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
What should I do if I am involved in a ridesharing accident?
Ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft, and others have become extremely popular in recent days. These companies allow anyone with a smartphone to summon a nearby driver relatively quickly and cheaply when compared to a traditional taxi service. The drivers are typically not professionals; they use their own personal vehicles to make extra money.
The big question is what happens when one of these amateur drivers causes an accident? Whether you’re a customer in the rideshare vehicle with the driver at the time of the crash, in another vehicle that’s been hit by a rideshare car, or are a pedestrian who has been struck by a rideshare driver, serious questions about liability can result.
Here’s what you should do if you’re involved in an accident with a rideshare driver, and how you can get legal help when you’ve been hurt.
What to Do After a Rideshare Accident
No matter what kind of car accident you’re involved in, your first priority should be health and safety. Check to make sure that you’re okay, and if you or anyone else is hurt, call 9-1-1 immediately. Even if nobody is hurt, contacting the police is a never a bad idea, especially when there’s significant property damage, and a police report can make your legal case easier later.
After you’ve taken care of any immediate medical and safety needs, you’ll need to get some information from the driver of the rideshare. Not only should the driver have personal automobile insurance, but the ridesharing company may also a policy for drivers, as well, especially when the driver is “on duty” and is either carrying a passenger or is on the way to retrieve one.
If you’re the passenger in the rideshare and you used a company’s app to call for the ride, the app itself may be able to display coverage information directly on your phone; otherwise, you’ll have to ask the driver for that information. You’ll also want to record the driver’s full name, driver’s license number, address, and phone number, as well as the make, model, and license plate of every vehicle involved in the accident. Be sure to ask for contact information of any witnesses, as well, and take pictures or notes related to the accident, including information about injuries, damage, weather conditions, and any traffic lights or stop signs that may have been run.
Seeking compensations from an Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare driver can be legally complex. Most ridesharing services maintain a stance that all drivers are “independent contractors,” not employees, to protect themselves from liability in the event of an accident. You’ll most likely need to pursue claims against the driver’s personal auto insurance policy, but other policies may apply, too. Both Uber and Lyft famously offer policies worth $1 million dollars that cover drivers when a passenger is in the car; however, this only applies in certain circumstances, such as when the driver is on the way to pick someone up or already has a passenger being transported.
Uber and Lyft also offer supplemental policies, but in some situations these could only apply if the driver’s personal policy isn’t enough to cover damages. In this case, it may be necessary to file a claim against the insurance companies from both the ridesharing company’s insurer and the driver’s insurer.
Get Legal Help Today
Sorting out the insurance policies involved in an accident with a ridesharing company can be complex. A personal injury attorney who understands this rapidly-evolving field will be able to help you make the right legal choices so that you can seek the full and fair compensation that you may be owed when a ridesharing driver hurts you in an accident.
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a ridesharing company, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We believe that seeking justice for those who have been injured is the right thing to, and we’re here to help you and your family recover after a bad accident. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
How should I prepare for my first meeting with a car accident attorney?
If you’ve been in a car accident, consulting with a personal injury attorney is almost always a good idea.
Arranging a meeting with an attorney for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking if you’ve never been in this type of situation before. With a little preparation, though, you can help things move along smoothly so that your attorney can help you understand your legal options. Here’s how to get ready to meet a potential attorney for your case, and how you can get legal help today.
What to Bring to Your Consultation
When you arrange your consultation, your accident attorney should be able to tell you what you need to bring with you. Any information that you can provide—even if it’s not something that he or she asked for immediately—may be useful now or in the future, so don’t be shy about bringing supporting documentation. Here are some of the things you’ll probably want to have with you:
- Police reports. Any police or accident reports related to the crash can be obtained from the agency that created them, such as the local police, highway patrol, or county sheriff’s office.
- Health care records. Bring your medical records from every provider who saw you for a condition related to a crash, including ambulance and emergency treatment records, hospital records, physical therapy paperwork, and so on. Include copies of any diagnosis made by a doctor, as well as the prognosis for the future and recommendations for future care.
- Health care bills. Along with your actual medical records, bring the bills that you receive from the hospital, clinic, rehabilitation service, chiropractor, psychologist, and any other healthcare providers who charged you for care related to the crash.
- Insurance information. Bring your insurance information, including what your policy covers and in what amount, and any bills you have received from the insurance company.
- Work documentation. If your accident cost you any time away from work, bring any records you can indicating how long you were out, and how much that time away cost you (even if you used sick time or vacation days.)
Don’t forget to bring any other evidence you have related to the crash, too, such as photos of the accident, the damage to your vehicle or other property, photos of your injuries, and so forth. Your attorney will evaluate these photos and all of your other supporting documentation to make a determination about what your best legal options are.
What to Ask an Accident Attorney
In addition to providing the attorney with details of your life and the accident, you should be prepared to get something back, too—so come prepared with questions for your initial consultation, and expect good answers in return. Here are some sample questions you may want to ask:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- How much of your time and practice is dedicated to car accident cases like mine?
- How many accident claims have you handled, and have they ever gone to trial?
- Do you foresee any challenges that may arise from my case?
- Are you the person who will work on my case?
- May I meet any other attorneys who will be working on my case?
- How do you charge for your services? Do you work on contingency?
- What expenses do you think this case will incur?
If the answers that you receive aren’t satisfactory, you are free to move on and choose another firm. Maybe you’ll decide that this attorney isn’t the right one for your case, after all, and you have every right to do so. Don’t be badgered or bullied into accepting the service of someone you’re uncomfortable with.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been hurt in an automobile accident and don’t know where to turn to for legal help, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We believe in justice for those who have been injured, and we’re here to stand up for your legal rights in a court of law. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
When should I see a doctor after a car accident?
The human body is a remarkably resilient thing, but automobile accidents involve thousands of pounds of metal and plastic violently slamming together at speeds that biology simply isn’t equipped to deal with. Even if your car has the best anti-crash technology on the market, injuries can and do happen.
Sometimes, you may not even notice that you’ve been hurt right away, or you may think your injury is minor and you can “tough it out.” Should you see a doctor after a car crash anyway, even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt?
Hidden Injuries After a Car Crash
After your crash, if you feel any pain or discomfort at all, the answer is always yes, you should seek medical help as soon as you can. But even if you don’t feel pain, it’s not a bad idea to get checked out, too.
The reason is that our bodies react automatically to stress by releasing emergency hormones that can heighten awareness, increase reaction time, and crucially, dull pain for a brief period of time. It can take hours for hormone levels to fully return to normal, long after you’ve returned home after the crash. What feels like a minor bump now may actually turn out to be something much more serious later. You may not realize the extent of your injuries until some time has passed, and the nature of the injuries may mean that symptoms don’t show up for even longer—weeks or even months, in some cases, depending on the type, severity, and location of the injury.
Hidden Soft Tissue Injuries and TBI After an Accident
Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash (a sprain or strain in the neck region, caused by the fast forward/backward whip-like motion of the head in the crash) are particularly notorious when it comes to delayed pain responses. Swelling, bruising, pain, and loss of mobility can take days or weeks to appear, and soft tissue injuries cannot be diagnosed with an X-ray. A CT scan or MRI may be necessary to document the damage and ensure you get treated promptly, to prevent further damage and potentially life-long pain.
Another potential danger that may not be recognized right away without medical help is a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. When the cars collide, the head can be jolted into the steering wheel, window, or headrest with a shocking amount of force, yet without breaking the skin. This type of injury can even happen without the head contacting another surface at all, as the head is rapidly tossed or whipped during the crash. The violence of the impact can cause the brain to slam into the inside of the skull, causing a concussion—or worse. A TBI can have lasting consequences and can be life-threatening, so quick medical intervention is a must.
Symptoms of TBI After a Car Crash
Victims of TBI may show obvious symptoms, such as loss of consciousness, but others may show more subtle symptoms that onlookers can miss, but medical personnel may be on the lookout for or be able to spot right away. Symptoms of a TBI to look out for after a car crash include the following:
- Confusion, disorientation, or altered thought patterns.
- Short-term memory loss or inability to remember immediate information.
- Inability to concentrate or pay attention.
- Inability to stay awake.
- Dizziness or lack of coordination.
- Nausea or vomiting.
If you notice any of these symptoms after an accident, or if you think that you or someone else has hit his or her head in the accident, get medical attention right away. It may be nothing—but it could save a life.
Get Help After Your Car Accident
Though cars are designed to protect drivers and passengers from injury, the forces involved in a collision are shockingly destructive, even if the accident seems minor. Getting checked out by a doctor after your crash even if you don’t feel injured can both save your life and your pocketbook, as the medical records of your examination can be used in your personal injury lawsuit against the person or parties responsible for the crash to help you recover the costs of your treatment.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are ready to seek compensation for your medical bills, rehabilitation, personal property, pain and suffering, and more, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We’re here to stand up for the rights of victims and their families after serious auto accidents, and we’re here to help you, too.
Call Wayne Wright by phone, send an email with our contact form, or click the live chat box on this page to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a legal professional about your accident today.
What will a car accident lawyer do to resolve my car accident case?
When the worst happens and you’ve been in a car accident, you wonder whether you should seek legal help. What could an accident attorney possibly do for you? Surely you can handle this on your own. After all, insurance will take care of everything.
Or will it?
What a Car Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
When the accident is serious, an attorney can help you with every step of the process to help you seek the fair compensation that you’re owed for the accident. Here’s what your attorney can bring to the table to help you win your case:
- Talk to the insurance companies. Insurers count on the fact that you may not know all your legal rights when it comes to seeking compensation. Some may even try to trick you into saying something that can hurt your personal injury case or greatly reduce your potential compensation. But a skilled attorney knows these tricks, and by handling the communications with the other party’s insurer, can ensure that the insurer plays fair.
- Collect evidence. Your attorney will gather any information about the accident that he or she can, including police reports, photographs, witness statements, and more. Evidence can prove that the accident happened, determine who was at fault, and the exact damages that were done to your vehicle, yourself, or your passengers.
- Gather medical records. A critical part of any personal injury lawsuit is collecting evidence of damages. Your attorney can gather medical records, bills, employment records showing missed time due to the accident, and other information to present to the court. He will know the right procedures and paperwork involved in making sure that any requests for records from doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers are properly prepared so that the facilities can supply the right information that you need in a timely fashion.
- Negotiate a settlement. Another important part of your attorney’s job is to take the evidence that’s been gathered and use it to provide a settlement offer to the insurance company. Your attorney will be able to put a real value to the injuries and pain you’ve suffered, and will give the insurance company a chance to pay fair compensation without going through the hassle of a trial.
- File a lawsuit. If the insurer isn’t willing to offer a reasonable settlement—or offer any settlement, in some cases—your attorney will be able to file a lawsuit, and the parties involved must respond or run the risk of a default judgment against them. Your attorney will begin the legal discovery process and may hold depositions (oral interviews) with the parties involved in the accident, experts, and witnesses to the accident.
- Represent you in court. Ultimately, your attorney will be the one to stand up for your rights in the court of law in front of a judge and jury of your peers.
Your attorney can take care of other issues related to the accident that occasionally pop up, too, and provide legal advice about what you should do if any problems arise.
Your Responsibilities After an Accident
Your attorney is there for you, but there are some steps that you should take, too, to make sure your case has the best chance of succeeding. For example, your attorney may advise you not to sign anything related to your case without consulting with him or her. Never speak about your case to anyone other than your attorney or a physician, and if anyone asks, simply refer him to your attorney.
Get Legal Help After a Car Accident
Hiring an attorney after a traffic crash can ensure that your legal rights are protected, allowing you the peace of mind that you need to recover from the accident.
If you’ve been seriously hurt in a Texas car accident and are ready to talk to an attorney, Wayne Wright LLP will stand beside you every step of the way. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal situation, call, email, or use the live chat box to contact us today.
Do I need a lawyer for my car accident injury case?
A car accident can leave you sore, scared, and shaken for days, and put you at a loss as to what you should do next. Your family or friends may say that you should get an attorney, while others may say you don’t need legal representation. What should you do? Do you always need an attorney after an accident?
When to Hire a Lawyer After an Automobile Accident
Whether or you need an attorney after your accident depends on several factors. Broadly speaking, if nobody was hurt and the property damage is minimal, it’s not likely you’ll need an attorney. For some minor accidents, the insurance companies will typically deal with everything. There are times, though, when you’re going to want to seek legal help as soon as possible. Here are some situations that you should definitely consider getting an attorney for:
- Serious injuries or death. If someone has been killed or seriously hurt in the accident, including broken bones or other injuries that require hospitalization, it’s time to contact an attorney fast. You need to act quickly to protect your rights and make sure that the party responsible bears the expenses.
- Long-term disability. Similarly, if the accident has left you or your passenger totally or partially disabled in any way, you need to contact an attorney to make sure that not only your current medical bills are covered, but all future medical costs related to the accident, too.
- Pedestrian or motorcycle involvement. If a pedestrian or a motorcyclist is involved, injuries can turn severe very quickly. Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer right away to make sure that you’re legally protected.
- Contested liability. If the facts about who caused the accident are in dispute, you don’t have to fight it alone. The other driver’s insurance company may try to claim that its policyholder wasn’t responsible for the accident, so that they don’t have to pay out all or even part of an expensive claim. Texas follows modified comparative negligence laws, which means that any party found liable by 51% or more is unable to recover any damages at all. For partial fault below 50%, damages are reduced accordingly. If the insurer is disputing liability, get an attorney to help you make sure that any fault determinations are correct, so that you don’t miss out on damages that may be rightfully yours.
- Unreasonable settlements. When the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement, it’s time to get legal help. While insurers do have certain contractual obligations to policyholders, long ago insurance companies realized that they don’t make money by paying out claims. Some companies will try just about anything to avoid giving you the full recovery you deserve, so if you think the offer is unfair, seek professional advice.
- Denied claims. Sometimes an insurer will just outright deny a claim that should be covered under a policy. If you rightful claim is denied and the insurance company refuses to reconsider, it’s time to get to an attorney.
- Commercial vehicles are involved. The law can get complicated fast when it comes to claims involving commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks or semi-trailers. To best protect your own interests in this type of situation, it’s wise to contact a lawyer with experience in commercial truck accidents.
- Lost wages. If the accident has cost you time away from work and thereby resulted in lost income, chances are good that you’re eligible to recover that lost income from the person who caused the accident.
In any accident situation, even a minor one, if you’re just not sure about your rights or what to do, it’s prudent to contact an attorney for advice on how to proceed. He or she should be able to answer all of your questions, and help you determine what next legal steps you need to take, if any.
How to Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
Wayne Wright LLP has been fighting for the rights of victims for decades, and if you’ve been in a serious car accident in Texas, we’d like to hear from you. To protect your legal rights and seek the compensation that you may be owed, reach out to us by phone, email, or the live chat box today.
How much does it cost to hire an auto accident attorney?
Once you have made the important decision to retain a lawyer in your car crash case, you will need to pick a qualified attorney that you feel you can trust. The cost of hiring him will be one of the considerations in your decision. If you are like many accident victims, you may have never had the need to hire an attorney, and could have no idea how attorneys charge fees in car accident cases. Here, we discuss the basics of these fee arrangements.
How Attorneys Typically Are Paid in Auto Wreck Cases
In car accident cases—like most personal injury cases—attorneys charge attorney fees on a contingency fee basis. What does this mean? Important terms of these agreements include:
- The attorney recovers no attorney fees if you do not obtain a settlement or an award at your trial.
- The attorney will charge you a percentage of your compensation as his fee. You will need to shop around because different attorneys will charge you a different percentage.
- Besides owing attorney fees, you will also owe the costs associated with your case. These can include the filing fee to file your complaint at court, the fee to serve the complaint on the driver, expert witness fees, and medical record copying fees. Some attorneys will pay these fees for you and deduct them from your settlement. Others will require you to pay a certain amount at the beginning of your case to pay these costs.
At your initial free consultation with the attorney you are considering hiring, he should tell you the attorney fees he charges, the estimated costs in your case, and how he expects you to pay them. Once you agree to retain a lawyer, you should enter into a written retainer agreement—also known as a contract—with him which states your entire agreement regarding the fees and costs you will owe.
While the attorney fees’ should be a consideration in your decision as to which attorney to hire, you do not want to pick one solely based on the cost. Having an experienced attorney who has successfully settled other cases similar to yours and who is competent in trying cases if the insurance company is unreasonable are also very important to the outcome of your claim.
If you or a family member was hurt in a car wreck, contact our experienced car accident attorneys at 800-237-3334 to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Should I give a recorded statement for my auto accident?
Following a car accident, you may be wondering what you should and should not say to those around you. While speaking with the police, the other driver and, in some cases, eyewitnesses following an accident is often unavoidable, you should be careful to only provide factual information and to minimize the information that you share. If an insurance adjuster requests that you provide a recorded statement, you should exercise your legal right to refuse this request. Here’s why:
- It may impact your claim—even if the other driver is still at fault. In Texas, you may only recover losses for a car accident if you’re found to be 50 percent at fault or less. This means that if you are on the edge of qualifying for compensation, one incriminating statement may place some, or all, of the liability in your court.
- An insurance adjuster’s job is to save insurance companies money. Insurance adjusters interact with people with similar claims for a living. To them, the results of your settlement come down to business—and anything you say to them may be held against you in court.
- You may not have all of the facts regarding the case. Immediately after a car accident, and in the days and weeks to come, you may recall details from your accident that you hadn’t remembered before. You may also be exposed to new information from the police report and from eye witnesses. At the time that you are asked to provide a statement, you may not yet have access to all of the facts and may unknowingly convey ill-informed judgments or information.
- You may convey conflicting information. Providing a recorded statement could harm your credibility as a witness. For example, stating that the car was on your right in your initial statement and remembering that the vehicle was actually on your left later may be perceived as conflicting information and may harm the integrity of your statement.
While providing a recorded statement serves no benefit to you, anything you say may be held against you in court. An experienced attorney can handle the insurance companies for you, leaving you with the freedom to recover and move on. For more information, contact our law firm today.
What factors will influence the outcome of my car accident case?
In Texas, many factors are taken into consideration when determining where one lies on the spectrum of fault. For instance, while one person may have been speeding at the time of the crash, the other driver may be the most at fault for significantly more dangerous or risky behavior, such as texting while driving, racing, driving with a revoked license, or driving under the influence of alcohol.
Modified Comparative Fault
To account for the possibility of both parties holding varying amounts of fault for a car crash, Texas law recognizes modified comparative fault. This model is used to determine who is liable for which percentage of damages. Those who fall below 50 percent of fault will receive compensation for the percentage of which the other party is at fault. Thus, when one party is found to be 30 percent at fault, the other is responsible for 70 percent of the costs of the accident.
Factors From the Time of the Accident
The events leading up to a vehicle accident will affect the outcome of the case by revealing which driver was using the most negligent behavior prior to—and during—the accident. Disobedience of traffic laws is a significant indicator for liability, as is causing the crash with sudden actions, such as switching lanes too quickly or slamming on your breaks.
Factors of Influence After the Accident
Your actions following a car accident may also impact the outcome of your personal injury case. Factors of influence include:
- When and where you received medical attention: If you didn’t take the proper steps to address your injuries thoroughly after being involved in a car accident, you may lose a percentage, or all, of your compensation for your injuries.
- Admission of fault: If you admit fault to the other driver, the insurance adjuster, witnesses, or first responders, your statement may be used against you in court.
- Evidence: Evidence such as photographs, medical records, and witness statements can be used to determine fault in the case following an accident by providing clues as to the cause of the crash.
Unavoidable Accidents and Sudden Emergencies
In the event that the accident was not caused by the actions of either driver, it may be considered “unavoidable.” Instances of unavoidable accidents include:
- An animal or person suddenly darting into the road
- Unexpectedly icy roads or foggy skies
- Falling debris
Sudden emergencies are similar to unavoidable accidents because they are used to remove fault from both parties. However, in this case, the onset of an emergency—such as a medical emergency that inhibits the driver’s ability to drive—that was not caused by the driver serves as the cause of the accident. An example of a sudden emergency accident includes experiencing a seizure while behind the wheel.
Ways to Protect Your Claim
There are several ways that you can improve the strength of your claim and the amount of money that you can recover. These include:
- Documentation of losses: Document your medical expenses, the extent of your property damage, time off work, and anything else that may factor into the overall cost of the crash. Doing so will help establish the amount your claim is worth and provide proof that these expenses are justified.
- Don’t admit fault: It is important to avoid discussing the specific details of the accident. Seek medical attention and contact an attorney as soon as you can after being involved in a car crash.
- Seek treatment immediately: Don’t let the argument that you weren’t proactive about treating your injuries prevent you from receiving funds for your medical treatment.
Many factors can influence the outcome of a Texas vehicle accident. To protect your claim and receive the compensation you deserve, consider speaking with an experienced attorney to guide you through the litigation process. Check out our website to learn about gathering witnesses to strengthen your claim and, for more information, browse our frequently asked questions.
Can I still recover damages if I was partially at fault for my car accident?
Determination of negligence is an important part of the claims process because it ensures that everyone hurt in a car accident is treated fairly and receives the compensation they deserve. However, figuring out who is at fault can be a complex process. It may be the case that more than one party is found responsible, particularly in multi-vehicle accidents. It’s possible that other parties, such as pedestrians or property owners, share some of the blame, too.
Imagine that you’re driving on a rural road and you don’t stop at an intersection because your views of both the stop sign and cross street are obscured by dense overgrowth from an adjacent property. As you enter the intersection, you’re struck by cross traffic. Is the accident really entirely your fault? What about the property owner, or even the other driver for not stopping in time? Can you even get compensation when multiple parties are found to be negligent? What if you are found partially at fault—does that affect your potential award at all? How fault is assigned can seriously affect the compensation you may be due.
How Compensation Is Adjusted for Fault
There are several methods used to determine appropriate compensation, based on how responsible the court thinks you are versus the other parties involved in the accident. These methods vary by state. The key terms you should be familiar with are:
- Contributory negligence. This type of legal doctrine is only used in a few states. If you are proven to be even partially negligent in the accident, you will receive little to no compensation at all.
- Pure comparative negligence. This doctrine says that your compensation will be reduced based on your contribution to the accident or injury, on a percentage basis. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 but are found to be 25% responsible, you would only receive $7,500.
- Modified comparative negligence. The majority of states follow a form of modified comparative negligence. Just like pure comparative negligence, your award will be reduced based on your contribution to the accident or injury. However, you will receive no compensation if you are found to be 51% or more at fault.
Proportionate Responsibility in Texas
The state of Texas uses the modified comparative negligence method, which is defined in state law as “proportionate responsibility.” There are multiple parties that may be involved in a claim for bodily injury or property damage:
- Claimants. That’s you, or anyone else making a claim for bodily injury or property damage.
- Defendant. This is the person, people, or other entity that you’re seeking compensation from.
- Settling person. This is someone who has already paid (or agreed to pay), in consideration of liability for the accident.
- Responsible third party. This is someone who is “alleged to have caused or contributed to causing in any way the harm for which recovery of damages is sought.”
Each of these parties is assigned a percentage of responsibility for the accident or injury. Any parties found to be greater than 50% negligent are ineligible for compensation, while any other parties who receive an award will have their compensation reduced to match their level of fault.
Think about our example from earlier involving a stop sign and cross traffic hidden by brush. When you’re seeking recovery from this accident, perhaps the property owner is found to be 60% responsible by not safely maintaining their property. Under the Texas doctrine, the property owner then wouldn’t be able to receive any compensation for a claim. However, you and the other driver are then determined to be equally responsible, at 20% each for failing to slow down and check for cross traffic at the intersection. Any compensation award made to either one of you would be reduced by 20% as a result. For example, if the award amount was $10,000, you would then only be eligible to receive $8,000.
Get Help With Your Injury Claim
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how fault determination can affect the amount you receive in a claims award. Even if you’ve never been in an accident, it never hurts to know what you should do if you get injured and it’s not your fault. If you have already been injured in an accident and have questions about the process of making a claim, you can contact an attorney at Wayne Wright LLP to speak with a skilled professional.