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Car Accidents Laws

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Insurance Claim?

Even if you drive carefully, accidents can happen. If you’re in a vehicle accident, your first priority should be getting the medical attention you deserve. But once you’ve left the scene, you need to think about filing your insurance claim. This questions come to mind: should I try to manage my own case, or do I need a lawyer for an Insurance Claim

Given how complex insurance claims can be, it’s often best to hire an attorney – let’s break down how auto insurance works and why you should hire a lawyer for insurance claims.

Do I Need Vehicle Insurance in Texas?

Yes. Texas is what’s known as an “at-fault state”, which means that whoever causes an auto accident should pay for any damage caused. To ensure you can cover the costs of any accidents you might cause, section 601.053 of the Texas Transportation Code requires you to have insurance in place before you drive. 

If you don’t have insurance, you could face steep fines and higher premiums in the future. You might also be expected to cover the other driver’s repair costs and medical bills out of your own pocket.   

How Do Auto Insurance Claims Work?

If you’ve never made a claim before, the process can seem confusing. Let’s break it down. 

  • First, report the accident to your own insurance provider – even if it wasn’t your fault. Otherwise, you risk invalidating your insurance policy. 
  • Next, file an insurance claim. This could be with your own insurer or the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you weren’t at fault, you can file with the other party’s insurer since it’s them who pay the costs.  
  • Once you file the claim, a loss adjuster considers your case. The adjuster looks at the evidence to determine who is at fault and how much the claim is worth. They’ll also determine how much of the claim they’re prepared to cover.  

If you’re happy with the insurer’s offer, you can settle the claim. However, we suggest contacting an attorney to determine if it’s a fair offer before settling.
Personal injury lawyer sitting at desk with hands clasped over paperwork with a gavel to his right and a set of justice scales on left

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Insurance Claim?? Am I Legally Required to

There’s no legal requirement to hire a lawyer for insurance claims in Texas. However, when you take out auto insurance, you’re entering a legal contract. For this reason, you might consider seeking legal advice if you need to make a claim and you’re unsure how to proceed or how much your claim is worth. 

There are other reasons why you might want to hire a lawyer for auto insurance claims, but we’ll cover them in more detail below.

Should I Get a Lawyer for My Insurance Claim?

In most cases, it’s best to at least consider hiring a lawyer for auto insurance claims. Although you can negotiate your own claim, here are a few specific times when you might prefer to leave the negotiations to an attorney. 

You Were Not at Fault

Sometimes, it’s obvious who caused an accident. If you know you are not responsible for the collision, you should contact an accident attorney. An experienced lawyer will handle the insurance claim for you and determine what might be a fair settlement in your circumstances.

If you do decide to call your insurer before contacting your insurer, stick to the facts. Insurers may use various tactics to avoid paying out insurance claims – don’t let them pressure you into saying you could be at fault.  

The Insurance Company Is Blaming You

Texas has what’s known as the “modified comparative fault” rule. Under this rule, you can claim damages for an auto accident if you’re less than 50% or less responsible for the collision. 

  • If the accident is more the other driver’s fault than yours, you can claim damages. 
  • Your damages will be apportioned based on your degree of responsibility. For example, if you’re deemed 30% responsible for the accident, your damages will be reduced by 30%.   

If the insurer blames you for the accident, it could affect how much compensation you can claim – or whether you can claim any at all. In this case, you need an attorney who can evaluate the evidence on your behalf and fight for the fairest outcome.

You’re Unsure Who Is Responsible

If there are three or more vehicles involved, it can be especially tricky to determine who caused the accident. And in some cases, you might be able to hold other parties responsible such as:

  • employers 
  • manufacturers 
  • mechanics 
  • repair shops  

It’s not always easy to identify every party involved – especially if, for example, a vehicle defect could be to blame. Accident lawyers know how to evaluate the evidence and they’ll ensure you file a claim against every party involved in the crash.
Do I need a lawyer for an insurance claim

The Insurance Company Is Treating You Unfairly

By law, insurers must treat policyholders fairly. In other words, they must act in “good faith” rather than “bad faith”. Examples of bad faith tactics include:

  • denying your claim without providing a clear reason
  • discouraging you from seeking legal help
  • failing to properly investigate your claim
  • ignoring your calls and emails 

So if, for example, your insurer fails to answer your correspondence, or they deny your claim entirely without good reason, you need a lawyer’s help. The team at AK Law Firm will handle all correspondence with your insurer, and we’ll ensure that they honor your policy’s terms in full.

You Are Injured

If you’re hurt due to another party’s negligent or reckless driving, you may have a personal injury claim. In this case, it’s extremely important to call an attorney. An accident lawyer will:

For most people, it’s hard to know how much your claim is worth or what you can claim. For example, you can often claim for:

  • loss of earning potential 
  • medical bills
  • ongoing medical care
  • out-of-pocket expenses
  • wage loss
  • pain and suffering

An experienced lawyer will ensure you claim for everything you’re entitled to. Without legal guidance, there’s a risk you’ll undervalue your claim. 

You’re Unsure How Significant Your Injuries Are

Without talking to an expert, it’s hard for you to determine how “significant” your injuries are and what they might be worth if you make a personal injury claim. For example, maybe your neck feels a little stiff and sore, but you actually have whiplash which could be worth more. That’s why, if you have any doubts at all, consult a lawyer. 

Here’s another thing to bear in mind. It’s not uncommon to feel okay after an accident but then feel progressively worse as the days and weeks go by. Always seek medical help if you’re injured after an accident, and follow your doctor’s advice. Update your attorney as soon as possible if the scope of your injuries changes.

You Don’t Know if You Should Accept the Insurance Company’s Offer

An insurance company’s offer might sound good, but how do you know if it’s really a fair settlement? Unless you have experience valuing insurance and personal injury claims, you might be unsure whether it’s worth negotiating for a higher amount. An experienced lawyer can determine if it’s a fair offer and they’ll help you seek more compensation if this is in your best interests.

You’re Close to the Claims Deadline

In Texas, you only have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit for personal injuries. If you are within six months of this deadline, and your claim hasn’t settled yet, call a lawyer for advice. They will ensure you file a lawsuit in advance of the deadline if required.

How Can an Auto Accident Attorney Help?

Still unsure if you need a lawyer? This is understandable, especially if you’ve never made a claim before. So, here’s how the auto accident attorneys at AK Law Firm can help with your claim. 

  • At AK Law Firm, we don’t leave any stone unturned. We will evaluate every piece of evidence to determine whether you have a claim and who should be held responsible.
  • We will not let an insurance company overwhelm or intimidate you into accepting a lowball offer. Our attorneys will handle the negotiations and advise on what’s a fair settlement. 
  • Our lawyers are experienced in identifying at-fault parties. We will confirm who is to blame and ensure every at-fault party is held responsible. 
  • We will do everything possible to resolve your case as quickly as possible so you can move on with your life.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

How Can I Get More Money for an Insurance Claim?

There’s no right answer to this question, unfortunately – it depends on your specific case. However, here are some general tips to help you get the most from your claim.

  • Gather as much evidence from the accident scene as you can. Take pictures of any damage and identify any witnesses who can give a statement on your behalf. 
  • Seek medical attention. Medical records (and pictures of your injuries) can be used to support the value of your claim. 
  • Get an accident report from the police. A police report can help by determining who was at fault for the accident. At the very least, the report can help clarify some facts e.g. the time of day, weather conditions, and what damage occurred.  
  • Hire a lawyer for your insurance claim. AK Law Firm will ensure that you are properly compensated for any injuries or harm sustained. 

Do I Always Need a Lawyer After an Auto Accident in Texas?

An auto accident lawyer can help you through the insurance claims process. However, you don’t always need an attorney after an accident. It all depends on the facts of your case. Here are three instances when you might not need an attorney for your insurance claim.

No Injuries

You might not need a lawyer if:

  • you’re not injured 
  • the injuries are extremely minor e.g. light bruising

If there are no notable injuries, and you’re happy to deal with the insurance company alone, you can do so. Just remember to always get a doctor’s opinion and call a lawyer if you’re in doubt.

No Significant Property Damage

Damages compensate you for losses sustained during an accident. If there’s very little property damage (e.g. a few scratches on the bumper from a fender-bender) you might not feel like it’s worth filing a claim or hiring an attorney. 

Unsure what’s “significant” enough? Call a lawyer to be sure. 

You Caused the Accident

Remember, Texas has the modified comparative fault rule. If you’re more at fault for the accident than the other parties, you can’t claim compensation for injuries or damage. In these cases, you’re best letting your insurance company – and their lawyers – handle the claim for you.  

That said, you can still claim compensation if you’re partially to blame (so long as you’re not more than 50% responsible). Call AK Law Firm if you think you share some of the blame; we can advise whether you have a claim.

When in doubt, stay on the safe side. Call our law firm. Our experienced lawyers will determine if you have a claim and they’ll explain how we can help.

Contact Our Lawyers for Auto Insurance Claims

Auto insurance claims can be complicated. The good news? There’s no need to deal with them alone. In many cases, it’s best to hire a lawyer for your insurance claim and let them handle the negotiations for you.

An experienced attorney will help you get a fair amount of damages and they won’t let the insurers overwhelm you.

The Houston auto accident attorneys at AK Law Firm want to help with your insurance claim. We always put our clients first and we will keep you advised every step of the way. Call our law firm today to get the compensation you deserve.

Categories
Car Accidents

What to Do After My Accident – A Car Accident Legal Process Guide

Car accidents can be overwhelming, leaving one unsure of the next steps. Whether you’re dealing with property damage, physical injury, or the daunting prospect of a car accident lawsuit, having a roadmap is crucial. This Car Accident Legal Process Guide, aims to demystify the post-accident journey, from immediate action to navigating the insurance claim process for car accidents. We’ll also delve into the intricacies of settlements in Texas, ensuring you’re well-prepared for any eventuality.

Immediate Steps After: A Car Accident Legal Process Guide

Car accidents, a harrowing experience for anyone involved, demand quick thinking and decisive action. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you’re protected legally, financially, and health-wise.

1. Safety First

Your immediate concern after any accident should be the well-being of all parties involved. Before assessing property damage or determining fault, ensure that everyone is safe. If the cars are causing a traffic hazard, and it’s possible, move them to a safe location away from the flow of traffic. However, if the vehicles are not operational, or moving them might exacerbate injuries, it’s best to wait for professional assistance.

2. Contact Authorities

Regardless of the severity of the accident, always call 911. A formal police report is invaluable when dealing with auto insurance companies and potential car accident lawsuits. When the police arrive, provide an honest account of the events, but avoid admitting fault or placing blame. Let the officials assess the scene and draw their conclusions.

3. Gather Information

In the digital age, a smartphone is your best friend post-accident. Document the accident scene comprehensively. Capture photos of:

  • Vehicle damages
  • The accident’s location, including traffic signs, lights, or any obstructions.
  • Any visible injuries
  • License plates of all vehicles involved

Additionally, exchange details with all parties involved. Essential information includes:

  • Names and contact details
  • Insurance company and policy number
  • Driver’s license and license plate number
  • Type, color, and model of the vehicles involved
  • Location of the accident

Eyewitness accounts can be pivotal in car accident lawsuits. If there are any witnesses, politely ask for their contact information. Their unbiased perspective might prove essential in corroborating your version of events.

4. Seek Medical Attention

Often, the adrenaline rush post-accident can mask injuries. Even if you feel fine, it’s wise to seek medical attention promptly. Not only is this crucial for your health, but it also provides a medical record. This can be invaluable when pursuing a personal injury case or when discussing injury settlements with insurance companies. Delaying a medical check-up might give insurance companies a reason to undermine the severity of your injuries.

5. Notify your Auto Insurance

Begin the car accident insurance claim process as soon as you can. Most insurance companies have specific timelines for reporting accidents, and delays can complicate your claim. Call your insurer, provide them with a clear account of the incident, and submit any evidence you’ve gathered. It’s also a good time to understand your coverage, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the nuances of your policy.

The aftermath of car accidents can be chaotic. However, by following these steps, you can ensure that you’ve done everything in your power to protect yourself. Remember, every action you take immediately post-accident can significantly influence any subsequent car accident lawsuit or insurance claim.

The Car Accident Lawsuit Process

Car accidents, while distressing, can lead to legal avenues that safeguard your rights and interests. Understanding the car accident lawsuit process can empower you to make informed decisions.

1. When to Consider a Lawsuit:

Not all car accidents necessitate a lawsuit. However, when insurance companies are uncooperative or when injuries and damages are significant, filing a lawsuit may be your best recourse. Particularly in cases where you face long-term medical treatments, loss of income, or significant pain and suffering, a car accident lawsuit can provide the needed compensation.

2. Free Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer:

Before diving into the lawsuit process, seek a free consultation with a car accident lawyer. They can offer a preliminary assessment of your case, helping you gauge its strength. This step is pivotal in understanding how to win a car accident lawsuit. A seasoned lawyer can offer insights into the car accident lawsuit settlement average, and potential timelines.

3. Filing the Lawsuit:

Once you decide to proceed, your lawyer will file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This is not a quick process. Many wonder, “How long does a car accident lawsuit take?” The answer varies based on the case’s complexity, but it can range from a few months to several years. Throughout this phase, evidence collection, witness interviews, and expert consultations play a vital role.

4. Understanding the Insurance Claim Process for Car Accidents:

Parallel to the lawsuit, the insurance claim process for car accidents will be underway. This involves negotiations with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement. It’s crucial to remember that insurance companies, focused on their bottom line, may try to minimize payouts. Having a robust legal representation ensures you don’t settle for less than you deserve.

5. How to Win a Car Accident Lawsuit:

Success hinges on evidence, from medical records to eyewitness testimonies and accident scene documentation. Furthermore, understanding the nuances of Texas law, from statutes of limitation to liability rules, is crucial.

A woman holding her neck after a car accident

Navigating Settlements and Compensation

Understanding what compensation you’re entitled to is key when navigating the aftermath of a car accident. Here’s what you need to know about settlements in Texas.

1. What Can You Sue For After a Car Accident in Texas?

  • Property Damage: Reimbursement for the cost of repairs to your vehicle and compensation for any other damaged belongings.
  • Physical Injury: Covers the medical expenses for treatments, rehabilitation, and any required surgeries. Compensation can also include payment for pain and suffering, as well as lost wages if you’re unable to work due to injuries.
  • Punitive Damages: In cases where the at-fault party’s behavior was particularly negligent or malicious, courts may award punitive damages. These are meant to punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent for such behavior.

2. Increasing the Settlement Value

To maximize your settlement, follow these steps:

  • Document Everything: Comprehensive documentation of the accident scene, medical treatments, and any other relevant evidence can significantly increase your settlement value.
  • Understand the Insurance Company’s Role: Be cautious. Insurance companies aim to protect their interests and may offer a lower settlement than you deserve.
  • Engage a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer: Their expertise and experience can dramatically impact your settlement, ensuring you get a fair deal.

3. Understanding the Fees

When pondering, “How much do lawyers take from car accident settlements in Texas?”, know that most operate on a contingency fee basis. This means they get paid a percentage of your settlement, ensuring they’re motivated to get you the highest possible compensation.

What Happens if You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?

If you lose a car accident lawsuit, several consequences follow. Firstly, you won’t receive compensation for your claimed damages or injuries. Secondly, you might be responsible for court costs and, in some cases, the defendant’s legal fees, depending on state laws and the terms of the lawsuit. Additionally, losing the lawsuit doesn’t affect the at-fault determination by insurance companies, meaning your premiums could still increase. Lastly, a loss might prevent you from refiling the case on the same grounds.

Tax Implications for Settlements

While car accident settlements provide relief and compensation for your sufferings and losses, it’s crucial to understand their tax implications in Texas.

1. Are Car Accident Lawsuit Settlements Taxable?

  • Medical Expenses and Physical Injury: Typically, the portion of your settlement meant to compensate for medical expenses and physical injuries is not taxable. This means any amount you receive for treatments, surgeries, or general pain and suffering stemming from the accident is generally tax-free.
  • Punitive Damages and Interest: If you’re awarded punitive damages, these are taxable. Additionally, if your settlement includes interest for the time the case was pending, that interest is taxable.
  • Lost Wages: Lost wages compensation replaces what you would have earned had you not been injured. This is subject to income taxes, just as your regular income would be.

2. Navigating Tax Laws

Tax laws can be intricate, especially when intertwined with accident settlements. Always consult with a tax professional or your car accident lawyer to ensure you’re compliant and aware of potential tax liabilities.

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