Houston Car Accident Lawyer
When you or a loved one suffer injuries in a car accident, there is more to recovery than getting medical attention. There are medical bills, costs for repairing or replacing your vehicle, and questions about if and when you may return to work. This is in addition to dealing with an insurance company attempting settlement before your injuries even have a chance to heal.
At AK Law Firm, our Houston car accident attorneys dedicate themselves to recovering the maximum compensation allowed by law for injured car accident victims. Our law firm is:
- Focused only on personal injury law
- Committed to our clients and their needs
- Aggressive when negotiating on behalf of our clients
- Ready to take your case to trial to secure maximum compensation
- Dedicated to open and honest communication with clients
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We will respond promptly to set up a free initial consultation and begin work on your car accident claim. Our car accident lawyers work on a contingency-fee-basis, meaning we get paid only when we recover compensation for you.
Why Hire a Houston Car Accident Lawyer?
Car accident cases are often complex and require the help of experienced accident attorneys. Insurance companies will offer inadequate settlements to victims who are not aware of the value of their accident claim and attempt to settle quickly, knowing victims need to pay medical bills and other expenses. Car accident attorneys are strong victim’s advocates who stand up and demand fair and just compensation for claims.
The Houston car crash attorneys at AK Law Firm will do the following:
- Investigate your car wreck and identify all liable parties
- Locate all applicable insurance policies, whether held by you or any other responsible parties
- Obtain your medical records for our experts to review and to determine your prognosis for recovery
- Perform an accounting of your past, current, and projected costs and losses due to the accident including future financial and medical care needs
- File accident claims with insurance companies and conducts all necessary settlement negotiations
- File an auto accident lawsuit with the appropriate court
- If needed, present your case in a trial before the court
If you already have a settlement offer from an insurance company, it is prudent to have it reviewed by an attorney at AK Law Firm. Our Houston personal injury attorneys can evaluate your car accident claim and ensure any settlement amount and terms will cover not only your current needs but also any unforeseen future expenses.
Compensation for your Car Accident Claim
Several factors are taken into account when determining the amount of compensation a car accident victim receives. These include all accident-related items with fixed monetary costs, called economic damages. Those items that cannot be valued are known as non-economic damages.
Economic damages are as follows:
- Doctor bills
- Prescription drugs
- Lost wages
- Loss of income
- Property damage and replacement
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional trauma
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death expenses, such as funeral and burial costs
In some cases, punitive damages are also available in Texas. Punitive damages are damages meant to punish bad behavior and discourage it from happening in the future. Punitive damages are rare and only available when ordered by the court; an experienced Houston car accident attorney can further explain them.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
There are many common causes of car accidents. Many, but not all, are the result of distracted driving. Some examples are the following:
- Drunk driving
- Driving in bad weather
- Driving at night
- Aggressive driving
- Vehicle defects like rollovers, tire blowouts, and faulty airbag injuries
- Animal crossings
- T-bone accidents
- Dangerous or poorly maintained roads
- Roadwork site accidents
In cases where the potentially liable party is not a negligent or distracted driver, the responsible party could include:
- Vehicle manufacturers
- Bars and restaurants that over-serve patrons
- Construction companies
- Civil authorities responsible for road safety and maintenance
Types of Car Accidents
Car accidents occur every day in Houston, and studies show most car accidents happen within five miles of home. There are many types of car accidents, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Rear-end collisions. Causes of rear-end collisions are sudden changes in speed and following too closely. Generally, the driver who rear-ends the car ahead of them is at fault for a rear-end collision.
- Side-impact collisions. Side-impact accidents are also known as “T-bone” or “broadside” collisions. They occur when the side of one car impacts another car or a fixed object. Side-impact collisions typically result in severe vehicle damage and far worse injuries than other kinds of car accidents.
- Sideswipe collisions. Sideswipe collisions happen when two parallel cars touch one another. Damages and injuries are usually limited.
- Vehicle rollover accidents. A vehicle rollover accident is when a vehicle flips over onto its side or roof. Cars with a high center of gravity, such as sport-utility vehicles, are more likely to suffer this type of accident. Sharp turns at high-speed cause rollover accidents.
- Head-on collisions. Head-on collisions involve two cars’ front ends impacting one another. These accidents are often fatal.
- Single-car accidents. A single-car accident occurs when one car strikes an object or a person.
- Multiple vehicle collisions. Often called “pile-ups,” multiple vehicle collisions are usually on busy highways and freeways. They can involve multiple vehicles and multiple impacts.
- Hit-and-run accidents. A hit-and-run accident is any accident where the driver immediately flees the scene without identifying him or herself.
Car Accident Injuries
The severity of car accident injuries depends on many factors. Some of these include:
- The use of seat belts
- The area of impact to the car
- The speed of both vehicles;
- The type and size of the vehicles
- Whether the airbags deploy upon impact
Car accident injuries are either impact injuries or penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are the result of blunt impact to the body. Penetrating injuries occur when an object enters the body; often, shattered glass causes penetrating injuries.
Impact injuries and penetrating injuries are capable of rendering a victim physically, mentally, and emotionally impacted for life. The most common impact and penetrating car accident injuries are as follows:
Brain and Head Injuries
These injuries result from a victim’s head hitting the steering wheel or side window. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur when a traumatic event disrupts brain function. Traumatic brain injuries range from mild to severe. Mild traumatic brain injuries include minor concussions. More serious traumatic brain injuries result in long-term and possible permanent cognitive impairment. Car accidents may also lead to skull fractures, broken facial bones, and facial lacerations and bruises, with the potential to cause permanent or long-lasting deformity and damage.
Neck and Back Injuries
Whiplash is a common soft tissue injury suffered by people involved in rear-end collisions. Whiplash causes a sudden jolt of the neck in a back and forth motion. Severe whiplash may result in cervical spine fracture. Mild whiplash disappears in a few days or weeks. Other neck or back injuries due to car accidents are herniated discs and spinal cord injuries.
Chest and Abdominal Injuries
Contusions or bruises usually mark chest and abdominal injuries in milder accident cases. In more severe cases, the force of a car crash results in broken ribs or internal organ damage. Seatbelt impact or steering wheel impact is the most common cause of chest contusions in a car accident.
Leg and Knee Injuries
Hitting the dashboard upon impact injures legs and knees in a car accident. Leg and knee injuries include bruises, scrapes, sprains, and broken bones.
Psychological Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
It is possible to incur psychological injury or PTSD after a severe car accident. Physical limitations and disabilities resulting from a car accident may lead to depression and anxiety that require short or long-term treatment.
Not all car accident injuries are readily apparent. This is especially true of brain and head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. Therefore, it is essential to receive a medical examination after a car crash and follow any aftercare instructions of your medical provider.
Steps to Take After a Houston Car Accident
There are steps a victim can take after a car accident to improve their chances of physical and financial recovery. They are as follows:
- Stay at the scene.
- Call for medical assistance.
- Call the police, and report the accident.
- Exchange insurance information with all involved parties.
- Take detailed photos of all damage and injuries.
- Get the contact information of all witnesses.
- Do not admit fault.
- Get a medical exam.
- Report the crash to one’s own insurance company.
- Get a copy of the police report.
- Speak to a Houston auto accident attorney before signing anything or speaking with anyone.
Always attend any follow-up medical appointments recommended by medical providers. Keep all accident-related documentation and receipts together. Never provide a recorded or written statement to anyone, especially an insurance company, before speaking with an accident attorney.
Texas Insurance Laws
Texas requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability auto insurance. People who drive without auto insurance face fines up to $1,000 and suspension of their license for up to two years. Texas auto liability insurance minimums are the following:
- $30,000 for each injured victim
- $60,000 per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
Texas may add additional administrative fees to driver’s license renewal to people who drive without insurance. There is a maximum surcharge of $250 per year to the fees you pay for your driver’s license renewal for the three years following a ticket for driving without insurance.
Insurance rates are higher for those purchasing plans after driving without auto insurance. Therefore, it is always good to carry at least the state minimum in auto liability insurance coverage.
Texas auto insurance is fault-based. This allows the victim of a car accident to hold the liable party responsible for any injuries, property damage, or losses. The victim of a car accident files a claim against and recovers damages from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy.
When there is not enough insurance to cover a victim’s losses or the at-fault driver does not have insurance, a victim may seek additional compensation in court. The court can order payment from the at-fault driver’s accounts or require them to liquidate their assets.
Modified Comparative Fault in Texas
When a victim is partially at-fault for the car accident that caused their injuries, Texas follows a “modified comparative fault” rule. In-car accidents where more than one party is to blame, a jury calculates the total dollar amount of the victim’s damages and the percentage of fault that belongs to each party. The victim’s damages award reduces by a percentage equal to his or her share of fault.
Therefore, if a victim’s total damages are $100,000, and they are 30 percent responsible for the accident, they will receive $70,000. However, if a victim is more than 50 percent responsible for the car accident, they do not receive any damages at all.
Insurance companies use modified comparative fault when making settlement determinations, and the insurance claims process for a car accident in Texas is not always easy or fair. Even if you are not the at-fault driver, the other driver’s insurance company will try to settle quickly and compensate you as little as possible for your claim.
Speak with a Car Accident Attorney in Houston
Insurance adjusters are good at processing and closing claims. That is why it pays to have an experienced Houston car accident lawyer like those at AK Law Firm by your side. To learn more about the legal rights surrounding your car accident, call our office today.