News & opinion How Do Houston Car Accident Settlements Work?

How Do Houston Car Accident Settlements Work?

How Do Car Accident Settlements Work

And How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Maximize Your Car Accident Settlement?

Stewart J. Guss
Car Accident Lawyer, Stewart J. Guss

Car accidents injure thousands of people across the country every year, leaving them with mountains of medical bills that never seem to end. Someone has to pay, and it shouldn’t be the injured victim –   it should be the person who caused the accident.

When you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, your top priority should be your physical and emotional recovery. You don’t need more to worry about. Filing a personal injury claim for your car accident should be left up to your car accident lawyer, a trusted ally who can help you maximize your financial recovery while you focus your precious time, effort, and energy on recovering.

Causes of Car Accidents

There are many different causes for car accidents, and they happen at an alarming rate. In fact, a person is injured in a car accident every two minutes. At that frequency, the next victim could be you or someone you love. Be aware.

Car accidents are caused by:

No matter what caused your car accident, you deserve to make a complete recovery – physically, emotionally, and financially. Depending on the type of accident you were involved in and your resulting injuries, that might prove challenging.

Common Injuries

In the United States, more than 3,000 people die each day from car accidents. Not every car accident will result in a death, but every car accident where someone is injured is tragic.

Common injuries include:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Contusions
  • Burns
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Amputation
  • Neck injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries

In the immediate aftermath of your accident, some of these injuries are more obvious than others. Some can go undetected for weeks, or the pain can be dulled by rushes of adrenaline. If not treated correctly and quickly, these underlying  injuries might cause additional and permanent damage. This is why you should be examined by a doctor as soon as possible after your accident, whether you think you need to be or not.

Initial Settlement Offers

Soon after your car accident, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will often contact you and offer you a quick settlement.But don’t jump for joy just yet.

The settlement the insurance company offers you will be low. In fact, it probably won’t even cover all of those medical bills you have sitting on your kitchen table. Insurance companies take advantage of unrepresented individuals. Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes.

After your car accident, you might be out of work temporarily or permanently. The insurance company knows this, and it knows you may be desperate for fast cash, so it strategically offers you a low ball settlement. Never accept this settlement without a trusted car accident lawyer by your side, making sure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you.

To obtain proper compensation, first you need to estimate how much your medical bills will be – including the ones you haven’t received yet. Depending on the type of injuries you’ve suffered, you’ll need to budget for:

  • Hospital stays
  • Surgeries
  • Rehabilitation and physical therapy
  • Prescriptions
  • Additional doctor visits
  • Tests, X-rays, MRIs, and other scans
  • Transportation

By accounting for all of your future medical expenses, you get a better idea of how much money you’ll need to fully recover. If you accept the initial low ball settlement from the insurance company, you could miss out on all the extra money you need and deserve. When you sign a settlement, you waive your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for this accident. It’s tragic, and we’ve seen it happen to people who didn’t want to hire an attorney to help them. They wish they did!

How Long Until I Receive the Money

The amount of time it takes to get your settlement money varies greatly. In general, you’re looking to recover compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Negotiating these terms can take time, but working with a law firm that has the resources to battle a big insurance company is important. We know you need the money, but we won’t settle unless it’s right for you. Once a settlement is agreed to, however, you should receive your money within a few weeks.

What Does the Settlement Process Involve?

As with most legal processes, settling out of court can be a good option – under the right circumstances. If you and your car accident attorney determine that’s the best course of action for your claim, here’s how it would go:

  1. File a formal claim. After your car accident, you must file a formal claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. You should file as quickly as possible after your car accident.
  2. Insurer’s investigation. After you file your claim, the insurance company will conduct its own investigation. This includes taking statements from all drivers and witnesses, including you. Insurance companies are tricky and sometimes downright manipulative – you need an attorney counseling and representing you to make sure you avoid saying anything that might get you into trouble.
  3. Your investigation. When you work with a skilled and seasoned car accident injury lawyer, they will conduct a separate investigation. Why? Because the insurance company’s investigation is done with a focus on finding you at fault.
  4. Approval or denial. When the negligent driver’s insurance company approves your claim, that means it is accepting that its insured driver was at fault. This small victory does not necessarily mean that you’ll be compensated fully for your injuries – there’s more work to be done. And if the insurance company denies the claim, it must provide you with a valid written reason why.
  5. Settlement offers. You are never required to accept a settlement offer. You owe it to yourself to have a trusted car accident settlement lawyer by your side making sure that any settlement offer you receive is fair.
  6. Lawsuit.Worst case scenario, if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement amount, you may have to take your case to court to ensure adequate compensation.

What to Do After a Car Accident

The steps you take immediately after your car accident can impact your ability to recover damages from the at-fault driver. Follow these guidelines to help maximize your recovery:

  1. Call 911: Immediately after your car accident, you need to call 911. (Yes, even for seemingly minor accidents where you don’t have any obvious injuries.) When the police arrive, they will create an accident report. They most likely will not assign fault in this report; that’s for the insurance companies to bicker over. However, the police report will provide a diagram of the accident, which is important to yourclaim.
  2. Seek medical assistance: Calling 911 also has the benefit of providing emergency medical services. Do not refuse these services. Your adrenaline is running high, and you may not even realize that you are injured. Some injuries may be internal and difficult to detect. You are putting your own life at risk if you refuse to be seen by a medical professional.
  3. Take pictures: Take close-ups and wide shots of the accident scene, and any damage to your vehicle, other vehicles, or your surroundings. Additionally, take photos of your injuries. (If there are bruises or swelling, they may not appear right away and you should take photos of the developments at home over the next few days.) All of this is vital evidence to ensure the most successful outcome for your case. Depending on the severity of the accident in which you were involved, you may not be in a condition to take pictures. If this is the case, have a trusted family member, loved one, or witness take the pictures for you. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words!
  4. Do not admit fault: When the police are filling out their report, they will speak with witnesses, as well as with all of the drivers involved in the accident, which includes you. Seemingly innocent statements like, “I looked down for a second” or “maybe I was going too fast” have the potential to negatively impact your case or pin blame on you. The insurance company can use these statements as admissions of guilt, and the insurance company can use them to deny your claim or to reduce the amount it owes you. Remember: anything you say can and will be used against you!
  5. Keep a personal injury journal: Over time, your condition will hopefully improve, and you won’t remember the daily struggles you faced to get there. Keeping a personal injury journal where you write each day how you’re feeling, what progress or setbacks you’re making, and your level of pain, will help to keep your pain and suffering fresh in your mind if you need to recount it for your case. This will also help your car accident lawyer maximize your settlement.
  6. Call a car accident lawyer: You deserve an experienced, dedicated car accident lawyer to steer you through this difficult process. You need an advocate and an ally. . Make sure to ask if a lawyer offers free consultations immediately when you call.

Why Retain a Lawyer?

There’s a common misconception that you don’t need a lawyer to handle your legal issues, or that if you do use one, it’ll be incredibly expensive. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

We’ve seen too many lost, scared, confused individuals try to handle their own cases in an attempt at saving money, only to get taken advantage of by insurance companies and stay struggling. Don’t let it happen to you. Don’t walk away from this unfortunate situation with more regrets than you started with. Receive the legal counsel and professional expertise that you deserve, and come out on top.

Finding the right attorney for your case can be a challenge. You probably don’t spend much time down at  the courthouse, and those TV and radio ads for injury lawyers can seem so sensational and impersonal. . So you end up online, on this very page! Online research is the best way to find the right attorney for your case. When you finally call their number,you want to ask certain questions about their experience, uch as:

  • How many cases like mine have you handled?
  • How many cases have you settled?
  • Will you be my attorney, or will someone else handle my case?

Working with a law firm means you will deal with more than one person, but you need to feel comfortable placing your trust in the  lead attorney on your case. After all, your future is in their hands. You also want to make sure that they’ve handled cases like yours before. The more complex your accident and injuries, the more complex the legal process will be. Experience counts. No matter how good their intentions are, you don’t want someone fresh out of law school handling your case.

Speak With a Car Accident Lawyer Today

You want a strong team of lawyers and legal professionals who can fight for every penny you deserve and do whatever it takes to maximize your recovery.  You deserve to rest assured that someone will competently investigate your accident, review all medical and police records, speak with witnesses, negotiate with insurance companies, and take your case all the way to trial if necessary.

If you still have questions about a car accident settlement or your own specific situation, Contact a car accident lawyer can provide answers and help plan your next steps, toward the compensation you deserve!

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