How an Austin Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You With Your Injury Claim
Car accidents are often caused by the negligence of other drivers, and because your recovery likely hinges on your ability to obtain just compensation, you need an experienced auto accident lawyer in your corner.
Car accidents are as common as they are dangerous. The fact is that there are a lot of dangerously negligent drivers out there, and they put us all at increased risk. If a motorist’s negligence causes you to be injured in a car accident, turn to an experienced Austin car accident lawyer for the professional legal guidance that you need.
Table of Contents
- The Elements of a Car Accident Claim
- The Damages You’ve Suffered
- Your Car Accident Claim
- Protecting Your Claim
- Common Injuries
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Don’t Wait to Consult with an Experienced Austin Car Accident Lawyer
The four elements that must be present in order to bring a successful car accident claim include:
- Duty of Care – The element of duty of care is generally not difficult to establish because every motorist on the road accepts a significant responsibility for the safety of everyone else on the road when he or she gets behind the wheel.
- Breach of Duty of Care – You must be able to demonstrate that the other driver breached the duty of care that he or she owed you. Generally, this means that he or she engaged in some kind of negligent driving practice.
- Cause of Your Injuries – The fact of the other driver’s negligence isn’t enough to bring a car accident claim. You must be able to demonstrate that the other driver’s negligence directly caused you to be injured.
- Damages – Finally, the injuries you suffered as a result of the other driver’s negligence must amount to legal damages (or losses).
If these four elements are present in your car accident claim, you can move forward in your efforts to obtain just compensation.
An important component of your car accident claim is accurately representing your damages in their entirety. In addition to property damage to your vehicle, these damages generally fall into several categories.
The Cost of Your Medical Care
One of the primary financial losses you face likely relates to the medical care you need. A serious accident can lead to extensive medical costs, but even a relatively mild accident can leave you facing considerable medical expenses. An important point to make about your medical costs is that serious injuries can evolve into serious secondary medical concerns and ongoing medical costs. Establishing the probable overall cost of your healthcare journey is critical to your recovery and is a job that’s best handled by an experienced car accident lawyer. Common medical expenses associated with serious car accidents include:
- Emergency treatment and transportation
- Surgical care and aftercare
- Medical tests, procedures, and treatments from doctors, specialists, and other medical professionals
- Pain management
- Physical and/or occupational therapy
- Adaptive physical devices
- Adaptations to home, office, and/or vehicle
- Assistance with the activities of daily living
- Home health care
Your Lost Earnings
Another financial loss that is commonly associated with car accidents is lost earnings due to time lost on the job. While you recover from your physical injuries, it’s very likely that it will translate to lost earnings, and if your ability to do your job is affected, it can lead to even more serious financial setbacks that can include an emotional component. Many of us infuse our careers with considerable meaning, and losses of this nature can be especially difficult to overcome.
Your Pain and Suffering
Car accidents tend to be violent, terrifying events, and if you’ve been injured in one that was caused by another driver’s negligence, it can lead to debilitating pain and suffering. The psychological effects of the pain and suffering you endure can include all the following:
- Terrifying accident flashbacks
- Fear of getting back behind the wheel
- Emotional lability
- Severe mood swings
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty focusing and/or concentrating
- Increased anxiety and panic attacks
- Bouts of depression
- A tendency to self-isolate and/or to push others away
- Sleep disturbances, such as nightmares
- Nerve damage
- Feelings of hopelessness
While it can be difficult to accurately assess the damages you’ve suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence, doing so is critical to your ability to fully recover, and it is a job that is best left in the capable hands of a skilled car accident lawyer.
You have been injured by another driver’s negligence, and this means that you will file your car accident claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance provider. While the insurance company is responsible for covering your damages fairly, this responsibility is often offset by the company’s focus on profitability. As such, you’ll need to bring your strongest claim and negotiate skillfully (both jobs that your dedicated car accident lawyer is best suited to) in order to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled and that you need to regain your health and well-being.
You can count on the insurance company to be good at what it does, which is keeping settlements like yours as low as possible, and toward this end, it has many tools at its disposal.
One bold move some insurance companies try is simply denying valid car accident claims out of hand. The hope here is that you are simply too overwhelmed and vulnerable to fight back.
Early Settlement Offer
You are injured, facing immense medical expenses in the face of lost income, and are – in essence – about as vulnerable as you can be. The insurance company is well aware of your predicament and may swoop in with an early settlement offer that is woefully low but that you may be desperate enough to accept. Once you sign off on a settlement, your legal options disappear, and you are locked into that negotiation – regardless of any financial deficit that may be involved. It is a good rule of thumb not to accept a car accident settlement offer before reviewing it with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer who is well acquainted with your claim.
The insurance company may attempt to shift the fault shouldered by its policyholder toward you. In their vulnerability, many accident victims are quick to accept the insurance company’s authority and simply give up. The truth of the matter is that the insurance company is not the final authority on the matter, and your car accident lawyer will weigh all the evidence and will ensure that it succinctly establishes the other motorist’s negligence in the matter. Further – in the State of Texas – you are not barred from seeking compensation after an accident in which you share fault. As long as you aren’t more than 50 percent responsible, you can go after the percentage of your damages that the other driver is responsible for.
Artificially Complicated Claims Process
Another one of the insurance company’s greatest hits is artificially prolonging and/or complicating the accident process. There are actually laws in place to help bar this practice, but by the time you fight back, it can leave you in an even more difficult position. The insurance company is banking on you succumbing to the pressure and either simply giving up or settling for far less than the amount to which you are entitled.
It is not unusual for insurance companies to call the severity of claimants’ damages into question. Your focused personal injury lawyer will skillfully compile evidence in support of the damages outlined in your claim to help derail the insurance company’s efforts. There are also, however, steps you can take from the outset to help protect your claim from such attempts.
The fact is that once you file an accident claim with the insurance company, it is going to do what it can to mitigate the financial implications involved. This means the insurance company is going to do some digging – in search of anything that may help bolster its position that your damages are less extensive than you are claiming that they are. The kind of evidence the insurance company is on the hunt for may not seem like much to you, but once they put their unique spin on it, it could prove damaging to your claim. As such, there are several practices that you should keep in mind as you move forward with the claims process.
Don’t Comment at the Scene of the Accident
It is human nature to say you’re sorry after being involved in an accident – not because you believe you are at fault but because you are obviously sorry that the accident happened. The insurance company can take such a comment and turn it into a full-on admission of guilt. You’re far better off suppressing your urge to apologize. Additionally, you may feel compelled to discuss the accident at the scene – after all, it was a remarkably frightening and dangerous experience that may have left you in a state of shock. It is a good policy, however, to keep your comments to yourself after a car accident (to the extent you are able to do so). The less raw material you provide the insurance company with, the better (and you can count on the insurance company digging up whatever statements of yours it can find). If an attending officer asks you questions at the scene, you should respond as truthfully and succinctly as possible.
Give Social Media A Pass
Social media is a great way to share information about big events in your life, and while a car accident is just such an event, posting about it is not likely to do your car accident claim any favors. When you post a comment, you put your thoughts down in black and white, and while the meaning behind them may be clear to you, you can count on the insurance company taking a different, more creative view that shines a less-than-flattering light on your claim. This is simply what insurance companies do.
Refrain from Making a Statement
After being injured by another driver’s negligence, you’re going to be hearing from someone who represents the other driver’s insurance company, and he or she is going to want you to make a formal statement about the accident. To complicate the matter further, you can expect the representative to be very skilled at eliciting statements that end up chipping away at your claim (through absolutely no fault of your own). The best practice is to bypass this situation altogether. The fact is that you are not required to make a formal statement, and you can deny the insurance company’s request (which is in your best interest). Your experienced car accident lawyer is far better equipped to handle the insurance company. For this reason, it’s highly advisable to retain a lawyer prior to even starting the claims process.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions Carefully
You’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence, and the primary task you are charged with is recovering your health and well-being, which is likely to be a difficult journey. Carefully following your medical team’s instructions and advice is one of the most important things you can do to aid you on the path toward recovery, but it is also one of the most important things you can do to help protect your car accident claim. The car insurance company is looking for a reason to cast doubt on the severity of your damages, but your commitment to following your doctors’ instructions can go a long way toward bolstering your account of the damages you’ve suffered.
Some of the serious injuries that are most common to car accidents include:
- Severe cuts and burns that are prone to serious infection and that can be permanently disfiguring
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) that, because they affect the brain, are both extremely dangerous and extremely unpredictable
- Spinal cord injuries that, even when relatively mild, can lead to chronic pain and a serious decrease in range of motion
- Broken bones that are as painful as they are slow to heal (in addition to being highly susceptible to secondary health complications)
If you have a car accident claim, you have questions, and the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions may help you address your own concerns.
What are the most common forms of driver negligence?
Car accidents are often caused by one form of driver negligence or another, and the most common varieties include:
- Distraction – A motorist who is not focused on driving safely is a dangerous motorist who shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
- Impairment – Drunk drivers are just as dangerous as you imagine they are. In fact, drunk drivers often play a starring role in fatal car accident statistics.
- Excess Speed – Excess speed works something like an accelerant in a fire (by increasing the risk that an accident will happen and by increasing the odds that the accident will be deadly).
- Exhaustion – When you’re tired, it makes getting the job done more difficult. When the job involved is driving safely, exhaustion can significantly increase the risk that accidents will happen.
Can I afford an experienced car accident lawyer?
While your situation will be utterly unique to the circumstances involved, the fact is that you can afford the professional legal guidance of a car accident lawyer – and you are well-advised to seek it. Most reputable car accident lawyers are paid on contingency, which means that their payment is contingent upon their client’s compensation. In other words, if your claim settles or receives a court award, your car accident lawyer will receive a prearranged percentage, and if it doesn’t, you won’t owe anything.
What should I do at the scene of the accident?
There are several steps that you can take at the scene of the accident (in accordance with your ability at the time) that are nearly universally beneficial, including:
- Pull as far off the road and out of the path of traffic as you can
- Call 911
- Render whatever aid you can to anyone at the scene who needs it
- Accept medical attention at the scene of the accident, and if it isn’t offered, seek the medical attention that you need as soon after the car accident as you can
- Gather evidence in the form of pictures and/or videos that capture the accident from every angle (including detailed closeups and snaps of any extenuating circumstances that may have contributed to the accident, such as a poorly maintained road or the effects of bad weather)
- Collect eyewitness testimony and contact information
- Jot down your memories in as much detail as possible as soon after the accident as you can (these fresh recollections can help bolster your claim immensely)
The trusted Austin car accident lawyers at The Patel Firm dedicate their impressive practice to guiding cases like yours toward optimal outcomes that support our clients’ rights and recovery, and we’re here for you, too. Your claim is important, so please don’t wait to contact or call us for more information today. To schedule your free case evaluation with a car accident attorney in Austin, call our office today at (361) 400-2036.