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Car accident victims are often surprised that, even if liability for the accident seems clear-cut, the settlement from the negligent party’s insurance company can be anything but straightforward.
It helps to know what to expect from a car accident settlement in Texas — from the time of the accident until you receive payment. That way, you will understand more about the process and be able to adjust your expectations accordingly.
Generally speaking, car accident settlements that cause serious personal injury are best left to experienced personal injury lawyers to follow up while you recover from your injuries. Even with minor injuries, medical bills and other expenses can mount up quickly.
Don’t be tempted into a quick settlement, which is what you may be offered by the insurance company. By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you can rest assured that nothing important is missed, and you will receive the full compensation you’re entitled to.
But how much are you entitled to, and how will your claim proceed?
Drivers have a duty of care to other road users. All road users — car, truck and motorcycle drivers as well as cyclists and pedestrians — need to obey the road laws and ensure that their actions are safe.
When drivers fail to live up to their duty of care, they may act negligently, which can make them liable for accidents and any losses that result.
Accidents in Texas most commonly result from one of the following:
If you’re involved in a car accident in Houston, it’s important to take steps to help you determine liability, protect your rights and make a successful claim.
After the accident and you have attended to your injuries, your next move should be to contact an experienced car accident attorney, who can help you collate evidence for your claim. If necessary, an accident reconstruction specialist can be hired to assist.
A valid claim with a third-party insurance company will likely result in an out-of-court settlement but it’s important to prepare for litigation. The insurance company is likely to play hardball and use strategies to downplay a claim.
Receiving a fair settlement for the full amount of your claim can be an enormous challenge if you attempt the process alone.
Settlements for car accidents in Texas may include three types of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages and punitive damages.
These are usually the easiest damages to calculate as the evidence required is contained in bills, receipts, salary dockets, etc.
Typical economic damages include:
These damages have no bills or receipts because they refer to the pain and suffering caused by the emotional trauma and distress of the accident. This makes them more difficult to put a dollar figure on and they are generally more likely to be contested by insurance companies.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
If a driver has acted recklessly or committed a crime during the accident (such as DUI or impaired driving) — and the justice system wants to set an example to other drivers — punitive damages may be awarded in addition to the economic and non-economic damages.
These damages are not intended to directly compensate victims and are only rarely awarded by judges in Texas.
In Texas, there are no designated settlement amounts for different types of injuries. Everything depends on the individual circumstances of a claim.
Even two victims with similar injuries can receive vastly different settlement amounts. Settlements are usually based on a wide variety of factors, such as:
To understand the amount you may receive for your car accident settlement, it’s best to discuss your precise circumstances with a personal injury lawyer.
Because there are so many influencing factors and variables to consider in these cases, it is difficult for an untrained eye to be able to put a figure on it. There is no formula to use where you can simply punch a few numbers in.
An experienced car accident attorney will know from previous cases approximately what your settlement may be worth. He or she may be able to make a rough calculation of economic and non-economic damages (and also factor in the likelihood of punitive damages being awarded) before deciding to take the case.
The figure that your lawyer estimates and the first offer from the insurance company are often very different because non-economic damages are often downplayed by insurance adjusters.
Some adjusters may even try to lower the value of a claim based on the demographics of the parties involved (lower for lower-income areas, for instance).
This is where the skills and experience of your lawyer can guide you to the compensation level you deserve with proven strategies and advanced negotiation skills. With a good understanding of the average settlements for similar injuries from similar accidents in the same locations, no personal injury lawyer should settle for less than you deserve.
Because lawyers in such cases generally work on a contingency basis and get paid a percentage of the final settlement, a higher settlement is a “win-win”.
Contact the DeHoyos Accident Attorneys, PLLC today for a free consultation to evaluate your car accident injury case.
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