what to do after car accident

Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident or not, it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your rights.  Even if you think the damage is minor or don’t immediately feel like you’ve been injured, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of a Houston car accident lawyer.  If you end up seeking medical treatment for an injury that surfaces later on or the damage to your vehicle ends up being more than you thought, you want to make sure you can document the accident for insurance claim purposes. 1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately After you’ve been involved in an accident, seek medical attention immediately.  Call 911 and wait for the police and other first responders to arrive.  Your health should be your number one priority at this point.  If the fire department or ambulance arrives, it might be the best thing for you to go. Don’t be cheap and avoid going to the emergency room if you feel like you’ve been injured. Remember, even a minor impact can create substantial injuries.  To rule out any life-threatening conditions such as internal bleeding, broken bones or traumatic brain injuries, it may be smart to go to the emergency room even if you don’t think your injuries are serious.   If you decide to seek treatment at the emergency room, make sure you’re as thorough as possible in describing any of your symptoms to the emergency room personnel.  If the doctor doesn’t know your symptoms, they won’t be able to properly diagnose and treat you and these complaints will not appear in your emergency room medical records, which can later hurt your case down the road.  Also, always listen to the doctor’s orders. If they recommend that you follow up with your primary care doctor or another healthcare provider, you should always do so. If you don’t immediately seek medical attention and you are injured, seek treatment as soon as possible.    2. Know the “Rules of the Road” – What are your Duties under Texas law? After assessing your overall health and safety, you should know the duties under Texas law after you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident.  Title 7, Subtitle C, Chapter 550 of the Texas Transportation Code (“Rules of the Road”), which applies to accidents on most roads and highways, other than some residential property parking areas or garages/parking lots. When an accident involves personal injury or death, the parties involved are required to immediately: stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible; return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; determine whether a person is involved in the accident, and if a person is involved in the accident, whether that person requires aid; and remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of the duty to give information and render aid. This includes giving the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurance to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; if requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license to any person injured or operator or occupant or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; and provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation. If there are injuries or death of a person or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be normally and safely driven the duty of the operators of the vehicle involved to immediately alert the police. Failure to stop or comply with these rules can result in a 2nd degree felony for accidents involving death of a person, 3rd degree felony for accidents involving seriously bodily injury, or up to five years imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or up to one year confinement in the county jail do so can result in jail time, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.  When an accident only involves only vehicle damage, the parties involved are required to: immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic more than is necessary; immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements to give information and render aid. If an accident occurs on a main lane, ramp, shoulder, median, or adjacent area of a freeway in a metropolitan area and each vehicle involved can be normally and safely driven, each operator shall move the operator’s vehicle as soon as possible to a designated accident investigation site, if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location to give information and render aid, and minimize interference with freeway traffic. Failure to comply with this provision can result in a Class C misdemeanor. Failure to comply with this provision can result in a Class C misdemeanor, if the damage to all vehicles is less than $200; or a Class B misdemeanor, if the damage to all vehicles is $200 or more. 3. Have a Police Officer Fill Out a Crash Report Make sure when the police arrive, have them fill out a crash report.  This is an important piece in dealing with your accident claim.  More information about crash reports is below. What is a Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3 Form)? A Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report is a written summary of a motor vehicle crash.  It identifies the time, date, location,…

car accident pain and suffering

How Much Can I Get for Pain and Suffering? This question is extremely common for most car accident injury victims.  Actually, I’d say it’s as common as the “How much is my case worth?” question.  Similar to the overall case value question, the answer is the similar–the pain and suffering calculation widely varies. First let’s look at what Texas courts have said. According to the court in Green v. Meadows, 527 S.W.2d 496 (Tex. Civ. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1975, writ ref’d n.r.e.), the amount of damages necessary to compensate for pain cannot be determined by a set formula.  The court in Hernandez v. Baucum, 344 S.W.2d 498, 500 (Tex. Civ. App. 1961), ruled that damages for physical pain are left to the sound discretion of the jury based upon their common knowledge and sense of justice.  So, we know from these two cases that there’s no exact formula to calculate pain and suffering. In addition, the court in Hernandez v. Baucum also stated that a jury may award zero damages when the pain is almost entirely subjective, based on the plaintiff’s personal reports of pain to doctors, supervisors and family members.  That’s why it’s important to have additional evidence of pain, which will be discussed below. Two Common Methods for Calculating Pain & Suffering Throughout your search online you will most likely find two common ways pain and suffering may be calculated: the “Multiplier” and the “Per Diem” methods.  Multiplier Method The Multiplier Method calculates pain and suffering by multiplying the injured party’s total medical bills and lost wages, also known as “Special Damages,” by some multiplier, such as 1.5 – 5. With 1.5 being the least minor injury and 5 being the most severe injury. This figure is then added to the Special Damages total. For example, if Paula Plaintiff has $5,000 in medical bills, $1,000 in lost wages, and she received minor sprains and strains in the car accident that was caused by Dexter Defendant, we may assign a 1.5 times Special Damages as her pain and suffering multiplier, or $9,000 ($6,000 x 1.5).  So, using the Multiplier Method, Paula’s pain and suffering would equal $9,000 and her total case value would be $15,000. Per Diem Method The Per Diem method is another method used to calculate pain and suffering in a car accident injury settlement.  The number of months, days, or hours are multiplied by a certain dollar figure that is either equal to the amount of pay the injured party receives in their job for that specific time period or some other arbitrary number.  For example, if Paula Plaintiff suffered pain for 200 days from the accident and made $200 per day as a construction worker, the pain and suffering calculation would equal $40,000.  The idea behind using a daily salary rate calculation as the daily rate of pain and suffering is that it could be thought that the pain associated with an injury is comparable to the effort of working a job.   Although the Texas court in Hernandez v. Baucum, 344 S.W.2d 498, 500 (Tex. Civ. App. 1961) ruled that it was a “fair argument and a rational approach for pain the way it was endured, month by month, and year by year,” in proposing a pain and suffering calculation to the jury at trial, it is not an accurate estimate of what the value of pain and suffering will be assigned in a car accident settlement. The large misconception about these two methods is that insurance companies and juries actually use them to calculate pain and suffering.  Simple answer: they don’t.  Although insurance companies in the past may have employed some sort of multiplier to calculate a rough estimate of an appropriate settlement offer in cases involving soft tissue injuries (e.g., whiplash), insurance companies now use settlement software such as Colossus to arrive at an appropriate settlement range, based on prior settlements, localized medical charges, and other claim characteristics. If a case goes to a jury trial, juries are instructed to assign a sum of money that would fairly and reasonably compensate the plaintiff for the physical pain and mental anguish sustained in the past and future. Juries use their best judgment based on the evidence presented to them throughout the trial. For a more in-depth discussion on how pain and suffering is calculated, click HERE. You do not have to face a serious injury case alone. Contact our attorneys for a free consultation about how we can help you. Call (713) 489-4270 to speak to our Houston personal injury attorneys directly.

Were You Injured in a Car Accident? Maximize Your Compensation. Were you injured in a car accident as either a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or on a motorcycle or bicycle? We will discuss 22 tips on how to maximize your personal injury case compensation.  Whether your injuries are relatively minor, such as whiplash, sprains, strains, or bruises or are major such as broken bones or paralysis, it’s important to identify how you can increase the value of your personal injury case. Before we go over the list of ways to maximize your compensation, let’s first discuss what are the categories of compensation or “damages” that you are allowed to recover under the law: Medical Expenses This is often the largest part of your “economic damages.”   Economic damages are those that are easily quantifiable into a dollar figure.  You are entitled to be compensated for all your medical expenses that you accrued as a result of the accident.  This includes past out-of-pocket medical bills such as prescription pain medication you paid for at the pharmacy, medical bills that your health insurance / Medicaid / Medicare paid for, and any outstanding medical expenses.  In addition, any future medical expenses that you can prove you need after you settle your case and beyond can also be included in your damages. Lost Wages Another part of your economic damages—past lost wages—include any lost time you missed from your job as a result of the accident.  This includes the time for which you didn’t get paid, vacation time you took, and sick time that you used. Lost earning capacity is also a subcategory of lost wages and is the lost earnings you will experienced in the future as a result of your injuries.  You’ll likely need proof from a vocational economist to prove your expected earning potential in the future. Physical Pain and Suffering Past and future physical pain and suffering are often the most well-known type of “non-economic” damages.  Non-economic damages are those damages that are not so easy to quantify.  Just think how difficult it is to place a dollar figure on someone’s pain.  Physical pain and suffering is the physical pain that you feel as a result of your injury. Sometimes this is bunched in with mental or emotional pain or anguish, but this is a distinct category of damages that is a recognizable part of your personal injury compensation.  The difference between the two is that physical pain and suffering strictly concerns the actual physical pain that an injured party feels from a physical injury and mental or emotional pain or anguish is the mental effects that the pain has on the injured party. Mental or Emotional Pain or Anguish Past and future mental or emotional pain or anguish, as mentioned above, is strictly the negative mental effects that the injury has on the injured party’s mind.  This could include the feelings an injured person has when they think they may never be able to walk again without a cane or limp. Loss of Consortium / Loss of Companionship & Society Loss of consortium / loss of companionship and society are the damages that the family of the injured party can recover from losing the benefits of the relationship from the injured party.  This claim piggybacks onto the underlying personal injury claim of the injured party, but is strictly the spouse’s or family member’s claim, not the injured party’s him/herself. Disfigurement Disfigurement damages is the compensation for the scarring and the lasting physical traces of the injury left behind on your body.  This includes scars, loss of limb or other body part, burns, and skin grafts.  The disfigurement can be from the primary injury or from the effects of the required medical intervention on the injured body part, such as scars from scalpel cuts or stitches. Physical Impairment Physical impairment is another type of non-economic damages recoverable in a personal injury case.  Physical impairment damages provide compensation to an injured party for the loss of the ability to do certain activities that the injury party had done prior to the accident, but now are performed with physical limitations.  Physical impairment damages is usually limited to those injured parties that have suffered a permanent injury. Loss of Enjoyment of Life Compensating the injured party for losing the ability to enjoy certain aspects of their life as a result of their injuries is the purpose of loss of enjoyment of life damages.  Not being able to take part in hobbies they once enjoyed or playing with their kids are some examples of situations where this type of damages are recoverable. Punitive Damages Think of gross negligence when you think of punitive damages.  Punitive damages are meant to punish the liable party for their bad behavior.  These damages are available to those injured parties that are the victims of the egregious acts of the liable party that caused their injuries.  Acts such as drunk driving or excessive speeding are some of the examples that may reach the level of gross negligence. 22 Tips on How to Maximize Your Compensation Now that we know what damages are recoverable under the law, we can now discuss how to maximize your compensation in your personal injury case. 1. Get Medical Treatment Immediately Getting medical treatment immediately after your accident is not only a smart way to avoid bigger problems down the road with your health, but also help with the value of your personal injury case.  Insurance companies and juries both will take your case more seriously if you seek immediate medical attention after an accident.  In most instances, going to the emergency room immediately after the accident will improve the value of your case.  Going by ambulance doesn’t hurt either. Remember, don’t go to the emergency room just because you think it will help your case.  Faking your injuries is never a good strategy and will only hurt your case in the long run.  If you feel you need emergency medical treatment, then go to the emergency…

How is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Texas: An Overview How is pain and suffering is calculated in Texas? How pain and suffering is calculated in a personal injury case will depend on where you are in the timeline of your case.  The approach to calculating pain and suffering before a trial and during trial are not the same.  Insurance companies typically use claims software to calculate pain and suffering. On the other hand, a jury does not use any special formulas, but only their own best judgment based on the evidence presented to them. However, keep in mind that there are many steps that are required before you go to court for a trial.  Many personal injury cases settle even before a lawsuit is filed and most settle before trial.  Before a trial you may be negotiating with the insurance company to reach a reasonable settlement amount.  Alternatively, if your case goes to trial, your attorney may be arguing your case before a jury or judge.  We will discuss how pain and suffering is calculated in both situations, how you can maximize your pain and suffering in both instances, how you can prove pain and suffering in court, and look at some real-world Texas settlements and jury verdicts for examples.  But first we need to define some terms to better understand Texas pain and suffering law. What Are Damages? Before we can get into calculating pain and suffering, we need to learn some key legal concepts.  In any personal injury case based in “negligence,” you need to prove “damages.”  “Damages” are the actual harm or injury as a result of the responsible party’s carelessness.  These are not presumed in cases where you are claiming someone else’s negligence caused your injuries.  You need to prove them with evidence, such as with medical bills.  “Compensatory damages” are those that are meant to compensate you for your losses, intending to place you back where you were prior to the accident.  In Texas, there are two types of compensatory damages: Special Damages (economic damages) and General Damages (non-economic damages). What Are Special Damages? Special damages, also known as economic damages, are those that can be easily quantifiable.  These damages can be proven by medical bills, pay-stubs, or some other evidence showing out-of-pocket expenses that flowed from the injury.  These damages are intended to compensate the claimant for monetary losses that were suffered.  Special damages include past and future medical expenses, past lost wages, and future loss of earnings. What Are General Damages? General damages are damages that are not so easy to quantify.  They are also meant to compensate the claimant for losses, but for those that are not quantified specifically in a dollar value.  Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 41.001(12) specifically lists what are considered general damages, including: Physical pain and suffering; Mental or emotional pain or anguish; Loss of consortium; Disfigurement; Physical impairment; Loss of companionship and society; Inconvenience; Loss of enjoyment of life; Injury to reputation; and All other nonpecuniary losses of any kind other than exemplary damages. What is “Pain & Suffering”? Now that we know how pain and suffering is categorized under the law, what exactly is pain and suffering, anyhow?  Pain and suffering damages are awarded for the purpose of compensating a claimant for the physical pain that he/she endures as a result of an injury.  This is distinguished from the mental aspects of an injury, known as “mental or emotional pain or anguish.”  Pain and suffering strictly concerns the actual physical pain that an injured party feels from a physical injury.  Although pain and suffering and mental or emotional pain or anguish are two distinct types of damages, they are often lumped together when submitted to the jury.  However, there are many Texas cases that recognize that these are two distinct elements of a plaintiff’s damages. (See Daniels v. Univ. of Tex. Health Science Center of Tyler, No. 12-03-00399-CV, 2005 WL 1642969, at *2 (Tex. App.—Tyler July 13, 2005, no pet.)(mem. op.).  Texas law allows recovery for physical pain and suffering in the past and future (See A.T. & S.F. Ry. Co. v. O’Merry, 727 S.W.2d 596, 599-600 (Tex. App. Houston [1st Dist.] 1987, no writ).  As you guessed, quantifying someone’s pain in dollars is difficult.  Texas courts have stated that there is no definite way to measure pain and suffering in terms of money but that the jury should arrive at some fair compensation based on its “common knowledge and sense of justice.” Hernandez v. Baucum, 344 S.W.2d 498, 500 (Tex. Civ. App. 1961).  Below, we will discuss how pain and suffering are calculated both pre-trial and during trial. Calculating Pain & Suffering Pre-Trial (Claims Software) Before a trial, either before or after a lawsuit is filed, you will be negotiating your case with the insurance company.  The claims adjuster will be valuing your case based on a variety of factors.   Typically, the large insurance companies use claims software programs such as Colossus, Mitchell Claim IQ, and Claims Outcome Advisor (COA) to calculate settlement offers, especially on soft tissue injury cases (e.g., whiplash, sprains, and strains).  They’ll enter in medical billing codes, injury codes, and several other factors to arrive at a settlement range.  Typically, these soft-tissue injury cases are handled by low-level adjusters and these adjusters are prohibited from offering anything outside the claims software settlement range, unless you can present “new” information to them. Insurance companies use this software at a varying degree with some heavily relying on the settlement ranges that are provided, such as Allstate.  With more serious injuries, the reliance on this software is not as significant.  As discussed above, pain and suffering is part of what are called “general damages” and are considered within the software’s algorithm.  The nature of the injury and treatment will have a large effect on the amount of pain and suffering and total general damages that is given in any case.  Muscle sprains and strains will yield little pain and suffering…

Typical car accident settlement amounts

What is a Typical Car Accident Settlement Amount? The Insurance Information Institute reported that in 2017 the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,270 and $3,638 for property damage. According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, in 2013 the average bodily injury car accident settlement was $15,443. To get an idea of what these cases are worth when they go before a jury, the National Center for State Courts published data collected in 2001 from several counties throughout the United States, including Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, and Harris counties, that calculated the median jury award for motor vehicle accidents. The median jury award for motor vehicle accidents was $17,544. Unfortunately, these figures don’t tell us much. Since car accident injury settlements are so fact intensive, an average doesn’t provide much help in regard to what a particular case is worth. As discussed below, there are several factors that go into valuing a car accident injury settlement case. Only through experience can someone know how to value a car accident injury case properly. If you feel that the insurance company is undervaluing your case, it’s best to consult an experienced Houston car accident attorney. Don’t Trust “Magic” Formulas or Online Settlement Calculators Many car accident injury victims will Google what a typical or average car accident settlement amount would be for their specific situation.  This search will yield many results with websites claiming to give an exact calculation or formula to determine a typical settlement amount for a car accident injury case.  Most common is the calculation of taking the dollar amount of the medical bills and lost wages of the injured victim and multiplying it by some arbitrary number (1.5-5) to arrive at a pain and suffering dollar amount, then adding the total amount of medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering together.  However, this is almost always inaccurate.  Neither insurance adjusters nor Texas juries are instructed to use this method to calculate the value of any car accident injury settlement or award.  This practice arose in the past from both insurance adjusters and personal injury attorneys “guesstimating” an amount of where an appropriate settlement amount would be for usually minor, soft tissue injuries (e.g., whiplash).  The reality is there is no formula or calculator that can provide an actual car accident settlement amount. There are simply too many variables involved in each case to accurately calculate an average or typical car accident settlement amount. However, there are factors that you should know that can affect the value of your case, such as the amount of your “damages,” the calculation of pain and suffering, and other relevant factors. An overview of these points are discussed below, as well as real car accident injury case settlement examples from several different counties in Texas. Before delving further into the discussion of typical or average car accident settlement amounts, it’s important to know what exactly a “settlement” is. What is a Settlement? A settlement is an agreement between parties of a legal dispute which resolves the dispute prior to either filing a lawsuit or proceeding further after a lawsuit is filed.  The parties usually agree to settle the underlying dispute for a dollar amount in exchange for releasing the liable party from any further liability.  In the car accident context, the liable party’s insurance company would agree to pay the injured party a sum of money in order to release their insured from any further liability.  The settlement amount will be an amount both parties feel is fair to settle without proceeding further in the dispute and avoiding further litigation expenses.  Keep in mind, insurance companies are businesses with a main goal of maximizing profits. This means they will do their best to pay out as little as possible in settling claims. Depending on the facts of your case, accepting a settlement may make sense. However, there are situations where filing a lawsuit and going all the way to trial is necessary to achieve top dollar for your case. Most Important Factor in Determining Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts One of the most important factors in determining a typical car accident settlement amount is knowing what your “damages” are.  Damages are a term of art in the law meaning the calculation of losses realized in a personal injury case.  You must be able to prove damages in order to receive fair value for your car accident injury case. There are two main types of damages, including Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages, in addition to other sub-categories of Compensatory Damages which are broken down below. Compensatory Damages Compensatory Damages, also known as “actual damages,” are the monetary compensation that are awarded to an injured victim as a result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.  Compensatory damages are intended to put the injured party back to where they were before the accident and make them “whole.” Special Damages Special Damages or “Specials” are a type of compensatory damages that are quantifiable, such as past and future medical expenses, past lost wages and loss of earning capacity, and other out-of-pocket expenses.  You prove these damages by presenting evidence such as medical bills, paycheck stubs, W-2s, or simply a letter from your employer detailing the amount of lost time, your salary, your position at the company, and how many hours you usually work. Lost wages include the time you missed from work and weren’t paid, as well as sick time and vacation time used as a result of the accident. General Damages General Damages, also known as non-economic damages, are another type of compensatory damages that are difficult to quantify.  According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 41.001(12), non-economic damages include: Physical pain and suffering; Mental or emotional pain or anguish; Loss of consortium; Disfigurement; Physical impairment; Loss of companionship and society; Inconvenience; Loss of enjoyment of life; Injury to reputation; and All other nonpecuniary losses of any kind other than exemplary damages. Due to the difficulty in calculating…

who is at fault in a rear-end collision

Rear-end car accidents are the most common type of collision. Determining who is at fault in a rear-end collision isn’t always as straightforward as you think.  There are many scenarios where liability may not necessarily automatically go to the “following” vehicle. In some cases, liability may go either to the “lead” vehicle, the following vehicle, or both. Of course, if either party involved in a rear-end collision is 51% or more at fault in Texas, they are barred from recovering any of their damages such as medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering.  Distracted Drivers and Rear-end Accidents Rear-end accidents are usually caused by distracted driving, such as texting and driving, or tailgating.  The most common types of distracted driving that cause rear-end collisions are smoking, daydreaming, external distractions such as “rubbernecking,” fixing hair or putting on makeup.  Proving fault in a rear-end collision involves determining which driver was “negligent.”  To prove negligence in Texas, you must show four things: Duty – We all owe each other a duty to exercise reasonable care and drive safely so as not to do anything that will harm any other driver on the road.  For example, we all have a duty to pay attention to the car in front of us while we drive in rush hour traffic; Breach of Duty – a breach of duty would be failing to exercise reasonable care and not driving safely, such as by failing to pay attention to the car in front of you as it slowed down in rush hour traffic because you were texting and driving; Causation – the breach of duty (e.g., failing to pay attention to the road and the driver in front of you) causes the accident; and Damages – Damages just mean recognizable and actual losses as the result of the breach in duty.  Whiplash or a fractured vertebra in a rear-end collision are great examples of damages.  You’ll need to prove damages by providing evidence such as medical bills and lost wages.  How to Prove You Were Not At Fault in a Rear-end Collision Usually, it’s easy to see why the following vehicle is at fault in most rear-end collisions.  However, there are exceptions to this rule.  Even if the following vehicle is negligent, it doesn’t always absolve the lead vehicle completely from liability.  The lead vehicle driver may also be driving distracted and may also share some of the liability, proportionate to the amount of their comparative fault.  Ways to prove that the lead vehicle’s driver was at least partially at fault would be to provide evidence that they were driving distracted talking on their phone while driving or looking down at their phone and texting.  You may prove this by getting their phone records to show that they were sending or receiving text messages or receiving or making phone calls at the time of the accident.  However, obtaining the other party’s phone records usually involve filing a lawsuit against them first.  In addition, having an independent witness who saw the accident and can verify that the lead driver was on their phone or texting, will also help to prove that they at least shared some fault. When Is a Rear-end Collision Not Your Fault? Factual scenarios when a rear-end collision is not your fault or at least partially the lead vehicle driver’s fault, include when the lead vehicle: Is in reverse and causes the collision. Makes an unsafe turn or lane change by not signaling or suddenly changes lanes, cutting off the following vehicle. Quickly stops unexpectedly for no apparent reason. “Brake checks” the following vehicle. Has turn signals, brake lights or taillights that are not functioning. Is driving at a significantly slower speed than the speed limit (e.g., driving 25 MPH on the freeway). Unsafely pulls out in front of the following vehicle. Injuries Caused by Rear-end Collisions Most rear-end collisions involve a very slowing moving or stopped lead vehicle.  The impact, even at low speeds can cause significant injuries to the spine, head, and internal organs.  The most common types of injuries caused by a rear-end collision are: Whiplash; Vertebrae fractures; Neck pain; Shoulder pain; Numbness, tingling, and pain in the extremities; Muscle, tendon, or ligament sprains, strains, and tears; Disc herniation; Lower (lumbar) back pain; Middle (thoracic) back pain; Internal bleeding; Traumatic brain injuries, even mild cases that may go undetected through standard testing; Concussions; Headaches; Blurry vision; Dizziness; and Anxiety / Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Rear-end Collision Settlements Rear-end collision settlements are heavily determined on the type of your injuries and medical treatment that you receive.  The more serious your injuries, the more likely your settlement will be larger.  With “soft tissue” injuries, or those that involve sprains, strains, and bruises, generally, the settlement value tends to be on the lower side of the settlement spectrum.  Rear-end collisions where there are more serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, or those requiring surgery, generally, the greater the settlement amount.  The value of any rear-end collision case relies heavily on the injury severity and the amount of medical bills that have accrued, as a result of the injury.  What’s most important in all rear-end accidents is getting the proper medical treatment as quickly as possible.  Without providing proof of your injuries to the insurance company through medical bills and other evidence, the more difficult it will be to be fairly compensated for your injuries. Let our Houston car accident lawyers help you recover everything you are entitled to under the law. Our legal team is available 24/7. Call us at 713-489-4270.

How do insurance companies decide to total a car in Texas? The short answer is insurance companies can choose to repair your car up until the cost to repair exceeds the fair market value of your vehicle. However, insurance companies will usually total a vehicle when repairs exceed 50% – 75% of the value. It’s important to know whether the insurance company will be totaling your car after an accident. First, it gives you the opportunity to get an early jump start on researching comparable vehicles to present to the insurance company in order to increase your offer on the actual cash value of the car. Second, it will give you more time to shop for a replacement vehicle while the insurance company performs their investigation and estimate of the damages. Third, it may help to avoid accruing additional costs such as storage fees that the insurance company may refuse to pay if you failed to properly mitigate your damages by leaving your car at a storage facility for an unreasonable amount of time. Texas Law on When a Car is Totaled Texas law mandates how insurance companies determine when to total a vehicle and provides a formula, as indicated in the Texas Transportation Code. According to Texas Transportation Code Section 501.091(15), a salvage or “totaled” vehicle has damage to or is missing a major component part to the extent that the cost of repairs, including parts and labor other than the cost of materials and labor for repainting the motor vehicle and excluding sales tax on the total cost of repairs, exceeds the actual cash value of the motor vehicle immediately before the damage. In other words, the Texas total loss formula to determine whether a damaged vehicle must be a total loss is: Cost of Repair > Actual Cash Value If the total cost of repairs is greater than the actual cash value (ACV) or market value of car, then the insurance company will total the car. For example, if your 2008 Honda Accord has an actual cash value of $4,500 and the cost to repair it is $5,000, then your car would be totaled. $5,000 > $4,500 Please keep in mind that insurance companies may decide to total a vehicle when the damages are less than the actual cash value. The Texas Transportation Code just provides a damage threshold in which a vehicle will be considered totaled. Texas courts have also examined when a vehicle is totaled. In Canal Ins. Co. v. Hopkins Towing, No. 12-06-00411 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2007), the court ruled that a vehicle “is a total loss if a reasonably prudent uninsured owner, desiring to restore the property to its preincident condition, would not utilize that property for such restoration. Logic dictates that, absent other factors, a reasonably prudent uninsured owner would not repair a vehicle where the repair costs exceeded the vehicle’s preincident fair market value.” The court’s rationale in this case reinforces the Texas Transportation Code’s definition that a vehicle is totaled when the cost of repair exceeds the fair market value. Click to book a free case evaluation with a Houston car accident lawyer today. For tips on how to handle your own car accident property damage case in Texas, click here.

Who pays for towing and storage after an accident? If your car was towed because of an accident in Texas, you may be wondering who pays for towing and storage. Of course, the answer will depend on the facts of your case, such as whether another driver or you caused the accident. Also relevant in answering this question is whether insurance covers towing and storage after an accident. The short answer is “yes,” towing and storage is covered under most car insurance policies. But, to know for sure whether insurance will cover these fees, you will need to know whether the at-fault driver has insurance, and whether you have “full coverage” insurance. In addition to answering who will be paying for towing and storage fees after a car accident, it’s also important to discuss the following related questions: What can I do if the insurance company won’t pay towing or storage fees? What are the car storage fees after an accident? The police towed my car after an accident. How can I find it? Who Pays for Towing and Storage After an Accident? Who pays for your towing and storage fees after a car accident depends on who was at-fault for the accident. In addition, whether there is insurance coverage to pay for the towing and storage fees will be relevant in determining who will pay.  Three scenarios are discussed below: Scenario 1: If the accident wasn’t your fault and the at-fault driver has insurance According to Texas Occupations Code Section 2303.156(b), “an insurance company that pays a claim of total loss on a vehicle in a vehicle storage facility is liable to the operator of the facility for any money owed to the operator in relation to delivery of the vehicle to or storage of the vehicle in the facility regardless of whether an amount accrued before the insurance company paid the claim.” So, if your vehicle is totaled and you were not at fault, the insurance company must pay towing and storage costs as well. However, in cases where your car was not totaled or where liability is still pending you can either use you own insurance, if you have towing and storage coverage, or you can pay out-of-pocket, save the receipts, and then submit these expenses to the at-fault driver’s insurance company for reimbursement.  Once they accept liability for the accident, they will reimburse you or your insurance company for what was paid for towing and storage. Scenario 2: If the accident wasn’t your fault and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, doesn’t have enough insurance, or was a hit-and-run If you have uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage for property damage (UMPD), you can file a UMPD claim with your own insurance company.  This will cover the damage to your car, towing and storage fees, and a rental car.  There is a deductible of $250 to use this coverage. Also, it is your insurance company’s burden to determine whether the at-fault driver had insurance in a Texas UMPD claim. If you don’t have UMPD coverage and have collision coverage, you can use this coverage to pay for the damage to your car, towing and storage fees, and a rental car. However, the deductible will usually be more than if you used UMPD coverage. Scenario 3: If the accident was your fault If you have collision coverage and/or towing and storage fee coverage with your own insurance, you can file a claim with your own insurance company.  If you don’t have this coverage, double check by calling your insurance company. If they confirm that you don’t have this coverage, make sure you act quickly and retrieve your vehicle from the storage lot before the storage fees get out-of-hand.  If you leave your car in the storage lot for an extended amount of time and do not pay the fee, after proper notice is sent to you, the storage lot will eventually sell the car through a public sale, with the proceeds from the sale going towards the towing and storage fees.  Any remaining amount may be paid to the vehicle owner. What Can I Do If the Insurance Company Won’t Pay Towing or Storage Fees? The at-fault driver’s insurance company usually won’t pay towing and storage fees for several different reasons. We will discuss the most common reasons and some solutions below: The At-Fault Driver was Uninsured or Underinsured If the at-fault driver was uninsured, meaning they didn’t have an active auto liability insurance policy in affect at the time of the accident or didn’t have enough insurance to cover the damage to your vehicle and the cost to tow and store it after the accident, you can use your own insurance to cover these expenses. As discussed above, you can use either your uninsured / underinsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage or your collision coverage. This also applies if you were involved in a hit-and-run. The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company Has Not Determined Liability Depending on the facts of the accident, the insurance company may take their time to investigate the accident to determine who was at fault for the accident and whether their insured was covered at the time of the accident. This usually happens if the liability isn’t clear cut, such as in a left-turn collision at an intersection or when more than one party is at fault. If the accident involves clear cut liability, such as in a rear-end accident, liability is usually more promptly accepted. If they are slow to respond, hiring a car accident lawyer will encourage them to act more quickly. You Were Fully At-Fault or Partially At-Fault (More than 50%) for the Accident As in Scenario 3 above, if the accident was your fault, you can file a claim with your own insurance company under your collision coverage. If the insurance company determined that you were 50% or less at fault, you will still be entitled to some of your towing and storage fees. Texas is a “modified comparative fault”…

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 14,282 serious injury crashes in Texas in 2017 alone, with 17,535 people sustaining a serious injury. These harrowing statistics translate into the following: One person was killed every two hours 21 minutes, one person was injured every two minutes four seconds, and one reportable crash occurred every 59 seconds that year. Even the safest of drivers can not control the actions of other motorists, and when someone else’s negligence causes a car accident, the physical and financial aftermath can be devastating.  Contacting the Milano Legal Group will help you understand your rights. Texas Legal Requirements If you have been injured in a car accident in Texas, you should follow these steps to ensure your rights are protected. Seek Medical Attention: Your health is your greatest asset, and needs to be protected first. Call for emergency medical services at the scene if anyone has been injured. If you do not believe you have been seriously injured, you still need to have an official medical evaluation done by a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional. This is not only important for your own health, but this official medical evaluation can be important and significant to your legal case. Additionally, it is important for you to document any symptoms starting from the initial car accident through to the present. Documentation of your injuries and keeping a file of your medical visits is important if you decide to file a personal injury claim.  Contact the police: Get the police to the scene of the accident so they can create a police report. If you do not contact the police immediately, you are required by law to file an accident report with the appropriate police department. Texas law requires you to file a Crash Report within 10 days after the accident if the police were not called to the scene of an accident and the accident resulted in either the injury or death of a person or property damage that is greater than $1,000. That police report may prove valuable to your future personal injury case.  Exchange Information: Attempt to obtain the personal identification, vehicle identification, and insurance information of all other drivers involved. Additionally, exchange information with any witnesses, if possible.   Document the Accident: If possible, take photographs of the accident scene, any injuries you may have suffered, the weather and road conditions, and any other pertinent information. This documentation can prove useful later if you choose to file a lawsuit.  Texas Car Insurance Texas is considered a “fault” insurance state, which means that you do not file with your own car insurance first, but rather, you may file an insurance claim directly with the other driver’s insurance if he or she was at-fault in the accident. This law allows every driver to be held personally liable for any damage that he or she may have caused. You should file a claim with your insurance company as soon as is reasonably feasible.  Filing an Insurance Claim According to the Texas Insurance Code Section 542.003, Texas law requires that insurance companies not engage in inappropriate or unfair claim settlement practices. Insurance companies are not allowed to misrepresent any facts or parts of your insurance policy or attempt to negotiate a settlement with you in bad faith. However, even with this law in place, insurance companies have teams of people working hard on their side and do not have your best interests in mind as they create settlement agreements.  Take an abundance of caution before signing a settlement that waives your rights to future compensation that you are owed. Working with an experienced car accident attorney who can compile accident reports, witness statements, police reports, medical claims, and other evidence can help strengthen your case and prevent you from accepting low-ball settlements from the insurance companies. Car Accident Settlement Amounts There is no specific amount or actuarial table that can directly calculate the amount that your car accident will ultimately be worth, but hiring an experienced car accident attorney can help you understand your rights regarding how much compensation you may be owed. There are many factors that are involved in the determination of a settlement, including:  The severity of the car accident, and the severity of your personal injuries The cost of medical expenses, both already incurred and possible future expenses Lost wages, and potential future loss of wages Insurance coverage of both parties If you were partially at fault for the accident (Texas follows a “modified comparative negligence” doctrine.)  Amount and quality of documentation  The ability of your attorney to successfully negotiate your settlement or argue your case in court.  Texas Statute of Limitations A “statute of limitations” refers to a law that limits your time to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a personal injury claim by this deadline established by Texas law, then the Texas courts will not hear your case and potentially dismiss it. Texas statute of limitations laws are quite strict, and according to the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 16.003, the deadline to file a claim in a personal injury case related to a car accident is within two years of the date of the accident. Contact an Attorney If you have suffered personal injuries due to a car accident in Texas, contacting an experienced car accident attorney should be one of your first steps. The statute of limitations laws in Texas is short and quite strict. Filing your claim within that time limit is vital to ensure that you do not lose the ability to obtain the compensation you are owed due to the negligence of another. Working with an experienced car accident attorney at the Milano Legal Group will help you understand your rights. Our legal team can compile accident reports, witness statements, police reports, medical claims, and other appropriate evidence to not only help strengthen your case and ensure that you file in a timely manner, but also help you obtain the compensation…

First, if you’ve been involved in any car accident, you need to make sure that you or anyone in your vehicle aren’t injured. If anyone is injured, seek medical treatment immediately. If there are injuries, it’s best to contact a Houston car accident lawyer to evaluate your case. Whether there are injuries or not, the following 12 tips for handling your own car accident property damage case will steer you in the right direction when dealing with the stress of a car accident. 1. Know the Texas Statute of Limitations for Property Damage You need to make sure you’re “still in the game” statutorily and that you haven’t lost your rights to receive compensation for your losses under Texas law. Note: the statute of limitations for Texas property damage cases is two years from the date of the accident. In uninsured / underinsured motorist property damage claims against your own insurance company, the statutes of limitation are more complicated, which include breach of contract (four years–generally), bad faith (two years); and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (two years). However, when these statutes start to run are different in every case and your insurance company may contract around them.  So, it’s best to call a Houston car accident attorney to avoid losing your rights. 2. Get Your Texas Car Accident Police Report After you have been involved in a car accident, even a minor one, call 911 and have a police officer write a car crash report (Peace Officer’s Crash Report – CR-3 Form).  This is important for several reasons: you need to document that the accident occurred; you’ll need information from the report to assist you in filing a claim with the insurance company; and usually the officer will assign fault by citing the driver responsible for the accident or will provide contributing factors based on their investigation, which will help with determining liability later.  According to Texas Transportation Code Section 550.062, a Texas police officer is required to write a Peace Officer’s Crash Report whenever the accident resulted in injury or death or property damage of $1,000 or more. This report must be filed with the department no later than 10 days after the accident.  If the accident doesn’t immediately involve injury or death or property damage that exceeds $1,000, then you should still fill out a Blue Form Crash Report (CR-2 Form), even though it’s not legally required.  The CR-2 Driver’s Crash Form is for the driver’s records only and, as of September 1, 2017, is no longer turned in or retained by the Texas Department of Transportation. Drivers involved in a crash not investigated by a peace officer should retain this form for their records and fill them out as soon as possible so not to fail to put any important details that may be forgotten from passage of time. Find out how to get your crash reports below: Harris County Dallas County Fort Worth San Antonio 3. If your car isn’t drivable, keep track of where it is being taken and stored.  Have it moved quickly to a repair shop of your choice or to the insurance company’s storage facility to avoid accruing fees. The whereabouts of your car will usually be given to you by the tow truck driver and will also be noted on the police report. However, it’s important to have this information up front so that you can accurately give this information to either your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company when you file your claim. The insurance company will need to know where the car is stored in order to send an adjuster to estimate the damages and move it to a repair shop.  Keep in mind, that under Texas law you have the right to choose which repair shop your vehicle is repaired, as well as the replacement parts that are used.  If your vehicle is stored at a storage lot, you will be assessed a daily fee, which can quickly add up.  Even if it was the other driver’s fault, it is your duty under Texas law to “mitigate your damages.” This means that you must take reasonable steps to reduce the damages, cost, and to prevent them from getting worse. If you do not mitigate your damages and just let your car sit in the storage lot for an unreasonable amount of time, the insurance company will not be responsible for paying all the storage fees. If the insurance company is still investigating liability, try to have the insurance company move the vehicle to their storage facility to avoid accruing fees. For more information about Texas car accident storage fees, click here. 4. If the accident wasn’t your fault, file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.  If you haven’t hired a Texas car accident attorney, make sure when you talk to the insurance representative that’s opening your claim, to stick to the facts of the accident and be consistent with what you told the police officer that investigated your accident and wrote your report. The insurance company will later have access to the crash report and will know whether there were inconsistencies in your side of the story you told the police and what you have told them when you filed the claim. Be concise, truthful, consistent, and try not to be emotional. You’ll be giving the insurance representative mostly basic information such as your name, address, date of birth, vehicle information, where your car is being stored, and location and time the accident occurred. They will also ask if you suffered any injuries as a result of the accident.  If you feel any pain at this point, it’s best to contact a Texas car accident attorney to get their advice before speaking to the insurance company regarding your injuries.  Most people don’t know how to properly approach these questions when asked by the insurance company. The insurance representative will then provide you with a claim number and claim adjuster’s name…