If you have been involved in a car accident, the entire experience can be very traumatic – from the immediate effects of the crash to filing a claim or lawsuit for damages. Car accident claims can arise from many types of accidents, including high and low speed impact crashes, rear end crashes, head on crashes, T-bone crashes, car accidents on I-10, multiple vehicle accidents, and DWI/DUI or drunk driving accidents.
It is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Houston immediately. Texas personal injury cases have a two-year statute of limitations (SOL), which bars any subsequent lawsuits after this period has passed. This means anyone who was injured in the accident and wants to bring a claim for damages cannot do so after this two year period.
Houston Car Accident Lawyer
Contact Ben Bronston & Associates at 713-CALL-BEN or (713) 225-5236 for a consultation about your claim and options for obtaining compensation. Our law firm proudly represents adults and families injured in accidents across the greater Houston area.
Attorney Ben Bronston is licensed to practice law in all areas of Texas and experienced with personal injury claims arising from car accidents. If you are unable to come into either office for a free consultation, our lawyers can travel to you.
Information for Texas Car Crash Victims
- First Steps After an Accident
- Filing a Claim in Texas
- Elements to a Car Accident Lawsuit
- Types of Compensation Available
- What is Personal Injury Protection Coverage
- Resources for Car Accidents in Texas
- Working with the Best Houston Car Accident Lawyers
First Steps After an Accident
There are a variety of car accident claims throughout Texas. Some of the most common car accident claims involve the following:
- Low Speed Crashes
- Rear Impact Accidents
- Head On Impact
- Side / T-Bone Collisions
- Vehicle Roll Over
- Drunk Drivers
- I-10 Car Accidents
- Passenger Injuries
- Uninsured / Underinsured Motorists
- Multiple Vehicles
- Whiplash Injuries
- Defective Roads
These often occur from the other driver’s negligent operation of their vehicle. A driver can operate their automobile negligently if they engage in excessive speeding, drive while drunk, use a cell phone, fail to pay attention, fail to avoid hazards on the road, or if they are unable to adjust to the road’s conditions.
There are important steps you should take immediately.
- First: Be Prepared – it is helpful to keep the following items on you in case you are involved in a car accident:
- Insurance card
- Vehicle registration
- List of emergency contacts
- Medical information
- Jumper Cables
- Rags or towels
- Disposable camera or camera phone
- Second: Be Safe. Move your car to a nearby location that is safe, but make sure not to leave the scene of the accident. Check if anyone is hurt and call 911 for medical assistance. Finally, contact the police about the accident.
- Third: Stay Calm. Don’t panic after the accident, make sure to remain clam and polite, and cooperate with the police. Most importantly – do not admit fault.
- Fourth: Exchange Information. Collect any contact information from anyone involved in the car accident and any other witnesses, drivers and the tow company if you were towed. Obtain a police report and collect all information about the vehicles involved, such as make, model, year, license plate numbers, insurance carriers and insurance policy numbers. Also, make sure to take pictures of damage to all vehicles involved in the accident.
- Fifth: Contact an Attorney. Never give an insurance company a statement without your attorney . Never sign any documents or accept a settlement before reviewing the long-term and short-term implications with legal counsel.
Filing a Claim in Texas
After a collision, most drivers first attempt to file a claim with their insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company. However, insurance companies will only cover the amount of damage up to the policy’s limits. So, if the other driver was at fault and they were uninsured or underinsured, your medical bills and the costs of your car’s damage may not be covered.
Additionally, if the other driver denies they were at fault, your claim could be denied completely. Insurance companies also generally take a lengthy time to process claims and often dispute the costs associated with the crash. They may refuse to pay all or part of your medical bills and damage to your car. Most insurance companies will also not pay for your time off from work and any additional pain and suffering you may have experienced.
Therefore, if you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Texas who will immediately begin preparing case and help you receive the damages you deserve.
Elements to a Car Accident Lawsuit
Once you have consulted with qualified legal counsel, they will file a petition claiming the other driver was at fault and is liable for your damages. “Damages” is used to refer to what is commonly referred to as compensation.
In order to receive damages from the other driver, you must be able to prove they were negligent when operating their vehicle. A car accident negligence claim involves all of the following elements:
- Duty – The plaintiff or the injured party must be able to prove the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to act with reasonable care when operating their car. This is a general duty and is required by every driver who operates their vehicle.
- Breach – The plaintiff must also prove the defendant breached their duty by failing to act with reasonable care when operating their vehicle.
- Causation – The plaintiff must also prove the defendant’s conduct was the actual and proximate cause of their injuries.
- Damages – The plaintiff must have suffered some form of injury as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
The plaintiff must be able to prove all of these elements by a “preponderance of the evidence”. A preponderance of evidence is the plaintiff’s burden of proof in the lawsuit, which means it is more likely than not that the car accident occurred due to the defendant’s negligence. This is a very low burden of proof, and means that only 51% of the evidence has to be in the plaintiff’s favor in order to win.
There are also two types of general negligence theories – comparative negligence and contributory negligence. Texas follows the comparative negligence theory under section 33.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This means if the plaintiff is at least 51% responsible for their injuries, they cannot file a lawsuit for their damages from the other party.
Additionally, according to section 33.013 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, if the plaintiff was 50% or less responsible for their injuries, the amount of damages they are awarded will be reduced by the percentage of their fault in the accident. Under the theory of pure contributory negligence, which is not followed in Texas, if the plaintiff was even 1% at fault for their injuries, they are barred from filing a lawsuit.
Types of Compensation Available
Chapter 41 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code defines the various forms of damages permitted in Texas for a car accident lawsuit, which are listed below.
- Economic Damages – Economic damages compensate the plaintiff for any actual loss or financial loss they may have suffered. These damages are commonly known as compensatory damages and do not include exemplary or non-economic damages.
- Non-economic Damages – Non-economic damages are intended to compensate the victim for any physical pain or suffering, mental or emotional pain or anguish, loss of companionship and society, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment or disfigurement, and/or any other non-financial loss they may have suffered. These damages do not include exemplary damages, and are usually included in compensatory damages.
- Exemplary Damages – Exemplary damages are also commonly known as punishment or punitive damages. They are generally awarded to the plaintiff if the defendant acted with such gross negligence they should be punished for their actions. In order to receive exemplary damages, the plaintiff must show the defendant acted with malice by intentionally causing the injury, or because the defendant knew his conduct created an extreme risk of severe injury and consciously disregarded that risk.
- Compensatory Damages – Compensatory damages include both economic and non-economic damages, but not any form of exemplary or punitive damages.
What is Personal Injury Protection Coverage?
Personal injury protection covers medical expenses such as ambulance rides, doctor visits, and therapy, lost wages due to injuries, and other expenses that resulted from injuries sustained in a car accident. It is important to note that PIP is known as a no fault benefit. This means that you can make a PIP claim on your policy regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Under Texas law, whenever you take out an insurance policy, the insurance company must give you the option of including personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in your policy. If you decline PIP coverage, you are required to sign a waiver, explicitly waiving the coverage option.
Resources for Car Accidents in Texas
Harris County Civil Court: This website provides information on the civil court process and gives you access to cases results, forms, court rules, information for jurors, and other important services. The Harris County civil court is located at:
Houston, TX 77002
Texas Highway Patrol: This agency is responsible for traffic supervision and law enforcement on Texas highways. Their goal is to help maintain public safety through various efficient and effective programs.
Texas Department of Transportation – Crash Reports: This link provides information on how to obtain a crash report after an accident has occurred. A crash report can be ordered online through this website.
Working with the Best Houston Car Accident Lawyers
Contact Ben Bronston & Associates today for a consultation about your car accident in Harris County, including the cities of Houston, Baytown, Humble, Katy, Pasadena, Seabrook, Spring, Sugar Land, Tomball and Webster. Ben Bronston will listen to the unique facts of your situation and help you determine the best recourse in pursuing your automobile accident claim.
Call Ben Bronston & Associates at 713-CALL-BEN or (713) 225-5236 for a free and honest consultation today.