You have the right to seek compensation for damages if you are injured in an automobile accident caused by another driver’s negligence. This compensation can be used to pay for medical bills, the money you were unable to earn due to being out of work while recovering, and pain and suffering. So once you file a claim, what is the car accident settlement process?
It involves more than just filing a claim with the negligent driver’s motor insurance company and getting a check. It can – and frequently does – require a thorough investigation of your accident. Your lawyer and the insurance company work to negotiate a settlement amount. If you can’t get a car accident insurance settlement through negotiation, or if you’re not happy with settlement offer, you may have to file a lawsuit and appear in court. Read our related blog on how to write a counter offer letter for more information.
Your claim may be handled quickly, or it can be a drawn-out process time in court. Working with experienced Houston car accident lawyers at Reich & Binstock increases your chances of receiving a good settlement agreement for you and your family.
Here’s what you need to know about your automobile accident case’s timetable and the factors that influence it.
It helps to know the personal injury claim process to understand the steps your attorney takes, how the car accident settlement work, and how long it may take to settle your case.
Beginning Your Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer
First things first, seek medical attention after a car collision. After you’ve received treatment, get legal advice from a Texas personal injury lawyer. This is an important step if your case is complicated, high-value, or you have life-altering injuries.
The attorney reviews the circumstances of your accident and any injuries and medical care you received. Your lawyer conducts an investigation into the accident in order to obtain evidence to support your claim. This process could take weeks, depending on the complexity of your situation.
Demand and Negotiations
Your lawyer then issues a demand for your damages from the at-fault party’s insurance company. This claim is based on the damages determined by the lawyer, as well as projected future costs associated with your injuries. Your personal injury attorney will represent you in negotiations with the insurance company in order to obtain a fair settlement offer.
A demand will not be made in most situations until you have accomplished your maximal medical improvement (MMI). This is when medical therapy is completed or you have recovered to the utmost extent possible.
This phase is critical because your cases’ value is unknown until you fully recover. It can take weeks or months to reach MMI, depending on the degree and type of injuries you incurred.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit is filed if the insurance company does not make a reasonable settlement. You are given a court date, and your attorney undertakes a number of pretrial processes on your behalf.
When a lawsuit is filed, the discovery phase begins. This is when each side explores the facts surrounding the accident, defenses, and legal claims. Documents are exchanged, and both parties have the opportunity to ask questions and take depositions. This step can last for several months.
Negotiations and Mediation
Negotiations resume once the discovery phase is finished. Even if your case did not settle right away, it may after discovery. Mediation is sometimes utilized so that both parties can meet with a neutral third party to try to reach a fair settlement.
Some cases make it all the way to trial. If this occurs, expect the trial to last only a few days – or months in the most complex circumstances. A jury decides which party is to blame for the accident, the degree of liability if both parties are partially at fault and the amount of the award.
Is Texas a No Fault State?
You can file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Texas because it is a “fault” state. As a result, any driver who causes damages or injuries in an automobile collision may be held accountable per Texas Section 601.051.
Most people cover this by buying liability insurance with minimum limits of $30,000 per injured individual, $60,000 total for injuries per accident, and $25,000 to cover property damage. It is possible to sue a driver for expenses not covered by insurance.
What Factors Affect How Long It Takes To Settle a Car Accident Case?
It can take as little as a few weeks and up to several months to resolve a Texas car accident case. This time is influenced by a variety of elements. The following factors can speed up or slow down the process of resolving your claim:
What Your Case Is Worth
The higher the value of your case, the longer it takes to resolve. That’s because the insurance company strives to keep the compensation as low as possible. They are ready to spend time and money on a legal defense for a high-value claim.
Severity of the Injuries
Serious injuries that impact your future or cause a lasting impairment take longer to settle. Prior to resolving your lawsuit, you should achieve maximal medical improvement to make sure the settlement adequately compensates you.
Once liability is established, your case can likely settle sooner. Your lawsuit may take longer to settle if responsibility is unclear, many parties are involved, or you share some liability.
The Insurance Company
Each insurance provider is unique. Some may settle quickly, while others may take a long time to accept responsibility. This timeframe can be influenced by the size of the insurance firm.
Most Personal Injury Cases Settle Before Going To Court
The majority of car accident cases are negotiated privately outside of court. This is often without filing a lawsuit. However, insurance companies sometimes refuse to accept a claim or make low offers. They’re betting that a jury finds their client not at fault or that they’ll be able to place the responsibility on you.
A case goes to trial if it cannot be settled. It takes longer to get the money you deserve, but a settlement is still possible before the case ends.
Going to trial takes longer and costs more than negotiating a settlement outside of court, but the outcome can be more beneficial if you succeed. A jury may give far more money in damages than the insurance company offered in a settlement. Sometimes a lawsuit also results in punitive damages.
Texas Auto Accident Settlement Amounts
Because each accident is different, there is no specific formula for determining the amount of a car accident settlement. There are several essential aspects to consider:
- Injury severity: A minor whiplash is less severe than a permanent spinal cord injury
- Medical expenses that are reasonable and needed
- Future and past wages lost
- Whether you share fault for the accident. In Texas, the proportionate responsibility statute limits and bars damages based on your amount of fault.
- Insurance coverage types carried by both parties
- The evidence and documentation provided
- Your attorney’s abilities
How Long After an Accident Do You Have to File a Claim?
Following a car accident in Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury or property damage claim.
Get Legal Help With the Texas Car Accident Settlement Process
When you’ve been injured and need to pay for car repairs, medical bills, and lost wages, you can feel pressed to accept a settlement as soon as possible.
The insurance industry is not on your side. The insurance company’s main goal is to minimize the amount of money they pay out.
Settlements for car accidents in Texas can cover a wide range. They largely depend on your ability to argue your case against the lawyers for the auto insurance company. Working with a skilled personal injury attorney can help you navigate the car accident settlement process.
In the event that you or a loved one have been involved in a car or truck accident in Houston, call Reich & Binstock’s Houston car accident lawyers at 713-622-7271 or fill out our contact form below to schedule a free case evaluation.