38,680 Americans died in car crashes in 2020 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Even though more Americans stayed inside the majority of the year due to the pandemic, this statistic represents the most fatal car accidents since 2007. However, there are thousands more car accidents that result in short-term or long-term injuries and major property damage. Some of these car accidents may make you ask yourself: should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t my fault? If that’s the case, attorneys at Reich & Binstock can help. Call us today at 713-622-7271 for a free consultation.
What’s the Difference Between a No-Fault Accident and an At-Fault Accident?
Basically, a no-fault accident is an accident that you didn’t cause. On the other hand, an at-fault accident is obviously an accident that you did cause. It’s important to remember that some U.S. states are at-fault states and some are no-fault states.
Texas as an At-Fault State
Is Texas a no-fault state? Texas is one of 38 states that is an at-fault state. Basically, Texas uses a tort liability system which means that the driver who caused your accident is required by law to cover all costs related to your injuries and car repairs. This will save you the trouble of filing a claim with your own insurance and paying a deductible. Additionally, if the at-fault driver can’t cover the costs of your damages, you can sue them for further compensation.
51% Bar in Texas
Not only is Texas an at-fault state, but it also has a negligence rule called the 51% bar. The rule states that if a plaintiff was 51% or more at fault for their injuries or losses, they won’t receive compensation. So if you were partially at fault for your crash but it adds up to less than 50%, you may still be able to receive compensation.
Texas Statute of Limitations
If you’re asking: should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t my fault? Your next question should be: how much time do I have after my accident to file a lawsuit? In Texas, the statute of limitations for any type of personal injury claim is two years. Basically, if you want to receive compensation, you must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of your accident.
Immediate Steps to Take After a Car Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault
After any car crash, no matter how serious, there are specific steps you need to take to protect yourself. This is especially the case if the crash wasn’t your fault.
Call the Police
The first thing you should do after a car accident that wasn’t your fault is call the police. Even if the crash was just a minor fender bender, call the police anyway because this will start the paper trail of evidence against the at-fault driver. Not only will a police report serve as hard evidence, it will expedite your insurance claim.
Having the at-fault driver’s information is crucial if you want them to cover your injuries or car repairs. Listed below is the specific information you need to ask for.
- Phone number
- Insurance company and contact information
- Policy number
- Driver’s license
- License plate number
The more information you receive, the quicker your insurance claim will be resolved. Additionally, all of this information will help your Houston car accident attorney build a strong case for you.
Talk to Witnesses
Talking to witnesses after a crash is important because it will further strengthen your case against the at-fault driver. Not only do you need to write down their version of what happened, you need to write down their information so you can potentially contact them again.
Write Down Accident Details
Additionally, you need to write down your version of what happened because human memory is often unreliable. In fact, neuroscientists claim that each time humans remember an event, they reconstruct it and change the details ever so slightly. Humans also tend to suppress painful or traumatic memories. This can happen with memories from a serious car accident. Because of all these reasons, it’s important to document the details of your crash while the event is still fresh in your mind. Your accurate memory of what happened can be crucial evidence against an at-fault driver.
Document the Scene
If police happen to not show up at the crash scene, it’s crucial to take pictures of the scene for the sake of evidence. Relevant evidence that you need to photograph are the cars, the street, your injuries, skid marks, broken glass, license plates, and more. Basically, you need to document whatever tells the story and shows the severity of the crash. These pictures will strengthen your case against the at-fault driver.
File a Report With the DMV
Occasionally, police won’t respond to minor crashes that don’t result in injuries or serious damages. As a result, there won’t be a police report to serve as evidence. If this happens, you may need to call up the DMV and file a crash report with them. That way, you will definitely have a paper trail of evidence against the at-fault driver.
Go To the Doctor
If the crash was severe enough to cause injury, go to the doctor for treatment and keep track of your bills, pain level, and symptoms. This documentation serves as more evidence against the at-fault driver. Additionally, this documentation will connect the crash to your injuries.
Call Your Insurance Company
Even if the crash wasn’t your fault, it’s still important to call your insurance company. Discuss what they will and won’t cover. Additionally, ensure that the at-fault driver’s insurance coordinates with your insurance. If you do this, insurance may cover your damages quicker.
Contact an Attorney
If you’re asking yourself: should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t my fault? The short answer is yes. Having an attorney on your side is crucial even in minor accidents because you don’t deserve to pay for your injuries and car repairs. Reich & Binstock attorneys will compile all your evidence and fight for you to receive appropriate compensation.
What Can an Attorney Do For You After a Car Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault?
As stated previously, hiring an attorney is crucial for even minor car accidents. But here’s what to expect from your attorney throughout the legal process.
- Provide answers to all your questions
- Discuss your legal options
- Acquire a police report that explains the circumstances surrounding the crash
- Document testimonies from various witnesses
- Speak with car accident reconstruction specialists
- Obtain your most recent medical records from your doctor
How To Prove That a Driver Was Negligent
The ultimate goal of a car accident case is to prove that the at-fault driver was negligent. An attorney can help you do this. The elements of negligence that must be proven are:
- Duty of care: The at-fault driver undoubtedly owed you a sense of caution and responsibility on the road. You owe the same to other drivers.
- Breach of duty of care: This duty of care was violated by the at-fault driver.
- Causation: You suffered injuries, car damages, or both because the at-fault driver breached this duty of care.
- Damages: You suffered various injuries and monetary losses that compensation may be able to cover.
What Compensation Can I Receive For a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
Depending on how severe your crash was and what injuries or losses you sustained, you could win economic or non-economic damages.
Economic damages essentially cover monetary losses you suffered as a result of your crash. Listed below are the most common types of economic damages:
- Doctor appointments
- Hospital stays
- Cost of medication
- Scans such as MRI’s, X-rays, and other scans
- Surgeries or other out-patient procedures
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Future medical treatment
- Property damage
- Lost wages
But in order to claim economic damages, your attorney must prove that all monetary losses are directly related to the crash.
Meanwhile, non-economic damages are those that don’t have a set monetary value. Some of the most common examples include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, sleep loss, etc.
- Loss of enjoyment in day-to-day life
- Loss of consortium
Call a Car Accident Attorney Today
If you’re involved in a crash and you’re asking yourself: should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t my fault? Car accident attorneys at Reich & Binstock can help you answer these questions and more. We have years of experience in making sure our clients receive favorable outcomes. Call us today at 713-622-7271 for a free consultation.