When you have been injured in a car accident that is not your fault, there are crucial steps you should take in order to ensure you recover the compensation you deserve and to hold the liable party or parties accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Here are some of the most critical steps to take when you are not responsible for causing a car accident and how to demand justice for your damages.
What To Do Immediately Following a Car Accident
Immediately after your collision, there are specific steps you can take to protect yourself physically, financially, and psychologically. First and foremost, you must get yourself and your vehicle out of the middle of the roadway if you are able to.
If your vehicle has not been destroyed and you can move it to the side of the road, you should do so. However, if you cannot move the vehicle, you must get yourself to safety and move over to the side of the road, or you could risk suffering further injuries in a pileup accident.
You should also call 911 to get law enforcement officials and emergency responders to the scene of your accident. You might have hoped to resolve this issue without getting the police involved. Still, according to state laws, there are specific circumstances in which you must report motor vehicle accidents to law enforcement. This generally includes any instances of severe injuries or property damage.
Police being called to the accident scene will also provide valuable evidence you can later use in your insurance claim or civil lawsuit against the liable party or parties. This is because the police will often include information about how the accident occurred, who is responsible for causing it, and other essential details in their official accident report.
While you wait for healthcare providers and emergency responders to arrive at the scene of a motor vehicle accident that was not your fault, you can take time to start documenting the scene and gathering evidence that could be used to prove negligence and liability.
Your Dallas car accident attorney will need to introduce evidence convincing the judge and/or jury that the defendant likely caused your injuries. This means the evidence must be compelling. Examples of the types of evidence you could collect immediately after your car accident include:
- Photos of any surrounding property damage
- Photos of damage to involved vehicles
- The names, phone numbers, license plate numbers, and driver’s license numbers of all involved parties
- The names and contact information of the law enforcement officials that responded to the accident scene
- The names and contact information of any accident witnesses
- A copy of the police report
- Notes that detail how the accident happened and the addresses of any homes or businesses nearby that could have caught the collision on camera
- Video footage of the accident scene
Since much of this evidence will only be available for a limited time, it is in your best interest to gather as much as possible in the aftermath of the auto accident. For this reason, the sooner you get your car accident attorney to the scene, the better.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you do not believe your injuries are initially severe, you must obtain medical attention immediately after your car accident. Failure to get medical treatment carries a wide array of potential consequences.
First, you could wind up having injuries you were unaware of. Internal damage, neck injuries, organ failure, concussion, and other invisible injuries may not be readily apparent. If they are not properly treated, your condition could rapidly deteriorate.
Furthermore, suppose you do not get the medical help you need after a car wreck and wait. In that case, it allows the defendant to argue that another type of intervening incident caused your injuries or that you are exaggerating the extent of your medical problems since you did not require immediate medical care. For this reason, getting the medical attention you need immediately following a car accident will only benefit your health and your case.
What To Do in The Hours and Days After a Car Accident
Once you have documented the accident scene, received the medical help you need, and stabilized medically, there are steps you can take in the hours and days after your collision that could help you recover the compensation you deserve and hold the liable party or parties accountable for the losses you suffered.
Get Help from an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Get help from an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as you can. While you are healing from the trauma of your injuries, you do not have to wait to get started on your case.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can handle every detail of your car accident claim from start to finish, so you have the greatest chance of maximizing the compensation you receive. You will not have to devote your valuable time and energy towards working on identifying liable parties, quantifying damages, and associating with insurance companies. You can heal while your lawyer takes on your personal injury claim’s complex legal elements.
Discuss State Laws That Could Impact Your Case
Once you have an attorney working for you, you should discuss potential laws that could influence the outcome of your car accident claim. For example, Texas operates under a fault-based insurance system. Here, after a crash you file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company. However, if your car accident occurred in a no-fault state or if you were hit by someone without insurance, you might file a claim with your own insurance company instead.
Additionally, if you share liability for the car accident, you need to know how your contributory negligence can impact the amount you are able to receive. Texas follows a modified comparative negligence system with a 51 percent threshold. Here, if you are not more than 50 percent responsible for causing a car accident, you can still recover compensation for the resulting damages at a reduced rate.
Expect your settlement or the ultimate courtroom verdict to be reduced proportionately to your percentage of the blame. For instance, if you were 10 percent responsible for causing your injuries because you were not wearing a seatbelt, your recovery would be reduced by 10 percent.
You also need to know how long you have to file your claim. The two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Texas is strict. The insurance company will also have specific deadlines you must meet, or your eventual financial recovery could be put at risk. These essential details must be discussed with your car accident attorney so you are fully prepared for what is to come as you pursue your claim against the liable party or parties.
How To Recover the Compensation You Deserve When Someone Else Is at Fault
When someone else is responsible for causing a car accident, you can recover the compensation you deserve in multiple ways. Generally, this involves filing a claim with the at fault party’s insurance company and/or bringing your car accident case to trial.
File a Claim with The Liable Party’s Insurer
Since Texas is a fault state, you will generally file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company after a collision. Even though Texas has strict auto insurance requirements, that does not mean the liable driver will have sufficient coverage.
Typically, insurance only covers medical bills and property damage. In some instances, it might cover a portion of your lost income as well. However, the insurance company will limit your recovery to the amount of coverage purchased by the policyholder – meaning, you can only collect as much from the insurer as the insured has purchased and paid for which may be far less than the total amount of your damages.
If the defendant only purchased the minimum amount of coverage required by law, and your expenses are greater than this amount, the insurance company will only be obligated to pay out up to the limits of the policy.
File a Claim with Your Auto Insurance Provider
If you decided to purchase personal injury protection coverage (PIP) as part of your insurance policy, it does not matter who is responsible for causing the accident.
You should be able to file a claim with your insurer and recoup compensation for personal property damages and medical expenses. However, since insurance is limited to the amount of coverage purchased in the policy, you may not receive fair and comprehensive compensation through an insurance claim alone.
File a Lawsuit Against the Liable Party
When insurance company offers of settlement are insufficient, you have the right to pursue legal action in civil court. You can file a lawsuit against all parties who contributed to the cause of your accident and recover the associated damages. This may include a combination of both economic and non-economic damages, such as:
- Vehicle repairs
- Medical expenses
- Reduced quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Get Help from a Respected Car Accident Attorney Today
After a car accident that is not your fault, you may be left feeling confused, overwhelmed, and ready to make the liable party pay. An experienced Dallas car accident lawyer at Wolf Law PLLC can help you fight for total compensation.
Learn more about how the claims process works and what is next for your case when you fill out our online contact form or call our office to schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today.