San Antonio Car Accident Lawyers Answer Car Accident FAQs
If you have ever been involved in a car accident, you probably know that these events can be incredibly stressful. Car accidents are (hopefully) not a common occurrence in your life. For that reason, folks tend to have a lot of questions involving what happens next and what they can expect. So, we’ve compiled a list of FAQs to help you make your next move.
I was involved in an accident. Do I need a car accident attorney?
It really depends on how extensive your injuries were. In cases where you’ve required stays at the hospital or have missed time from work, an attorney can help you recoup some or all of those losses and can get you compensation for things like pain and suffering. Typically, insurance companies will not just offer you that money. You will need to fight to get every penny that you’re owed.
What can I recover in a personal injury claim?
In a car accident, your claims are divided into two types: property damage and personal injury. Each driver in Texas is required to carry a minimum amount of $30,000 in injury liability per person and $60,000 per accident if there are multiple people injured. The insurance company is only responsible for up to the policy limit and no more.
However, the law entitles you to collect for:
- Medical expenses related to the accident;
- Lost wages or missed time from work;
- Any expenses related to the accident; and
- Non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
In some cases, you may be able to collect punitive damages. This is true if the driver injured you intentionally or was operating the vehicle recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Pain and suffering is calculated on a per diem basis. In cases where an injured party is permanently impaired, disfigured, or can no longer do their job, damages can go into six or seven figures. However, it may be difficult to collect that money if the driver has a low policy limit and does not otherwise have significant assets to sue against.
What happens if my injuries exceed the liability coverage?
If your injuries exceed the policy limit you can sue the other driver directly to recover the difference. To do so, however, you will require the aid of a skilled San Antonio traffic accident liability attorney.
In many cases, however, the individual who is carrying the bare minimum in coverage won’t have a significant amount of assets on which to draw. In that case, if you’ve purchased uninsured or underinsured driver coverage, you can file a claim against your own policy.
The driver fled the scene of the accident or did not have insurance. Now what?
Unfortunately, there are many drivers who are driving illegally without insurance. In this case, you can sue the driver directly or, if you have uninsured driver coverage, you can file a claim against your own policy.
Do I need an attorney to file a claim against my own uninsured driver policy?
Probably. If your injuries are extensive enough to warrant filing a personal injury claim against your own policy, you will want someone who is skilled at negotiating with insurance companies to manage the claim. The first thing the insurance adjuster will do is attempt to pay you as little as they can while still upholding the legally binding terms of the policy. They do this all day long and are quite skilled at it. Retaining the aid of a San Antonio personal injury attorney will ensure they can’t devalue your claim.
I was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. What happens now?
All drivers should wear their seatbelts whenever they are in vehicle that is in motion. If for any reason you were not wearing your seatbelt when you got into an accident, the insurance adjuster may try to bring this up at the negotiation stage. But this is not something that will generally influence the outcome of the case in a Texas court of law. In other jurisdictions, however, you may have to worry about your failure to wear a seatbelt and how his may affect the process of claiming compensation for damages.
Do I have to show my medical records to the insurance adjuster?
If you get into an accident that turns into a personal injury case, you should not turn show any documents to anyone who is not your San Antonio car accident attorney. Medical records contain sensitive information that should not be released to third parties, particularly to adjusters representing the interests of the insurance company of other drivers involved in the accident.
Will I end up in court if I file a personal injury claim?
You would be surprised how many personal injury claims are paid by insurance companies without going to court. You may talk to an attorney and come up with a compensation figure that all parties believe is fair, and the case is settled without having to enter the courtroom. Not all insurance companies will oppose every legal challenge filed against them; in some instances they may already be predisposed to a settlement under previous advice by actuaries.
Do I have to go to the doctor even if I feel fine after the accident?
All drivers and passengers involved in road traffic accidents should see a doctor. You may feel fine now, but a physician may be able to detect a hidden injury or serious condition that you do not immediately feel due to an adrenaline overload. Most insurance companies will cover the costs of an initial visit to the doctor right after an accident. In general, you should never accept an offer of settlement from an insurance company until you have seen a doctor.
I think the accident was my fault. Do I still need an attorney?
Personal injury and liability cases cannot be predicted, but they can be managed. If you were behind the wheel of a car that was involved in a crash, that does not automatically make you responsible for the accident. What you should do is allow an experienced San Antonio car accident attorney evaluate your case and weigh your options.
My air bags did not deploy. What should I do?
Car accidents do not only cause personal injury issues. There may be product liability issues as well, and the failure of airbags to deploy during an accident are examples of these issues. In this case, your car accident attorney may be able to file a liability claim against the automaker.
Should I sue the other driver or the insurance company?
Personal injury claims are largely procedural. They don’t always involve a lawsuit, and they are often resolved between the attorneys of the drivers and passengers involved as well as with the legal representatives of the insurance companies. In any auto accident case, you will need legal counsel to ensure that your interests are represented, even if no lawsuit comes out of it.
Experienced San Antonio Car Accident Lawyers Can Answer Your Questions
If you have questions about your accident, speak to a San Antonio car accident attorney at Brylak Law today.