Despite the best efforts of a Houston car accident lawyer, many accident victims do not get the full value of the actual damages listed in their car accident claim. In some cases, this is due to the fact that the victim was also partially at fault for the accident. However, in most cases, injured persons make several mistakes that give insurance adjusters the opportunity to increase their proportion of fault.
In some cases, these mistakes make it very hard for a Houston car lawyer to prove the other driver’s fault or justify their client’s economic damages included in the car accident claim. This is extremely frustrating, especially for the injured person who will not get full compensation for their medical care bills and lost wages.
For this reason, we believe that it is useful to explain what exactly you should do if you are involved in a car accident in order to maximize the value of your car accident claim. The advice we will share here is based on years of experience and real-life cases we handled.
What Is the Comparative Negligence Principle in Texas and How Does It Affect You?
First of all, let us explain the impact of being partly at fault on your car accident claim. In Texas, all personal injury cases are judged based on the comparative negligence principle. This principle determines who has the right to seek compensation after any kind of incident caused by another person’s negligence.
It is quite clear that cases in which one person is 100% at fault are very rare. Thus, Texas legislators had to determine how much a person can be responsible for their accident and still be eligible to seek damages. In our state, the threshold is 50%. Thus, if your percentage of fault is determined to be 51%, you do not have the right to seek compensation.
Also, after filing a car accident claim, your total amount of damages shall be reduced by your percentage of fault. This is why, in many cases, injured persons do not recover all the economic and non-economic damages listed in the letter of demand. For instance, if you are found to be 25% at fault and damages amount to $100,000, you will likely collect only $75,000 ($100,000 – $25,000).
The Best Course of Action to Protect Your Chances to Win a Fair Compensation
A car accident is a traumatic event for anyone. The shock alone is sufficient to make you unaware of your actions for a time. However, it is important to stay calm. Professional medical care will help you recover from any injuries you may have suffered. And an experienced Houston car accident lawyer will help you recover your damages.
You must remember to do the following.
1. Comply With Your Legal Obligations
According to the Texas Transportation Code, drivers involved in a traffic accident resulting in bodily injury or death are obliged to:
- Stop their vehicle immediately
- Remain at the accident scene until the police arrive to investigate the crash
- Provide reasonable assistance to any injured person
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver or drivers involved in the crash.
Obeying these legal obligations is critical – and not only for the success of your car accident claim. Leaving the accident scene is an offense punishable by:
- Between 1 and 5 years in jail
- Fine up to $5,000, or
- Both fine and imprisonment.
2. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Car accidents almost always result in injuries. Some of them are not visible from the beginning, and you may not feel any pain, either. However, you should drive yourself to the nearest hospital or ask for an ambulance immediately after the crash.
First of all, this is for your own good. Untreated injuries can get worse over time, reaching the point when they can leave you with a permanent disability. Secondly, you need to prove that you suffered injuries in the car accident. The best way of proving it is by getting diagnosed as soon as possible after the time of the crash.
If you go to the hospital the next day, when you start feeling pain and discomfort, it will be quite difficult for your Houston car accident lawyer to connect the injuries with the crash. An insurance adjuster will state that you probably got the injuries later, in an unrelated incident.
3. Do Not Give a Statement to the Insurance Adjuster
Soon after you’ve reported the accident, you will get a visit from an insurance adjuster representing the other driver. They will claim that they want to help you settle the case quickly, get a lump sum compensation and put an end to the matter. For this purpose, they need a recorded statement from you and your signature on a settlement agreement.
If you do any of these, your chances to file a car accident claim are compromised. The adjuster will offer you a lowball amount, nowhere near your actual damages. Also, if you refuse their deal, they will try to get you to make self-incriminating statements or contradict yourself. These statements will be used against you during the negotiations with your Houston car accident lawyer.
4. Follow Through With the Recommended Medical Treatment
Many accident victims start despairing when they see their medical bills accumulating. At a certain point, they feel that they are sufficiently recovered from their injuries to stop going for check-ups and refilling their prescriptions.
This is a mistake – both for your health and for your car accident claim. Incompletely healed injuries are just as dangerous as untreated injuries. Also, the insurance adjuster negotiating with your lawyer will definitely find out that you stopped the treatment, thus giving them cause to argue that your injuries must not be very serious.
Let an Experienced Houston Car Accident Lawyer Negotiate Your Claim!
Houston Lawyers 360 is ready to help all injured persons recover their damages from the negligent party that caused their accident. However, you should make sure that you do not compromise your own case by making various mistakes until you retain legal representation.
The best course of action is to schedule a free case review with a Houston car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your crash. You will get a fair estimation of the value of your car accident claim and, if your case has merits, you will secure representation by an experienced lawyer.
Call us now at 346-22-1821 to schedule an initial consultation!