There are an average of 6 million car accidents annually in the United States. An average of 90 people die in car accidents daily, while 3 million are injured annually. Of this number, around 2 million people experience permanent injuries each year.
Looking specifically at Texas, 1 person was injured every 2 minutes and 12 seconds in a car accident in the Lone Star State in 2021, while 1 person was killed every 1 hour and 57 minutes. If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, it is essential that you contact an experienced car accidents lawyer. They will help you to secure the justice and compensation you deserve.
In this blog post, your expert team at O’Hara Law Firm in Houston, Texas will highlight everything you need to know about dealing with the aftermath of a car accident so that you can receive compensation and ensure that those accountable are brought to justice.
In addition to the steps you should take, we will highlight what you need to understand about “fault” in Texas, the state’s statute of limitations, comparative negligence, and more. Let’s get started.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Houston, Texas
Here, we will break down the different steps you should take in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. These include calling the emergency services, the police, your insurance company, and an experienced car accident lawyer.
Call the Emergency Services
The very first thing you should do following a car accident is to get to safety. Depending on the nature of the crash, you may be in a position to drive the car to the side of the road. Otherwise, you may only be able to get yourself and others away from the road and any other dangers.
If you are in a position to, take some time to check on the well-being of any occupants in your car and the other car or cars that were involved in the accident. You should also take some time to assess any injuries that you may have sustained in the accident. Due to shock, many people do not immediately recognize their injuries or their extent, so even if you feel fine, it is a good idea to call the emergency services as a precaution.
Call the Police
If the emergency services have been contacted following the car accident, it is likely that the police will be aware and on their way to the scene. However, it is still a good idea to contact them to ensure of their arrival, as their police report will be important when you file a case against the at-fault party. The police report will serve a role in determining who was liable for the accident.
When the police arrive, they will ask you to provide basic information such as insurance details and personal information. At no point should you assign or accept blame at the scene of an accident.
If you are in a position to do so, we recommend that you gather potential evidence. For example, you should take photographs or video footage of any vehicle damage, the crash scene as a whole, skid marks, area conditions, injuries sustained, and traffic signals. When proving liability later on, this content may prove very important.
Call Your Insurance Company
In Texas, there are no specific laws on whether policyholders involved in car accidents should report a crash to their insurance company.
However, a motorist’s insurance contract does require them to promptly report an accident. In the case where a motorist fails to report a car accident within a reasonable amount of time (often as little as a week), the insurer may move to deny coverage. Even if the car accident was minor, it is important that you report it to your insurance provider.
Another step to take in the immediate aftermath of a car accident is to identify the other driver or drivers involved in the accident and get their basic information. This includes names, car insurance details, contact details, and drivers’ license numbers.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
In order to maximize your chances of getting paid after a car accident in Texas, it is essential that you speak to an experienced car accident lawyer. A legal claim following a car accident can be complex and lengthy, meaning that you should always have a qualified lawyer in your corner.
They will help you with every aspect of your case, working to obtain the evidence necessary to prove liability. The work of a car accident lawyer includes:
- Obtain evidence of damage
- Negotiate with defendants and/or lawyers
- Organize medical records
- Negotiate a satisfactory settlement
In addition to the above steps, it is also recommended that you write out exactly what happened before and during the car accident. Some of the relevant details that you should record include:
- The time and location of the car accident
- The direction you were driving at the time of the car accident
- What you were doing at the moment of the impact
- What the other driver or drivers were doing at the time of the car accident
Keeping a journal documenting the emotional and physical toll that the car accident has had on you is also beneficial.
Understanding “Fault” in Texas Car Accidents
Texas is a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents and the options open to motorists injured following an accident. While certain states in the United State follow a “no-fault” system, this is not the case here.
This means that all options are open to motorists who have been injured. For example, they are able to make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company or file a lawsuit against them in court.
Your car accident lawyer will outline the best options you have open to you based on the nature of the car accident.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Texas
Basically, a statute of limitations sets a time limit on a person’s right to take legal action following a car accident. Different states have different laws and depend on whether the action is related to injured, someone’s death, or vehicle damage.
Here in Texas, the statute of limitations deadline for most injury-related car accidents is 2 years from the date of the accident. This is according to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code section 16.003. Likewise, there is a 2-year deadline for lawsuits related to vehicle damage, while wrongful death cases are also 2 years (from the date of the deceased person’s death) but may be paused for up to 1 year depending on the case.
Therefore, you should also be prompt when pursuing a claim following a car accident. A car accident lawyer will help you to stay within the statute of limitations and avoid having your case dismissed.
Note that in the case of government negligence (such as if the at-fault driver was driving a city bus), a claim generally needs to be made within 6 months.
Understanding Comparative Negligence
Depending on the nature of the car accident, Texas’s modified comparative fault rule may come into play. This occurs when more than one party is found to share the blame for a car accident.
If a case goes to a court trial, the jury calculates both the number of the plaintiff’s damages and also the percentage of fault that belongs to each of the at-fault parties. Then, the plaintiff’s damages are reduced by the percentage of fault they were found to have.
To give an example, let’s imagine that a jury decides an individual’s total damages award is $50,000 and that they were found to be 25% responsible for the accident. Under the comparative fault rule, the individual is entitled to 75% of the total damages ($37,500 rather than the full amount of $50,000).
How To Get Paid After a Car Accident
The aftermath of a car accident can be a difficult and confusing time. You may have experienced injuries that prevented you from working, forced you to spend time in hospital, or affected your ability to carry out normal activities. Your overall quality of life may also be affected.
To stand the best chance of securing justice and compensation following a car accident in Houston, Texas, remember to hire a car accident lawyer that you can trust. In Houston, Texas, your premier choice is O’Hara Law Firm.