How to Start the Process of a Car Accident Lawsuit in Texas
If you have suffered an injury due to a car accident in Texas, you’ve probably already dealt with an insurance company (either yours or another driver’s) about your claim. If the settlement offers that you receive are not cutting it, you have another option. You can file a lawsuit to attempt to recover appropriate compensation in court. But how does this process work?
To start your car accident lawsuit in Texas, you must first collect evidence on your accident. This evidence will be used to prepare and file a petition, which should contain information about the parties, the accident itself, and the damages that the accident caused. The petition must be served to the party that you are suing. The service process in Texas is governed by specific rules that you may read about below. Once the other party answers your petition, you will go through discovery, which is how you will generate evidence to support your suit. Once discovery is finished, the trial begins. The process may be canceled at any time if a settlement is reached.
While you may begin your lawsuit without the help of an attorney, we strongly urge you to enlist the help of counsel. The attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. have years of experience both in and out of the courtroom, advocating on behalf of clients just like you. If you want to bring your car accident lawsuit to court, we can help you do that. Call us today at (817) 476-1797 for a free consultation.
Gathering Information for a Car Accident Lawsuit in Texas
The first step that you should take before filing your petition is an investigation of the facts of the case. This involves gathering police and insurance reports, witness statements, and damage calculations.
In order to bring a successful car accident lawsuit in Texas, you must prove that another party’s negligence was the cause the accident and that you suffered injuries to your person and/or property as a result of the accident. To hear more about whether your car accident could become a valid lawsuit in Texas, you should consult one of our car accident attorneys.
Evidence like police reports and witness statements can help you prepare a case that says the accident was caused by the other party’s negligence. For instance, if the police report says that the other driver ran a red light and collided with your car in an intersection, that can help you show negligence and cause for purposes of a lawsuit.
For damages, you should take into account any property damage to your car as well as any personal injury that you may have suffered. Hospital bills and invoices from auto repair shops can help bolster your claims for damages. If you feel that you don’t have a good sense of what your total medical expenses may be, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or go to a hospital and ask specific questions for your own records.
You can also recover for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. For help calculating the damages that you may recover in a car accident lawsuit in Texas, we highly recommend that you speak with a Houston car accident attorney.
Preparing and Filing a Petition for a Car Accident Lawsuit in Texas
A petition (or a complaint in many other jurisdictions) is the legal mechanism for declaring that you intend to sue someone in Texas. A petition must contain specific information in numbered paragraphs, such as the names and contact information of the party or parties that you are naming, the facts of the accident, the legal reasoning for the lawsuit, and the damages that you are hoping to recover as a result.
Once you have prepared your petition, make at least three copies of the petition and deliver them to the Clerk of the Court in which you would like to file your lawsuit. Each court has rules about what cases they may hear. For instance, you cannot file your car accident lawsuit for $10,000 in the Supreme Court of Texas. Instead, you would file in a Texas Justice Court, unless your damages exceeded $20,000.
Each court has their own unique requirements for how petitions should be formatted and filed. While you are permitted to file your petition on your own, it can be extremely helpful to have a Dallas car accident attorney prepare your petition on your behalf, so that you don’t get caught up in messy procedural snafus. If you have questions about where and how to file your car accident lawsuit petition, speak to The Queenan Law Firm today.
Notifying a Respondent in a Car Accident Lawsuit in Texas
A person who files a civil lawsuit petition in Texas (also known as a “petitioner” or “plaintiff”) must then inform the other party or parties named in the petition (the “respondent” or “defendant”). Texas law requires that you appropriately provide the respondent with legal notice of the petition in an adequate and timely manner.
Texas does not allow you to give legal notice yourself. You must arrange for the issuance of a citation, including a copy of the petition, to be delivered to the respondent through a process server. A process server is the person in the movies who hands the lawsuit to the main character and says, “You’ve been served.” However, the process is a little more complicated in the real world. You can arrange your service by asking the Clerk of the Court to issue citation. You can also coordinate this process through your attorney.
Once the respondent formally answers your petition, you will be notified of your first court date and your case has officially begun. Remember, you can choose to offer or agree to a settlement offer at any time, including after your petition has been filed, up until the trial concludes.
We Can Help You Start Your Car Accident Lawsuit in Texas Today
The seasoned Arlington car accident attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm have been filing petitions and trying cases on behalf of car accident victims just like you for years. To hear about your options and have your petition drafted and filed, call us at (817) 476-1797.