Car accidents happen all the time and are often regarded as one of the more common reasons for personal injury claims. If you were injured in an accident, call our team for help getting financial compensation.
After a collision, you should call for help and exchange information with others at the scene. After you see a doctor, call a lawyer. A lawyer can help you file insurance claims and a lawsuit to get the full extent of your damages covered. Fault in car accident cases typically revolves around the other driver’s negligence. However, the defendant might claim that you contributed to the crash, and we must be prepared to refute such claims. Plaintiffs typically have 2 years to file a case, but certain circumstances might allow you to extend the deadline. Damages include financial losses, psychological injuries, and possibly exemplary damages depending on the defendant’s behavior.
Call our truck accident lawyers of The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. at (817) 476-1797 for a free, private case review.
What Do I Do After a Car Accident in Killeen, TX?
Immediately after a crash, you or someone with you should call for help. Even if you do not think you are badly injured, get immediate medical attention. You might be suffering from unseen or internal injuries that need treatment. Getting help should be your top priority.
When calling for help, make sure that the police are dispatched to the accident scene. In some cases, both drivers in an accident would rather avoid involving law enforcement, especially if they think the damages are minor. However, you might be required to report the accident to the authorities.
Under Tex. Trans. Code § 550.01(a), drivers involved in accidents involving injuries or death are required to remain at the scene, render aid if needed, and exchange information. Under Tex. Trans. Code § 550.026, such an accident must be reported to the police as quickly as possible. Failing to do so might lead to bigger legal problems.
While you wait for help to arrive, you should try to gather evidence from the accident scene if you are able. It would be best if you talked to the police before removing physical objects, as the police might need them for their own investigation and report. However, you should take photos and make notes about everything you see and hear, including the names of witnesses.
Once the scene is in the hands of law enforcement and you have received treatment at a hospital, you should call an attorney. Our car accident lawyers can help you go over the details of the accident and determine whether the other driver is responsible. If they are, we can help you take legal action to get fair compensation for your injuries and expenses.
How an Attorney Can Help You Get Compensation After a Killeen, TX Car Accident
Getting compensation is usually easier said than done. Even if the other driver is somewhat cooperative and agrees that they owe you some compensation, they might disagree on the total amount. Your attorney can help you get the compensation you rightly deserve. In many cases, injured drivers file insurance claims with the guidance of a skilled lawyer. Additionally, your lawyer can help you sue for damages if the other driver is uninsured or the insurance company refuses to pay.
All drivers on the road in Texas are required by law to be insured. As such, drivers are often covered when accidents happen and can minimize any out-of-pocket payments. The thing is, numerous types of insurance policies and claims might be available to you, and your attorney can help you decide which is right for your case.
Generally, drivers file third-party claims with the other driver’s insurance company. Texas is a fault-based state regarding auto insurance claims, meaning you must provide proof that the other driver is at fault for the crash. Many insurance companies require a copy of the police report at a bare minimum. You can also submit photos you took of the accident and statements from witnesses.
Unfortunately, many negligent drivers are uninsured. Perhaps they cannot afford it, or their policy has lapsed. Either way, your damages might not be covered by the other driver’s insurance because there is none. In such cases, you might fall back on your uninsured motorist policy if you have one. This is usually an optional policy, and not everyone has it. You might also file a claim with other optional policies like MedPay to help with medical bills.
Not only can your lawyer help you sift through your numerous insurance options, but they can walk you through the process of submitting your claim. Insurance companies will jump at the chance to deny your claim. Minor mistakes on paperwork or missed deadlines might cost you everything. Your attorney can help you file the claim on time and explain the situation in a way that convinces the insurance company to cover your damages.
Injured drivers sometimes resist the thought of filing a lawsuit. This is an understandable reaction. A lawsuit can be a major undertaking, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. However, a lawsuit might be the only way for some injured drivers to get financial compensation for their damages and injuries.
One major advantage to filing a lawsuit is that plaintiffs can typically claim greater damages than they could through an insurance claim. Not only are insurance payouts restricted by maximum policy limits, but specific types of damages might not be covered at all. For example, it is not uncommon for insurance policies to specifically exclude coverage for non-economic damages like emotional pain and suffering or psychological distress. This can be particularly problematic for people living with deep trauma from severe accidents.
In addition, lawsuits are determined by courts, not insurance companies. This can be good for plaintiffs, as insurance companies are not exactly famous for their impartiality. Many injured drivers have little faith that an insurance company will pay them the fair value of their damages even if the insurance policy covers them. Courts are not concerned with anyone’s bottom line, and they may award you the full spectrum of your damages if you have evidence to support your claims.
Determining Fault in a Killeen, TX Car Accident
Determining fault is key to getting fair compensation. In an insurance claim, fault is largely decided by the insurance company. Exactly how fault is decided and what evidence is required may vary between insurance companies.
In a lawsuit, fault is usually based on negligence. To prove negligence, we have to establish the four legal elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages. Our evidence of each element must meet the legal burden of proof. In a civil case, the burden of proof is usually a preponderance of the evidence. This means our car accident lawyers must prove it is more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence caused the collision.
Sometimes, defendants try to deflect blame by claiming that the plaintiff somehow caused or at least contributed to the accident. In such cases, comparative fault laws may kick in. According to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 33.01, a plaintiff found by the court to be more than 50% responsible for the accident may be barred from recovering any damages.
If you are found partially responsible but still less than 50%, your damages might be reduced. For example, if the court finds you to be 15% liable for the crash, your overall damages award would be lowered by 15%.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Case for Damages in Killeen, TX?
It is best to speak to a lawyer about your accident as soon as possible. You have a limited amount of time to file your case with the courts. If you miss the deadline, you might lose your right to bring the cause of action, and you may not recover any damages.
According to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.003(a), claims for personal injuries, such as those in car accident cases, must be filed no later than 2 years from the date of the accident. Some might think this is plenty of time, but the deadline is shorter than they realize.
Many plaintiffs do not even contact an attorney until weeks after the accident because they are still recovering from injuries. Once a lawyer is finally contacted, they often need weeks, months, or longer to prepare the case. You need evidence, information about your damages, and effective legal strategies, all making for lengthy preparation time.
If the deadline is coming up fast and you find yourself unprepared, talk to your attorney about the possibility of having the statute of limitations tolled. The deadline may be tolled for certain legal disabilities. According to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.001(a), a person may be under a legal disability if they are a minor at the time of the accident or they are of unsound mind or otherwise mentally incompetent or incapable of taking legal action.
Damages Available in Your Killen, TX Car Accident Case
Your injuries and costs from the accident, in addition to the significant psychological toll from the crash, should be considered when we calculate damages. Not only that, but exemplary damages might also be available, depending on the defendant’s behavior.
Compensatory damages are awarded to make injured plaintiffs “whole” again, at least economically. Compensatory damages are generally comprised of economic losses and non-economic injuries. Keeping a thorough record of all your damages can be challenging, and a lawyer can help you make sure nothing is overlooked.
Economic losses revolve around the money you spend because of the crash. Medical bills are huge in car accident cases, especially when plaintiffs need extensive or long-term care. Surgery, X-rays, medication, mobility aids, and various other forms of treatment are not cheap and must be accounted for.
If your injuries are serious, you might be unable to go back to work for a while. In such a case, you can claim the income you lose because of your injuries. The longer you are out of work, the higher your damages might be. This is crucial for people who have no other means of support.
Do not forget about your damaged car. Whether it is in need of repairs or totally beyond repair, we must add it to your overall damages. On top of that, personal belongings inside your car that were destroyed in the crash may also be included.
Exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages, are not awarded to compensate plaintiffs for their injuries or losses. Instead, these damages are intended as an expensive punishment for defendants. However, exemplary damages are not available in every case. In fact, these damages tend to be rare as they are awarded only under very specific conditions.
According to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 41.003, exemplary damages are awarded only if the plaintiff can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence –a much higher burden than a preponderance of the evidence – that the defendant acted with malice, fraud, or gross negligence.
Exemplary damages are somewhat famous for being high in some cases, but there are limitations. Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 41.008, exemplary damages are limited in one of two ways, whichever is greater. They may not be more than twice the value of the plaintiff’s economic damages plus the value of non-economic damages not exceeding $ 750,000. Alternatively, exemplary damages may not exceed $200,000.
In addition, there must be a finding of compensatory damages for exemplary damages to be available, according to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 41.004. If a plaintiff sued only for nominal damages, which are sometimes as low as one dollar, exemplary damages are typically not available.
Call Our Killeen, TX Car Accident Attorneys for Assistance with Your Claims
Call our truck accident lawyers of The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. at (817) 476-1797 for a free, private case review.