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Visit The Links Below To Get Answers To Common Car Accident Injury Questions In Texas

What happens when my car is totaled?

Can I file a claim even if I was hit while driving without any car insurance?

Can I still file a claim if the accident was partially my fault?

What happens if I don’t want to take the insurance company’s settlement offer?

Who will pay for my car damage?

What happens if the person who caused the accident has no insurance?

The insurance adjuster said that I did not need to hire a lawyer. Is that true?

I was injured as a passenger. Can I file a claim?

Should my health insurance company pay for my medical bills that are caused by an accident?

Who files the claim when the children are injured? What happens if the parents are divorced? Can either parent file a claim?

It is legal for the other side to take pictures and videos of me without my consent?

What is the first thing I should do after an accident?

What should I tell my insurance adjuster after an accident?

Will my car insurance rates increase if my insurance company pays to repair my car, even when I wasn’t at fault in the accident?

What happens if I am an undocumented immigrant and am hit by another driver? Can I still file a claim?

Can undocumented immigrants still file a car accident claim?

Did someone who was not working for my employer (a third party) help cause my accident or injury?

Do I have a third-party case?

What happens if the other person does not have enough insurance to cover all my medical bills and damages?

 

What happens when my car is totaled?

The general principle is simple: when someone causes an accident, the insurance company for the at-fault driver is supposed to put you in the same financial position you were in before the accident. Texas courts have interpreted this to mean that, when your car is totaled, you get the value of the car at the time of the accident. Thus, the insurance company for the at-fault driver is supposed to appraise your car and pay you the car’s pre-accident value. Unfortunately, this is usually less than what it will cost you to replace the car. There are some car insurance companies that now sell replacement policies, so when your car gets totaled, you receive enough money to replace the vehicle (sometimes called “gap insurance”). However, these policies are not standard, so if you want this kind of protection, you have to ask (and pay) for it.

Can I file a claim even if I was hit while driving without any car insurance?

Yes. There is no requirement that you have car insurance to file an injury claim. If the other person is at fault, then their insurance company is required to pay for your injuries and expenses. When it comes to auto insurance, Texas uses what is called a “fault” system. This is a system that requires drivers to pay for the accidents they cause. There is no requirement that you have car insurance. Simply put, if another person is responsible for causing the accident, they (or their insurance) should pay. A word of caution. Going without insurance, even if not technically required for you to file an injury claim, is a bad idea. The other party could claim that you are at least partially responsible for the accident. If a jury agrees, you might have to pay for some of the injuries or expenses. Also, having uninsured motorist insurance would help protect you if the other party’s insurance coverage is insufficient to pay for all your injuries and expenses. Finally, driving without insurance is against the law in Texas and if caught, you might get a ticket for driving without it.

Can I still file a claim if the accident was partially my fault?

Yes, unless you are mostly at fault. Frequently, there is more than one factor contributing to an accident. Thus, the law allows a person who is partially the cause of his or her own accident to file suit against the person or company who is primarily at fault. However, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.  For example, if your damages are $100,000 and you are 30% at fault, then your claim will be reduced to $70,000 to account for your own fault. If the case is settled, then the reduction is a matter of negotiation. If a jury decides the case, then they determine the percentage of fault for each party.

What happens if I don’t want to take the insurance company’s settlement offer? 

If the insurance company makes a reasonable settlement offer in response to your demand package, then the case settles and you are done. However,  if you are not satisfied with the offer, then you can file a lawsuit and ultimately let a jury decide the value of your case. It usually takes more than a year to finally get to trial – sometimes several years. However, the parties are free to settle at any time during the course of a lawsuit, and they usually do.

Who will pay for my car damage?

If the other driver has liability insurance, his or her insurance company is supposed to pay to repair your car and pay for the reasonable rental value while your car is in the shop. If the insurance company has admitted fault, then we typically suggest that you handle this negotiation yourself. The cost of the repairs is fairly straightforward, and we don’t like taking a fee for doing something you can do for yourself. (The personal injury portion of your claim is very different.) If the other side does not have insurance, then you can look to your own insurance if you have collision insurance. It is not ideal, but it is better than paying for the repairs out of your own pocket. Call your insurance agent to see if you have collision coverage.

What happens if the person who caused the accident has no insurance?

The law requires every driver to carry liability insurance, but more and more often, people drive and cause accidents when they are uninsured. It is a bigger problem than you might think. One study shows that 1 out of 5 drivers in Texas is uninsured. Some indications suggest that the number is even higher in San Antonio. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you are going to be OK if you have uninsured motorist protection on your own auto policy. This is known as UIM, and if you have it on your own car insurance policy, then your insurance carrier steps into the place of the uninsured driver, and pays you what you would have received if the at-fault driver had carried insurance. If you are hit by an uninsured driver and you don’t have UIM or related coverage, then you are left going after the uninsured driver personally, which is usually an exercise in futility.

The insurance adjuster said that I did not need to hire a lawyer. Is that true?

Of course the adjuster told you that! Why would the insurance adjuster want you to hire a lawyer? If you have counsel, then you will know to push back when they make a low offer. If you have counsel, then you will be advised on a whole host of issues that will protect and help your case. Taking advice from the adjuster about what is best for your case is like letting the foxes guard the chicken coupe. We try very hard not to take any case where we think that the client can do just as well on their own, and in all but the most simple cases, we believe that the clients will do better with counsel – frequently much better.

I was injured as a passenger. Can I file a claim?

Yes. Even with simple accidents, if you are injured as a passenger, there are often up to four different kinds of insurance coverages that can apply – the driver’s policy, the driver’s UIM policy, your own UIM policy and your own PIP policy. For example, let’s say that you are injured as a passenger and both drivers are partially at fault. The breakdown could be as follows:

  1. Liability policy of the drivers: You may be able to recover under both liability policies with the driver of the vehicle you were in, and the other driver involved in the accident. Each side would pay according to his percentage of fault.
  2. Your driver’s UIM policy: Underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance policies essentially pay for medical expenses and other damages that result from an accident caused by a driver who does not have enough insurance to cover all of the damages. If the insurance to the liability policies described above does not fully compensate you for the harm you sustained during the accident, then your driver’s UIM policy can be used.
  3. Your own UIM policy: If the above insurance policies do not fully compensate you, you can use your own UIM policy as well. This is true even if you do not own any of the vehicles involved in the wreck.
  4. PIP: Personal insurance protection (PIP) is an extension of your car insurance and it covers out of pocket medical expenses. Many times it is called “no-fault” coverage because it pays regardless of who is at fault and regardless of what other insurance policies have paid.

Should my health insurance company pay for my medical bills that are caused by an accident?

If you have been involved in a wreck that was not your fault, then the careless driver’s insurance company is responsible to pay for the medical treatment for the injuries you received in the accident. You might think that it is best to give the hospital or doctor the insurance information of the careless driver that caused the accident. This seems logical, but in reality, it is extremely unlikely that the careless driver’s insurance company will pay anything at all.

Who files the claim when the children are injured? What happens if the parents are divorced? Can either parent file a claim?

Normally, the custodial parents or guardian files on behalf of minor children. In some cases, the court will appoint a lawyer to review the file and approve the settlement of a minor’s injury claim. Typically, the defendant pays for this review.

It is legal for the other side to take pictures and videos of me without my consent?

Yes, and it happens more often than you might think. Aggressive insurance companies and defense lawyers often hire private investigators to watch an injured person from a distance and take photos or videos to make it appear that they are not injured. If you are injured, you should assume that this could potentially happen to you.

What is the first thing I should do after an accident?

The moments following an accident can be very disorienting. If you can follow these steps, you’ll set yourself up to achieving a successful car accident case outcome.

What should I tell my insurance adjuster after an accident?

The short answer is, yes. Most insurance policies have a provision requiring prompt notice of an accident. Additionally, your policy may provide coverage for repairs to your vehicle, or it may even cover a rental car while yours gets repaired. Many times your own insurance company acts more quickly than the other driver’s insurance company. So, you need to call and set up a claim with your own insurance company to get the process going. But there are also a few landmines that you want to avoid.

First, don’t go into detail about your physical injuries, especially if you talk to the adjuster soon after the accident. Since he or she will be the one who negotiates the settlement, many times an adjuster will hope to pin down your specific injuries early on when you don’t even know how badly you were hurt. A good approach to take when the adjuster asks about injuries is to say that you don’t know the extent of your injuries, but you want to get checked out by a medical provider. Many car wreck injuries aren’t apparent the first few days after an accident, so keep that in mind when you make your initial call to your adjuster.

Will my car insurance rates increase if my insurance company pays to repair my car, even when I wasn’t at fault in the accident?

Insurance companies can raise rates for almost any reason. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should not file a claim after a traffic accident.

What happens if I am an undocumented immigrant and am hit by another driver? Can I still file a claim?

If injured in an accident, an undocumented immigrant has legal rights. A person’s residency status does not prevent that person from filing a claim against an insurance company after an accident has occurred.

Can undocumented immigrants still file a car accident claim?

If an undocumented immigrant has been involved in a wreck that was caused by another careless driver, then that driver, along with that driver’s insurance company, is responsible to pay for any damages caused by the accident – regardless of status. This includes payment for medical treatment, property damage to the car, and pain and suffering. However, it should be noted that, from a practical standpoint, an undocumented immigrant might have difficulty proving lost wages because they do not have a legally documented work status.

Did someone who was not working for my employer (a third party) help cause my accident or injury?

In Texas, employers who purchase approved workers’ compensation insurance have almost complete immunity from lawsuits when they injure their own employees. This means that the injured workers have to be compensated through the workers’ comp system, which is usually a raw deal for the employee. In fact, the injured workers are frequently grossly undercompensated in the workers’ comp system. Thus, a good lawyer will look for ways to add to or supplement the compensation paid through the workers’ comp system. One way to do this is to look for a third party that may have contributed to the accident.

Do I have a third-party case?

There are many types of third-party cases. You have a third-party party case when there are multiple contractors on a job and one contractor hurts an employee of another contractor. Faulty construction equipment, negligent architects and negligent property owners all can create opportunities for a third-party case. If you do have a legitimate case against a third party, you will be able to recover all the damages that you could not recover in the workers’ comp system – such as your remaining past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and lost capacity.

What happens if the other person does not have enough insurance to cover all my medical bills and damages?

If you do have car insurance, then you will want to check to see if you have certain coverages such as auto collision, personal injury protection, uninsured/underinsured protection and/or medical payments protection. Depending on the circumstances, these coverages may be very helpful to you.

For answers to additional questions, contact our team today. Call 210-679-1930.