Answering All Your Personal Injury and Social Security Disability
When a catastrophic event puts your future at risk, anxiety and uncertainty will cause you to have a million questions. What can you do? How can you provide for your family? Will you recover?
Allow the extensive experience and knowledge of the Packard Law Firm put your worries to rest. Come learn the answers to your questions and see how we can help pull you out of the depths of uncertainty.
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Should I give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement about my accident?
Absolutely not. The adjuster for the other driver usually has various sources of information about the accident before he or she calls you. (Police report, his insured’s account, witness statements and private investigators.) Thus, the main reason they want to talk to you is to see if you will say something that will hurt your case.
Of course, if you plan to settle your case without an attorney, then you will have to talk to the adjuster—he or she will be the one who negotiates the settlement.
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? Do I have to file suit?
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.
How long will it take to negotiate with the insurance company?
Ideally, the negotiation will take a few weeks, but sometimes, it takes a few months. Negotiation is an art, not a science, and each one has its own rhythm. You don’t want to appear too anxious to settle, but you do not want to let it drag on either.
What is a demand package, and how important is it to give one to the insurance company?
Once you finish treating, then your lawyer (or you if you are going it alone) will gather all the records and other documentation relating to your case and then create a demand package explaining why the other side is at fault and documenting all the injuries, medical care, lost wages, expenses, pain and suffering and other damages. You can help this process along by informing your lawyer when you are finished treating and helping with your part of the documentation.
Does the length of time it takes to finish my medical treatment affect when I can settle my claim?
Typically, you should not try to settle your case until all medical care relating to the accident has been completed or at least ascertained. If the medical care is going to go on for an extended time, then you will need to treat long enough for your doctor to be able to explain with reasonable certainty what future treatments will be necessary and what the treatments will cost. (It would be very unfortunate to settle your case quickly only to find out later that you have to pay for a surgery down the road.)
How long will it take to finalize my case?
This is one of the hardest questions for a lawyer to answer. Sometimes it takes a few months and sometimes it takes years. How long it takes will depend on a number of factors including the length of time needed to:
- finish your medical treatment,
- give documentation to the insurance claim that supports your claim (called a demand package),
- negotiate with the insurance company, and
- take the case to court if necessary.
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. (See: What Is the Difference Between Uninsured and underinsured Motorist Coverage?) Finally, driving without insurance is against the law in Texas and if caught, you might get a ticket for driving without it.
Can an attorney help me find a doctor who will help me get relief?
If a careless driver caused an accident, that person’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. So what should you do if you do not have insurance? Sure, you might have a great case and settlement. You probably would win if you go to trial. The problem is that you need treatment now. Your health is your top priority.
The good news is that many lawyers have found health care providers that are willing to provide treatment without upfront payment if the attorney guarantees payment if the case settles. This is extremely helpful to individuals who need treatment now but cannot pay for it until the case settles. If your lawyer cannot guarantee payment, you may consider getting treatment at a local charity hospital or obtaining financial assistance from a local charity organization.
If you have been involved in an accident, it is important to get treatment immediately. This is the best thing you can do for your case and more importantly, your health. If you need help obtaining the medical attention you need to treat injuries sustained during an accident, call us today at 210-340-8877 and set up your free consultation.
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.