Car accidents in Texas can cause severe injuries and financial distress. If you are unable to work after a crash, you may need compensation as soon as possible. However, the car accident settlement timeline depends on various factors. Additionally, rushing to settle your claim could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
Below, we discuss the factors that can impact the timeline of a Texas car accident case and the steps you can take to improve your chances of receiving the money you need as promptly as possible.
Steps Involved in a Typical Car Accident Case in Texas
The steps in a car accident settlement timeline depend on the unique case. However, each case generally includes the following steps:
Preserving Evidence at the Accident Scene
After a collision, you might be disoriented and in shock. However, if possible, collect evidence from the accident scene. This evidence could be crucial in establishing liability for the crash. Texas is an at-fault state, so you must prove that the other driver caused the accident to recover compensation for damages.
Evidence you can collect at the accident scene includes:
- Names and contact information for bystanders and witnesses
- Photographs of the automobiles involved in the accident from all sides, including property damage to the vehicles
- Photographs of skid marks, debris, hazards that could have contributed to the crash, etc.
- Cell phone videos of the accident scene to document anything that you might have missed while taking photographs
- Statements made by the other driver, passengers, and witnesses
Tragically, car crashes often cause severe injuries that prevent a victim from gathering information and evidence at a crash site. If so, your attorney will investigate and gather evidence for you.
Seeking Medical Treatment for Injuries
Prompt medical treatment increases your chances of making a full recovery after a car accident. Additionally, delays in medical care could hurt your personal injury case. Failing to seek timely medical attention could result in allegations of failure to mitigate damages.
Keep copies of all medical records and bills you receive related to the car accident. Also, keep receipts for all out-of-pocket expenses, such as bandages, over-the-counter medications, and household services/personal care.
Retaining a Texas Car Accident Attorney
Dealing with an insurance company can be stressful, especially when you are recovering from injuries sustained in a car crash. An attorney will handle all matters with the insurance company, including protecting you from unfair and bad-faith insurance practices.
The Attorney’s Investigation of the Car Accident
Your attorney will conduct an independent investigation to determine how the collision occurred and who is responsible for causing it.
Your attorney may take these steps and more:
- Interview witnesses and bystanders
- Obtain copies of medical records
- Retain experts, including accident reconstructionists
- Retrieve physical evidence from the vehicles and the accident scene
- Search for videos of the collision captured by traffic cameras, nearby surveillance cameras, and other sources
- Obtain and review the police report and crash report
The investigation could take several months to complete. It may take longer in cases involving multiple vehicles, disputed liability, and other complicated matters.
Completing Medical Care
One of the most critical components of a car accident timeline is your recovery period. Maximum medical improvement is when your doctor does not expect your condition to improve, even with additional treatment. You might make a full recovery, or you could have impairments or disabilities.
Settling a car accident claim before you reach maximum medical improvement is not advised. You cannot be sure of the severity of your injuries and damages without a prognosis from your doctor, which they cannot give until you reach MMI. Permanent impairments could increase the value of your economic and non-economic damages.
Sending a Settlement Demand Letter and Negotiating
Once your doctor provides a prognosis, your lawyer will draft a settlement demand letter and send it to the insurance company.
The demand letter has several components, including:
- Reference to the parties involved in the accident and the insurance policy number
- Facts and details explaining how the car accident occurred
- Discussion of case law and statutes that hold the other driver liable for damages
- A description of your injuries and damages
- A demand for settlement in the amount of your damages
A demand letter generally is the beginning of settlement negotiations. The insurance company may accept or deny the demand. It could also issue a counteroffer if it accepts liability but disagrees with the value of your damages.
Your personal injury lawyer and the insurance company may negotiate back and forth for several weeks or months. In most cases, car accident claims are resolved in this manner. The insurance company nor the driver admit liability, but they agree to pay a specific amount in exchange for a release.
A settlement agreement releases all parties from all liability for your claim. Therefore, it is wise to seek legal counsel before accepting a settlement offer or signing any documents from the insurance company.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit If Necessary
If the insurance company denies liability for your claim or refuses to pay fair compensation for damages, the next step is to file a lawsuit.
The litigation process includes the following steps:
- Filing a complaint alleging that the other party is responsible for the accident and your damages
- Waiting for pleadings from the other parties (they have a deadline to respond)
- Discovery (the exchange of evidence and information between the parties)
- Mediation and/or settlement negotiations
- Pre-trial motions
- Settlement or trial
Going to court does not guarantee a positive outcome. The jury decides whether the other driver is responsible for damages and, if so, how much the case is worth. Even if you receive a judgment, you may need to file another legal case to collect the judgment. Additionally, the insurance company might appeal the jury’s decision.
An experienced Texas car accident lawyer will evaluate your case and explain your options. For example, if you could be partly to blame for causing the crash, the issue of comparative fault could hurt you if you go to trial. On the other hand, if you have a solid case, it might be better for you to file a lawsuit than to accept a settlement offer.
Our Experienced San Antonio Car Accident Attorneys Can Help You Navigate Your Case
Our legal team will work diligently to obtain the compensation you need as quickly as possible. The earlier you hire an experienced San Antonio car accident lawyer, the better your chances will be to receive the settlement you deserve. Contact our team at George Salinas Injury Lawyers at (210) 225-0909 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.