Car accidents are a leading cause of death and injury in the U.S. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to avoid an accident, no matter how diligently you drive, when another driver makes judgment errors or drives negligently.
At The Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III and Associates, PLLC in Houston, we help people who have been injured in car accidents through someone else’s negligence. You are not just another number at our firm. We are always available to our clients by text, phone, or email. He takes pride in being one of the best car accident lawyers Houston has to offer.
How long do I have to file a claim for a car accident?
In the state of Texas, a car accident lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations starts the day of the accident and expires in two years from that date. Under certain circumstances, an injury claim can be filed two years from the date the injuries were first discovered.
Some types of accident claims have a shorter timeframe in which you have the legal right to file a claim. Speak with an experienced accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident to ensure your right to recover compensation is protected.
Why You Need an Attorney for a Car Accident with Injuries
Modified comparative fault in Texas provides parties at fault for accidents and their insurance companies with a way to reduce or avoid payouts. To protect their own bottom line, they will argue tenaciously that the victim was at fault for the accident to a greater degree.
Arguments to Establish Comparative Fault
To establish a greater degree of comparative fault on the part of the victim, the defendant must show that the injured party was negligent in a way that contributed to the accident. Negligence that did not contribute to the crash has no bearing on comparative fault. Insurance companies and their attorneys have been known to argue that the injured party was:
- Speeding while driving a vehicle involved in the accident
- Riding with a driver known to be drunk, drowsy, or reckless
- Riding in a vehicle known to be defective
- Distracting the driver or interfering with the operation of the vehicle
What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Many factors can contribute to automobile accidents, including hazardous road conditions, inclement weather, animal crossings, and tire blowouts. However, most car accidents in Houston are caused by driver inattentiveness, recklessness, or negligence. Driver factors contributing to car accidents include:
- Distracted driving: Drivers who are texting, talking on the phone, or otherwise distracted are a leading cause of accidents on the roadways today.
- Driving under the influence: Alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s ability to function fully and cause accidents every day.
- Speeding: The faster a vehicle is traveling, the longer it takes to stop and the greater the impact of a collision.
- Aggressive driving: This combination of dangerous driving behaviors may include speeding, tailgating, running stop signs and red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, and failing to yield the right-of-way.
What are the different types of car accidents?
The most common types of car accidents are as follows:
- Rear-end collisions
- Low-speed collisions
- T-bone accidents
- Head-on collisions
How much does a car accident attorney cost?
Our lead attorney, Willie Powells, works on a contingency fee basis. This approach means you will not be charged any legal fees unless he is successful in recovering damages. The fee will be a percentage of the total amount recovered.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?
If your case is settled with the insurance company, the settlement will be paid out in one lump sum. Unlike jury awards, insurance settlements are not itemized. Your medical bills and attorney fees are paid out of your settlement, and the remainder goes in your pocket.
Can I sue an insurance company without hiring a car accident lawyer?
You could, but it will save you a lot of time and money to use an attorney. If your injuries are serious, the insurance company may not offer you the amount that you actually need to pay for your medical bills. In this case, it can be invaluable to have a lawyer arguing your case on your behalf, as they know better the ins and outs of dealing with complex insurance clauses. Additionally, a lawyer can help to account for pain and suffering costs, which may be less easy to pin down than physical damages. An attorney can also help obtain the proper evidence needed to prove your case by gathering witness statements and supporting documents, all of which is time-consuming to go after on your own.
How do I deal with insurance adjusters?
While your accident may have sent your emotions into a tailspin, being calm and professional will go a long way when dealing with insurance adjusters. It’s important to remember you are conducting a business transaction and to act accordingly.
Some tips include:
- Express willingness to work with the adjuster
- Return calls and emails on time
- Allow your vehicle to be inspected
- Be thorough when documenting your claim
- Be courteous and pleasant
What should I do when an insurance company offers me a settlement?
- Be courteous – Even when dealing with someone you believe is acting in bad faith, it’s important that you retain composure and handle yourself professionally. Getting enraged or making a scene can only damage your claim or put you at a disadvantage when trying to prove your character. It may be a wise choice to hire a personal injury lawyer who can speak on your behalf without passion.
- Be knowledgeable – Make sure you ask the right questions when dealing with the insurance company. Find out how the case was assessed and get the numbers broken down for you. If your losses were incorrectly calculated, you may need to provide further documentation of medical expenses and lost wages. Again, a lawyer can be a huge help in this situation.
- Put it in writing – Always make sure that you respond to settlement offers in writing rather than orally. It’s important to document all correspondence in the event that there is a trial later. Write down the points presented that you disagree with, and support your case with clear evidence such as bills or pay stubs. Make your counter offer in writing.
- Be resilient – Do not let yourself get bullied into accepting a poor offer. You are not legally obligated to say yes to any offer presented to you, unless you feel it is fair. Insurance companies acting in bad faith will delay your claim, withhold explanations as to their decisions, and offer unreasonable sums. Let your attorney review the numbers before you agree to anything.
Comparative Fault for Car Accidents in Houston, Texas
Car accident cases are not that simple, even if the other driver was clearly at fault. Like many other states, Texas follows a modified comparative fault 51% bar rule. This means that a person injured in an automobile accident in Houston cannot recover damages if he or she is found to be 51% or more at fault for the wreck.
The good news is that you may be able to recover compensation, even if you were at fault to some degree for the accident, provided your fault is found to be 50% or less. The best thing to do is to speak with an experienced car accident attorney after a traffic crash with injuries.
Comparative Fault Can Reduce Your Recovery
Car accident victims who are found to be 50% or less at fault for the accident have their recovery reduced by their assigned degree of fault. For example, a person awarded $100,000 in damages who was found to be 30% at fault for the accident would have his or her recovery reduced to $70,000.
Why Choose The Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III and Associates, PLLC?
Willie D. Powells is different – not your average personal injury lawyer. He is a tough advocate for Houston people hurt in car accidents. We work to maximize your experience, fight vehemently for your rights, and treat every client like an individual.
Most Common Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents
The two broad categories of car accident injuries are:
- Impact injuries: Usually caused when the person’s body hits a part of the car interior.
- Penetrating injuries: Lacerations and abrasions from shattering glass or flying loose objects inside the vehicle.
Common car accident injuries
- Head injuries: An unexpected stop or change of direction in a crash can cause impact of the head with an object or sudden, unnatural movement of the head.
- Chest injuries: Contusions, fractures, and internal injuries can occur when the body is thrown forward against a shoulder harness or seat belt or collides with the steering wheel or dashboard.
- Arm and leg injuries: Fractures, sprains, bruises, and cuts to the arms and legs occur when the body is thrown around in a crash.
- Soft tissue injuries: Damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments occurs in many forms, including whiplash – injury to the neck and upper back caused by a sudden whip-like motion of the head and neck in a collision.
Car Accident Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides the following data for 2015, the most recent year for which both injury and fatality statistics are available:
- 32,529 fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred, resulting in 35,485 fatalities
- 2,443,000 people were injured in traffic crashes in the U.S.
- 97 people were killed and 6,693 were injured per day
- 9,350 fatal crashes were alcohol related
- Speeding was a factor in 27% (9,723) of all traffic deaths