Houston’s Vision Zero program aims to eradicate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. To realize this goal, the local government continues to work on road safety campaigns, infrastructure redesigns, and traffic system recalibrations. The program serves as a solution to the increased driving accidents in the area.
Statistical reports show that Houston had 66,988 motor vehicle accidents in 2021. The city has the most car crash incidents in the state. The second in rank, San Antonio, only has 38,461 cases. In comparison, the other Texas cities only have a few hundred to thousands of reported cases.
The abovementioned statistics indicate a relatively high probability of getting involved in a Houston car accident. Always drive defensively and obey traffic rules to decrease the chances of a collision. However, when the worst happens, it is best to stay prepared.
Car accident injuries can have devastating consequences, physically and financially. When claiming compensation, strive for the value that accurately represents the extent of your losses.
Learn about Houston auto insurance laws to find ways to negotiate with insurance companies and maximize your settlement. If you want reliable and comprehensive legal references, browse The Personal Injury Center. Our e-library covers various topics not limited to traffic collisions, dog bites, and wrongful death.
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Recommended Steps After a Car Accident in Houston
Statistics suggest that an average driver may get into an auto accident at least once every eighteen years. There is no telling when a car wreck will happen, so it is crucial to stay vigilant. Consider the following tips:
Check yourself and your passengers
The first thing you should assess after the accident is injuries. Check yourself and your passengers for any pain, bruising, or bleeding. Due to shock, some people do not notice that they incurred injuries that require immediate medical treatment. For example, injuries like whiplash may manifest after the injured person has calmed down.
Call the police
Under Section 550.041 of the Texas Transportation Code, a police report is necessary for car crashes causing death, injury, and property damage exceeding $1,000. Calling the police is also helpful when there is a suspicion of the erring driver being under the influence. In addition, the police may help facilitate the removal of debris from the accident site.
Collect all involved parties’ contact information
It is not advisable to talk about settlements right after the car accident. The parties may not yet be in a stable mental state, and they may want to seek legal advice. The better thing to do is to collect everyone’s phone numbers and agree on a specific date to settle all matters.
Take photos of the accident
Since human memory is unreliable, always remember to take photos of the cars and surrounding area. This documentation will serve as evidence for any future claim. In addition to the vehicles and the surroundings, take photos of the following:
- Traffic signs, such as speed limits
- Drivers’ licenses
- Plate numbers
- Police investigation
- The drivers’ and passengers’ injuries
Seek immediate medical care
Regardless of whether you feel immediate symptoms or not, visit a nearby clinic. Prompt medical care will prevent health complications and save you from life-threatening conditions. Also, some types of injuries, like brain injuries, are not apparent. Patients may need a CT or MRI scan to detect any underlying issues.
Contact your auto insurance provider
Never delay in informing your auto insurance provider that you got involved in a vehicle crash. You might miss the deadline set by your insurance policy for filing a car accident claim. Also, the earlier you inform your insurance company, the sooner they can conduct investigations and release compensation.
Things To Know When Claiming Car Accident Insurance
Car insurance costs have increased by at least 45.4 percent in the past decade. Considering how expensive it is to maintain auto insurance policies, policyholders should take advantage of their paid coverage should accidents arise.
Claiming car accident insurance can be confusing because of its technical and procedural aspects. Knowing Texas insurance laws can be handy when aiming to maximize your payout.
When it comes to auto insurance, policyholders have the option to choose the type and extent of their coverage. However, policyholders should meet the minimum value Texas laws prescribe. Here are the minimum insurance coverage for auto liability insurance:
- Bodily injury liability, limit per person: $30,000
- Total bodily injury liability, limit per accident: $60,000
- Property damage liability: $25,000
Types of car insurance policies
Besides choosing the type and value of insurance policies, policyholders may choose to customize their policies. Depending on their needs, drivers and car owners may purchase the following:
The liability coverage pays for costs that the at-fault driver incurs in a car accident. While it covers other parties’ expenses, it does not protect the policyholder. The two types of liability coverage include bodily injury and property damage.
Collision coverage covers the repair and replacement costs of the policyholder’s vehicle after being damaged in a vehicle collision. This policy may activate regardless of who is at fault. It may also cover costs arising from damages due to poor road conditions, like potholes.
This type of insurance coverage pays for vehicle damage caused by incidents other than collisions. This policy may activate because of the following:
- Contact with animals
- Natural disasters
- Riots and vandalism
- Theft, whether the entire car or only parts of it
- Falling objects
Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage
PIP coverage covers hospital expenses or medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs from a car collision. It also does not matter who is at fault. Notably, the PIP policy is mandatory in the following states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage
Uninsured motorist insurance activates when the at-fault driver does not carry liability insurance. In comparison, underinsured motorist coverage applies when the at-fault driver’s liability coverage is insufficient to pay the injured parties’ medical expenses.
Towing and labor coverage
It is optional to add towing and labor cost coverage. Its role is to pay for typical roadside breakdowns, such as flat tires, dead batteries, and car lockouts. Others also call it roadside assistance coverage.
Rental reimbursement coverage
The rental reimbursement coverage activates when the policyholder’s vehicle is undergoing repairs after the crash. It pays for transportation expenses, including rental car or public transportation fare. In most cases, policyholders who carry the rental reimbursement coverage must also purchase comprehensive and collision coverage.
Texas operates under a tort system
In a tort or at-fault state, erring drivers in a car collision are financially liable for any bodily injury and property damage suffered by the victim. Often, the at-fault driver’s liability coverage will pay for the expenses. There are thirty-eight tort states in the US, including Texas.
PIP insurance is not a requirement in at-fault states. However, drivers can purchase one in anticipation of vehicle accidents.
In case the accident costs exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, injured parties may direct their claims against the at-fault driver personally. The accident victims may initiate a separate personal injury claim if the erring driver refuses to pay.
Texas follows a modified comparative fault system
In comparative negligence states, an injured party may claim compensation proportionate to the degree of negligence they contributed to the incident. If the injured party incurred damages partially due to their fault, the court may assign the costs to the plaintiffs and defendants proportionately.
The types of comparative negligence are as follows:
- Pure comparative negligence: Under this rule, plaintiffs may claim compensation even if they are 99 percent liable for the accident.
- Modified comparative negligence: Plaintiffs may only claim compensation if their degree of fault falls below a specific percentage. For instance, Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. In car accident cases, claimants may only be entitled to compensation if they are found less than 51 percent at fault.
Moreover, instead of percentages to determine liability, the level of fault can be classified as either “slight” or “gross.”
Average Houston Car Accident Payout
There is no standard average Houston car accident payout. Every settlement is unique and depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the case. However, specific factors may increase or decrease the value of the compensation. These factors include the following:
- Severity of injury: Parties who experienced limb disfigurement and soft tissue injuries may receive more pay than those with only light scratches and bruises.
- The intensity of property damage: Rear-end collisions often total cars, rendering them dysfunctional. Since victims may need to purchase a new vehicle, they could be entitled to a larger payout.
- Loss of life: Fatal crash accidents can be expensive, as they involve the wrongful death of a victim. Their surviving kins deserve rightful compensation for their loss.
- Fault of parties: Injured parties who contributed to the accident, causing their injuries, may have reduced compensation. For example, individuals caught drunk driving may only be eligible for a lesser payout.
Tips for Negotiating a Fair Compensation
Accepting the first offer of a personal injury settlement without careful consideration is not ideal. If the payout does not justify the impact of your experience, you may need to re-open the negotiations. Remember the following suggestions to help maximize your car accident payout:
File a claim as early as possible
Filing your claim right away comes with several advantages, including:
- You can ensure the timely filing of your claim
- You do not have to hurry to meet the deadline
- You can be more organized because you do not have to rush
- You have more time for readjustments
- You can receive compensation at a relatively earlier date
Keep all relevant documents
Keep all documents relevant to the car accident. Presenting medical records and billing receipts may establish the extent of costs you incurred because of the accident. In addition, a police report may demonstrate that you were not negligent during the car collision and deserve better pay.
Research about Houston’s average car accident payout
As mentioned earlier, there is no standard average payout for car accident claims. However, specific persons receive a similar range of settlement offers because they suffered similar injuries.
Research the settlement price of other car accident victims in a similar situation as you. This information can be used to counter the proposals of an insurance adjuster.
Draft a detailed demand letter
Be specific with the amount you are seeking to receive. Clearly communicate your expectations to the insurance company. However, always be realistic and refrain from making unjustified demands.
Since you gathered relevant documents, you may also attach them to the letter. Doing so will make your demands well-grounded and strengthen your claim.
Work with a Houston auto accident lawyer
Hiring a Houston car accident lawyer or law firm is a wise investment. Sometimes, claimants are unaware of their rights. Consequently, some insurance companies take advantage of their lack of legal knowledge and lowball the settlement.
Factors To Know When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When dissatisfied with the negotiations with insurance companies, parties always have the option to pursue legal action in court. However, be prepared because filing personal injury cases can be tedious and time-consuming. Before discussing matters in detail with personal injury lawyers, study the following:
Definition of tort
A tort pertains to acts or omissions causing injury to another party, leading to a civil wrong. Torts have three categories: intentional, negligent, and strict liability. Victims of car accidents may utilize either of the three as a cause of action to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Elements of negligence
Most car accident claims arise from negligence torts. For this reason, claimants must learn about the elements of negligence. Proving all elements strengthens a litigant’s lawsuit.
- Duty: The legal duty that the at-fault party owed to the injured party.
- Breach: The at-fault party’s action or omission breached their legal duty towards the victim.
- Causation: The at-fault party’s action or omission directly caused the injured party’s injuries and losses.
- Actual damages: The victim suffered legally cognizable harm as a result of the at-fault party’s action or omission.
Types of damages
Claimants in a personal injury lawsuit may file compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages provide the victims with monetary compensation for their losses and injuries. On the other hand, punitive damages discourage the public from committing the same wrong as the at-fault party.
Compensatory damages can either be economic or non-economic. Economic damages cover the following but are not limited to medical costs, lost wages, repair expenses, and rehabilitation costs. In contrast, non-economic damages are a monetary estimation of the victim’s pain and suffering, inconvenience, and overall decreased quality of life.
Statute of Limitations
Parties intending to file a personal injury lawsuit should file before the deadline set by the statute of limitations. The reckoning period to file a Texas car accident case is two years from the collision.
Did you know?
Angle collisions are one of the most common types of car accidents in the US, with 9,000 fatalities yearly. Crashes of this type represent 44.8 percent of all crashes in 2021.
Resolve Your Claims With Premier Houston Car Accident Lawyers
A car accident may happen anytime, causing harm to you and your loved ones. It helps to be careful and avoid collisions, but there are times when accidents are inevitable. When worse comes to worst, it’s better to be prepared.
Knowing the appropriate steps to take after a car crash and dealing with insurance companies can be advantageous. It can help you avoid rookie mistakes and ensure a smoother claims process. However, when dealing with complex legal matters, working with a skilled lawyer is invaluable.
Having a legal team helps maximize your chances of receiving compensation from your auto insurance. Take The Personal Injury Center’s free case evaluation to locate a trustworthy auto accident attorney in the Houston area. A personal injury attorney will provide guidance and support throughout your case.
You deserve justice for the costs and trauma you suffered from a motor vehicle accident. The Personal Injury Center can introduce you to reliable Houston car accident attorneys.
FAQs on Car Accidents in Houston
You may hire a lawyer on a contingency fee basis. In this type of arrangement, you don’t have to pay the lawyer’s fees upfront. You pay them if they win your case. They usually take 30 to 40 percent of the settlement award.
Presenting an accident report from the police helps strengthen your claim with the insurance company. You may request a copy from the Houston police department or visit the Department of Transportation's crash requests information system.
Prioritize filing a report with the police and request an investigation. After the police recognize the runaway driver, work with a car accident lawyer to pursue appropriate legal actions.