After being involved in a car accident, there are two separate types of damages you could experience: personal injuries and property damages. Personal injuries are those damages where you are hurt as a result of the accident. You might have cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, or more severe injuries requiring hospitalization.
Property damages are those damages that occur to your vehicle, from broken windows to smashed bumpers and hoods and broken frames. Any other personal property is also covered if it was damaged during the accident—like any clothing, groceries, child car seats, smartphones, sports equipment, etc.
Both types of damages are often covered under your own and the other party’s automobile insurance coverages. In Texas, you need to make sure your insurance meets the state’s minimum liability limits. As of September 2017, up to $30,000 for each injured person, $60,000 total per accident, and $25,000 for property damages are covered.1
The basic liability coverage only covers the other party’s personal injuries and property damages. It will pay for their medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, car repair or replacement, and car rental fees while their vehicle is being repaired or replaced. It does not pay for any damages to your vehicle or for your personal injuries.
To ensure your personal injuries and property damages are covered, regardless of fault, you need collision and comprehensive coverages, along with medical payments and personal injury protection coverage. In addition, all motorists should verify their policies have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
As soon after the accident as possible, you should notify your insurance company of the accident and extent of personal injuries and property damages. They will open a claim. If the other person is considered fully or partially at fault, their insurance will be responsible for that percentage of personal and property damages.
If the other party is fully or partially at fault and is uninsured or underinsured, this special coverage will cover their part of the damages. In some cases, if they are deemed 100% at fault, you may not even have to pay a deductible.
Once the claim is filed, your insurance company reviews the police report, witness statements, your account of the accident, and other details. They may provide you with specific information, like what steps to take next, that you should follow to avoid having to refile your claim.
During the claim process, they might try to dissuade you from speaking with an auto accident attorney. This is because your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company want to get you to agree to the lowest settlement amount allowed by law.
However, it is in your best interests to consult with a car accident lawyer after filing your claim for personal and property damages. Your lawyer can advise you of your legal rights and how much you are entitled to receive for your personal injuries and property damages.
In some cases, you could be entitled to significantly more than what the other party’s or your insurance company is offering. If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident, please feel free to contact Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. at 713-364-0723 now to speak with one of our experienced car accident lawyers!