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If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, our Houston car accident lawyers can help. Our vehicle accident law office has years of experience winning cases for clients with claims against the biggest insurance companies in the nation. Negligent drivers, like a drunk driver driving under the influence or distracted drivers causing damage to your vehicle in a hit and run, can make your life difficult. Vehicle crashes should be taken seriously, especially if you end up getting seriously injured behind the wheel. Ask our personal injury attorneys for guidance.
Accidents happen for many reasons and in many ways. As long as vehicles are on the road, there will always be a risk of crashes. In order to understand what’s happening on our roads and address the realities properly, experts commonly categorize crashes by type. The following are examples of common types of accidents seen in crash data:
The term “hit and run” refers to any accident in which a driver hits a vehicle, person, or private property and flees the scene of the crash before any information can be gathered. Hit-and-run drivers tend to leave the accident scene because they are afraid of the consequences, especially if they know there are other issues at play. For example: if they are uninsured, using a stolen car, driving without a license, or operating a vehicle under the influence, they may be especially likely to panic and flee after a crash. Learn more about what to do after a hit and run accident.
When making a left-hand turn, it’s common to have to cross traffic coming from the opposite direction. At a controlled intersection, this is at least somewhat assisted by stoplights or a stop sign. Unfortunately, whether or not signs or lights are present, there is still an accident risk. If a person turns in front of moving traffic or speeds through an intersection, a vehicle may end up getting hit, likely from the side (“T-boned”).
This is an especially dangerous type of car accident for drivers in Houston. A head-on collision is one in which the front of one vehicle crashes into the front of another vehicle (from “head on”). This may happen if a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction crosses the midline/median, or if someone is driving the wrong way down the road. Because a driver sits at the front of a vehicle, these kinds of crashes can easily be fatal. Learn more about head-on collision accidents.
This is one of the most common types of car accident. As the name implies, a rear-end crash involves one vehicle crashing into the back end of another vehicle. This may occur when a driver fails to stop, follows too closely, stops unexpectedly, hits a slippery patch of road, etc. Rear-end accidents may involve multiple drivers, as the impact from behind may push the vehicle being hit into the vehicle ahead of them.
Not all car accidents occur between drivers. A single vehicle may spin out, roll over, hit a tree, drive into private property, or hit a person or animal. Whether or not the accident is the fault of the driver, an act of nature or something else, any crash involving only one driver is categorized as a single-vehicle accident.
When two or more vehicles are involved in a crash, it’s considered a multi-vehicle accident. Accidents between two or more passenger cars can occur as a result of reckless driving, driver impairment, driver distraction, speeding, defective car parts, and poor weather or road conditions. Hiring the right attorney for a multi-vehicle car accident is critical to protect your interests.
Backing up in any kind of vehicle is an act that requires care and attention. Even in vehicles with convenient back-up cameras and alert systems, it’s possible to accidentally hit something or someone in one’s blind spot. Similarly, a driver on the road may fail to pay attention to a reversing vehicle and hit it while it is backing into traffic.
In recent years, ridesharing apps like Uber have become increasingly popular. Uber drivers don’t need to go through any special training or hold a special type of license, and they are no less likely to be involved in an accident than any other driver. For both Uber drivers and their passengers, a car crash can bring legal confusion with regard to insurance coverage and compensation. Find out if you are covered in an Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing apps.
Vehicles on the highway generally travel at a much higher speed than they do on normal city streets. Regardless of the posted speed limit, vehicles on the highway may be traveling upwards of 80 miles per hour. When this kind of speed is combined with reckless or negligent driving behavior, it puts everyone on the road at risk of being hurt in a serious accident. Highways also see a lot of 18-wheeler traffic, which can lead to major truck accidents. Learn more about highway accidents.
Taxi cabs and limousines can also be involved in car accidents, and any passengers in the vehicle may be injured as a result. Just like any other accident, victims will be able to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance policy. If the taxi or limo driver was at fault and damages are not covered by insurance, a victim may choose to file suit against the taxi/limo company or the driver themselves. Find out if you are covered in a taxi or limo accident.
Parking lots present a number of risks and obstacles that drivers have to navigate carefully. Even in large lots and parking structures, there is often very little space to maneuver. Other vehicles can limit visibility when backing up, and it can be difficult to see other drivers or pedestrians in some areas. As a result, parking lots are a common location for relatively minor “fender bender” car accidents. Learn more about pedestrian accidents.
Sadly, the losses caused by a car accident are sometimes for worse than just injuries and vehicle damage. In the worst of cases, drivers, passengers, and other people can lose their lives. When this happens, it leaves victims’ loved ones dealing with grief, stress, and financial difficulties.
These crashes can involve public transportation buses, private charge buses, tour buses, and school buses. Buses present several safety hazards in an accident; because of their size and distribution of weight, they are at a high risk of rolling over in a crash. Also, most buses lack seatbelts to protect their passengers. Learn more about bus accidents.
Because motorcycles are some of the smallest, lightest vehicles on the road, they are especially vulnerable in traffic. All too often, negligent drivers will fail to pay attention to their surroundings and ignore their blind spots, causing them to collide with motorcyclists. The driver of the motorcycle can be at fault for the accident, but it is most often the other way around.
Commercial trucks are often heavy, large, and more unwieldy than a typical passenger vehicle. Trucks towing large trailers have significant blind spots and take wide turns, which can play a role in accidents. When an 18-wheeler collides with a smaller passenger vehicle, the results can be devastating.
With the exception of a helmet, bicyclists have little protection when involved in a collision with a heavy, fast-moving motor vehicle. Most accidents between bikes and cars happen because the driver wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see the person on the bike.
All-terrain vehicles (a.k.a. four-wheelers, quads) are unique vehicles with the weight, power, and tire grip to handle all kinds of difficult and messy environments. Texas law forbids driving these kinds of specialized off-highway vehicles on the street, except in very specific situations. Even so, they can still be involved in very serious incidents. An ATV accident can result in severe injuries, especially if the heavy machine falls or flips over on top of someone.
Whether it’s drinking and driving, road hazards, failure to yield, distracted driving, head-on collisions, rollover accidents, single-vehicle accidents, to name a few, our law firm can help you with all types of car accidents in Houston. We can represent your personal injury case from beginning to end. Our legal team can help prove negligence, liability, and the extent of your damages to ensure you get the most compensation possible for the injuries you have sustained. We deal directly with the other driver’s insurance company in an attempt to negotiate a settlement that works for you.
Depending on factors including speed, the number of vehicles, and weather conditions, an injury could heal in a matter of days or might not become present for a while after the accident. If you are involved in a car accident you should get yourself checked out just in case, shock can prevent victims from realizing the extent of their problems.
When an auto accident happens, injuries may be severe. Severe injuries can often be addressed through emergency care, surgery, physical therapy, and a period of restful recovery. However, some injuries can have lifelong repercussions, leaving victims with irreparable damage, chronic pain, disability, and/or other ongoing challenges. These potentially serious injuries include:
One of the most serious types of injuries from car accidents are head injuries. An unexpected stop or a sudden change in direction can cause your head to be flung against a window or steering wheel. The more direct a head or brain injury is the more severe it is likely to become. A brain hemorrhage or brain bleed is a possible head injury. Concussions are a less severe outcome as well.
Chest injuries will mostly take the form of bruises or contusions, but at more severe levels can leave a victim with broken ribs and internal problems. Drivers often will experience a chest injury because their chest will collide with the steering wheel.
A scrape or laceration can be caused by unsecured objects inside of your car. These objects include cell phones, drinks, books, and more. If the impact is hard enough, any of these objects can break the skin fairly quickly.
Similarly to a head or neck being jerked after a sudden impact, your arms and legs can experience similar problems. Your limbs can be thrown against the vehicle’s door. Car accidents in Houston have caused occupant’s knees to hit the dashboard or seat in front of them leading to bruises, scrapes, and sprains.
A soft tissue injury is any damage to the body’s connective tissue—this includes muscles, ligaments, and tendons. A soft tissue injury is the most common form of car accident injury, and it can take many forms. One of the most common soft tissue injuries is a “whiplash” injury. A car accident can cause sudden movements of the neck and lower back; these can lead to long-term problems.
The impact of a crash can cause the head and neck to move back and forth suddenly, leading to a sprained neck (known as “whiplash”) or other neck trauma.
Impact and compression trauma can cause damage to the vertebrae and spinal cord, potentially causing lasting complications like chronic back pain or paralysis.
These can usually be healed well with proper medical care, but they are still painful, take time to heal, and can have long-term effects on strength and mobility. Learn more about broken and fractured bones caused by a car accident.
Severe car accident victims may be killed upon impact or die as a result of their injuries. Even with the best, most immediate medical care, sometimes victims succumb to their injuries in the hospital.
When you contact the insurance company, they’re going to start with a car accident investigation related to your claim. Claims adjusters look at the fine details of your situation. You need to gather as much information as possible, including photographs, medical bills, police reports, and witness accounts. The reason insurance claims adjusters need this information is that they need to make sure they have an accurate understanding of who is at fault and what falls within the coverage limits. If insurance companies simply took the word of the person who filed the claim, they would be far more susceptible to insurance fraud. The more authoritative information you are able to supply to prove your claim, the better.
The claims and compensation process can be intimidating. It is somewhat complex, and you’ll have to provide certain information and answer a variety of questions to prove your claim. With an auto accident lawyer, however, you’ll get professional guidance and advice that you can trust is in your best interest. They can also give you a clearer idea of what you can expect.
The amount of money you can receive from a settlement depends on the extent of car accident damages incurred, as well as the terms of the policy covering it. Different insurance companies calculate their offers in different ways, sometimes using multipliers for things like pain and suffering.
Because there are so many variables, there is no one average amount to point to. Typical settlement amounts can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. The best way to estimate what you can receive in your specific case is to speak with an experienced car accident attorney about it.
Car accident victims’ losses can be much greater than just the total cost of car repairs, medical care, and lost wages. Things like physical pain, stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, and other such personal difficulties cannot be accounted for on a bill, but they are still valid as a kind of damage. To address these challenges, Texas car accident laws allow victims to sue for pain and suffering as necessary.
To show that you are entitled to pain and suffering compensation, your Houston attorney will illustrate the ways in which the accident negatively affected your health, well-being, and quality of life. They may talk about how specific physical injuries are directly related to mental and emotional difficulties. They may also share statements and documentation from counselors, psychologists, pain management physicians, or other experts.
For many people, the prospect of dealing with an insurance company after an accident is a daunting one. Whether the policy belongs to you or another driver, it can be tough to know what to expect, how to properly answer questions, and what you should provide. This is another thing that an attorney can explain and support you through.
As the insurance process moves forward, you’ll probably lean more and more on your lawyer. After you file the initial claim and receive an offer, your attorney can help you determine whether it’s a reasonable settlement amount. If necessary, they’ll negotiate back and forth with the insurance company to get you the best possible result.
The very first step in the insurance process is filing a car accident claim. This claim is most often filed against the policy of the individual who was at fault in the accident. In some cases, however, the victim’s insurance will offer coverage that the at-fault party’s does not. In this situation, the victim would then file a claim with their own insurance company.
Most insurance companies today allow individuals to file claims by phone or online. Once you’ve completed and submitted the claim form, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to review and investigate it. This adjuster may contact you a few times for relevant information. If you’ve hired an attorney by this point, let them know.
After a period of reviewing and investigating your claim, the insurance company will make an initial settlement offer. Don’t make any hasty decisions at this point. Any time you are offered a settlement amount from the insurance company, you should give your lawyer the opportunity to review and discuss it with you first. This ensures that you don’t accidentally accept anything that would be unfair to you.
With any car accident settlement, you’ll want to check that the amount offered fully covers all of your accident-related medical costs. Depending on your situation, this may also include estimated costs of future care. If the settlement meets those needs, the next question is whether or not you feel comfortable with the amount offered. If you and/or your lawyer have concerns, there may be further negotiation.
When you’ve just been in an accident, it may be difficult to stay calm or remember what you need to do. A car accident lawyer can help you after the fact, but there are things you can and should do immediately to record the incident properly and get the information you need to prove what happened.
One way to make sure that you take the right steps after an accident is to keep a checklist in your glove compartment. This checklist can help you focus, calm you down, and get you into the right mindset for information gathering. When writing your checklist, make sure you include the following steps.
Immediately following the accident, you’re likely to be at least a little shaken. Do your best to stay calm and take an inventory of everyone in your vehicle. Determine whether anyone is seriously injured and needs emergency medical attention. If they do, call 911 right away and let them know that you’ve had an accident and will need medical care.
If your vehicle is still in traffic and you are able to drive it, move your vehicle to a safe place. Most of the time, pulling off to the side of the road is sufficient. Though it would be ideal to take a few photos of the accident scene before moving any vehicles, your safety (and the safety of other drivers) is most important. If you can’t safely take photos, move your car first.
If you’ve already called 911, police will soon arrive on the scene and begin a police report. If you haven’t, make a non-emergency call to the local police and let them know that you’ve had an accident. When they arrive, they’ll be able to take statements from everyone on the scene and note important details for the record. This official police report can be provided to the insurance company and may be helpful at trial.
Once it’s safe and you’ve reported your accident to authorities, you can go ahead and exchange contact and insurance information with the other party (or parties) involved. No matter how upset you may be at this time, try to stay calm and professional during the exchange. Don’t say anything that might be misinterpreted as an admission of fault, like “I didn’t see it coming.”
As soon as you are able, begin making detailed notes and taking pictures of the scene, the vehicles, your injuries, etc. Even if you can’t get to a notepad or a phone app, do your best to make mental notes of everything you notice immediately following the accident. All of this information can be helpful in proving your case with a Houston auto crash lawyer if there is a dispute.
After you’ve received necessary medical attention and addressed any other immediate concerns, you’re technically ready to file an insurance claim. Before you involve the insurance company, however, it’s important to talk to an experienced car crash attorney in Houston. A lawyer can help you understand your rights as a crash victim, how you can protect those rights, and what you can expect from the claims process.
Once you’ve spoken with an attorney, it’s time to get in touch with insurance. At this point, your lawyer can take over all of the communication with the insurance company, or you can handle the initial claim process yourself. When you call, let the insurance company know that you have a lawyer so they can contact them as needed.
In some car accident cases, lawsuits are necessary to get victims the compensation they deserve. Suing for damages may sound difficult, but your lawyer will guide you through each step, making it as easy as possible for you. Here’s how the lawsuit process works and what you can expect.
Before you think about filing a lawsuit, your lawyer will try to settle things through a negotiation process with the insurance company. This isn’t something you’ll need to do yourself; your car insurance claim attorney can do all of the necessary negotiating on your behalf. Negotiations can take some time, but it’s important to remember that your attorney’s job is to ensure that you get the fairest and complete compensation. As your representative, they are not afraid to push back against the insurance company’s offers as many times as needed to get the best possible result.
Personal injury lawsuits don’t need to be filed immediately. Most of the time, your attorney should be able to work out a reasonable settlement with the insurance company. If a settlement agreement doesn’t happen and the insurance company refuses to pay fairly for what you are owed, that’s when you might decide to sue. Settlement negotiations can take a while to complete, and several offers may go back and forth between your lawyer and insurance. If you do end up filing a lawsuit in your case, it will probably be several weeks after the accident.
Even after filing a lawsuit, the parties will still have an opportunity to resolve and settle the case without continuing to trial. This is known as “mediation,” and it involves bringing in an unbiased third party to help mediate discussions. Mediation is not a formal element of the process, and it is therefore not legally binding. However, it can still help the parties avoid trial-related expenses and resolve car crash cases in ways that benefit everyone.
If your case continues on to trial, there will be an initial “discovery” phase. During this time, both sides of the case will be able to ask questions about the case and their evidence. This gives both parties the opportunity to learn what information the other party has.
During discovery, attorneys for both sides may ask the other to prove certain facts, provide relevant documentation, or ask for depositions (testimony) from witnesses or involved parties. Once your attorney is satisfied with what they’ve discovered, they can use it to plan a strong trial strategy.
After discovery, one party can decide to file what’s called a “motion for summary judgment.” This comes into play when none of the material facts in personal injury cases—like who was at fault, what kind of damage occurred, or what the insurance policy covers—are in dispute. The moving party has the responsibility of proving that the facts of the case are really undisputed and that the outcome can be decided by applying existing law (without a judge or jury).
If the facts of your case aren’t in dispute and the law supports ruling in your favor, your lawyer will likely move for summary judgment. If they’re able to prove that there are no important material facts in dispute, the motion will be granted and the court will rule in your favor.
If a case is not resolved during mediation or via a summary judgment, it will continue on to trial. During this phase, both sides will present their arguments. Each party’s lawyers will argue their respective cases, using evidence to prove their point to the judge or jury. After they’ve finished, the judge or jury will consider whether the evidence supports the plaintiff’s case, then rule accordingly.
There are many opportunities to resolve a case before this point, so most do not reach trial. Because it’s so uncommon, those that do go to trial often become higher-profile cases. For some victims, settling in mediation is preferable to the visibility of a trial. For others, a trial is an opportunity to hold the insurance company accountable in a more public way.
If you’ve been in a vehicle accident in the Houston area, it’s critical that you contact an attorney immediately. Even if you don’t think you’ve sustained any injuries, it’s important to speak with an expert. Not only can a car accident lawyer help you deal with demanding insurance companies, but they can also assist you in the event that an injury has gone unnoticed. Since injuries do not always appear right away, immediate contact with an attorney can save you a great deal of trouble in the long run. Here are the three most important things to look for in a Houston car accident lawyer:
There is no substitute for experience. Only an attorney who knows the ropes can help you navigate the complex legal landscape that will greet you after a car accident. Courtroom experience is particularly valuable, as litigation is often necessary. Although many attorneys claim to be experienced, they usually bring only a few decades of actual hands-on work. With a century of combined legal experience and almost a half century of car accident case experience, the car accident injury lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. are more than qualified to advocate on your behalf.
Past success is perhaps the single most reliable indicator of future success. Unless you want to gamble with your time and money, it’s best to choose a lawyer that has a proven track record of recovering damages for injured victims. With over $720 million in personal injury recoveries, you can be sure Schechter, Shaffer & Harris will fight to get you the best possible settlement.
A good attorney-client relationship is built on trust and mutual respect. A personal injury claim can take years, if not decades. Without confidence in your legal team, the process can be one long nightmare. At Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, we know that each one of our clients is special, which is why we work hard each and every day to earn your trust and win your confidence.
It’s not unusual to have a lot of questions after a car accident. Take a look at the following frequently asked questions before you take action or make any decisions. If you have further questions, contact our car wreck lawyers for information.
If you are being denied compensation that you are clearly owed as a crash victim, it’s time to talk to a lawyer. In your initial consultation, the attorney can determine if and how their services can help your case. They can also help you understand your rights as a victim and explain what you can expect from the legal process.
If you feel the amount of compensation you’re offered by insurance is fair, you might not need to hire an accident lawyer. Before you accept any offer, however, you may want to speak to an attorney working with personal injury to confirm whether their offer is truly in your best interest. There may be additional damages you aren’t aware of or are forgetting to account for.
Insurance companies are very particular about approving claims. This extreme caution is often a good thing that protects against insurance fraud. Unfortunately, they can also stretch the definition of caution, finding any excuse to deny claims and cut costs. If you’re in a vulnerable state and just want to “get it over with,” you might give up on fighting their decision. This is why having a lawyer is so important.
All Houston auto crash attorneys represent the rights of their clients and fight on their behalf. Talking to insurance companies and arguing for what you deserve is just part of what we do. When you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you need an attorney to handle the paperwork, make sure you’re treated fairly, and allow you to focus on recovering.
Hiring a lawyer after a Houston auto collision is completely free. Our Houston auto accident legal team does work on a contingency basis. It costs nothing to retain an attorney, and the cost of services depends (or is contingent) on whether our legal team recovers damages in your case. In other words, if you don’t receive any money, you don’t have to pay us a thing.
When you come in for a free consultation, one of our attorneys can walk you through how contingency works, what kind of work we’ll need to do, and how much those things may cost you in the case that you do receive compensation.
If you’ve been injured or the impact was significant enough to raise concerns about concussions or whiplash, you’ll want to seek medical care right away after the accident. If you initially feel fine but begin to experience symptoms in the weeks following your crash, you should follow up with a doctor as soon as possible. Some complications from car accidents can have a delayed onset, and any crash-related health effects are important to your case.
After any car accident, you’re going to want to get an official crash report to record what happened. With a report compiled by an unbiased authority, you’ll be able to refer to details of the incident without it being just your word versus the other driver’s. In Texas, drivers are also required to report any crash in which a person is injured or there is at least $1,000 of damage.
Accident reports are generally written up by the police. If anyone is injured in the crash or there is an emergency situation, call 911. When authorities arrive on the scene, a police officer can take the report. If there is not an emergency, you can call the police department’s non-emergency number and let them know that you’ve been in an accident and need a report. Ask the officer(s) where you can get a copy of the report when it is finished.
In personal injury litigation, the term “pain and suffering” refers to the kinds of harm that don’t come with a bill. It accounts for the personal toll of things like pain, anxiety, depression, trauma, and emotional distress.
In the case of a car accident, vehicle damage and physical injuries are only part of the story. The other mental, physical, and emotional repercussions can be just as impactful, if not more so. In addition to payment for expenses incurred, payment for pain and suffering is often necessary to fairly compensate for those issues.
At our law firm, we have years of legal experience. Our Houston law office has dealt with all of the major insurance providers, helping clients get the compensation they need and deserve. Don’t worry about costs when you call—we work on contingency, and we’ll evaluate your case for free.