Our roads and highways are more crowded than ever, and with so many cars mingling with cyclists and pedestrians, accidents are bound to happen. Thankfully, most accidents involving a vehicle won’t matter; at least, not really in the great scheme of things. You will get away with just a scratch on the paintwork or a kiss on the bumper.
Even so, we all know people get hurt sometimes so we follow the rules, use our mirrors and watch our speed and try to be sensible drivers but there are still too many motor-related accidents. If it happens to you, and you get knocked off your bike or crashed into a dropped load or in some other way end up in an accident, here’s what to do and why you need the specialist professional services of a good car accident lawyer.
What to do when you have an accident in Houston
If you find yourself in a car accident in Houston, you need to know that Texas law requires you to exchange specific information with the other party involved. Both drivers should exchange name and address, the registration number of the vehicle, the name of the insurance company, and the driver’s license.
Be sure to call Houston police in case someone is injured because of the accident or you believe the damage is beyond $1,000. You should also call the police if you suspect the accident involves drunk driving or the driver doesn’t seem to have insurance. Be sure to call the police immediately if it feels the driver is trying to leave the scene.
Understanding the importance of car accident lawyers
Car accidents are everyday occurrences. Many of the personal injury lawsuits in America are the result of cars, motorcycle or other road traffic accidents. Whilst most are minor and can be dealt with without involving an insurance provider, the vehicle involved accidents that cause physical injury or serious damage require legal representation if the form of a suitably qualified lawyer.
A qualified accident lawyer will assist you with claims to cover losses such as medical expenses, the salary you couldn’t earn and car repairs. Some jurisdictions have a designated prosecutor for car accidents, who work specifically on cases with allegations of reckless driving, speeding or driving under the influence.
Insurance companies have extensive legal teams with specialist claims professions who will immediately begin working on your personal injury claim. You need to hire a personal injury attorney quickly if you are involved in an accident. Don’t until you feel better because sometimes there are time limits.
You can go at it alone, but you place yourself at the mercy of the other party. If you don’t know your rights and protections and how to use them, they dictate their terms with puny instant cash offers and if you refuse to take it, they complicate the procedure to demotivate you enough to give up. People who haven’t realised the extent of their entitlement have lost out on thousands by representing themselves to avoid a legal bill.
An important consideration
Not all personal injury firms are the same. Many of the largest are little more than settlement mills despite the gloss of their advertising. A settlement mill is a corporation that relies on heavy ad campaigns for its business and litigates a disproportionate number of cases. These businesses do not depend on recommendations by word-of-mouth. Therefore they have less emotional investment in their firm’s reputation.
They are more concerned with quick out of court settlements than using the legal system for a fair result. That said, they know what they are doing and do win cases and using a settlement firm is still much more preferable than attempting to go up against an insurance company alone. Insurance is big business and companies want to keep as much of the money they get from premiums as they can.
What to look for when hiring a car accident lawyer
These days, it’s easier than ever to find you an accident lawyer, as all you have to do is connect to the internet and start exploring your options. However, selecting a lawyer at random can be a mistake, serious enough to cost you big money. Therefore, it always makes great sense to seek out recommendations.
It’s important to hire a lawyer from a firm with a sound reputation, with lawyers you know have the experience needed to serve your interests well. There is a claims procedure to follow and a specialist accident lawyer will know it inside out. They will make sure all the correct documentation is submitted, offer informed and up to date legal guidance and evaluate information to find what strengthens your injury claim. They will also take over negotiations with insurance agents until they can advise you have been offered a fair settlement and of course, if required, they will represent you in front of a judge.
A good lawyer will proceed considering the specific laws prevailing in your state. If you have an accident in Houston, you need to be with a lawyer who knows the laws exclusive to the state. To help you select a reliable car accident lawyer to consider the following points. When there are so many law firms to dazzle you with their advertising, a list of sensible ideas on how to find a good lawyer might keep things clear.
1. Clear communication
A good lawyer should keep clients informed without too much legal jargon and take steps to help you understand the legal issues so you can make informed decisions. They will provide clear information on how costs and commission work along with what you need to provide or do next, step by step, to proceed. It will be routine for their office to send you copies of correspondence and summaries of telephone calls. Keep it all.
An engaged conversation
You should feel comfortable talking to your lawyer and feel comfortable enough to ask questions. You have to feel you can trust their professional judgment. You pick up on these things better during a face to face conversation which is another reason to use a neighborhood firm. A lawyer who is fully engaged will ask you pertinent questions and listen attentively to the answers then be able to repeat it all back to you coherently to confirm he has the facts you tell right.
2. Willing to provide references
Ask for references you can contact. Good references are a testimony of a lawyer’s competence. Although the chances are those willing to talk with their ex-lawyers potential clients are likely to be positive, if the lawyer fails to provide and dodges the question, he probably hasn’t got any to provide.
3. An organised office space
Any professional can be judged on how they keep their office. If it’s organised, the likelihood is the lawyer is organised too. Having to dig through stacks of paper to locate your file is not a good sign. These days, the paperless office is the norm. If they are doing well and winning cases, they can afford to invest in technology and nice office furniture. You want the vibe to be friendly and welcoming. Watching how the previous client leaves can give you clues.
Don’t be shy about asking for verification they have experience handling similar cases. Lawyers specialise and want to feel confident about their experience can help you. They will be more knowledgeable about the details of state and national transport regulations and know how to handle health care and insurance providers to work towards resolving your claim quickly and efficiently. It’s up to you to check out their credentials. It’s why they are put up on the wall.
Many, if not most accident lawyers work on a commission basis, or the ‘no win-no fee’ you might have heard about. The lawyer takes the case if he thinks it has a good chance of winning, but still useful to know the normal fee structure of the firm.
When to hire a car accident lawyer
To prevent expensive mistakes, it is important to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Claims have time limits so people put claims in fast. Having to rush your defence leaves you vulnerable. Seek advice, as soon as you can, no matter what the circumstances.
If your car accident involves a serious personal injury or heaven forbid, a fatality, the faster you hire a lawyer to protect your interests the better, for a number of reasons.
You can receive compensation quickly
The moments after a car crash are important. There are shock, distress, anger and all sorts of emotions that get in the way recalling details. If it’s serious you’ll be calling the emergency services not jotting down car registrations and phone numbers. Still at some point, you’ll need to go through what you remember and provide details. They matter to put forward your case precisely and clearly so that it can be resolved quickly. The system recognises that people need compensating fast to have the money they need to cope with sudden drastic changes forced on them by someone else. For instance:
- You will need money quickly in order to deal with medical expenses, which, depending on your injury, can be a lot.
- You will need some compensation to deal with the income you lose by not being able to go to work.
- You will need money in order to get your car fixed, and sometimes, you need thousands of dollars to get your car repaired and brought back to the same old condition.
What’s more, you will need compensation for recovery, in case the accident has led to life-threatening consequences, or you’ve actually lost someone because of reckless driving, drunk driving, or speeding. No one says money can replace a loved one, but it can help with the practicalities paying for medical care, funeral expenses and even future childcare and many other unexpected changes associated with losing someone close, such as bereavement counseling for the family.
An important thing to keep in mind is that when you are injured by vehicle you will have to provide medical reports, not only for the immediate treatment you receive but also later to establish the extent of your injury, how fast you are recovering and to assess how your injury is likely to affect your life in the future. That’s when working with a good car accident lawyer becomes critical because they can suggest someone they trust and used to working on insurance cases. If you need to attend court, they will act as an expert witness for you.
An advocate against insurance companies
Once the client of an insurance company has a claim made against them, the company starts investigating straight away. To defend the interests of their client they have to argue the case for why they carry no blame. They will look to getting outs and ways to shift accountability. Insurance companies are for-profit enterprises and they do their best to avoid payouts. Their tactics can seem harsh but they are working in the interest of their clients and shareholders. Lawyers with experience know their moves. Use the best lawyers for a car accident in Houston and find an advocate who can keep negotiations moving in your favour and fight for you to receive a fair settlement.
The last thing you need after the shock and hassle of a serious motor accident is the added stress of sorting out liability and finances. It can be hard to know what to do or where to turn. An appointment with a car accident lawyer will bring you clarity. You start to feel you coping the moment you make the call. There’s comfort talking things through with someone understands your situation completely at a time when it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Although the chances are you will never have to experience the consequences of a serious vehicle accident, if you do, there are expert lawyers nearby ready to listen and help you.