Do You Have Questions About Your Personal Injury Claim?

When something goes wrong with your house, like you need a new roof, you file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance. The process is relatively straightforward. An adjuster comes out, inspects your damaged roof, and approves the claim. 

When it comes to filing a personal injury claim, the process is more complicated. You typically need to work with a Houston injury law firm to ensure fair compensation. Even though your attorney is more than capable of handling every aspect of the claim process, including calculating your damages and negotiating with the insurance provider, you probably still have questions. 

To help you know what to do when it comes to your own case, here’s a look at some of the most common questions people have about their personal injury claims.

How Do You Know If You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

Some accidents are fairly straightforward and you can reach a fair settlement with the insurance company without retaining legal representation. An example is if you scratch your vehicle’s paint pulling in or out of your garage. Since you’re the only involved driver and the accident is entirely your fault, there’s very little an attorney can do to help with your claim.

You contact your insurance provider and decide if filing a claim for repair costs is worth the potential increase to your monthly premiums. Sometimes, it’s more cost-effective to cover the repair costs by yourself. The repairs may be less than the potential bump in insurance rates. Yes, your insurance rates can increase when you file a claim for damages.

However, if your accident is caused by another driver’s negligence, you probably want to hire a Houston personal injury attorney. Now, you’re dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider and they will try to reduce your claim’s value. An attorney can help ensure you receive a fair settlement that covers all of your damages.

What is an At-Fault State?

Texas is an at-fault state and no this doesn’t mean you can go around claiming everyone is to blame for every bad thing that happens to you. 

Instead, it refers to the Lone Star state’s insurance laws after an accident. The individual not responsible for the accident has the legal right to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. The at-fault party is the individual who’s responsible for causing the accident.

So, if you’re involved in a vehicle collision with a speeding driver. The individual going over the speed limit is typically the at-fault driver so you file a claim for damages with their insurance carrier.

How Can Comparative Negligence Affect My Claim?

Some states, and this includes Texas, follow comparative negligence rules. And yes, this can impact the value of your personal injury claim. Comparative negligence basically means more than one individual can be liable for an accident. In Texas, this means you can still file a personal injury claim as long as you’re not assigned more than 51% of the blame.

How does comparative negligence affect your claim? The amount of your settlement is reduced by the percentage of your blame. So, if you’re awarded $100,000 in damages and are 25% responsible for the accident, your settlement is reduced to $75,000.

If you’re wondering who assigns blame, it’s typically left up to the judge or jury in civil court. If your claim doesn’t go to court, your attorney and the insurance adjuster may be able to reach an agreement. 

Your attorney will typically use the official accident report, and witness testimony, and possibly even bring in a specialist to reconstruct the accident to help ensure you’re not assigned more than your fair share of the blame.

Should You Accept a Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company?

The answer to this question varies depending on a few factors. You should expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to make a settlement offer shortly after the accident is reported. Whether or not you accept the initial offer is entirely your decision.

If your accident results in minor property damage and no injuries, you may not need to go through the hassle of negotiations. You may even be able to save on legal fees. You’re not going to need an injury attorney if you accept the insurance company’s offer.

However, if the accident results in significant damages, it’s probably a good idea to turn down the settlement offer. You’re probably still trying to figure out the extent of your damages. 

Your injuries may be severe enough to warrant long-term healthcare, and you may still be stuck still waiting to learn the full extent of your property damage. Oh, and don’t forget about other damages like lost income, pain, and suffering, and this is only a start.

For most accident victims, it’s a good idea to turn down the first and even second settlement offer. Wait until you calculate your damages and consult with an injury attorney.

Something else to consider. If you accept an offer from the insurance company, you can’t file another claim even if your expenses stemming from the accident continue to rise. You’re stuck paying these costs out of your pocket.

Do All Personal Injury Claims End Up In Court?

If the thought of going to court sends you into a panic attack, take a deep breath. The majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. 

Only an estimated 5% of injury claims end up in civil court. Why are most injury claims settled out of court? The simple answer is money. Not only are you paying filing fees and other court costs, but so is the insurance company. They’re also paying their legal team and the costs can quickly add up.

Most insurance companies will try to reach a settlement agreement outside of the courtroom. This can take several rounds of negotiations, so be prepared to have a lot of patience. Sometimes, negotiations break down, and your lawyer may take the step of filing your claim in civil court. 

Now, your claim is a lawsuit and is considered a personal injury case. Don’t be surprised if the insurance adjuster calls you back to the negotiating table after you file your case with the court.

Hopefully, this helps answer some of your questions about your personal injury claim. Don’t forget, your attorney is also available to answer any additional questions you may have.