Every day, Austin city roads are brimming with traffic. People go to and from work, to pick up their kids from school, or to visit friends. Unfortunately, these routine drives could end in disaster with a head-on or rear-end collision. Some victims of a car accident in Austin walk away with a few bruises and scratches. But for many people, a traffic crash results in severe accident injuries. If you or one of your loved ones was injured in such a manner, get in touch with an Austin car accident lawyer at Herring Law Firm to get professional assistance in filing your accident claim.
A personal injury lawyer is a reliable ally after any kind of incident resulting in injuries and economic losses due to someone else’s negligence. The lawyer knows how to evaluate and negotiate fair compensation for your economic damages and non-economic damages. In fact, this is a common question our auto accident attorneys are asked: what is the average settlement I may get? How much is my case worth?
The Elements that Determine the Value of Financial Compensation
Any personal injury attorney will tell you that no car accident in Austin is completely similar to others. This means that the term fair compensation can mean anything from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
There are so many elements that influence the value of compensation attached to your auto insurance claim:
- the coverage provided by the fault parties’ insurance policies
- if you were injured in a truck accident, whether the trucking company is vicariously liable
- your percentage of fault for the accident (as per the comparative negligence rule)
- your total medical expenses, property damage, lost wages
- the severity of the wounds and the likelihood to remain with a permanent impairment or disability.
Now, you may wonder – what are the chances for me to need to talk to an Austin car accident lawyer about accident settlements and other related issues? Sadly, the data available shows that our state has a very high rate of motor vehicle accidents, as we will show below.
Statistical Data on Car Accidents in Texas
The Texas Department of Transportation has published the full report on car crashes for the year 2021. The numbers are anything but good:
- 1 person lost their life in a car accident every 1 hour and 57 minutes
- 1 person suffered physical injuries in a car accident every 1 minute and 12 seconds
- 20% is the rate of increase in fatalities per hundred million vehicle miles traveled compared to 2020
- 19,448 people suffered severe injuries (spinal injury, traumatic brain injury, other head, and spine injuries) in traffic accidents.
The sheer frequency of accidents resulting in fatalities and seriously injured people demonstrate that our state remains one of the most dangerous in the US for drivers and their passengers.
Analyzing the Various Elements that Determine the Amount of Financial Compensation
Experienced attorneys will never tell you from the very beginning how much money you will get. As explained briefly above, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, and passenger car accidents are all unique in circumstances and outcomes. For example, in most cases a lawyer will be able to obtain a fair settlement in negotiations with the negligent driver’s insurance company. In other cases, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit where, apart from your economic and non-economic damages, the jury may also award you punitive damages.
Before we start analyzing the various elements that go into the calculation of a fair settlement, you must remember that your chances of obtaining the maximum compensation you deserve may be better if you choose to work with an experienced Austin car accident lawyer.
These being said, here is what you need to know about what lawyers analyze when calculating your compensation:
1. The Fault Driver’s Insurance Coverage
An insurance company will pay compensation only up to the amount of the coverage provided by the third-party liability insurance policy. In the state of Texas, the minimum coverage amounts a driver must carry, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, are:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per injured person
- $60,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
These amounts may or may not be sufficient to cover all your damages. Also, despite the fact that having insurance is compulsory in Texas, around 20% of drivers are uninsured, according to the DMV. For this reason, it is recommended to purchase additional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).
However, even if you do not have this supplementary coverage, your Austin car accident lawyer might be able to recover your compensation directly from the at-fault driver at the end of a personal injury lawsuit.
2. Your Percentage of Fault for the Accident
In many cases, the accident victim had a slight contribution to their accident. According to the comparative negligence rule applicable to personal injury cases in Texas, you are eligible to file an accident claim as long as you were less than 50% at fault. However, the amount of money you will receive in your settlement agreement or jury award will represent your total damages minus your percentage of fault.
3. The Amount of Your Financial Losses
One of the most important elements in personal injury claims is the value of your economic losses. These actual damages (calculable expenses) after an automobile accident include:
- medical care costs: ambulance ride, hospital bills, refilling prescriptions
- rehabilitation and physical therapy costs
- lost wages
- property damage
- future financial losses (loss of earning capacity, costs with nursing care if you are left with a permanent injury)
4. The Severity of Your Injuries
Some people are lucky and suffer only a few common injuries (bruises, whiplash, lacerations) in a car accident in Austin. Others suffer catastrophic injuries with a long-lasting impact on their quality of life. The severity of the injuries and the likelihood of resulting in permanent impairment affect the value of your non-economic damages. An Austin car accident lawyer will take into account:
- the emotional distress caused by the accident and the resulting injuries
- the loss of enjoyment of life
- the loss of consortium
- the need for counseling to overcome PTSD and anxiety symptoms
5. If the Fault Driver Was a Truck Driver
Commercial truck drivers cause a lot of catastrophic automobile accidents across the US and in Austin, TX. A semi-truck or an 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. By comparison, the average passenger car weighs 4,000 pounds. The sheer difference in size and weight makes passenger cars incapable of protecting the people inside from a severe accident.
In most cases, truck crashes result in a complex car accident claim. The liable parties in many traffic accidents involving commercial vehicles are not only the drivers but also their employers – trucking companies. The reason why an Austin car accident lawyer will pursue the driver’s employer is because commercial insurance policies far exceed the coverage of individual car insurance policies. Also, negligent trucking companies need to be held liable so that they change the way they operate and make their vehicles safer and their drivers more responsible towards others users of public roads.
How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Maximum Compensation
An experienced Austin car accident lawyer knows that every aspect of the case can influence the outcome of settlement negotiations. For this reason, it is always useful to know what to do after a car accident in order to maximize your chances of getting a fair settlement.
This is what you should do, starting with the first moments after the accident:
1. Report the Accident and Ask for Medical Assistance
According to the Texas Transportation Code, you are to report any car accident in Austin resulting in bodily injury and/or property damage to the local police. When you call 9-1-1 to report the crash, ask for an ambulance, as well.
Unless you have life-threatening injuries, you must remain at the accident scene until the law enforcement crew arrives to investigate the accident scene. You are required by law to provide your contact and insurance information to the other driver and have the right to ask them for the same information.
2. Document the Accident Scene
You should collect your own evidence – photos and videos – focusing on your injuries, the damages to your vehicle, and any relevant element at the scene of the accident. At the same time, look for eyewitnesses and ask them to give you their contact details. Your Austin car accident lawyer will be in touch with them to take down their witness statement.
3. Accept All Recommended Medical Treatments
Nobody likes to be in the hospital and accumulate medical care bills. But car accident injuries can be very severe or get worse without proper medical attention. Moreover, refusing medical treatment can be interpreted by the insurance company that you were not severely injured. They may claim that the injuries you want to get compensation for were caused in a different accident at a later date, and they could deny your claim.
Even if you file a personal injury lawsuit, it all depends on whether the judge believes you. The lawyer representing the negligent driver’s insurer will do everything to discredit you, insisting on your failure to seek medical care as soon as possible after the accident.
4. Do Not Negotiate Your Compensation on Your Own
In most cases, the other driver’s insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to visit you at the hospital and offer you a quick settlement. The adjuster will make it look as if they are doing you a favor. In reality, this is typically a lowball settlement amount that will not cover all your damages. And, once you’ve accepted the deal and signed the document, you have no further legal options to recover the rest of your damages.
At the same time, you should not discuss the accident with the insurance adjuster and issue any opinion on its probable causes. Adjusters are trained to lead people into making self-incriminatory statements. Make a brief description of the accident and inform the insurance representative that your Austin car accident lawyer will get in touch with them in a short time to file your accident claim.
5. Hire a Dedicated and Experienced Austin Car Accident Lawyer
Herring Law Firm is ready to help accident victims win the fair compensation they deserve. We know that you are already burdened by the medical care costs, so we work on a contingency fee basis.
Please note that you should not delay getting legal representation. The statute of limitations (period of time available to take legal action) in Texas for personal injury cases is two (2) years after your accident. Therefore, we encourage you to schedule an initial consultation with us as soon as possible after your car crash to analyze your case and prepare your claim: 888-291-7077!