Quick things about hiring a car accident attorney in Houston
Auto accidents are reported recurrently on Texas roads. Some are mere fender benders, but other crashes often have fatal outcomes. Texas reported more than 3,300 fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2019 alone. If you were injured in such an accident in Houston, you should promptly inform the local law enforcement and call 911 to get medical attention for the injured. If you are feeling okay, consider calling a Houston car accident attorney without further delay. Before you hire a lawyer, below are some key aspects worth knowing.
- Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation. The first meeting with a lawyer to discuss your accident claim doesn’t have to cost anything. Most law firms in Houston offer free case assessment, and you can get a fair overview of your case. If you agree to hire the lawyer, they will discuss other things in-depth, including expenses related to claim investigation.
- Lawyers don’t charge an upfront fee. Lawyers usually charge an hourly rate for cases involving criminal law and family matters. Personal injury and accident claims are different. Injury lawyers usually take a contingency fee. The lawyer will get a fee if you win a financial settlement. There is no upfront fee, which allows accident victims to use legal help without worrying about finances.
- Lawyers cannot guarantee an outcome. People often wrongly assume that a good and known attorney can get them a certain amount in a settlement. Things don’t work like that in the real world. In fact, if a lawyer promises an outcome for your accident claim, that is a clear red flag. However, you can expect the attorney to give an overview of the possible outcomes.
- It would be best if you had an attorney with trial experience. Most accident claims and lawsuits in Texas are settled outside of court. Nevertheless, some cases do end up in trial, and when that happens, you will need a lawyer with courtroom experience. You can ask the attorney as to how frequently they go to court for accident cases.
- Not all injury lawyers are the same. The scope of personal injury law is vast and encompasses varied types of cases, including medical malpractice and nursing home abuse. You need to find a lawyer who deals with accident claims regularly in their work. You can ask the lawyer about some of their best settlements and landmark cases to understand their profile and expertise.
Reporting the accident
Texas laws require involved drivers to report an auto accident if injury, death, and vehicle damage were involved. You are required to inform the accident to the local police or sheriff’s office. Vehicle damage refers to a situation where the car cannot be moved from the accident site safely. In short, you need to report an accident, no matter what.
Filing a civil lawsuit
There is a time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit after an auto crash. The statute of limitations in Texas allows two years to file such lawsuits from the date of the accident. If you lost a loved one in the accident, you could consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit, for which the deadline starts from the date of the deceased person’s death. For suing for vehicle damage alone, the deadline remains the same.
Comparative fault in Texas
Like many other states, Texas has a modified comparative fault system. This means you can file a lawsuit against the other person or claim financial recovery only if your share of fault is less than the other driver. In practice, this may mean losing a substantial part of the settlement. If you go to court, the same rule will be considered for deciding the compensation. For example – When someone is 20% at fault and is given $10,000 in a settlement, they can only get $8,000.
Finding a lawyer
A skilled attorney is your best bet at winning a settlement against the other party. Keep in mind that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will want to reduce the settlement, especially if you have a share in the fault. They might use the “modified comparative fault rule” against you. Contact an attorney to improve your chances of getting compensated for your losses.
Consider hiring a lawyer soon after your accident. You have limited time to take action against the other party.