Car accidents can be devastating, especially when you end up injured or dealing with property damage. A car accident settlement can help you recover some of the costs associated with your injuries and other losses, but it is vital to find a good attorney to help you through the process. It is valuable to know ahead of time what to expect, including how long a car accident settlement might take in Houston and what to look for in an attorney.
Car Accident Insurance in Texas
Texas is an at-fault state, meaning the person responsible for causing an otherwise preventable accident is responsible for the subsequent costs. Car accidents in Houston are usually settled through insurance, with the responsible party’s insurance covering the costs if applicable.
Texas drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of car accident insurance due to the at-fault law. The current minimum is known as 30/60/25 coverage, requiring drivers to carry the following insurance policies:
- $30,000 of bodily injury protection per person
- $60,000 of total coverage per accident
- $25,000 coverage for property damage
If it is determined that both parties share fault for an accident, the responsibility may be split depending on the circumstances of the accident. When the accident-related costs exceed the at-fault party’s coverage, and they bear more liability for the collision than you, it may be possible to file a car accident lawsuit in Houston with the help of an attorney. However, these parties are often considered judgment-proof. As a result, your attorney is likely to advise you to settle for their policy limits and to negotiate reductions on the outstanding medical bills.
The Car Accident Settlement Process in Houston
When you file a car accident claim to recover your accident-related losses, you must prove that another driver is at-fault for the collision. Documentation and evidence gathering should take place as soon after the accident as possible. Witness testimonies and police reports are often also vital when proving fault in a car accident case. So make sure you get the name and contact information of any eyewitnesses that stop to assist.
It is also a good idea to retain legal representation as soon as possible to help ensure your insurance claims and your civil lawsuit are filed as efficiently as possible to prevent unnecessary settlement delays. Insurance companies may try to get you to take an early settlement for a low amount, or attempt to dispute who is liable for the accident and deny your claim altogether. An experienced lawyer who knows how to negotiate with the insurance company will not fall for these tricks.
The aforementioned documentation and evidence can help prove liability in civil court. To help prove damages, you can provide an estimate for the repair or replacement of your car, medical and hospital records from after the accident, and bills from your healthcare provider. These items and your testimony about what happened will help your Houston attorney put together a case on your behalf to reach a car accident settlement as soon as possible.
How Long Does a Settlement Take?
The amount of time it takes to settle a Houston car accident claim or lawsuit depends on the accident and how much your case is worth. Some car accident cases are fairly cut and dry, especially accidents where the fault is clear and there are minor or no injuries. Those accidents may settle in just a few weeks.
It gets more complicated when fault is difficult to determine or there are severe injuries involved. In those cases, more investigations may be needed to determine liability, or medical experts may need to be called in to testify about a person’s estimated future losses connected to a severe or permanent injury. Injuries that take a long time to heal or have additional complications which show up later can therefore delay the Houston car accident settlement process for many months. Some car accident cases even take several years to settle.
In practice, I commonly see the typical whiplash case with short-term treatment and no medical liens to negotiate reach a settlement in 7-10 months from the date of the wreck. If there are medicare liens or other subrogation claims, ongoing medical care, or other issues, this can delay the process by several months. If the insurance company’s offer is not acceptable, there are issues with liability, or there are other complex issues that affect the value of your case, then a lawsuit may become necessary. Having to file a lawsuit in the current court system will often add 1-2 years to the process.
Hiring a Houston Car Accident Lawyer
The legal process may sound intimidating, but having the right lawyer on your side can help. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. has been working with car accident victims and insurance companies since 1979 to settle cases as efficiently as possible. Contact us through our website today for a FREE case review.