Houston Car Accident Lawyer
Texas Car Wreck Attorneys
In a State the size of Texas, car accidents are a daily occurrence. Since the 70’s, Robert Simmons and Keith Fletcher have been helping victims recover medical bills, lost wages, property damage as well as compensation for their pain and suffering resulting from auto accidents. There are so many car accident lawyers to choose from in Texas now that making a decision as to who to hire or even whether to hire an attorney for your case can be mind boggling. Below are some tips to help you in your decision. To the right you can also click on and read our Car Accident Handbook. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. help victims of automobile accidents not only in the Houston and Katy areas, but across the entire State of Texas when needed.
Do I Need to Hire A Lawyer for a Car Accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident, then the short answer is “yes.” Sadly, many people come to us after they have attempted to handle a case on their own with a seemingly friendly insurance adjuster who promised they would “take full responsibility” early on and then made a ridiculous low ball offer and quit returning calls later. These kind of tactics cause injured persons to not gather and preserve evidence they should be gathering from the start and they cause delays in injured people getting medical care which are then used against the injured victim. If you think you have a simple case and are contemplating going at without a lawyer on your side in order to “save money,” you should read this article first:
Contrary to popular belief, there is no automatic liability even in a rear-end accident.
Before you try to take a go at your case without hiring an experienced car accident lawyer, here are some other important things you should be aware of:
- Insurance Companies Don’t Want to Help You. Insurance adjusters typically will not front you money or help you find a doctor that will treat you without expecting payment up front. They know that if you have no help, you are likely not to seek the care you need. They also know that delays and gaps in care make juries second guess whether you were really hurt. Thus, stalling saves them money in the long run.
- Don’t Believe Anything the Insurance Adjuster Says. When an adjuster tells you “we take full responsibility,” it does not mean they will pay all of your medical bills and compensate you fairly for other losses from your car accident. Liability is rarely the big fight. Insurance adjusters know that just because their client is liable for causing the accident, doesn’t mean they must pay for all of the medical care you receive. Texas law only requires them to pay for “reasonable and necessary” medical care that is caused by the collision. If you fail to seek medical care promptly or you seek alternative medicine vs medical care that conforms with accepted medical care guidelines, defendants can use your action/inaction against you to convince a jury to not award you all of your bills. You need to seek prompt, appropriate care if you have been injured.
- Property Damage and Injury Claims Are Completely Separate. Payment of your vehicle property damage is not an admission of liability for your personal injuries suffered in an accident. Don’t be fooled into thinking they are going to treat you fair on your personal injury claim just because they paid for the damage to your car promptly. Payment of the property damage before they deny your injury claim is a common tactic to try to prevent the jury from ever seeing photos of the property damage. When your case goes to trial, you are typically not even allowed to tell the jury that the insurance company paid for the damage to the vehicle that their insured caused.
- Never Consent to a Recorded Statement. Recorded statements can be used against you. Your own company’s insurance adjuster or theirs may use recorded statements to deny your claim. Do not ever give a recorded statement to anyone without having an attorney who represents you present.
- Not Much Can Be Used as Evidence in Civil Court. Juries do not get to see the whole picture. In a civil court of law, much of the police report must be marked out so the jury cannot see it. Evidence of the other driver’s insurance coverage is generally not admissible in evidence.
- You Need to File a Lawsuit to Find Out Insurance Coverage. Insurance companies do not have to tell you how much insurance coverage their insured has unless you file a lawsuit and force them to do it.
- Your Car Accident Settlement May Be Taken By Your Health Insurance Company. You may have an obligation to pay back your health insurance company out of any settlement or judgment. If you have health insurance, the policy usually contains what is known as a “subrogation clause.” In plain language, this means that both you and the car insurance company may have an obligation to reimburse your health insurance company out of your settlement. The insurance adjuster does not have to tell you before you accept a settlement offer that a chunk of that offer must be paid directly by the auto liability insurer to your health insurer leaving you with little or nothing. See: Do I have to pay my health insurance company back out of my settlement?
- Never Sign a Release Without Legal Counsel. When you sign a Release, it is forever. When they offer you a settlement in exchange for signing a release, you are giving up all of your rights specified in the release for injuries you know of now and those you discover in the future. Don’t sign a property damage release until you are sure they have covered all of the damage and that your bodily injury claim is not incorporated in the release. You should have a lawyer review all releases before you sign so that you understand what you are giving up.
As you can see from the above, there are a number of risks you take by not having an attorney on your side to explain all of the consequences of your actions and of the decisions the insurance adjuster may push you to make. Call us for a free consultation today.
What Does It Cost to Speak to a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
It costs you NOTHING to speak to our car accident lawyers. You need to know the consequences of your actions before you go down the wrong path and do damage to your own case. At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., we offer a 100% FREE initial consultation. You can come in and speak with an automobile accident attorney about your case. We will tell you what expect and what to lookout for. At the end of your consultation, if you decide not to hire us, you do not owe us a dime. If you do decide to hire us, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means our fee is a percentage of the recovery we make on your case. If we do not make a recovery, you do not pay us a dime.
What Damages are Recoverable After a Car Accident?
There is a wide variety of “damages” a person may recover following a car accident. A car accident victim may be able to recover physical loss damages related to the vehicle itself as well as damages related to the person. Damages related to the vehicle include:
- repair cost
- fair market value
- loss of use
- damage to personal property within the vehicle
In addition to recovering the above losses, a car accident victim may recover for damages for harm to the person that have occurred in the past and that will continue to occur in the future. These damages include:
- medical expenses
- lost wages and lost wage earning capacity
- physical pain and suffering
- mental anguish and emotional distress
- scarring and disfigurement
- physical impairment
- loss of enjoyment of life
In addition to the victim making a recovery, the spouse of the victim may be able to recover for damages such as:
- loss of household services
- loss of consortium
- loss of society
In the case of a wrongful death, funeral expenses may be recovered by the legal heirs and/or representative of the estate in addition to the above damages.
Lastly, in the case of a catastrophic injury, a life care plan to cover future medical expenses, costs of living and care may be necessary.
Specific Types of Car Accidents We Handle
Not all car accidents are the same. They may vary depending upon the vehicle you are operating, the vehicle the other driver is operating, the insurance coverage available or the driver’s state and/or source of intoxication. Here are some of the different types of accidents we handle:
- Commercial Motor Vehicle Collisions
Accidents involving 18-wheelers and other commercial motor vehicles can be catastrophic. These vehicles weight far more than the average vehicle. At Simmons & Fletcher, P.C., we have experience handling 18 wheeler collisions. The trucking industry is no stranger to Houston. The Port of Houston is the sixth largest port in the United States. Two major railroads and over 150 truck lines provide the delivery network that connects the Port of Houston to the rest of the United States, Mexico and Canada. (Statistics taken from the Greater Houston Partnership.) What this means for Houston drivers is that every driver can expect to share the road with several commercial motor vehicles every time they drive anywhere of significant distance.
While 18-wheelers are usually easy for drivers to spot, these truck drivers cannot always see other vehicles around them. Because of this, semi rig operators have to be very careful to maintain safe distance, proper attentiveness or look out and to stay alert. Their failure to do so can result in catastrophic injuries. As a result, numerous Federal and State laws have been enacted to try to prevent commercial motor vehicle collisions. Among other things, federal laws regulate the amount of sleep a driver must have, what he can consume, how often he can go “on duty” and for how long, what he must do to inspect and maintain his vehicle and other conduct. Our truck accident attorneys understand the risks and requirements of 18 wheeler drivers understand the laws that apply to truck drivers and will use them to help injury victims get the justice they deserve. For more information visit our section on Truck Accidents.
- Auto Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers
Thousands of people are injured and killed every year by drunk driving accidents and people who are driving under the influence of drugs. Driving is a task that requires constant alertness and awareness as well as the ability to quickly process information and react. Alcohol-impaired driving and/or drug use result in poor alertness, reduced awareness and delayed reaction time. Under Texas law, a driver is considered intoxicated if his blood alcohol level exceeds .08.
Driving while intoxicated and/or under the influence is a crime. Texas takes drunk drivers serious. If a person is caught driving over the legal limit, he can be jailed, fined or have his license suspended. Additionally, if a drunk driver causes a auto accident that results in another’s death, he can be held responsible for intoxicated manslaughter under Texas Penal Code 49.08. Intoxicated manslaughter is a second degree felony punishable by 2-20 years in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine.
At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., we also take drunk drivers very serious. Our families are on the roads too. If you are hit by a driver who exceeds this limit, that driver is criminally negligent. You may be entitled to punitive damages in addition to your medical bills, pain, suffering, physical impairment and scarring caused by the drunk driver’s negligence. We have helped numerous families recover from the devastating effects that drunk driving accidents have worked upon their lives and are here to help you. For more information, visit our page on Drunk Driving Accidents.
- Traffic Law Violations Resulting in Injuries
Traffic laws are designed to protect people. But every day we see them violated. When someone breaks a traffic law and causes a collision, this constitutes negligence. “Negligence” is the failure to act as an ordinary prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances. Examples of traffic law violations that often form the basis of a negligence cause of action are: running a red light, failing to yield right of way, speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign and making an unsafe lane change.
When someone violates a statute that is specifically intended to protect other drivers, that driver can be held responsible for “negligence per se” or negligence as a matter of law. However, what many people do not realize is that evidence that a driver received a traffic ticket is NOT admissible in a civil court of law to prove negligence. A traffic citation is considered a determination of fault made by an officer based upon hearsay. As a result, the courts generally will not allow the ticket to come into evidence in a negligence case unless the offending driver admits guilt.
Because the ticket is not admissible, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer who will take depositions, question eye-witnesses and gather the evidence necessary to prove that the other driver broke the traffic law in question. Eyewitness testimony can be critical in cases where the other driver is claiming they had the green light instead of you. The longer you wait to bring your case to us, the harder it is to track down the witnesses who can help you win your case. So please, call us today for a free consultation. Our litigation attorneys are here to assist you.
- Injuries Caused by Driver Inattentiveness and Distraction in Texas
The duty to maintain a proper lookout applies to all drivers on all Texas roads. Drivers fail to meet this duty for a number of reasons. A moment of distraction to change the radio station, answering a call or text, a lack of sleep, or simply look at something other than the road ahead is all it takes for a collision to occur.
Auto-pedestrian collisions, bicycle wrecks and motorcycle wrecks often are a result of driver inattentiveness. Drivers get so used to looking for the automobiles that they can easily forget they are sharing the road with people, bicycles and motorcycles as well. Failure to notice that blip in the mirror before a lane change can be a fatal mistake. At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., our attorneys are here to help if you suspect you have been the victim of driver inattentiveness or distraction.
- Construction Zone Vehicular Accidents
If you have lived in Harris County, you are familiar with the traffic congestion in the area. It seems like the major arteries—290, I-10, I-45 and Hwy 59—are constantly needing to be expanded to handle the traffic. In addition to the above, we sit so close to the ocean that the moist weather and geographic terrain allow for easy deterioration of asphalt and other road surfaces. All of these factors result in the need for road construction. Thus, we drive in it regularly.
Drivers have a duty to maintain a proper lookout. With regards to construction zones, this means paying attention to what other traffic is doing and what the workers are doing. A driver’s failure to maintain that proper lookout is negligence. The fact that a construction zone caused a traffic slow-down does not excuse a driver from maintaining that proper lookout. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. focuses on proving that the construction zone was not the real cause but the driver’s failure to pay attention and account for it was.
Why You Should Hire Us
After a serious crash or automobile accident, the best chance of getting compensation to reimburse you for your medical bills, pain, and suffering comes when you hire an experienced lawyer. Sadly, there are many people like you, as well as families just like your own, who have experienced serious injuries and even death as the result of an automobile accident. Those people who have failed to retain effective legal representation have often found themselves unable to receive the compensation they are entitled to. Only an attorney experienced with car accident injury cases should be trusted to handle your case.
The professional team of experienced lawyers at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. can provide to you the powerful representation that you need in the aftermath of a serious auto collision. With over 100 years of combined legal experience amongst the attorneys at the firm, the attorneys at Simmons & Fletcher, P.C. understand what needs to be done in order to fully protect your interests. We know what must be undertaken to ensure that you get the compensation that you are entitled to following a collision.
Insurance companies have skilled attorneys on their side. When you hire Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. you hire a team of experienced, committed and capable injury lawyers. We have two Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyers ready to take your case to trial if the insurance company refuses to accept responsibility and treat you fairly.
More Information About Car Accidents
If you would like to read more about Texas laws regarding traffic accident claims, or news pertaining to car accidents in Houston, please feel free to visit and follow the auto injury section of our blog or take a look at the answers to some of these frequently asked about topics:
- What is a Diminished Value Claim & Can I Get Compensated if My Car Loses Value After an Accident?
- Understanding the Texas Auto Liability Insurance Policy.
- Does Automobile Liability Insurance Cover Intentional Acts?
- What if I don’t want to sue a person over a car wreck?
- Texas Laws Pertaining to Hit-and-Run Accidents
- The Importance of Personal Injury Protection Coverage in the Texas Auto Policy
- Texas Penal Code § 49.08. Intoxication Manslaughter