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Everything You Need to Know About Texas Car Accident Settlements

Feb 02, 2021 Car Accidents
  1. 1. What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and a Jury Award?
  2. 2. Who Is Financially Responsible for My Injuries After a Car Wreck?
  3. 3. When Should I Settle My Personal Injury Claim?
  4. 4. What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?
  5. 5. Can the Insurance Company Refuse to Settle Because I Have a Pre-Existing Condition?
  6. 6. I Was Partially at Fault for the Crash. Can I Get a Settlement?
  7. 7. Will Handling My Car Accident Claim on My Own Save Me Money?
  8. 8. Crosley Law: Fighting for Crash Victims in San Antonio and Across Texas

You might hear a lot about car accident and personal injury settlement amounts, but do you really understand the essentials of a settlement? At Crosley Law, we know that settling your case is an important decision that you should never take lightly.

However, if you don’t understand the settlement process or the value of your claim, it’s impossible to make smart decisions. Here, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions about car wreck settlements and suggest ways you can protect your legal rights.

What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and a Jury Award?

Sometimes, crash victims use “settlement” to describe any compensation they get from a personal injury claim. However, lawyers use the term differently. When you settle a lawsuit, you are giving up your right to go to trial in exchange for a lump-sum payout. Once you sign off on the settlement, you can’t go back and demand more compensation.

Typically, your personal injury lawyer will try to negotiate a settlement before you go to trial. Either you or the insurance company will start the process by asking for (or offering) a specific amount of money. Then, your lawyer will go back and forth until you reach a fair settlement number. Depending on your situation, these negotiations might involve a more formal dispute resolution process, like mediation.

However, if negotiations stall, you can take your case to trial. During a trial, both sides will present their arguments to a jury, sharing evidence and witnesses’ testimony with them. Based on the law and facts, the jury can either award you damages or reject your claim. Lawyers sometimes refer to these jury awards as verdicts.

Who Is Financially Responsible for My Injuries After a Car Wreck?

Under Texas law, the person or company that caused your car wreck is financially responsible for your injuries. However, that is an oversimplification of how our state’s personal injury system works. In addition to the at-fault driver, you might have claims against car and auto part manufacturers, the driver’s employer, other businesses, and even with your own insurance company.

In addition to the at-fault driver, you might have claims against car and auto part manufacturers, the driver’s employer, other businesses, and even with your own insurance company.

When you work with an experienced car accident lawyer, they will carefully investigate your claim, identifying all your sources of compensation. They might include:

  • Liability insurance: if someone caused or contributed to your accident, you can file claims with their insurance companies. This might involve an at-fault driver or their employer’s policies.
  • Product liability: when a defective or dangerous product (like brakes, tires, and other vehicle parts) were a factor, you can sue the companies that designed, produced, distributed, and sold them.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: most Texans have at least a modest amount of UM/UIM coverage as part of their policies. If the at-fault driver’s policy limits do not fully cover your damages, you can file a claim with your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): like UM/UIM, you likely have some PIP coverage as part of your auto policy. This no-fault insurance will cover your medical bills and wage loss, up to your policy limits—even if you caused the crash.
  • Dram shop claims: if a bar or restaurant knowingly overserved a drunk driver, they might be liable for your damages.

All of these insurance policies (and others) might contribute to your overall settlement, so it’s essential that you identify all the possible sources of coverage in your claim.

When Should I Settle My Personal Injury Claim?

No two car wreck cases are the same, so your settlement’s timing will be highly personal. At Crosley Law, we consider several factors before we agree to settle the case:

  • Your medical needs: Sometimes, people decide to wait until they’ve reached their maximum medical improvement (MMI) before settling their claims. You’ve reached MMI when your doctors think that your condition will no longer improve with treatment. However, in some cases, you can’t wait until you’re at maximum medical improvement, due to the severity of your injuries. In these cases, your personal injury lawyer will consult with expects to estimate the cost of your future medical treatment.
  • Your case’s strengths and weaknesses: Some claims should go to trial, and others should not. If your personal injury case has serious problems, and it will be difficult to win at trial, you might consider settling. However, if you have a very strong case, it’s best to go to trial rather than accept an unfair settlement.
  • The insurance company’s offer: Sometimes, your lawyer can quickly negotiate a policy limit-reaching settlement. However, if the insurance company is unreasonable, you may need to mediate your case or take it to trial.
  • Your personal priorities: some people want their day in court, while others don’t think they can handle the emotionally charged process. Make sure you talk to your lawyer about what you want to get out of litigation.

We help our clients make decisions that are in their best interests, balancing all of these factors.

What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?

Your case’s settlement value will depend on many factors—you can’t just type a few numbers into an online calculator and get the right amount. Instead, your legal team will start collecting the information and evidence you need to document your financial and emotional losses.

Your case’s settlement value will depend on many factors—you can’t just type a few numbers into an online calculator and get the right amount. Instead, your legal team will start collecting the information and evidence you need to document your financial and emotional losses.

When we calculate a car crash case’s settlement value, we consider:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • Your current and future medical expenses
  • How much you’ve lost in wage and wage-earning capacity
  • Your pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages
  • Whether there are activities you can no longer do, like chores and hobbies
  • Any special equipment or assistance that you need to live safely and comfortably
  • Whether you’ll be able to live independently in the future
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Property damage
  • The policy limits that apply to your personal injury case

You might also be owed punitive damages. When a driver’s intentional or highly reckless actions caused your crash, you can demand punitive damages, which aim to punish a wrongdoer (rather than compensate you for your financial and emotional losses).

Can the Insurance Company Refuse to Settle Because I Have a Pre-Existing Condition?

Insurance adjusters sometimes argue that because you have a pre-existing condition, your case is worthless. This is incorrect.

Texas and all other states use the “eggshell skull rule.” This means that the at-fault parties must take you as you are—pre-existing conditions and all. If you can prove that the crash worsened your underlying health issues and caused your damages, you might be owed compensation.

RELATED: What Is the Eggshell Skull Rule?

I Was Partially at Fault for the Crash. Can I Get a Settlement?

In Texas, you may be able to negotiate a car accident settlement, even if you contributed to the crash. Our state has adopted a rule of “modified comparative fault.” If you helped cause a crash, your financial recovery will be reduced by your degree of fault. However, if you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot receive compensation for your injuries.

For example, suppose you did not come to a full stop at a four-way stop. Instead, you slowed down significantly, looked both ways, and then rolled into the intersection. As you start to move forward, a drunk driver ignores their stop sign and smashes into your vehicle at a high speed.

While your negligence contributed to the crash, the drunk driver’s negligence was its primary cause. If you file a lawsuit against the drunk driver, your compensation might be modestly reduced due to your failure to stop. However, if the drunk driver tried to sue you for negligence, you could argue that they were at least 51% at fault and cannot receive damages.

While this rule aims at keeping everyone accountable, insurance companies sometimes use it to unfairly reduce victims’ compensation. If the claims adjuster is blaming you for a crash that wasn’t your fault, contact an injury lawyer immediately.

Will Handling My Car Accident Claim on My Own Save Me Money?

Insurance companies love unrepresented accident victims. Adjusters know that they can often convince them to settle for much less than their case’s full value. Unlike an insurance adjuster, whose job is to settle your case as quickly and cheaply as possible, an injury lawyer is on your side.

A car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, uncover your case’s real settlement value, identify every insurance policy that covers your claim, and guide you through the litigation process. And, once you have a lawyer, the insurance company cannot contact you directly, giving you more time and space to focus on healing.

If you’re worried that you can’t afford a personal injury lawyer, don’t worry. At Crosley Law, we have a “no fee” policy. We will never charge you for attorney’s fees or case costs unless we recover compensation for you.

RELATED: Insurance Settlement FAQs

Crosley Law: Fighting for Crash Victims in San Antonio and Across Texas

At Crosley Law, we’re proud of our track record of success and commitment to our clients. Our cutting-edge approach to personal injury law has helped people across Texas get the answers and compensation they deserve—and we’re not afraid to go the extra mile.

For example, after the insurance company denied Jerry M.’s brain injury claim, Tom Crosley read more than 70 scientific articles and papers and reached out to some of the foremost brain injury researchers in the world. Tom’s work uncovered strong evidence that Jerry had suffered a significant TBI and resulted in a more than $16 million jury award.

If a reckless driver injured you or someone you love, we want to help. You can schedule a free consultation, by calling 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or filling out our website’s easy contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.


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