Jason Stephens | November 11, 2022 | Personal Injury
The days and weeks after an accident can be overwhelming. You may have unexpected medical expenses, unforeseen lost wages while you recover, and pain and suffering that interferes with daily tasks. The thought of filing a personal injury claim may seem like too much.
However, a personal injury claim may be the only way to recover compensation for your losses after an accident. Therefore, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the personal injury claims process. This understanding can help you set your expectations regarding your case and make the process smoother as a whole.
Steps to Take After An Accident in Texas
The personal injury claims process doesn’t just start when you file your claim. In reality, it starts right after your accident.
You should always take certain steps to protect your injury claim, including:
You should always consider contacting 911 after a serious accident or injury. Indeed, Texas law requires you to call the police after certain accidents, such as car crashes that cause injury, death, or significant property damage. The dispatcher will send law enforcement and EMTs to the accident scene.
Cooperate with officers when they arrive on the scene
When police officers arrive on the scene, they will investigate your accident and create a report. They will note the date, time, and other factors relevant to the accident. They may also record preliminary determinations of fault indicating who is responsible for the accident. This accident report will be essential to your personal injury claim.
You should exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved in the accident. You will need this information to file an insurance claim. You should also obtain contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
Take photographs and videos
It’s never a bad idea to take photographs and videos of the accident and your injuries. They can provide valuable evidence later on. They can also help you remember certain details about the accident that you might otherwise forget due to adrenaline or the passage of time.
Seek medical attention
You should seek immediate medical care after your accident — even if you feel fine. Even if you have no visible injuries, you may have internal injuries that have not presented symptoms yet. Prompt medical attention will ensure you receive treatment for all your injuries.
If you don’t seek immediate medical care, the insurance company may accuse you of failing to mitigate your damages. They may claim you made your injuries worse by delaying medical treatment. This gives them grounds to reduce your compensation.
Contact an experienced local personal injury attorney
You should always contact a skilled local personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your claim. Your lawyer can help you understand your rights and options after your accident. They can also protect you from making mistakes that could hurt your injury claim. We discuss this topic in more depth below.
Initiating a Claim with the Insurance Company under Texas Law
After you’ve taken the steps above, you are ready to initiate your personal injury claim with the insurance company. Since Texas is an at-fault state, you will use the insurance information for the at-fault party to file your claim. If the at-fault party is found to be responsible for your injuries, state law requires the insurance company to reimburse you for your damages.
Typically, Texas law gives insurance companies 15 calendar days to acknowledge receipt of your claim. The insurance company will have an additional 15 days to accept or reject liability for your claim — after it receives all necessary paperwork and information. If the insurer accepts liability and agrees to a settlement, it must make final payment within 5 business days.
It’s always best to let your personal injury attorney handle all communications, filings, and negotiations with the insurance company. Otherwise, insurance adjusters may try to take advantage of you or obtain statements they can later use against you.
The Claims Process – What to Expect
Once you’ve filed your claim and/or sent a demand letter, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to investigate your accident and determine whether the insurer is liable for your injuries.
The adjuster will typically take the following steps:
- Request additional paperwork and other information reasonably related to your claim.
- Examine your accident report and medical records to see if the insured was responsible for your accident.
- Use other investigative techniques to assess the seriousness of your injuries, such as scrutinizing your social media accounts.
If the insurance adjuster determines the insurer is liable for your injuries, they will typically offer a settlement to compensate you for your damages. However, you should expect the initial settlement offer to be lower than the full value of your losses. At this point, you and your lawyer will enter into negotiations.
Your attorney will try to negotiate a settlement that accounts for all your losses. If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement (or denies your claim outright), you may need to initiate a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. Sometimes, the mere threat of a lawsuit is enough to make the insurance company offer a fair award.
Why You Should Hire a Texas Personal Injury Attorney to Help With Your Claim
As you can see, the personal injury claims process is extremely complicated. One wrong move and you could lose valuable compensation. A personal injury attorney in Texas will be familiar with Texas law and can be a major asset during your claim.
Your attorney will handle all legal aspects of your claim, minimizing the likelihood of serious errors that could affect your settlement opportunities. They also will give you time to rest and recover from your injuries as they take charge of your case. They will investigate your accident to identify liable parties and gather proof of their fault, including accident reports, medical records, cell phone records, video surveillance footage, and other evidence.
Your personal injury lawyer will calculate the value of your damages so you know the precise amount your claim is worth. This will give you leverage in negotiations. Your injury attorney can also consult with experts in medicine, finance, and accident reconstruction to strengthen your case. They can also take your case to court if the insurance company refuses to play fair.
Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency. This means they don’t charge attorney fees unless they recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf. If they are successful, they will take a pre-agreed-upon percentage of your award as payment for the representation. The up-front cost of hiring an attorney is low, but the value of having a law firm on your side is immeasurable.
Contact an experienced Texas personal injury attorney today for help with your injury claim.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107