If you have been injured in a car accident, the first thing you should do is get each driver’s information and the names and information of any witnesses, and seek medical attention. The second thing you should do is contact your own insurance company, even if the accident wasn’t your fault.
The reason: your insurance company will be on your side since they want the negligent driver’s insurance to pay you. They also have experience in helping to build a case against the other driver. Do you have to talk to the other driver’s insurance company? It is best left up to your own insurance company and your personal injury attorney, since they are there to protect your interests.
If you do speak to the other party’s insurance adjuster, make sure to state that you do not want the conversation to be recorded as they will try to use anything you say against you.
So, should you negotiate the claim or do you need to file a personal injury lawsuit?
The difference between a claim and a lawsuit
You may hear these terms used interchangeably, but they are not the same. A personal injury claim is a negotiation with the negligent party’s insurance company to reach a settlement that is fair and reasonable. The “pro” of negotiating a settlement is that it is kept out of the judicial system and is less risky than leaving the decision up to a jury.
However, insurance companies are for-profit businesses and will undervalue your claim and try to low-ball the settlement. If a negotiated agreement cannot be reached, then you may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit. Like any type of lawsuit, this is a legal proceeding that will be heard in front of a judge in court.
Initiating a personal injury claim
Once you have all the information you need, including police reports, medical records and anything else that documents the accident and your injury, you should consider contacting a Texas personal injury attorney who can help guide you through the process and make sure your best interests are protected. One thing you and your attorney will look into is whether you (and the other driver) have PIP as part of your policy.
In Texas, every insurance company is required to offer their insureds PIP, or Personal Injury Protection. It is included unless the insured signs a waiver rejecting coverage. The purpose of PIP is to cover expenses arising from the accident, including medical bills, lost wages or necessary expenses.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit
If you are unable to reach a fair settlement that covers all your damages, you and your lawyer can discuss filing a lawsuit. The statute of limitations in Texas mandates that a lawsuit be filed within two years of the injury. There are several steps in a lawsuit:
Your attorney will file a Petition with the appropriate court. The petition lays out the essential information, including what damages are being sought.
Next, the defendant (the person whom you are suing) will be informed of the lawsuit. Through service of citation, the defendant will be notified that you have filed a case.
Once the defendant has been served, they answer the complaint. If they fail to do so, you may win the lawsuit by default.
All the information needed to present your case will be gathered. You may gather information from the defendant through a process called “discovery,” and they may also request information, witness testimony and other pertinent information from you.
A pre-trial motion is one in which lawyers present information to the judge, who will then decide if the issues warrant the case going to a jury.
Once (and if) the case goes to trial, your lawyer may decide that it’s in your best interest to have the judge decide the case, rather than having it tried before a jury.
Find out what your best option is if you have suffered a personal injury
Getting the best possible compensation for our clients is our primary goal. To learn more about how Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers can help you, please contact us online or call us at (281) 645-5000 to schedule a free consultation.