As a Houston-based personal injury law firm with a national reputation, we receive a lot of questions about car accidents from friends, family and, of course, our clients. We are honored to be a trusted source of information for auto accidents and what to do when you find yourself in an accident.
Here, we provide answers to some of the most common questions we get about car accidents. We truly believe that when it comes to legal issues, knowledge is power. When you know more, you can make better decisions about what to do following a car accident.
If you have additional questions about your particular situation, please schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys by calling us at 713-230-9137 or contacting us online.
Driving a car is something most of us do daily. Cars are a fundamental part of our daily lives. Cars help us get to work, take our kids to school, see friends and family, and, generally, take us where we want to go. Driving gives us freedom. Yet, driving is also one of the more dangerous things we do.
The United States averages 6 million car accidents annually, with over 35,000 deaths and far more injuries. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2018 there were more than 3,000 vehicle accident deaths in Texas and over 12,000 serious injuries.
Those of us who drive in Houston regularly may not be surprised to know that many of Texas’ car accidents occur in the Houston metro area. In fact, Houston is regularly listed as one of the top cities in Texas for serious car accidents and deaths.
Despite efforts, road deaths in Houston continue to rise. In 2019, there were over 64,000 car accidents in Houston alone. Of those, 189 were fatal, and 1,175 were suspected of having caused serious injuries.
Statistics like these can be scary, but should not prevent you from living and enjoying your day-to-day activities, including driving. Simple safety steps — not driving while impaired by alcohol or fatigued, wearing seatbelts, and not driving in stormy weather — will keep you safer and help reduce the risk of being involved in a car accident.
A car accident, regardless of whether or not there are injuries, is a jarring experience. As your body deals with the shock and trauma, it can be hard to think clearly about what to do. Yet, what you do next matters for your health and future financial well-being. We recommend taking the following steps after a car accident:
If you’ve been in a car accident in Texas, even if it just seems like a minor fender bender, you must stop. Failure to stop is a violation of Texas state law and could result in a ticket or even jail time, depending on the circumstances. Stop your vehicle as close to the accident as possible without obstructing traffic or parking in a dangerous spot. For example, you could pull onto a wide shoulder off the highway.
Immediately park your car, get out, and walk to a safe location away from the vehicle and oncoming traffic. Do not sit and pass the time on your phone in the car. There may be hazards, not always immediately clear, that can cause the vehicle to catch fire or otherwise become a dangerous location. If you or one of your passengers is unable to get out of the car due to injuries, call 9-1-1 immediately for assistance.
Following a car accident, if you are able to walk away from your vehicle, you may be tempted to begin evaluating the damage to the car and exchanging information immediately. You should do these things, but only after you have called 9-1-1 to report the accident and obtain medical and law enforcement support.
The safety of yourself and everyone involved is the number one priority. Sometimes it takes a medical professional to identify signs of a serious medical issue, especially because you could be in shock after the accident. Calling 9-1-1 is the fastest way to get trained medical and law enforcement personnel to the accident scene.
Once you have called 9-1-1, you should begin recording information about the accident if you are physically able to do so. When the police arrive on the scene, it is common practice for them to ask you to sign a citation. You are not accepting guilt by signing the traffic citation, so you should sign it. It can take months, or even years, for insurance and legal disputes related to car accidents to sort themselves out. Your records can be vital in the future when your recollection of the details might otherwise fade.
Exchange names, phone numbers, and insurance information with any other drivers involved in the accident. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses, including passengers. Avoid the temptation of discussing the details of the accident, such as who was at fault, with other drivers. You do not want to inadvertently admit guilt or cause an issue for any future legal case you may have.
After exchanging information, take photographs of the scene and write notes about what happened while it is fresh in your mind. You can use the notes section of your phone if you don’t have paper handy. Do not show or give your notes to anyone at the scene — just save them for later. Once the police arrive, we strongly advise you to get the names and badge numbers of any officers at the scene, as well as the police report number. If available, get a copy of the accident report. You may have to ask the police for it. If it is not immediately available, ask them how you can procure a copy as soon as possible.
A wide variety of car accident injuries are not immediately apparent to an untrained person after an accident, and some injuries will not show any symptoms until days or even weeks later. Even if you feel fine, you should obtain a medical assessment as soon as possible after your car accident to help catch hidden injuries early and start treating them.
At the scene, medical providers will provide a preliminary assessment. They may order you to go to the emergency room immediately by ambulance or by having someone else drive you. Even if they do not, we strongly advise you to still get a full detailed medical assessment as soon as possible. If you suspect there may be an acute injury, go to the hospital. If not, make an appointment with your primary care provider.
Once you have taken care of your safety, report the car accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Some insurance companies now have phone apps that make it easy to report an issue. If not, you can simply call the number listed on your insurance card.
Reporting the car accident to your insurance company starts the claims process and is required for you to utilize some types of coverage under your policy. Reporting is important whether or not you were at fault because your insurance company may need to cover costs while it pursues recovery against the other driver’s insurance. Your insurance company may request a recorded statement from you, but you are not obligated to provide it immediately. You should consult with an attorney before giving them your statement. You may need to use your own insurance coverage to receive full compensation if the other driver does not have adequate coverage.
It is not uncommon for another person involved in the car accident or their representative — like their attorney or insurance company — to call you shortly after an accident, sometimes within hours. This is not a good time to talk to them.
Be polite, but only offer minimal information such as your name and contact information. Do not agree to a recorded call, and do not provide detailed information about the accident or injuries on the spot. You can tell them that you will give a written statement once you have gathered your information.
Talking to them on the phone — and so early on — might cause you to say something that could later be used against you. In fact, by calling so early, they are sometimes hoping to catch you off guard. For example, if you later discover you had more injuries than you initially thought, such as whiplash — a common delayed-onset injury — they may try to hold you to your initial description of your injuries. Waiting and providing a written statement gives you time to gather your thoughts, investigate the accident, evaluate your injuries, and obtain an attorney.
You are not required to hire an attorney for your car accident, but, as we’ll talk about next, it is often recommended. At a minimum, you should meet with one or more attorneys to learn about how they could help you before deciding whether to hire one.
You have probably heard of people hiring attorneys for car accident cases, or even seen them advertised on TV, radio, and the internet. Yet, you may not know why someone would hire an attorney for a car accident, especially if it seems like a simple, straightforward accident. The following are some of the key reasons to hire a personal injury attorney to represent you after an accident:
When you think of attorneys, you probably think of lots of money coming out of your pocket. In some cases, such as divorces, that is certainly the case. But car accident cases are different. Most car accident attorneys, including our law firm, Husain Law + Associates, P.C., represent clients on a contingency fee basis.
In a contingency fee case, the client does not pay any legal fees upfront. If and when the case resolves in the client’s favor through settlement or lawsuit, the law firm that represented the client gets paid out of those proceeds. If the case is unsuccessful, the client does not owe any attorney any fees. These types of arrangements allow clients to pursue their legal remedies when they otherwise would not be able to afford to.
Many people assume their insurance company will just handle their case for them. In this case, insurance companies are not your friends. They have lawyers working day and night to find ways to pay you less or deny your insurance claim. Unfortunately, insurance companies are notorious for taking actions that are in their best interests — not yours — including low-ball offers that are less than your claim is worth, or refusing to pay a claim they should.
Don’t face your insurance company alone. Experienced Houston car accident attorneys are very familiar with common insurance bad faith tactics. Attorneys serve as your adviser and advocate, protecting you against bad behavior by yours and other involved parties’ insurance companies.
For example, if an offer is unreasonably low, your attorney will likely advise you not to accept it. They will work to get you an offer that will fully compensate you and can tell you whether you can take action against the insurance company for their wrongful behavior.
Even if you think you were clearly the victim of a car accident, other parties might see it differently and could accuse you of causing the accident. Determining who is liable in a case can involve complex legal and factual issues involving accident reconstruction, case law, and proof of causation. Your attorney will have the knowledge and resources, such as expert contacts, to defend you against allegations by opposing parties.
If you are injured in a car accident, you will have medical bills from the care and treatment immediately after and on an ongoing basis until you reach your maximum medical recovery.
If another driver was at fault, they are responsible for paying these costs. However, they generally do not pay the expenses immediately, and you are responsible until they do. Your health care coverage might cover some of the costs, but in many cases, there are still thousands of dollars in medical bills left for you to pay.
A Houston accident attorney can help prevent medical bills from causing you financial ruin in a few ways. They can help you sort through what is often a tangled web to figure out who is responsible for the payments. Then, they can help negotiate with medical providers to hold off on collection efforts until your lawsuit is settled, and possibly get bill amounts reduced so that less money comes out of your settlement payment.
Hiring an attorney for your car accident case may be the first time you’ve had to work with an attorney. If you don’t know any personal injury attorneys, you may not know where to start. Where do you find attorneys? How do you find good attorneys? To find the right Texas attorney for your case, start by researching potential attorneys, meeting with your top candidates, and then making your decision.
Start your attorney search by gathering a few names of potential car accident attorneys. You can ask friends and family, search Google, or contact the local bar association for ideas. Look for an attorney or firm that focuses specifically on car accidents as one of their practice areas. Even the best business law attorney is not going to be a good pick to represent you in a vehicle crash case.
Find two or more law firms that you are interested in, and schedule a consultation. Reading about attorneys and law firms will only tell you so much. We recommend that you always meet with attorneys before hiring them for your personal injury case. Good attorneys understand this and will be happy to meet and discuss your case with you. You can learn more from in-person interaction than paper. A few examples of good questions you may want to ask are:
Make sure that you trust the integrity and experience of your Houston car accident lawyer. You will be working with them closely for a while and sharing confidential information with them. Further, their capabilities will impact the outcome of your case.
Car accidents are traumatic events that can cause physical and psychological injuries. You should assess your physical and mental well-being immediately after the accident and continue to do so.
Even minor car accidents can cause serious injuries. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may not cause pain or other symptoms immediately.
There are too many possible injuries from a car accident to list; however, the following are some of the most common injuries caused by automobile crashes:
A severe auto accident can — and often does — cause cuts, scrapes and bruises of varying levels of severity. They can be caused by contact with the seatbelt, airbag or armrest, or by flying items in the vehicle. Cuts and scrapes are visible immediately, while bruises may take some time to develop.
The trauma and impact of car accidents can cause broken bones. The most common bones to break or fracture are the neck bones, vertebrae, femur, collarbone, pelvis, ankle bones, and rib bones. The most common sign of a fracture or break is pain in the area. Other signs and symptoms include swelling or bruising, deformity, or inability to use the body part, such as being unable to walk in the case of a femur or ankle break.
Headaches are pains in the head or face area. They can range greatly in severity and type; for example, they may be mild and feel like head pressure or could feel like stabbing pain so severe it causes nausea. Headaches after a car accident may be a sign of additional injuries, such as whiplash or concussion.
Whiplash is a neck injury that is caused by the head moving forward and then backward rapidly — in other words, whiplike movement of the head. Neck pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms, but not the only ones. Whiplash can manifest itself in different ways, some of which are surprising. Symptoms include loss of neck range of motion, headaches, arm numbness, blurry vision, memory problems, and ringing in the ears. Whiplash can take several days or more to begin showing signs or symptoms.
A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when your brain hits against your skull. Concussions are severe injuries that can cause serious short- and long-term injury, including death. You do not have to hit your head to get a concussion. The sharp back-and-forth movement of your head during a car accident can be enough to cause a concussion.
Concussion signs and symptoms after a car accident include headaches, ringing in the ears, nausea, blurry vision, slurred speech, dizziness, confusion, light and noise sensitivity, change in sleeping patterns, pale skin, convulsions, and dilated pupils.
The two most commonly injured regions in car accidents are the neck and back. There are countless types of head and back injuries that can occur. In addition to whiplash, common injuries include cuts and scrapes, soft-tissue injury, disc injuries, fractures, mechanical pain, spondylolisthesis (a slipped vertebra), spinal stenosis, and spinal cord injuries.
Neck and back injuries can range from minor to debilitating. Imaging, such as x-rays and MRIs, and evaluation by a doctor are often required to properly diagnose the cause of neck and/or back pain after a car accident. It is not uncommon for multiple injuries, such as a disc injury and spinal stenosis, to occur that, combined, cause the neck and back issues.
The trauma of a car accident can increase the likelihood of a blood clot forming. A blood clot is a clump of blood. The dangerous kind forms inside a person’s veins. Blood clots can travel through the body and cut off circulation to vital organs, causing a stroke or heart attack. They are very dangerous, particularly if untreated.
Signs and symptoms of a blood clot include bloody cough; lightheadedness; difficulty breathing; chest pain; rapid heartbeat; radiating shoulder pain; numbness or weakness in the face; difficulty speaking or understanding; vision changes; and swelling, redness, or pain in an arm or leg.
Car accidents may cause internal bleeding — bleeding on the inside of the body. Bleeding on the inside can occur in different areas and flow into muscles or joints. These areas include the chest, abdomen, or head.
Because it is on the inside, internal bleeding is not typically visible without proper medical equipment. Signs and symptoms of internal bleeding include chest pain, shortness of breath; severe pain in the abdomen, head, or chest; vomiting; diarrhea; blood in the stool; acute vision issues; low blood pressure; dizziness; weakness; and fainting.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is not just something military personnel suffer from — anyone can get it. PTSD is a psychological disorder that develops following a traumatic event of any type. It is common for people to develop it after a car accident. Signs of PTSD are flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, mood swings, behavior changes, suicidal thoughts, sleep disruption, and avoidance. We recommend psychiatrist consultation since symptoms of PTSD vary.
Car accidents tend to be unexpected. However, once they happen, you are expected to follow certain procedures to protect your ability to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. One of the most important steps is to call the police immediately.
Calling the police allows them to file an official crash report. This document contains evidence analysis, drivers’ contact information, witness statements, and other relevant information. It may also indicate that a driver was ticketed for the accident.
Aside from being a legal requirement, here are some reasons you should call the police after an accident:
If you or someone you know has been in a car accident, you probably want to know more than just general information about car accidents; you want to know how it applies to your situation. Our team of experienced, passionate attorneys is here for that.
Contact us online or call 713-987-7126 to set up a free initial consultation to discuss your car accident and potential legal claims.
As frequent as accidents are these days, a majority of people still don’t know their rights and the Texas laws that explain the proper procedure for what to do after a car accident. Let’s go over a few laws that you should know before heading out on the open road.
Auto accidents can happen anywhere and to anyone. This is especially true for Houston, which has been ranked as the worst city for red light accidents. That said, car accidents can be more rampant in some areas than others.
This is not to say that you are sure to get into an accident by driving in these areas. But, statistically, you are more likely to get into a crash in these intersections.
According to studies of Houston crash data, top hotspots include:
Other hotspot roads include S Dairy Ashford Rd, Westheimer Road, the Cullen Boulevard pedestrian crossing, FM 1960, and Louetta Road.
Despite the statistics, you can reduce your chances of getting into an accident on these roads by practicing caution. Keep your seatbelts on, obey the traffic signs, and stay within the speed limit.
You could also opt to use alternative roads that are generally safer.
Car accidents can be of different natures. The type of accident you are involved in often determines who is liable for the damage you suffer. If you are not sure how to proceed after a crash, consult a Houston Car Accident Attorney for legal advice.
The most common types of car accidents in Texas include:
A lot of people travel through Texas every day. Consequently, car accidents can be a fairly common occurrence. Here are some common causes of auto crashes in the state:
Speeding is a major cause of accidents in Texas. When you drive at a speed over the posted speed limit, you put other road users at risk. You are also more likely to crash into something as your response time is reduced.
Driving requires your maximum concentration. A little distraction could result in an unfortunate event. Being distracted refers to when a driver’s focus is drawn from the road by activities such as:
Drunk driving is another major contributor to car accidents. This is because alcohol reduces your concentration and hampers your judgment. Statistically, you are more likely to make a wrong turn or over speed when you are drunk.
In Texas, there are laws against texting and driving. This is because it has caused a significant number of car accidents in the state and country. Despite this, some drivers think they can text and drive safely at the same time, even when they are on a busy road.
Unfortunately, wildlife can also lead to accidents. This often happens at night when they suddenly jump onto the road causing the driver to swerve and lose control of the cars. Common examples of animals that could cause accidents include dogs, cats, deer, and opossums.
Severe weather conditions such as hail, thunderstorms, ice, snow, and wind could also result in car accidents. This is because they either lower the driver’s visibility or prevent them from operating their vehicle safely.
Driving under the influence of drugs has similar effects as drunk driving. Drugs could be any substance, prescription or otherwise, that compromises your mental and physical ability to operate a vehicle.
Other factors that could contribute to an auto accident include:
If you’ve incurred an injury in a car accident, your first priority will likely be to get medical attention. You may not wish to get involved in a legal battle for damages. However, it is essential to note that you don’t have unlimited time to seek compensation. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the better.
Like in most states, car accident victims in Texas are subject to a statute of limitations. This means they only have 2 years from the date of an accident to file a claim for bodily injury or property damage. In a wrongful death case, this limit is counted from the date of the victim’s passing.
If this timeline expires, you lose your right to take legal action against the at-fault driver. This is why you shouldn’t procrastinate.
Don’t worry. Your attorney will handle the entire legal process as you focus on getting better.
Generally, you can. However, it is not legally advisable. An insurance company is a business. Their main focus is to take little or no losses. This is why they will likely deny your compensation claim or try to settle for a less amount than you deserve. They may even try to extend the recovery process. Should they succeed, you could end up paying for your medical bills and property repairs out-of-pocket.
Our Houston Car Accident Attorneys have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies. By hiring us, you can focus on your recovery as we handle your compensation claim.
Insurance companies will work tirelessly to avoid having to pay damages in a car accident case. In their efforts, they are likely to employ defense tactics such as claiming the crash was:
Negligence does not apply in an unavoidable accident. By proving that the crash was inevitable, the insurance company absolves the at-fault driver of any responsibility.
The insurance company can avoid paying damages if they prove that the crash occurred due to a sudden emergency. They have to establish that the emergency situation did not arise from negligence, was not created by the driver’s actions, and was unexpected.
They may also try to show that the driver acted with ordinary care.
With this defense, the insurance company will accept partial responsibility for the accident. They will also argue that a third party was liable for the victim’s injuries and that this cause was unforeseeable. For this defense to be successful, the insurance company will then prove that the third party’s influence superseded the at-fault driver’s negligence.
This is the least used defense. It requires the insurance company to prove that the accident was a natural occurrence that happened without any human intervention. The basis of this argument is that human beings can’t be held responsible for events beyond their control.
For success, the insurance company may argue using factors like fog, rain, or wildfire smoke as acts of God.
Husain Law + Associates P.C. has a combined experience of more than 40 years. We have handled cases involving these defenses many times. Whatever the insurance company throws at us, we will fight it to make sure you get the maximum compensation possible for your misery.
Generally, most car accident claims do not result in lawsuits. They are often solved through negotiations with the insurance company. Nonetheless, if a Houston Car Accident Attorney believes that your case requires a trial, they will advise you on how to pursue it.
A typical claim includes the following steps:
During this stage, the attorneys seek to determine fault. This includes investigating the nature and cause of the accident to prove negligence. The attorney may study police reports, talk to the other driver, or interrogate willing witnesses.
Negligence is present when a driver acts or fails to act responsibly and, in turn, causes harm to someone else. Common examples of driver negligence include:
It is important to note that fault may not always be placed on the other driver. In some instances, the attorney will have to turn to other at-fault parties such as a:
After investigation, your attorney will present a compensation claim to the insurance company. The insurer can then agree or decline to pay the requested amount. They may also opt for further negotiations.
In most cases, it is advisable to let your attorney handle any negotiations. They may take a while, but the goal is to get you the compensation you deserve.
On the rare occasion that negotiations fail to yield the intended results, your attorney may advise you to pursue litigation. Again, the attorney will handle the entire process of filing a lawsuit.
Your attorney and the insurance company can still negotiate before the date of the trial. If an agreement is reached before then, the lawsuit is dropped. If not, it goes to court.
If negotiations are successful, you and the insurance company can reach a settlement. The alternative is a verdict obtained through court proceedings. Either way, you can take steps to recover your settlement amount.
This will often include a short wait as your attorney pays out any outstanding bills. The attorney will then extract legal fees and send you a check of the remaining amount.
Remember, every car accident case is unique. The entire process from start to finish may take anywhere from a few months to several years. The duration often depends on factors such as:
Also, not every car accident case will go through every step mentioned here. To better understand what to expect from your case, it is best to work closely with a car accident attorney.
During your initial consultation, your attorney will listen to the specifics of your case. He/she will then guide you through the legal process, your rights, and all the legal options available to you. When meeting with an attorney, you could make the assessment easier by presenting relevant information.
This includes information such as:
It is advisable to collect this information immediately after the accident, even before you speak to an attorney. Nonetheless, your attorney will likely determine what’s missing from the information you already have and how to get what you need.
Also, the data you provide during your initial consultation will go a long way in formulating the best approach to your car accident case.
One of the most complicated aspects of a car accident case is determining who was at fault. Because Texas is an at-fault state, this is usually the party that is liable to pay the victim for damages caused by the crash. Their insurance policy often covers the other driver’s medical bills and property damage.
In respect to this, a car accident victim can either file a claim against the other driver’s insurer or a direct lawsuit against the driver. This is only possible if the victim can establish the following four elements:
To prove negligence, a car accident victim requires strong evidence. This is why you are advised to collect as much proof as you can immediately after a crash. The evidence can be in the form of:
Our attorneys can help gather other forms of critical evidence, such as expert witness statements, cell phone records, and accident reconstruction data.
Definitely the best litigation law firm that assisted me with my case. Mr. Husain leave mediation until he received a settlement that he deemed was suitable for what my case was worth. I am very pleased with the outcome and the hard work he put into it through the entire process. He had an amazing staff as well that answered their phones and responded back to every voicemail and email I left within 24hrs. I MUST say thank you to Ms. Brenda Leal, I think I bugged her the most, but she answered me every time with straight forward answers and with an upbeat attitude. Thank You All So Much!!!