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If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident that was due to someone else’s negligence, our empathetic and experienced team at The Barber Law Firm can provide you with personalized support and sound legal advice throughout every stage of your claim. Our lawyers will deal with the insurance companies and litigation process on your behalf to obtain compensation to cover your lost wages, medical and hospital bills, as well as funeral costs, should the accident have resulted in the death of a loved one.
When dealing with the overwhelming laundry list of tasks to take care of, from repairing or replacing your vehicle to trying to figure out how to pay the medical bills that you incurred as a result of your accident, it’s understandable that contacting a lawyer to discuss your case may not be front of mind. Unfortunately for Texans, strict laws are in place that limit the time period in which you have to file a claim, so securing the help of a passionate legal team is not something that you should put off. The last thing that you need is to finally contact an attorney only to learn that it’s too late to obtain the justice you deserve.
When you call our firm for the first time, you can expect to speak with a highly knowledgeable member of our legal team who will ask you to walk them through the whole story of your accident, often thinking to ask you questions that you may not have even considered relevant to your case. Our empathetic intake specialists will put your mind at ease, considering all variables and letting you know exactly how best to proceed to protect your interests from whatever point you are at, and which next steps will be critical to protecting your legal rights.
WHY SHOULD YOU CALL A LAWYER?
KRIS BARBER AND OUR EXPERIENCED TEAM OF LAWYERS CAN HELP YOU
Kris Barber and his team of Dallas Auto Accident attorneys recognize the factors that are most urgent following a traumatic automobile wreck:
- Ambulance, hospital, medical treatment, and surgery costs
- Lost wages associated with the auto accident
- Future medical treatment
- Funeral costs
Forming a strong case can be daunting. Not only are you recovering from your injuries, but you will need to collect and submit all documentation needed to establish a claim in order to receive the fair settlement you deserve. Our attorneys have considerable skill, knowledge, and experience with car accident claims. They will help you by working with you, the medical providers and the insurance companies so that you can focus on your recovery. The following will be reviewed by the insurance company when evaluating your claim:
- Photographs of the scene of the accident, vehicle and other damage, and the injuries suffered
- Recorded statements by those involved in the car crash, the police, and any witnesses
- Hospital and medical provider bills and records
The best way to fight for your rights against insurance companies that seek to obtain the lowest possible settlement is to consult a personal injury attorney. Representing clients in Dallas, Fort Worth, and throughout the entire state of Texas, The Barber Law Firm will work for you to recover for your personal injuries due to an automobile, motorcycle, or truck accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence.
WHAT TO DO, AND NOT TO DO, AFTER AN ACCIDENT
When you are involved in a car wreck, it’s important to know what to do–as well as what not to do–both at the scene of the accident and in the days, weeks, and months following your accident. While you’re likely shaken up and preoccupied after a car accident, the following guidelines can help protect your legal rights after your accident and increase your chances of a favorable personal injury settlement for your car accident claim.
At the Accident Scene
- DO call the police after an accident–a responding officer’s police report is one of the most critical pieces of evidence when it comes to your car accident claim.
- DON’T move your car unless it is required by law or unsafe for others in its current location.
- DON’T say too much at the scene of the accident–even something as innocent as apologizing to the person in the other vehicle could be construed as admitting fault.
- DO take photographs of the scene of the accident, including the location of the vehicles after the accident, damage to each vehicle, and any hazardous road conditions that you see which may have contributed to your car wreck.
Here is a quick reference list of what to do if possible:
- Use your cell phone’s camera. Use the video camera to record evidence from the scene. You
should also take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, the driver, and the license plate. It’s not
uncommon for negligent drivers to take off after an accident, and a photo can help identify him
or her later. You should also take pictures of any cars stopped in the area, as they could be
- Do not leave the scene of the accident. Move your vehicles out of traffic after a crash, but do
not leave the scene until you have exchanged insurance information with the other driver. Make
a note of his or her driver’s license number, insurance company name, and policy number, and
name, address, and phone number.
- Get information about witnesses. If there are witnesses to the accident, get their contact
information, as well as their recollections of the accident while fresh in their minds.
- Record your own memories of the crash. The sooner you make notes or a video about your
memory of the accident, the more reliable your version becomes.
- Seek medical treatment. Even if you believe you are uninjured, you should seek medical
treatment after a crash. Injuries may not appear until several days after an accident.
- Call your insurance company right away. Report your accident within a reasonable time. If you
wait too long, you may be denied coverage.
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After Your Accident
- DO seek immediate medical attention–seeking proper medical treatment is critical when it comes to pursuing a personal injury claim for your car accident.
- DO seek legal advice from a car accident lawyer immediately–one of the biggest factors of a successful personal injury claim is the representation of a competent personal injury attorney who has experience in handling car wreck cases.
- DON’T sign any paperwork from the insurance company without having an attorney review them first–it’s a pretty safe bet that any paperwork that an insurance company is asking you to sign isn’t for your benefit.
- DON’T get too comfortable with an insurance representative–remember that they’re on the insurance company’s side, not yours.
- DO start a medical journal to document doctor’s appointments, medical visits, and how you are feeling in the days after your injury.
- DO track time missed from work–you can be compensated from the income lost during this time.
After your car wreck, it is critical to obtain a copy of the car accident police report that was filled out by the officer that responded to the scene of the accident. A police report is often one of the most important pieces of evidence in a car wreck case.
How to Obtain a Police Report
Getting a copy of the police report for your car wreck is a relatively simple process. After your wreck, be sure to call the police to have someone come to the scene of the accident. The responding officer should give you a receipt that includes an identification number. To obtain your police report, you’ll just need to call the local police department and provide the number. If you weren’t given a receipt, or if you’ve misplaced the receipt, you can also get a copy of your police report by providing the date, time, and location of your car wreck.
There may be a small fee required to obtain your report but don’t let that put you off–this document can be invaluable when it comes to proving fault in your car wreck and recovering the compensation you deserve.
Why a Police Report is Critical to Your Claim
After a car wreck, the importance of a police report can’t be understated. The accident report is the “official” version of what happened during your accident, often stating who is to blame for the wreck, and is one of the key pieces of evidence that an insurance company relies on when determining fault and issuing compensation for your injuries. As such, a police report is one of the first things that an insurance company will look at to conduct its investigation of who was at fault in your car wreck. Without this document, a car accident claim will be incomplete, and can result in an offensively low settlement offer, or even an outright denial of your claim.
What Information does a Police Report Include?
A police report is filled out by the officer who responds to the scene of the accident, and provides a summary of the officer’s investigation of the accident. This report contains all of the relevant details about your car wreck, including:
- Date, time, and location of the wreck
- Name, addresses, and insurance information for the parties involved in the wreck
- Any traffic citations issued to the parties of the wreck
- Identifying information for any witnesses to the wreck
- The officer’s opinion as to who was at fault in causing the wreck
STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS
If you have been injured in a car wreck, a personal injury claim should be filed as soon as possible after the accident, since there is a limitation on the time you have to file a lawsuit.
A “statute of limitations” is a law which places a time limit on how long a person has to bring legal action against an at-fault party after an incident occurs. In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims—including car wrecks—is two years after the date of the accident. This means that if you are unable to resolve your car wreck claim, you must file a lawsuit within two years after the day that your car wreck occurred.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Although rare, there are exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations for car accident cases which can provide for an extension of time to file a lawsuit. These exceptions include the following:
- The accident involves a child. When the plaintiff in a car wreck case is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations is put on hold–otherwise known as “tolled”–until the child reaches the age of 18.
- You are mentally or physically impaired. In some cases involving serious injury, the plaintiff of a potential car wreck case may be so physically or mentally impaired that he or she is unable to bring a lawsuit within the two year timeframe. In these cases, the statute of limitations may be tolled until after the plaintiff is physically or mentally capable of filing a lawsuit.
- You learn of the other party’s fault after the fact. Another exception to the statute of frauds for car wreck cases is the “discovery rule,” in which the two-year statute of limitations begins only after a person becomes aware that the other party was at fault for the claim.
Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute to seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney regarding your car accident–although two years sounds like a long period of time, settlement negotiations can take a substantial amount of time. If you aren’t successful in settling your case with the insurance company, gathering the necessary evidence to frame a successful personal injury lawsuit can take even longer. Don’t find yourself at the end of your statute of limitations period without an attorney–seek help from a personal injury lawyer early on in order to secure the best chance of a successful outcome for your car wreck claim.
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DON’T WIN? DON’T PAY
The Barber Law Firm can discuss your situation with you immediately, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, meaning we only get paid when we win your case. For a FREE consultation, contact our Dallas, TX auto accident attorneys at 972-231-5800, or fill out our online form.
One of the most common misconceptions about car wrecks is that it will be too expensive to hire an attorney to help you with your claim—after all, depending on the work performed, it can cost hundreds of dollars an hour for a lawyer’s help in a case. Whatever you do, don’t let the fear of not being able to afford an attorney keep you from seeking the legal representation that you need and deserve after your car wreck. Rather than charging an expensive hourly rate, The Barber Law Firm’s legal team works on a contingency basis, which means that we only get paid if we are successful in obtaining financial compensation for your car wreck. In other words, if you aren’t compensated after your car wreck, you don’t pay us a dime, so you have nothing to lose by retaining The Barber Law Firm to help you with your personal injury claim.
THE INSURANCE CLAIMS PROCESS
The first step of filing an insurance claim after your car wreck is to report the claim to the insurance company. If you were not at fault in your wreck, the accident should be reported to the at-fault party’s insurance provider. At this time, you’ll most likely be required to provide the insurance carrier with information about your accident, including how severely you were injured in the wreck and what medical treatments you have sought so far for your injuries.
After this, the insurance company will conduct its own independent investigation of your claim. During this stage, you will be asked to provide more information about your car wreck, such as photos of the scene of the accident, the responding officer’s accident report, and the names and contact information for any bystanders who witnessed the car accident. You may also be asked to submit to an independent medical examination by a doctor chosen by the insurance company.
After obtaining all the necessary information about your car wreck, the insurance company will calculate how much they believe the losses are worth and reach out with a settlement offer. At that time, you can either accept the settlement if you are satisfied with the offer, or decline the offer and submit a counteroffer if you are unsatisfied with the amount that the insurance company offers you to make you whole after your accident.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INSURANCE COMPANIES
Whenever you are dealing with an insurance company–whether that of the at-fault party or your own car insurance company–it’s important to keep your guard up and not get too comfortable with the person you are speaking with. No matter who you are speaking to on the other end of the line, whether it be the other party’s insurance company or your own, when it comes to insurance companies, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Your calls are probably being recorded. Whenever you speak to a representative from an insurance company, it’s a pretty safe bet that your call is being recorded from start to finish. Don’t fall for the old line that your call is being recorded “for quality assurance”–at the end of the day, your call is being recorded in hopes that you are going to slip up and say something that the insurance company can use against you in your car wreck claim.
- Never sign insurance documents without talking to an attorney first. After you are involved in a car wreck, an insurance company will probably send you a stack of forms to fill out and return to them. Before you put your pen to a single piece of paper, it’s critical to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer to review these documents and ensure that you are not signing away your legal rights. Insurance companies are waiting for any opportunity to take advantage of you in order to strengthen their own case, and asking you to sign a mountain of forms with a load of incriminating fine print after a car wreck is one of their favorite tactics. If you are not familiar with the documents you are signing and what they mean, you can easily sign your rights away without even knowing it.
- Insurance companies aren’t on your side. Despite the slogans you hear on commercials, this is one of the most important things to keep in mind when you are dealing with an insurance company–even your own. Despite the indispensable role that an insurance company plays in compensating you or your losses, it is still a business, and the primary goal of any business is to protect its bottom line and to be as profitable as possible. When it comes to insurance companies, the easiest way for them to save money is to offer you as low of a settlement amount as possible after a car wreck. This means that the profits reaped by the insurance companies come at the expense of those who are injured.
Texas Insurance Requirements:
- All Texas drivers are required to carry minimum liability insurance coverage. Basic insurance coverage in Texas is 30/60/25. This means that the current minimum for liability limits is $30,000/each injured person, up to $60,000/accident and $25,000/accident for property damage.
- Texas law requires Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to be offered, but a waiver can be signed declining the coverage. Insurance companies are required to offer $2,500 in PIP coverage but many companies will have options to add more to a policy.
- PIP covers medical expenses, 80% of lost wages and costs associated with hiring a caregiver for the injured person after an accident. PIP is a “no-fault” policy meaning that it covers your injury regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
- It is estimated that approximately 13% or 1.6 million Texas drivers are uninsured. Texas law requires Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage to be offered, but a waiver can be signed declining the coverage.
- UM/UIM insurance protects you if you have been in an accident caused by someone without insurance, someone who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover bodily/property damage or a hit-and-run accident.
- Collision (for damage to your car) and Comprehensive (for damage other than collision) coverage is required if you still owe money on your vehicle.
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WHEN A CASE GOES TO TRIAL
In the majority of car accident claims, the parties involved in the wreck will never see the inside of a courtroom–most car accident claims are settled well before the case ever goes to trial. Sometimes, however, it’s impossible for both parties–along with their insurance companies–to agree on who was at fault in the wreck or to come to a reasonable settlement agreement. If this is the case, our experienced trial attorneys will not hesitate to bring your case to court to have a jury determine fault and a judge determine a fair compensation.
If you are a first-timer in a courtroom, simply knowing how the trial process works can ease some of the nervousness that might accompany a personal injury case.
- Jury selection: car accident trials usually include a jury who will decide the result of a case. During a process called “voir dire,” potential jurors in the jury pool are asked several questions that will weed out any jurors with opinions which could keep the juror from reaching a decision fairly and impartially.
- Opening statement: in this beginning stage of the trial, the Plaintiff’s attorney will present his or her side of the case and what the end result should be. The Defendant’s attorney will then have his or her turn to do the same.
- Presenting evidence: As the Plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case in a car wreck trial, the Plaintiff’s attorney will show the judge and jury the evidence which he or she believes will show fault on behalf of the Defendant. The Defendant’s attorney can then show evidence which would refute the Plaintiff’s argument and show that the Defendant was innocent, or even that the Plaintiff was at fault in the car wreck. During this stage, witnesses such as bystanders to the accident or medical professionals are frequently called up to the front of the courtroom to testify on behalf of either party.
- Closing arguments: this stage of the trial allows each party’s attorney to once again state his or her position of the case and attempt to persuade the jury to come to a certain conclusion about the case.
- Deliberation: once the parties’ attorneys have pled their respective cases, the jury will be taken into a different room to come to a conclusion about the case in private.
- Verdict: after the jury has deliberated the case, the jury will be called back into the courtroom and a designated person of the jury will read the jury’s decision about fault in the case–otherwise known as the “verdict”–to the parties.
If your car accident case goes to trial, the jury’s verdict may not be the end of your case. Once a verdict is reached, it’s a pretty safe bet that the losing party–whether it be the Defendant or yourself–will be dissatisfied with how the case ended. In some cases, the losing party may file an appeal, which requests that a higher court amend or reverse the decision that was entered in your case.
If your car accident case goes to trial, it will likely be heard in a state district court. An appeal, however, is heard in an appellate court. During an appeal, the parties once again return to the courtroom, where the losing party’s attorney argues that the jury decided the case incorrectly. If an appeal is granted, your car wreck case will be sent back to the state trial court, and the entire case will be tried again by a different jury.
In rare instances, a party who loses at both the trial and appellate level may appeal once again to the Texas Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the state. The Supreme Court does not have to take on the case; rather, car wreck cases are generally only heard by the Texas Supreme Court if there is a unique issue in the case.
The appeals process is not a quick one by any means–if your car accident case is appealed, it can take months–or even years–for the appeal to be heard.
TEXAS ACCIDENT STATISTICS:
Drivers and passengers are often injured as a result of motor vehicle crashes every day on Texas roads and highways. Being a safe driver is not always enough since we share the road with so many other drivers. Unfortunately, about 1 in 7 Texas drivers do not have auto insurance. Therefore, having Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is extremely important.
According to data compiled in April 2017 by the Texas Department of Transportation, there were a total of 551,971 crashed in 2016. The number of traffic fatalities increased by 5.45% from 2015, giving 2016 a death toll of 3,773. Unfortunately, there was not a day in 2016 that did not experience a death on Texas roadways. According to TXDOT and the 2016 reportable automobile crashes, the following statistics are dreadful:
- Every 2 hours and 20 minutes, 1 person was killed
- Every 1 minute and 59 seconds, 1 person was injured
- Every 57 seconds, 1 reportable crash took place
- A total of 265,076 individuals were injured
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