Motor vehicle accidents are scary, and they are even more frightening when you are rear-ended. Your mind is flooded with questions. What if you need to go to the hospital? What if your car is totaled and your insurance company won’t pay to rent you a vehicle to get to work? What should you do now? In this guide, we are going to fill you in on whether you should get a personal injury lawyer if you were rear-ended in Huntsville, TX.
Should I Get a Personal Injury Lawyer If I Was Rear-Ended in Huntsville, TX?
Yes! Regarding motor vehicle accidents, Texas is a “comparative fault” state. This means that if the driver that rear-ended you is at least 50% at fault, they must be held accountable for the motor vehicle accident. In most cases, the individual who rear-ended you will be found at fault.
Can the Blame Be Passed On to Me?
It is rare for the person who is rear-ended to be found responsible for the collision. However, you should be aware that there is precedent for the rear vehicle to be found not responsible for the collision. If the driver that rear-ended your vehicle hires a lawyer, their lawyer may argue that:
- Your brake lights were out
- You were driving erratically
- You backed your car into the car behind you
If you have a dashcam, you can prove to the court that you were not at fault because you were driving safely and did not reverse your car into the car behind you. However, unless you have a high-quality rear dashboard camera, you may have a bit of trouble proving that your brake lights were functioning properly at the time of the accident.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer After I Was Rear-Ended?
You should hire a personal injury lawyer after you were rear-ended in the Huntsville, TX area because a lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve. In Texas, there is 30/60/25 minimum coverage. What this means is that Texas drivers are required to have insurance that covers no fewer than $30,000 of injuries per person, maxing out at $60,000 per accident.
Also, if the driver that struck you was insured, they will have at least $25,000 in property damage coverage. Unfortunately, this may not be sufficient, especially if you had more than one passenger. Just to visit the ER to see if you’re okay to go home after a minor car accident can cost you $3,300. Even worse, you may need to get knee surgery, back surgery, plastic surgery, or emergency brain surgery.
A Lawyer Specializing in Personal Injury May Be Required
Depending on the insurance coverage of the driver that rear-ended you, it may be impossible to pay all of your medical bills without hiring a personal injury legal professional. Requiring knee surgery after a motor vehicle accident is common, even if the accident was only minor. This can easily cost over $25,000. Then, you have to attend follow-up appointments that include expensive imaging tests and physical therapy during your recovery period.
After major car wrecks, some people require lifelong physical therapy and will incur thousands of dollars per year in medical expenses for the rest of their life. If your medical bills are more than $60,000, a personal injury lawyer can help you get the money you deserve to cover your medical costs, regardless of what the defendant’s insurance company is willing to pay.
How Much Can I Expect in Compensation?
Numerous factors affect the compensation you can expect, including whether you hire a lawyer after your accident. If your vehicle is worth less than $25,000, you may not have too much trouble fighting with the other driver’s insurance company for compensation for your vehicle. However, you want an experienced lawyer in your corner to ensure you are properly compensated for physical and emotional damages.
Compensation for Economic Damages
One type of compensation that is commonly paid out after a car accident is compensation for economic damages. Economic damages are synonymous with special damages, and this type of damage can be calculated exactly. For instance, your medical bills are considered special damages because the bills are black-and-white. The cost of your ER visit, hospital visit, or doctor’s visit is clear-cut.
Also falling under the umbrella of economic damages is lost wages. If you have to take time off from work due to the rear-end collision, you can be compensated for the money you didn’t earn at work. You can also be compensated for benefits, like paid time off or retirement contributions, that you lost out on while you were out of work.
Compensation for Future Lost Earnings
With the help of an experienced injury lawyer, you can also be compensated for future lost earnings. For instance, you may make $80,000 per year as an oil field worker and have a dozen years to go until retirement. If you can no longer perform your job duties due to an injury sustained during the crash and have to take a lower-paying job, you can get compensation for the income that you no longer have the opportunity to make.
Compensation for Non-Economic Damages
In addition to helping you get compensated for quantitative damages, an experienced injury lawyer can help you get compensated for qualitative (non-economic damages). This type of damage cannot be calculated exactly, but you are still entitled to compensation for physical suffering, physical pain, and mental anguish. For instance, you can get paid for feeling anxious about getting behind the wheel of a car again.
You can get even more money if a psychiatrist diagnoses you with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also, if you are in a motor vehicle accident in Texas, you can be compensated for the loss of consortium. This type of non-economic damage is to compensate individuals whose relationship with their child or spouse was affected due to an injury or hospital stay.
Will Punitive Damages Be Paid?
Without the help of an experienced injury lawyer, you probably won’t get any punitive damages. It isn’t easy to prove in court that another driver was grossly negligent. A case for negligence can be made that the driver behind you should have been following you at a safe speed and distance, so they could stop without rear-ending you. However, punitive damages are not awarded with just proof of negligence. It must be proven that the other driver was:
- Grossly negligent
- Disregarding the safety of others willfully
One of the most common examples of gross negligence is driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance. If law enforcement officers took the other driver into custody and administered a blood alcohol content test, you may have a case for gross negligence if the other driver’s BAC was well above the state legal limit of 0.08.
When you’re rear-ended in a motor vehicle accident, you have enough to worry about ensuring that you and all of your passengers are in good physical health. You don’t need to worry about fighting an individual or their car insurance company for compensation. We’ve got that covered for you. If you’ve been in a car wreck, schedule a consultation with us now at the office of Brian C. Gutierrez near Huntsville.