Here’s how to file a car insurance claim so you stand the best chance of getting a payout.
Everyone driving a vehicle on the roads is required by law to carry automobile insurance covering them and other parties in the event of an accident. There are all sorts of insurance policies covering different aspects of what can go wrong. You need to ensure you have the right policy for your type of vehicle (18 wheelers, for example, require higher insurance coverage).
So if you are involved in an accident or minor incident on the road, and people are injured and vehicles damaged, your insurance and that of the other parties is designed to kick in and pay for medical costs and vehicle repairs. Here in Texas, vehicle owners are required to have what’s known as 30/60/25 insurance — the most basic coverage that pays $30,000 per person for injuries, up to $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for damage to vehicles.
But while it may seem relatively simple and straightforward to file a car insurance claim, the reality is often different. Insurance companies will want to pay out as little as possible — sometimes nothing at all — so they don’t hurt their profits if it can’t be adequately proven you were not at fault and the other driver was. That’s why you need an experienced car accidents lawyer by your side, to help you get the financial settlement you deserve.
Car Insurance Claims: Who’s at Fault?
The first step in determining if you can file a car insurance claim is to figure out who caused the accident. A range of factors can be involved — not just a driver. For instance, there could have been a fault or defective part in your car that led to it malfunctioning and crashing.
In such cases, you might be able to claim against the vehicle manufacturer or the parts supplier that made the defective component of your car. This is certainly not an easy process. Finding out if a vehicle or parts manufacturer was at fault requires a skilled car accidents lawyer who can arrange testing and get expert statements to back up your claim.
The roads themselves and all the various signs, lights, and other elements can also cause a car crash. This can happen if they’re not properly maintained and don’t work or the roads are in a poor state and badly potholed. You might then be able to sue the local government, as they’re legally required to ensure roads, signs, and traffic lights are in good condition and don’t lead to accidents that may cause injuries and vehicle damage. Again, you need legal expertise to tackle such a daunting case, and an experienced car accident injury lawyer in Texas will know what to do.
More commonly, however, it’s the reckless acts of other drivers on the roads that cause Texas’ thousands of auto accidents every year — more than 12,000 serious-injury collisions in 2020. Speeding, distracted driving (especially when using cellphones), driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and other causes result in loss of lives and injuries on our roads every day of the year. Proving another driver caused a crash you were involved in also requires expert legal knowledge and experience.
How to File a Car Insurance Claim That Gets Results
A successful car insurance claim relies on solid evidence that proves you did not cause or contribute to an accident and were an innocent victim who was injured and also suffered property damage. That means you need official reports from the authorities containing details about the crash and the injuries received, and their treatment.
In the moments after an accident or incident on the road, you need to call the police. They will compile a report on what happened and are required to file it no later than 10 days after a crash. You can contact your local police office for the report or search and download it on the Crash Records Information System.
Crash Details: Texas police officers will fill out this form following an auto accident. You can then use it as the foundation for your car insurance claim.
If, however, the police don’t turn up, because it’s a minor incident and they can’t spare officers, or you don’t call them because it wasn’t a major collision that resulted in injuries, just damage to your car, you’ll need to fill out a Driver’s Crash Report. This is known as a CR-2 or Blue form, and you submit it to the Texas Department of Transportation.
When gathering everything for your car insurance claim, the next issue is your health and any injuries you suffered during a crash. After an accident, you must get checked out by your doctor or at the hospital, even if you feel fine and don’t think you have any injuries. Something could be wrong, and you might not yet know about it — such as a brain trauma or internal injuries. So don’t hesitate to get medical attention — and a report from the doctor afterward.
If you have unfortunately suffered injuries in a car crash, your medical report will outline their extent and the treatment required. This report will also be crucial in filing your car insurance claim, as you may be able to get additional compensation to cover medical bills. The same goes if you’re unable to work and have lost wages as a result — a letter from your employer will help to increase your settlement size to cover this.
Keep in mind that, in Texas, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file your claim. However, there are several exceptions to this rule, including those relating to minors and people of unsound mind. A car accidents lawyer will be able to advise if they apply to you.
Negotiating a Settlement with Insurance Companies
Now we get to the hard part of filing a car insurance claim — trying to get money out of an insurance company. Don’t be surprised to learn that companies will do everything and try every trick in the book to avoid making a settlement and paying out. They are, after all, a business and want to stay in business. So it’s typical that in auto accident cases where it’s proven someone was not at fault, insurance companies will make a low settlement offer in the hope the victim will take it and quickly end the case.
An experienced car accident injury lawyer will know how to deal with insurance companies and their legal representatives and won’t let them get away with anything. They will fight to get as much compensation for you as possible. And if talks break down or you reject an offer, your car accidents lawyer will file a lawsuit and prepare your case for trial.
If you’re wondering how much you have to pay out to hire a good car accident injury lawyer, in most cases, the answer is nothing. That’s because, like us here at Patino Law Firm, most personal injury lawyers in Texas work on a contingency basis, so they only get a fee if they win your case. That’s great for you, and it means your car accidents lawyer has to work hard to make sure you succeed with your claim.
Looking for a top car accident injury lawyer in Texas who won’t charge you anything until they win? Get a free consultation with the experts at Patino Law Firm now.