Frequently Asked Questions
Texas Accident Attorney Answers Personal Injury and Insurance Questions
- What do I do if I have been hurt in an accident that was someone else’s fault?
- When do I not need a car accident lawyer?
- Why does the other driver’s insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills?
- What will it cost?
- Why do I need an accident lawyer? or Why do I need a personal injury lawyer with trial experience?
- Other than calling a lawyer, what are other ‘good ideas’ if I have been involved in an accident?
- Is there anything special I should keep in mind when seeing my doctor?
- How long do I have to make a claim?
- What do I do when the insurance company for the other side calls me?
Q: “What do I do if I have been hurt in an accident that was someone else’s fault?”
A: First, understand that the other drivers’ insurance company is not your friend. The adjuster’s goal is to 1) Try and avoid paying anything, and 2) If they have to pay, to pay as little as possible, and 3) Delay, delay, delay. Remember, the big insurance companies collect premiums in the billions and cover losses in the hundreds of millions (if not billions). The interest on that kind of money is phenomenal. Every day they can make you wait is more money for them.
So, if you are hurt, do not wait on the other side’s insurance company. Go to the doctor as soon as possible. KEEP GOING TO THE DOCTOR for as long as you still have problems.
It is also important that you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You need specific advice for your individual situation if you have been involved in a serious car crash or truck accident.
Q: “When do I not need a car accident lawyer?”
A: If you are hurt and need medical treatment, most likely you will also need a lawyer.
Strong Warning Here: Referrals to specialists are critical if you are suffering from an ongoing injury. However, if you are to this point on your own and have still not consulted an attorney, seriously consider calling someone now. The reason we say this is related to what I mentioned above, insurance companies look to medical documentation to establish whether you are hurt or not (really more of whether you can prove you are hurt or not). And, here’s the problem. There are many qualified specialists out there. But doctors normally work on what’s called a reciprocal referral basis. In other words, Dr. Smith refers all his hurt back patients to the Dr. that sends him OBGyn patients.
The last thing you need when you have been in an accident, is to have your well-meaning family doctor refer you to the insurance companies hired gun! Unfortunately, unless you are a trial lawyer that knows the doctors in your area, you have no way of knowing who to avoid. If you have been seriously injured and are at the stage where it is time to start seeing specialists, I would strongly urge you to talk to an experienced attorney that is familiar with the doctors you need to avoid.
Q: “Why does the other driver’s insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills?”
A: The answer is sad…but simple.
The insurance company knows that if you cannot afford to go to the doctor, you will not be able to prove you were hurt in the accident and they will not have to pay you anything. Likewise, if they help you and your family by paying your lost wages while you are off work, you are much more likely to be able to afford medical treatment. Again, the insurance company knows that if you have medical treatment, you can prove you are hurt, which means they will have to pay more money. They know that if you cannot afford medical treatment…or the light bill, then you will accept pennies on the dollar for your claim out of desperation.
An experienced lawyer can usually help his clients find and obtain the medical treatment they need while their case is still pending.
Q. “What will it cost?”
A: Our office provides free initial consultations. If we can’t help you, there is no charge. If you hire us, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t get paid attorney fees until you receive a recovery. Mike Love & Associates, LLC advances all litigation expenses up front, and you don’t have to pay anything unless we win a successful verdict or settlement on your behalf. Call us at (936) 632-2000.
Q. “Why do I need a lawyer?” or “Why do I need a personal injury trial lawyer?”
A: The short answer is: 1) To avoid pitfalls, 2) To identify issues that might not be obvious to a non-lawyer, and 3) To know that you have a trained professional on your side.
To illustrate the point, consider that a trained personal injury lawyer should know that as many as 29 separate insurance policies and coverage might apply in the following simple auto accident.
In “Vehicle 1” are a 16-year-old driver and her two friends (both minors). The car belongs to the driver’s grandmother. Assume our 16-year-old driver pulls out from a stop sign (perhaps without looking as well as she should) and has a car crash with a speeding pickup truck. [Vehicle 2] The pickup driver borrowed the truck from a friend and was making a delivery for the driver’s boss at the time of the accident.
It’s unlikely a ‘non-personal injury” lawyer would see 29 potential auto insurance coverages under these short facts, but there are that many possibilities.
In addition to auto insurance policies, a trained personal injury attorney would also examine whether or not the traffic signs were compliant with state law and design specifications. He or she might also investigate potential products liability claims if an injury was caused by a failure of the car’s safety features, seatbelts, air bags, etc.
Q. “Other than calling a lawyer, what are other ‘good ideas’ if I have been involved in an accident?”
A. Understand that with the shock of being in an accident, the rush of adrenaline, and simply with the way the human body works, it may take a few days to really know if you have been seriously injured. For example, a spinal injury can take months to become symptomatic following a car accident. Therefore, it is important to take down basic information about the facts of the accident. Police officers usually do a good job recording information, but they don’t always write down the names of every witness. Sometimes witnesses leave before the police get there, or leave before the police write down their names. You should always write down the name and phone number of all witnesses. It might be important later. If you have a camera, even if only on your cell phone, take pictures. Don’t bother trying to get detailed pictures of the damage to your car at the scene that can be done later by your attorney, the body shop, or the insurance company. Take pictures from a distance that shows the position of the cars in relation to each other and other objects at the scene like a sign, driveway, or building. These signs or landmarks can later be used to create a scaled diagram of the accident if needed. Likewise, a picture showing impact debris of the other person’s car in your lane, is 100 times more important than a close up of your smashed bumper.
Q. “Is there anything special I should keep in mind when seeing my doctor?”
A. Yes. Make sure that you tell your doctor all symptoms you are experiencing. Make a list of your symptoms and any questions you may have to take to any appointments.
Even though you feel it is “no big thing” now, anything from dry mouth to headaches, dizziness, or hyperventilation may be a sign of something more serious. Anything that is out of the ordinary is a symptom and should be reported to assist your doctor in making an informed diagnosis. For example, a tingling in your fingers, or weakness in your arm could be the sign of major disruption to the disks in your neck.
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Q. “How long do I have to make a claim?”
A. Every state has what is called a “statute of limitations” for different types of claims which sets deadlines for filing suit. If you fail to file suit before the deadline you lose your right to be compensated for your damages. In Texas, the deadlines can range from a few months to many years. For example, in most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the act that caused the damage. (Date of the car accident, for example.) However, if the claim is against a governmental entity (if you were hit by a city bus for example), you must give notice to the city or state within 6 months or you lose your claim. Most breach of contract claims have four years from when the contract was broken to bring a claim, but a bank can wait six years to sue you on a consumer loan. (Perhaps banks have better lobbyists than accident victims.)
You might have heard that a child’s claim doesn’t start to run until he or she turns eighteen. This is true. However, the child’s medical bills are the legal obligation of (and claim of) the parents, which means the two-year statute of limitations applies to the child’s medical bills. Bottom line, the time you have to make a claim varies widely based on the type of claim and the state where the action or event occurred. This is one of the reasons you should speak to an attorney sooner rather than later.
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Q. “What do I do when the insurance company for the other side calls me?”
A. Always be polite. However, it is almost always better to ask the insurance company to send you their contact information in a letter and to let them know that you are in the process of retaining an attorney to help you with your claim. Once you hire an attorney, all communications should go through your attorney.
Reach Out to Lufkin Personal Injury Law Firm Mike Love & Associates, LLC
Our firm represents injured people all over the state of Texas and partners with top law firms across the country. If you are outside the state of Texas and need a referral to a top personal injury law firm in your area, we can gladly help you find someone close to you. Call us directly or fill out our online contact form to have someone from our office get in touch with you.