Do I really need a trial lawyer for a personal injury claim? What should I do right after a car accident? How much does it cost to hire a trial lawyer? These are some of the most common questions we get from new clients. We answer these and other questions in our personal injury FAQs.
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What happens if I get sued for a car wreck?
What happens if I get sued for a car wreck?
First, let’s make sure we are on the same page. Being sued = a lawsuit was filed in a court of law and you were mailed a copy of the lawsuit or hand-delivered a copy of the lawsuit. As compared to having a person file a claim on your own automobile insurance policy. This blog is going to provide some tips and pointers if you find yourself holding a copy of lawsuit with your name on it in the state of Texas.
Ok so don’t panic – too much. Receiving a lawsuit with your name in it is not fun and can be down right scary but you aren’t stuck and you have options!
Plaintiff = person who filed the lawsuit and is requesting a legal remedy
Defendant = person being sued
Rules for Texas lawsuits that may help:
- A lawsuit can be filed up to two (2) years after the date of the crash.
- For Example: Crash is on 11/6/18 – the lawsuit can be filed until 11/6/20. NOT 11/7/20.
- Once you have received a copy of a lawsuit, you have twenty (20) days to file a response with the court. The response is labeled and/or titled an “Answer” in the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
So if you are thinking, “It’s been over a year since that wreck, this can’t possibly be right?” Yes, it is. In Texas, you have two (2) years after the date of a wreck to file a lawsuit.
OR if you are thinking, “I have no time or money to hire a lawyer” You have some time, not a lot.
After you wipe the sweat from your brow, ask: did I have automobile liability insurance at the time of the wreck?
Great, this will significantly stop the panic. Generally speaking, the terms of your automobile liability insurance contract will include a legal defense – meaning a lawyer will be hired to defend you in the event of a lawsuit from a car wreck. I say generally, because every insurance contract can be different, even slightly.
Immediately call your insurance company – not your insurance agent – and tell them about the lawsuit. Your insurance company should explain the next steps and what they need from you.
This could cause some problems. Its best to look on the lawsuit, find the name of the lawyer who signed the lawsuit, and call the lawyer’s office directly. Ask questions of the lawyer and try to gain clarity on the lawsuit:
What does the lawyer’s client want? How much money are they seeking? What is their intention with the lawsuit?
Once you have some clarity on the facts, you can decide how to proceed. You can represent yourself – no requirement to have a lawyer. You can hire a lawyer to represent you. For a type of lawsuit like this (car wreck), a lawyer typically charges by the hour. But remember, you have twenty (20) days to file a response AKA answer with the Court.
For questions about how to file documents with the Court, you would need to call the court clerk. The lawsuit documents will show you what county and court the lawsuit is filed in. There are different court clerks depending on what court the lawsuit is filed in. Many a times, the court clerk has a website with helpful information for folks in your situation.
Want more information about Travis County Clerk’s Office go to: www.traviscountytx.gov
Want more information about Travis County District Clerk’s office go to: www.traviscountytx.gov/district-clerk/
Want to learn more about the rules that govern civil lawsuits in Texas: www.txcourts.gov/rules-forms/rules-standards/
Still confused? Call Larrick Law Firm PC (512) 893-5700 for further assistance. Just know this blog is for informational purposes, as the law practice of Elizabeth Larrick is a Plaintiff’s personal injury law. We do not provide legal defense work, but we know lots of folks that do and would be happy to connect you.
- A lawsuit can be filed up to two (2) years after the date of the crash.
What can I expect at my first meeting with you?
At Larrick Law Firm PC, we offer a free initial consultation to accident victims who are considering hiring a trial lawyer to represent them in a personal injury claim. Whether you visit our office in Austin or we meet at a location that is more convenient for you, we like to take this opportunity to get to know you and your case. We also want you to get to know us.
Goals of the First Meeting
We know that you have probably never been through this process before, and you may have concerns about your rights or even be confused about the legal process. Before you decide whether to hire us or not, we want you to be comfortable with us. We understand that it is a privilege to work for you, and we will make every effort to put your concerns to rest.
We believe you should only hire a trial lawyer if you are completely comfortable with him or her. Therefore, we will take as much time as you need during our first meeting to answer all of your questions and make sure you are happy with your decisions.
We also want to fully understand your case and your legal goals so we can give you a good idea of what we can do to help. We encourage clients to bring the following information, if available, with them to the first meeting:
- Medical records, including doctor bills, admission sheets, and prescriptions
- Police report of the accident
- Vehicle/bicycle information
- Witness information, including names and contact information
Even if you don’t have this information, our first meeting can be very productive. If you decide to hire us, we will get to work on your case right away.
When Should You Call?
We want to get an early start on your case to protect the evidence and protect the truth. Remember, you are under no obligation to hire us after our initial consultation, so you have nothing to lose. As soon as you are able after your accident, reach out to us to schedule a meeting. The sooner we can get started, the more likely it is that your case will be resolved promptly. Fill out the form on this page to get started today!
How long does it take to settle a personal injury case?
Although this is a very common question, there is no easy answer. At Larrick Law Firm PC, we promise to handle all matters associated with your case promptly and efficiently, while still providing the skill and attention it deserves. Each case is unique, and a variety of factors can change the length of time your case takes to reach a conclusion. Important factors include:
- The extent of your injuries. The more severe your injuries are, the longer it will take to conclude your case. This is because we want to get an accurate assessment of your medical costs before demanding a settlement.
- The need for future medical treatment. If the accident leaves you with a permanent or long-term disability and you will need surgery, medication, ongoing rehabilitation, therapy, or other services, we want to know this before we settle.
- The insurance company involved. Some insurance companies are just slower to respond than others. Depending on who we are dealing with, your case could be resolved quickly or drag on.
- The particular insurance adjuster assigned. Even within the same company, some adjusters work more slowly than others. We may be working with an adjuster who drags his or her feet to delay the conclusion of a case.
It is important to understand that we work on a contingency fee basis, so we don’t get paid until you do. Thus, we have a clear incentive to conclude your case as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, unexpected problems can arise that are out of our control, including:
- A backlog in the courts
- Conflicting schedules of expert witnesses
- Changes to various aspects of the law
- Other unexpected developments
Trial lawyer Elizabeth Larrick’s many years of experience with personal injury law allow her to confront these challenges head-on. She will work hard to resolve your case as quickly as possible but will never compromise in the services she provides. Call us today to schedule your free initial consultation. You’ll be glad you did!
What does it cost to hire a personal injury trial lawyer?
At the Larrick Law Firm PC, we take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you won’t pay anything unless and until we settle or win your case. The fees we charge are a percentage of the amount we recover on your personal injury claim. You will know up front what the percentage is and, if we are unsuccessful in resolving your claim, you will owe us nothing.
How This Arrangement Benefits You
When a law firm works on a contingency fee basis, the client benefits in several ways:
- It will cost you nothing to get started. You have just suffered a traumatic accident and are worried about paying medical bills and not being able to work. Knowing you can secure the services of an experienced personal injury trial lawyer with no out-of-pocket costs should be a tremendous relief.
- We will work hard for our fee. Since we only get paid if we win your case, we are motivated to work hard for the maximum possible settlement.
- Claims handled by trial lawyers result in higher settlements. When a personal injury trial lawyer handles an accident claim, insurance companies take notice. We are often able to get higher settlements than claimants working on their own.
- You owe nothing if you don’t win. If we are unsuccessful in proving the other party’s negligence, you will be responsible for covering your own losses, but you won’t owe us a dime.
Your Initial Consultation Is Also Free
When you call to schedule your free consultation, we will explain all of the terms of working together. We will hear your story and let you know what we think we can do for you, but you are under no obligation to hire us. Also at Larrick Law Firm PC, in auto accident cases, there is no fee for handling your property damage claim when we represent you on your personal injury claim. Remember, we get paid only when you get paid, so you have nothing to lose! Connect with our Austin law firm today.
Do I need a personal injury trial lawyer?
If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence or fault, you should at least speak with a trial lawyer before you attempt to talk to an insurance company about your claim. The insurance company has highly trained adjusters who are skilled in getting you to make statements which could ultimately hurt your claim. They will try to get you to provide information that will save them money and help them deny, delay, and defend against your claim.
A Personal Injury Trial Lawyer Will Protect Your Interests
When you hire personal injury trial lawyer Elizabeth Larrick, she will take over all communication with the insurance company and protect you from their tactics. She will work hard to investigate your claim and gather the evidence needed to prove liability and place a value on your damages so that you get the compensation you deserve.
If you have a serious injury, it is particularly important that you retain the services of an experienced personal injury trial lawyer. Accidents involving serious injuries are more complicated for the following reasons:
- Medical expenses can exceed insurance policy limits.
- Catastrophic accidents often expose the victim to trauma that should warrant pain and suffering damages.
- It may take many months to fully recover and know the true cost of your injuries.
- You may also have wage losses, in addition to medical expenses.
- The insurance company for the liable party will fight even harder against a large claim.
Elizabeth has years of experience representing clients who were seriously injured in accidents in Texas, and she will address all of these issues as she fights for you.
Call Larrick Law Firm PC as Soon as Possible
The sooner we are involved in your case to protect the evidence and protect the truth, the more likely it is that your case will be resolved more promptly. Call our Austin office as soon as you are able to after a serious accident. We will get to work right away preparing your claim and allow you the time and space to heal from your injuries.
Do I get to pick the repair shop when my car has been damaged in a crash?
Bumper crunched? Headlight crushed? No matter the size of the repair, you want to use a trusted automobile repair body shop. As part of the property damage claim from a car wreck, many insurance companies push their own repair shops as the only place where you can get repairs. This is simply NOT TRUE in the State of Texas.
The Texas Department of Insurance provides a Consumer Bill of Rights for personal automobile insurance that insurance companies must give you a copy when they issue you a policy. In part, it states: CHOICE OF REPAIR SHOP AND REPLACEMENT PARTS. You have the right to choose the repair shop and replacement parts for your vehicle. An insurance company may not specify the brand, type, kind, age, vendor, supplier, or condition of parts or products used to repair your automobile. The insurance company must provide you notice of the above requirements as follows:
- Claims submitted by telephone. Written notice within three business days or immediate verbal notice, followed by written notice within 15 days.
- Claims submitted in person. Immediate written notice at the time you present your vehicle to an insurer or an insurance adjuster or another person in connection with a claim for damage repair.
- Claims submitted in writing. Written notice must be provided within three business days of the insurance company’s receipt of the notice.
Yes, you can pick the automotive repair shop for your vehicle, but be sure the automotive repair shop gives you a lifetime warranty on all repairs.
Visit the Texas Department of Insurance website to learn more about the Consumer Bill of Rights for your personal automobile insurance. To learn more about your rights when you have been in a car wreck, please call (512) 893-5700 for a free consultation with Larrick Law Firm PC.
Should I give a recorded statement in my car accident claim?
If you have been in an auto wreck, whether it was your fault or not, there is a 99 percent chance you will be asked to give a recorded statement as part of the claims process by an adjuster for the other person’s insurance provider. It’s possible that your own insurance company will ask for a recorded statement as well.
Trial lawyer Elizabeth Larrick helps with car wreck insurance claims every day, and this is a common question she gets from clients and potential clients. We answer these questions to help you understand a bit more about recorded statements and their implications for your car wreck claim.
What Is a Recorded Statement?
A recorded statement is a conversation, usually over the phone with an insurance adjuster or insurances claims handler, in which they begin the conversation by asking if they can record the conversation and then proceed to ask what happened. They also ask for your personal information (date of birth, address, telephone number, and Social Security number) and any other information they may need or want to investigate the claim, including if you were injured or not.
If you ask questions, you will not be given any responses by the insurance adjuster while the recorder is on. You will only be asked to give responses to scripted and, at times, very one-sided questions.
What Is a Recorded Statement Used for?
The recorded statement is used by the insurance company to determine whether they have any responsibility to pay for car repairs or medical bills following an accident. It’s a tool used for their benefit, and therefore many of the questions asked are framed to benefit them.
Can I Get a Copy of My Recorded Statement?
Possibly. As the person giving a recorded statement, you can ask for a copy, but there is no guarantee you will receive it. Remember, the recorded statement is a tool for the insurance company and their own work product, used for their processes.
However, in the event a lawsuit is filed for the car wreck, the recorded statements of all parties are discoverable—meaning a copy is available to the trial lawyer who asks for it.
Do I Get to Hear the Recorded Statements of Other Involved Parties?
Quick answer: No. Again, the recorded statement is an investigative tool for the insurance company—they created it and it’s their property. There is no requirement they share recorded statements before a lawsuit is filed.
So, Should I Give a Recorded Statement?
Let’s start with a better question: Do you have to give a recorded statement?
There is no Texas law or statute that requires a person in a car collision to give a recorded statement as part of an insurance claim process. Now, you may be told a recorded statement is required to process your claim, but, again, this is a tool for their own investigation.
So let’s run through the basics to help with this question:
- A recorded statement is a tool for the insurance company’s own benefit.
- It’s used to determine what they will do with your claim.
- You don’t get to ask any questions, only give responses.
- You aren’t likely to get a copy.
- You won’t get a copy of the other parties’ recorded statements.
Basically, a recorded statement is not in your best interest—or in your interest at all. It is in the insurance company’s best interest. In my experience, the recorded statements are used to limit decisions on paying car repairs and medical bills, even when police reports may clearly state who is “at fault.” If you have further questions about this topic or other questions about your car wreck claim, please call and talk to Elizabeth directly at (512) 893-5700.