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How Car Accident Lawsuits in Texas Work

Published on Oct 12, 2023 at 9:13 pm in Car Accidents.

You suffered serious injuries in a car crash somewhere in Houston. Now, not only do you have mounting medical bills, but you can’t make ends meet in light of the significant lost wages you’re accumulating. What do you do? You may realize that taking legal action is the best course of action when you suffer losses and want to recover a settlement. However, you may be unclear about how car accident lawsuits in Texas work, knowledge that is necessary to determine the best path forward in your case. 

Continue reading below, where an attorney here at The Mejia Law Firm will provide you with a brief primer on how the post-collision insurance claim or lawsuit filing process works in Texas. 

How Texas Views Fault for Car Crashes

Texas is an “at-fault” state, meaning an individual injured in an auto accident can file a claim with the insurer of the negligent motorist who struck them, causing them harm whenever a wreck occurs. However, the Lone Star State also subscribes to the modified comparative fault rule, which requires injured parties to be less than 51% liable for a crash to be eligible to recover crash-related damages, such as the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering or mental anguish

The combination of the two doctrines above dictates whether a car accident victim may have a valid insurance claim or lawsuit that ultimately entitles them to recover compensation. 

Understanding the Role of Car Crash Claims and Lawsuits

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there’s actually a difference between an auto accident claim and a lawsuit. A claim is actually a type of legal demand you make with an insurance company, for example, requesting compensation post-wreck. In contrast, a lawsuit is a type of legal action whereby a plaintiff, like an injury victim, sues another party, the defendant (the person they allege struck them). In the case of the latter, an impaneled jury would reach a verdict for or against a plaintiff, which directly correlates to whether they are entitled to a settlement award.

How Long You Can Expect It To Take To Settle Your Texas Car Accident Case

There’s no specific length of time it automatically takes to resolve a car crash claim out-of-court. Instead, a wide range of factors, including the following, may impact case timelines: 

  • Whether you’re still receiving treatment for your injuries (and accumulating medical bills)
  • If there’s a denial of liability
  • How many other claims your insurance adjuster is currently managing (as the review of documentation submitted may slow an offer)
  • The length of time it takes to negotiate an amenable settlement amount with you or your Houston car accident attorney (and then draw up a release of all claims and cut a check)

Litigation may become necessary when you and an insurer aren’t having a meeting of the minds. In those cases, the following factors may impact how long adjudication of the claim in the courtroom takes:

  • Court schedules and how long it takes their case to ultimately go to trial (considering how there may be multiple pre-trial motions before this happens) 
  • How long the presentation of evidence takes once the trial gets underway
  • How long deliberations last (according to the State of Texas Judicial Branch, at least five-sixths of jurors must agree for a verdict to be valid in a civil case)

Keep in mind that if a claim isn’t resolvable through pre-litigation, a civil trial becomes necessary, and a jury decides in your favor, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a settlement check is cut on the spot in the courtroom. Like any civil case, a defendant (the person who struck you) has the option to appeal the judgment for up to 90 days after it’s entered in, and, if accepted, you may have to await a new trial date and for all the other steps above to play out for you to see compensation, provided the jury once again rules in your favor. 

Benefits of Having a Lawyer Handle Your Texas Car Accident Lawsuit

As for filing a claim with or suing the other driver’s insurer (or your own if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage), Texas allows its residents to do so in their individual capacity without a lawyer’s help. However, filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit by yourself isn’t advisable. Many car accident victims do so with the help of a lawyer like ours at The Mejia Law Firm. Why is that the case? 

Injured parties like yourself align with attorneys:

  • With the expectation that they’ll handle all the seemingly incessant, pesky phone calls from insurers once they report a claim that only adds to their stress and inhibits their recovery
  • To ensure they paint a strong picture of how the other driver was at fault for your crash since proving liability is your responsibility as the plaintiff in civil matters like this. 
  • Because they want to know that there’s a skilled advocate to fight for their interests during pre-trial settlement negotiations
  • To help them navigate the legal system if reaching an out-of-court settlement seems like an effort in futility and having a jury make a decision at trial becomes necessary

The sooner you sit down with The Mejia Law Firm to discuss your case, the quicker we can get to work on compiling the evidence necessary to paint a picture of liability that has the best chance of helping you secure a solid out-of-court settlement instead of having to weather a long and drawn-out trial with an uncertain outcome. Contact our law office for a free case consultation today.

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