Coppell Car Accident Lawyer
An Experienced Car Accident Attorney can Help You Financially Recover Following a Serious Wreck
You’re probably one of the millions of safe drivers in Texas. But even you can suddenly be hit while on the road by another negligent someone who’s also behind the wheel. Car accidents are a common sight. A lot of them are little more than a minor fender bender on a freeway or boulevard during rush hour that makes you late for your destination.
But on the other hand, they can be catastrophic wrecks that cause devastating injuries, along with periodically-deep physical and psychological scars. The victims of such tragedies (and their families) suddenly find their world topsy-turvy in the immediate wake - and beyond - of a serious auto accident in which they were just driving down the road, minding their own business: then suddenly became reluctant injury victims.
After a serious auto wreck that is caused by another driver’s negligence, you and your family can rightfully seek compensation for the financial, physical, and emotional injuries suffered from this car crash. But it is impossible to calculate the amount the defendant owes you by yourself. This is because the damages you have a right to seek depend on the unique circumstances of your case that you are woefully unqualified to tackle. And navigating the complicated path to fair and just compensation is simply not possible without the know-how and legal tenacity of a Coppell car accident injury lawyer. If you must receive the fairest legal compensation, you have to accept the pivotal need to hire an attorney, any attorney with a long and effective history of experience in personal injury law.
What we hope to do in this article is explain some of the basics of auto personal injury cases for you. But if you’ve been involved in a little fender-bender with no complications or injuries other than a mildly sprained ankle or a couple of harmless bruises, you can probably handle things on-your-own because what is likely at-stake is only property damage. Just be cautious and look for the signs of pending trouble sooner than later (in which case, bookmark this page).
But if you call your auto accident a "car wreck," we strongly urge you - rather than hire your nephew who just passed the bar or a friend who handles wills and divorces - to quickly retain an experienced and local car accident attorney who knows the complicated and treacherous playing field that is Texas car accident injury litigation.
Proving Your Legitimate Injury Claims against a Negligent Driver
How do we know whether or not we have a successful personal injury case against a negligent defendant who should reimburse us for our injuries? All true accident victims have a legal right to collect damages by proving the four elements of a car accident claim. Since you will be the one asking for compensation, the burden to you, the injured plaintiff, is to prove you are owed these damages by the defendant(s) whose only legal obligation is to deny your claim.
There are four elements to proving injuries against a defendant. You must clearly - and sequentially - demonstrate your charges are true. They are first: duty, then breach, followed by causation, and finally damages. A brief overview of each is below:
The defendant owed you a duty of care to exercise a certain level of caution in order to ensure that you would not get hurt. Texas Civil Codes and Procedures - the rules that govern lawsuits in our state- set the level of duty that a person or organization owes to another depends on the circumstances of the situation that are considered, within the relationship of the parties involved at the time the accident occurred. Proving that the defendant owed you at least some duty of care will probably be fairly uncomplicated since nearly all drivers owe each other the general duty to drive reasonably in order to keep others safe. Unless there are unusual circumstances, and there are a few, the chances are that a general "reasonable person standard" applies to the defendant (or defendants) in your case. But in rare instances, those who must secure special licenses to perform specific driving duties may have a slightly higher duty.
In a great majority of personal injury cases, plaintiffs and their attorneys need to clearly show that the defendant drove in a way that a reasonable person would not have driven. If the defendant in your case drives unreasonably only for the moments immediately leading up to your car wreck, he can be held responsible for the consequences of his negligent actions that caused you harm. Successfully proving that the defendant breached his duty of care is done when you and your attorney present evidence to court to remove any doubt that what the defendant did (or failed to reasonably do) caused the car wreck. The jurors in your case will hear your charges of breach along with additional evidence that clearly illustrate the defendant’s actions (and malicious intent if it was present). Then during their deliberations, they rule the defendant behaved either reasonably or unreasonably. Offenses such as speeding, recklessness, driving at night without headlights, running through red lights, driving while intoxicated, and more can constitute a breach of the defendant’s duty of care, even if they may not have been legally charged for these offenses in criminal court.
You must now demonstrate that the defendant breached his duty of care through negligence. But simply showing that this person might have been negligent isn’t always enough to win your charges that the defendant is responsible for your auto wreck. Because, in his attempts to deny causation, a defendant will often argue "unforeseeable circumstances" such as other drivers, pedestrians, or even you, caused the wreck instead. This is usually where the defense stands or falls when it comes to liability for your injuries. So expect them to come out swinging and claim anything from a homeless person stepped in their way and forced them to hit your vehicle, to their toddler threw a bottle of apple juice at the driver. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t. But how do you disprove the defense? So you and your Coppell car accident injury lawyer must thwart their excuses, or the happy defendant is able to evade liability and the compensation that comes with it. It’s terribly important to have ironclad evidence to prove any defense that is thrown at you and nail down the defendant’s conduct that seriously injured you or your family member.
It’s now time to establish the amount of money you are entitled to collect from the defendant and hand him the bill. The term "damages" is the sum total of an injured victim’s financial losses; the actual amount of money you must recover in an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.
Your tangible (or obvious) financial losses are called special or economic damages. Most of the time, examples of special damages include lost wages, loss of earning capacity for the period of time you can’t work because of the injury, and your medical bills. Sometimes, the cost of medical treatment can be easy to calculate. Other times these costs are not; especially if your medical treatment continues longer than expected, or the full extent of your injuries remains unknown. Then the task of calculating special damages is more complex. Figuring loss of earning capacity is usually a complicated matter. If you’re unable to return to work, you must account for the time-value of money you’ve actually lost, as well as hypothetical promotions, raises, and career changes when calculating how much you’ll demand that the defendant compensate you for income you are unable to earn in the future, regardless of whether it takes months or years for you to recover.
And if a loved one was killed in an auto accident, additional special damages can include funeral expenses and other damages such as pain and suffering by the deceased family member had he or she lived, in addition to a few other possible damages. But it takes an experienced auto accident attorney to assess these damages, calculate their value and put them all in the demand package that is handed to the defendant and their insurance representatives.
Intangible non-economic losses are called general damages. These include compensation for your emotional suffering that are always a part of serious injuries suffered in an auto accident. The amount of general damages that a case is worth depends almost exclusively on the circumstances surrounding the injury and the degree of pain and suffering. This is why general damages can vary greatly from case to case even if the physical injuries appear to be very similar.
But computing every single loss is a challenge without an experienced Dallas County auto wreck attorney who knows the value of personal injury losses and how to effectively calculate them. How do you accurately represent an intangible loss such as pain and suffering, or that of your child? When calculating loss of earning capacity if you are permanently disabled, how do you account for hypothetical raises and promotions you would have earned had you continued to work, or gotten a promotion, or were hired away by another company at double your current salary? How can you calculate how much all of your medical bills will amount to if your treatment is not yet complete, and your doctor can’t tell how long it will last? We at Grossman Law Offices know how to account for and calculate every one of your damages, and make doubly-certain that you recover as much as possible for your injuries.
Dealing with Both Insured and Uninsured Defendants
All drivers in Texas must have auto insurance. And in the last few years, several powerful high-tech tools empower law officers to instantly know this important fact; and mete-out "street justice" by immediately towing non-insured vehicles and giving these uninsured drivers very expensive tickets. But still, one-in-four drivers insist on remaining uninsured. If an insurance company is involved in your case or not makes a significant difference in the legal process and the ultimate disposition of your claim. But certain conditions surrounding your accident (and compensation) can become intricate, and litigious.
Suppose that both drivers involved in your accident were insured and an insurance company is responsible for compensating you for your injuries and other damages. This is generally good news for you as it can mean there will be some amount of money available to compensate you for your losses if you’re successful in bringing your claim. But, most drivers with "street legal-only" minimum liability coverage on their vehicle may not fully reimburse you for your losses if your accident was especially severe. Also, just because there is money theoretically available under an insurance policy to compensate you, doesn’t necessarily mean that that the check is coming without some sort of negative and unwanted drama caused by that minimum coverage insurance company. Anyone who has carried minimum coverage (or been hit by negligent drivers who have it) understands that some companies pay better (meaning quicker) than others. And usually, with claimants as well as their customers’ in-general, these companies aren’t apt to respond quickly to any process other than taking in premiums. And in just about any accident where an insurance company is involved, it means that at some point, you’ll be up against aggressive adjusters, accident recreation specialists, defense attorneys, and investigators who all work to see that you lose.
Then there’s the 25 percent chance (at least!) that the other driver involved in your wreck was uninsured. Hopefully you have uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage. But since the other driver is responsible for paying you for your injuries, your primary interest is, if he is uninsured or underinsured, will your insurer provide the UM/UIM service you paid-for all these years and cover you (or pay the difference) when the negligent driver comes up-short and it’s time to compensate you. You also must know how solvent this negligent driver is. If a defendant is insolvent, it means that he or she does not have the money to completely compensate you for your injuries: if they can even compensate you all. When a defendant is insolvent there’s little value in pursuing litigation against him, no matter how strong your case is in proving he should otherwise be held liable for your losses. This is a sad but regular reality that some accident victims are unable to recover compensation from insolvent defendants.
Sometimes, the other driver will take steps to hide his assets in order to appear insolvent. He might also try and hide this wreck from his insurance company that threatens to drop his coverage if he gets in one more. The Coppell car accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices traditionally perform an asset check on any defendant to find out how much he’s really worth, and also get a clear picture of his actual insurance coverage. If there’s money available, we’ll find it and work to make sure you get what is owed you.
Regardless of the Insurer, the Odds That Your Injury Claim Will be Initially Denied Can be High
A popular tactic of some greedy auto liability insurers is to find any excuse to cancel the policy of its customers once they are involved in an injury-related accident. And though we don’t encourage "profiling," we have noticed the connection between arbitrary insurance cancellation and the size of the Yellow Page display ad the insurer buys: the bigger the ad, the flimsier the coverage. Many cancel for no stated reason, or say that the monthly premium payment didn’t arrive before the wreck was reported, even if it did arrive during the state-mandated 10 day grace period from the due-date.
The Texas Department of Insurance keeps records on how insurance companies honor claims and they’ve recently revealed some very sobering data. One Texas minimum coverage insurer took-in over $271 million in premiums in 2010. But it has a claims complaint index that is two-and-a-half times higher the state complaint average. Another minimum coverage insurer took in $575 million and had a complaint index of nearly four times over the state average. The TDI also has a "Top 10" list of insurers that have the highest total complaints in the way they handle claims.
A recent analysis of the Insurance Department’s consumer complaint figures showed that 11 of the 25 largest auto insurers in the state, all of whom are supposed to be honoring over 100,000 policies, had a 2010 complaint index that was above average. Complaints that drivers filed with the state included such practices as delays in processing claims, "low-ball" settlement offers and outright denial of claims and other liability disputes.
Another favorite trick of some insurance companies in denying an injured claimant is for an adjuster for the company to tell the injured party that if the claim isn’t paid, the person will have to hire a lawyer and will probably wind up with little money for the trouble. At that point, the driver feels forced to take 50 cents on the dollar (or less) of the original damage claim. This excuse is patently false! But since the driver probably hasn’t talked to an experienced local auto accident attorney, he’s probably unaware of this fact, feels that he’s alone against the big bad insurance company and accepts the substandard offer. In 2010, Texas consumers filed more than 6,600 complaints against auto insurers in Texas. More than half were filed by drivers who said they were not at fault in an accident but had trouble getting an insurer to pay their claims.
But curiously enough, a high percentage of these denials come from insurance companies that do business in Texas, but are headquartered in another state; who then claim they are subject to the insurance laws of the state in which they are incorporated, not the states in which they do business. So if you’re dealing with an adjuster in another state, this action could be a clue that the insurance company might deny your claim.
Texas Watch is a reputable watchdog consumer group that has lately turned more of its attention to auto insurance issues and their trend of higher denials, including higher UI/UIM denials by the more reputable firms as well. The group says that unethical minimum coverage companies have an advantage because they undercut regular insurers on price largely because of their claims payment practices. A spokesman says "the business model is they drag their feet and make it as difficult as possible for the claimant to collect in hopes they will take a low-ball offer or give up."
In the fall of 2011, Texas Watch completed a survey of customer complaints when filing damage claims against auto insurers in Texas. The largest complaint types and their percentages were:
- Delays in handling claims 36.7%
- Unsatisfactory offers 21.8%
- Denial of claims 16.3%
- Other 14.6%
- Customer service10.5%
But when breaking down who these offenders are, the consumer group also found a growing number of "reputable" carriers whose names hare legacies in the insurance business were beginning to display these same greedy, self-serving tactics. Maybe these "good hands" people need to start wearing boxing gloves. And many of these complaints surround UM/UIM coverage these "fit and proper" insurers sold their historically safe drivers to "protect" them from negligent, uninsured motorists.
In a UIM claim, things can get very complicated for non-attorneys. In order for an underinsured claim to be valid you have to show that you exhausted the other available policies. In other words, if you have $100,000 in total damages and the negligent driver has a policy limit of $60,000, you have to get all $60k or your UIM claim is viewed by your insurance company (if you have UM/UIM coverage) as invalid.
It is very easy for the defendant’s insurer to pay you only a large percentage - but not the full value - of their policy. But the fact that you didn’t collect full value makes it impossible for your UIM claim for the difference to be honored by your carrier. And there are a few well-known insurance carriers on that top-10 list that is kept by the Texas Department of Insurance; firms you would think would not be on that list.
In short, it is all the more important to have an experienced Coppell and North Texas accident injury lawyer help you with both claims (the liability claim against the other party and the UM/UIM claim against your own insurance provider) since your success lies in collecting full damage value from both. In cases where you successfully get the other party to tender policy limits, thereby exhausting that policy, you still encounter the difficulties of your company’s insurance adjuster’s alleged ignorance with regard to Texas laws, particularly the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
So your claim then becomes a contract issue between you and your carrier rather than a tort issue. And Grossman Law Offices’ Coppell car accident lawyers have plenty of experience at successfully leveraging a TDTPA violation claim against an insurer (either the other guy’s or yours) to do the right thing and pay all of your legitimate claims when you have been hit by an un-or-underinsured motorist.
More Insurance Company Tactics Designed to Deny Your Rightful Compensation
Insurance companies are tough negotiators; even for an accomplished lawyer! And they take up a lot of your time without an experienced attorney on your side. Insurance companies jealously guard their own interests and bottom-line. They’re about what they collect; not what they pay - which is as little as absolutely necessary. If you’ve been seriously injured, their interests are on a collision course with yours. They’ll use adjusters to try to find ways to deny your claims. These adjusters may call you repeatedly, and ask innocent-sounding questions about your accident. Their inquiries may seem harmless and for your benefit. But they’re usually calculated to induce you to say something that is later used against you to deny your claim. Whatever you say to them will probably be recorded. And if you’re not on constant guard, your words could come back to haunt you as an excuse for them to deny your claim.
Our clients quickly learn from us the best way to deal with insurance adjusters: and that’s just don’t deal with them at all. Adjusters don’t call our clients, but rather, us. And when adjusters can’t talk to our clients, they don’t have a chance to twist our clients’ words around to use against them.
Many times, especially if they know you have a good case, an insurance company pressures and even harasses you to settle for an amount that is much less than what you’re asking: often times much less. Now a fair settlement offer is great; if it truly benefits an accident victim. But accepting an unfair settlement offer can devastate your legal rights. When you accept an offer, you forever waive your right to sue the defendant ever again. The settlement on the table is all that you will ever collect from that defendant (and his insurance company). So it’s important to not accept an offer unless it’s truly fair. And the only way to determine a fair settlement from an insurance company that wants to victimize you is with the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney in here in Dallas County.
Insurance companies know that most accident victims are everyday people who, in the wake of this accident, are usually crying for cash. They have hefty medical bills and auto repair bills that need to be paid quickly. And perhaps they are unable to work as a result of their injuries so their reduced income is used for monthly expenses, which means there’s little, if any, left over in the family budget to pay accident-related expenses. So their obvious strategy is to entice accident victims with small amounts of fast cash that might take care of that pile of bills in front of them; but little more. Then, what if that’s not the end of your heightened expenses? Insurance companies are banking on you not figuring that out until they’re out of the picture and off the hook. Don’t let the defendant in your case (and his insurer) get away with paying you less than you deserve.
Here are a few more popular insurance company tricks they would never try to pull on our clients.
- They offer you a settlement before the full extent of the medical treatment you’ll need is known.
- They offer you less property damage money than what’s due on your car loan.
- The insurance company doesn’t offer you a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop being repaired.
- The insurance company tells you they’ll pay your claim when you submit your bills, but then refuse either to do so or keep stalling you when you ask for payment. (by the way, we never submit original bills to an insurance company, only copies)
- The insurance company takes too long to respond to your inquiries (this could means that they’re investigating your claim behind your back or just "shining you on" and haven’t yet told you they’re not going to pay your claim).
- The insurance company (usually the adjuster, but sometimes their slick lawyer) tells you that a settlement offer is "all that you’re entitled to" or "the best you’re going to get".
Can you think of another reason why you shouldn’t call an experienced Coppell and DFW Metroplex accident lawyer to shield you from insurance companies and fight for your fair compensation rights?
Don’t You Need a Local Auto Accident Injury Lawyer who Knows the Ropes??
In most instances it takes an experienced lawyer to make sure that accident victims recover the full and fair worth of their medical bills, pain, suffering and damages to their vehicle and its contents. And as we said at the beginning of this Web page, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident and its coverage level, it’s possible for a reasonably intelligent accident victim to handle his or her claim on their own, without the assistance of a lawyer if the only thing at stake is property damages and no injuries occurred in the car accident. Aside from the general challenges presented by defendant insurers which we just discussed, below are a few more instances that illustrate how your interests are best-served with the assistance of a local, experienced car accident attorney.
If you’re really injured from your auto accident, it’s best for you to have an experienced lawyer handle your claim. A good rule of thumb is whether you need to make a return visit to your doctor after being treated for your injuries. When you seek damages for bodily injuries, insurance companies don’t have to abide by any preformed guidelines when deciding how much to pay you. Because, by their very nature, insurance companies are more about premiums than claims, they can legally decide to pay you nothing by default. This is the first benefit of having a lawyer who is looking out for your interests regarding your claim. If you’ve suffered broken bones, head injuries, back injuries, or any other sort of injury in your wreck, do the smart thing and call a good attorney quickly.
It’s also a good idea to call an attorney if the other driver involved in your accident gives you a hard time either at the scene of the wreck or later, or if that other driver doesn’t want to give you his contact or insurance information. Belligerent accident "victims" usually have something to hide, either from the law or their insurance company. This could be an early indication that he’ll make it as difficult as possible for you to recover what you deserve. If you dealt with this kind of behavior, this could be a big red flag that you need to seriously consider hiring a lawyer, or at least have a solemn visit with an experienced one.
Many people don’t have health insurance which could help them afford the treatment they need after they’ve been involved in a wreck. Even if an accident victim does have health insurance, the odds become less every day that their treatment needs will be be covered under their health benefits. And whether or not they have health insurance, many accident victims are reluctant to get treatment for their injuries because they don’t think they can afford to take the time off of work that they’ll need to see a doctor, or they have higher-than normal deductibles which preclude even using their health insurance.
Seeing a doctor and being properly treated for your injuries after an accident is not only essential to your returning health, it’s absolutely necessary to your injury claim or lawsuit. If you can’t afford treatment, or if you already have medical bills that you can’t pay, there’s probably something that our Dallas County personal injury lawyers can do to help. We regularly work with doctors and healthcare professionals and can hook you up with the right doctor who will take your personal situation into consideration. We have helped many of our clients receive necessary medical care after an auto accident at no out of pocket cost to them. Additionally, we can explain how the time you take off from work to get medical care may be computed in the damage compensation owed you by the defendant in your case.
Besides, if you aren’t diligent in being treated for your injuries, why should the defendant be concerned with something that doesn’t appear to concern you?
If you’re lucky, and none of the above scenarios apply, the odds are pretty good that you can handle your case on your own, without the assistance of a lawyer, and reasonably resolve it. Sometimes, plaintiffs can successfully protect their own rights when they’ve been involved in a wreck which resulted in property damage only. If your car was damaged, but you’re not injured, insurance companies are bound by strict guidelines which tell them what they have to pay you in compensation for the damage to your car. Since these guidelines give them little wiggle room, insurance companies have very little opportunity to rip you off when they reimburse you for your repair bills. But if there are serious injuries, no guidelines exist. And that’s when you need legal help in defending your compensatory rights.
How to Choose the Local, North Texas Injury Lawyer who’s Right for your Case
A non-attorney doesn’t have any of the necessary knowledge or experience to effectively investigate a complicated auto accident, or negotiate a fair settlement with insurance companies, or successfully represent him or herself in court. Litigating a vehicle accident injury case is quite complex. And attorneys who don’t have a deep background in personal injury or vehicle accident cases don’t have any better chance than you of winning reasonable compensation. So why would you even entertain such a foolish idea, especially when five or six figure compensation amounts are on-the-table?
It’s our guess that defendant insurance adjusters and their attorneys have already reached out to you and might have even begun offering settlements. Please, for the sake of your family, before you speak with an insurance company, or attorney, or accept even a single dollar of payment or compensation from anyone, or sign anything, or attempt to file a lawsuit on your own, you must contact a competent lawyer. Everyone sitting at the defendant’s table wants you to quickly accept a substandard settlement and have you out of their hair. Don’t be taken advantage of. In fact, we warn you to never talk about any details of your intentions, or anything else surrounding the injury, with anyone until you’ve retained your own experienced lawyer to protect your interests. Failure to do this will certainly cripple whatever compensation rights you and your family have.
There are many car accident attorneys in the Metroplex. How can you decide which one is right to handle your case? Renowned auto accident lawyer Michael Grossman recommends interviewing at least two attorneys - and even more if you can - before choosing the one you want to hire. Ask each one about his track record for settling and litigating car accident cases. Find out what each attorney thinks the strengths and weaknesses of your case are. See if the lawyers can provide you with the names of former clients whose cases were similar to yours. Ask if you can contact them. And then reach out to them and ask the same question you asked the prospective attorney. And if your family member is so seriously injured that he or she cannot make this decision for themselves, for the sake of your family, someone needs to step-up to the plate and begin this process now; because the defendants are investigating the accident and already preparing their defense. Shouldn’t you?
If you do all of these things faithfully and diligently, then you should be reasonably able to select an attorney whose experience in handling cases like yours gives you confidence, as well as peace of mind that this is the lawyer you can trust with your case.
The Coppell and Texas accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices have been handling car accident insurance claims and civil cases for over 20 years. We continue to win favorable verdicts and settlements against nearly every major auto insurer in the country. Insurance companies recognize our name. And our reputation that precedes us is very helpful in securing special attention to our clients’ claims from these insurers. Our goal is to make sure that you recover as much as possible for your injuries and make this sometimes complicated legal process as easy as possible for you.
Put our years of experience to work for you. If you want to know what your rights are, how to proceed with your claim and how much compensation you can secure from your auto accident case. Call Grossman Law Offices now at 1-855-326-0000 (toll free), or send us an email, or fill out the form off the link at the top of this page for a free consultation and find out how we can help you win your rightful compensation from greedy insurance companies.