Guide to Filing a Lawsuit after a Car Accident in Texas
Guide to Filing a Lawsuit after a Car Accident in Texas
Must-know items if you’re hurt in a car accident in Texas and wanting to file suit
Written by: Enjuris Editors
Getting into a car accident is an awful thing, no matter where you are. But if you have been in a Texas car accident, there are things that you must know right away.
In Texas, there is a specific legal process to follow after a car accident. The closer you stick to the guidelines we lay down here, the better your chances of prevailing in a personal injury settlement or lawsuit.
Deal with the immediate aftermath
There are two absolutely critical items you need to do right off the bat after the crash:
Call the police and file a police report.
Texas law requires that a crash report – Form CR-2 – be filed if there is an accident that happens where there is injury or death, or if property damage exceeds $1000. If for some reason the police do not come to the accident scene, you would need to go to the nearest police station to file.
Get medical attention if there is any chance whatsoever that you have been injured.
Enjuris Tip: Did you understand how important these two things are? Please do both! If you fail to do either, you could seriously screw up your potential Texas legal claim later.
The police might issue a ticket to the other driver if they caused the wreck. They also will write an accident report that might provide crucial evidence to establish liability.
Always call your car insurance company after an accident, even if the other driver caused it.
As far as seeing a doctor, this is essential so that you can have any injuries treated. And, your injuries must be documented immediately after a crash by a Texas physician.
Nothing proves your injuries to an insurance company, or a Texas civil court judge and jury, like a written statement from your doctor.
Call your insurance company – deadlines to pay your claim
Call your car insurance company and tell them what happened. Always do so, even if you are 1000% sure the other guy caused the wreck. You might need your insurance company to help if the other driver lacks insurance or is underinsured, and especially if it was a hit and run.
However, you should not provide any written or recorded statement to any insurance company at this point. If there are serious property and personal injuries involved, you will want to be represented by a Texas personal injury attorney when you make any statements.
Texas law states that the insurance company must respond after receiving your claim in writing. If your insurance company agrees to pay your claim, it must do so within five business days.
(Maybe) file a lawsuit
With your attorney talking to the auto insurance companies all along this process, there may be a settlement before a lawsuit is filed. We’ll get to that. But let’s assume that you decide to file suit for compensation for your damages, including:
Personal property damage – your car may have serious damaged or be ruined.
Medical bills – if you have suffered broken bones, head trauma or other serious injuries, your doctor and hospital bills could run into the tens of thousands of dollars. (Learn options for paying bills in the meantime.)
Lost wages – anyone with major car crash injuries is entitled to recover lost wages past, present and future in Texas.
Noneconomic damages that can include physical pain and suffering, mental or emotional pain/anguish; loss of consortium, or the ability to have marital relations.
To file suit, you have to file in the Texas civil court for the jurisdiction where the crash happened, or where the defendant resides. Your attorney may advise you where to file for best case results; experienced attorneys know the local courts and judges, and may have an idea for the best venue for your specific case.
Enjuris Tip: Texas state law requires you to file a personal injury claim within two years from the date of the accident. Don’t delay!
Service of process
Service of process is the act of telling the defendant that there is a claim filed against them. If more than one defendant is involved, you may serve notice to several people.
The defendant can reply to any accusation you have made and submit their own documents to court. If the defendant ignores your suit, you win automatically.
Most times, the insurance company that represents the defendant will respond to your claim.
As noted above, you and the insurance company or defendant may settle at any time during this process. You and your attorney will negotiate with the other side to see if they will cut you a check for a reasonable amount to cover your stated damages.
Insurance companies like to avoid courtrooms and juries if it is clear that their client is liable. The insurance company might give you a fair offer in exchange for giving up the lawsuit.
Enjuris Tip: You cannot change your mind after you sign on the dotted line to accept a settlement. There are no do over’s here. So, be certain that all of your accident damages have been covered.
If the case cannot be settled, then the case will go to trial. You will need to talk to your attorney about the wisdom of going to trial. Trials can take a long time. And there always is a shot that you will lose, and you get nada. Keep this in mind if you are offered a settlement.
A car accident is always going to be a major stress or worse. But if another party has caused your injuries, you have legal remedies available in Texas.
More resources on car accidents and Texas attorneys