Dallas Accident & Injury FAQ

Dallas Injury FAQ

Q: How are the attorneys at our Dallas personal injury law firm compensated for representing a client in an accident injury lawsuit?

Our Dallas personal injury attorneys represent clients in personal injury lawsuits on a contingency fee basis rather than an hourly fee basis.  After a settlement is reached or a favorable trial verdict is achieved, we keep a reasonable portion of the settlement amount or trial judgment. This fee arrangement is best for both our clients and our firm in personal injury matters because a more favorable monetary outcome for our clients means a more favorable outcome for our firm. This motivates both our Dallas personal injury law firm and our clients to achieve the best ultimate outcome.

Q: How much time do I have to sue for my injuries in Texas?

Generally, in personal injury cases, you have two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit in a Texas court of competent jurisdiction.

Q: Where do I file my personal injury lawsuit in Texas?

There are specific rules outlining where you file your lawsuit as a plaintiff.   But, generally, you must file in the county where the accident occurred.

Q: Should I consult a Dallas accident attorney about my injuries?

We always recommend speaking to an experienced Dallas personal injury attorney before making a decision related to your injuries. If you have already been speaking with an insurance company, defendant, or another third party about your injuries or accident, we recommend that you speak with the attorneys at Genthe Law Firm immediately. You don’t want to unknowingly bar or miss your opportunity to recover damages to which you are entitled. You should also contact one of our attorneys if you believe your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company is giving you the runaround or refusing to offer adequate compensation for your injury if you can’t get the medical treatment you believe you need or if you can’t get medical care at all.

Q: What damages are recoverable in a Texas personal injury lawsuit?

Generally speaking, you are entitled to recover damages for past and future medical care and treatment, past and future pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of income, loss of future earning capacity, loss of consortium, loss of household services, and under certain circumstances, punitive damages.

Q: How long does a personal injury lawsuit last in Texas?

This is difficult to predict due to many factors outside of the control of the attorneys and parties involved. However, in a typical personal injury suit with one plaintiff, one defendant, and one accident, you can expect the lawsuit to be completed on average between 12 to 24 months. Occasionally, some factors cause the case to be settled or tried before a jury sooner than 12 months, and sometimes there are factors that may cause a case to last several years.  Each case is unique, and therefore, predicting the timeframe for the completion of a lawsuit is difficult.

Q: What will my involvement be in my Texas personal injury lawsuit?

As a plaintiff, you will be very involved in securing information before the filing of your personal injury lawsuit. Ideally, we will need to speak to you in person and on the phone on several occasions to make sure we have a good understanding of your accident and medical condition. If a lawsuit is filed, you can also expect to answer written questions drafted by the defendant’s attorney, provide documentation responsive to document requests from the defendant, and potentially provide your videotaped or recorded “statement” in a deposition. If your case goes to trial, you will be required to attend the entire trial and testify as a witness.

Dallas Accident FAQ

Q: What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?

The damage caused by a motor vehicle accident – damage to your vehicle, medical expenses, and lost wages, to name just a few – can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars. Most people don’t have the financial ability to pay for damage like this themselves, which, of course, is why Texas requires all vehicle owners to maintain auto liability insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone complies with this requirement, and a significant percentage of drivers on the road today are driving without insurance of any kind.

If the other driver doesn’t have liability insurance, it is important that you have uninsured motorist coverage on your own auto policy. This type of coverage is specifically designed to cover situations where the other driver does not have insurance. With uninsured motorist coverage, a claim is made on your own insurance policy for the damages incurred in connection with the accident. Although people sometimes assume that if they are making a claim with their own insurance company, they don’t need a lawyer, nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve found that when an uninsured motorist claim is made on a person’s own policy, the person’s insurance company turns on their own customer, and the process becomes just as adversarial and potentially unfair as if the person were dealing instead with the other driver’s insurance company.

Q: What if the other driver left the accident scene without stopping?

When a client has been involved in a hit-and-run accident but was able to write down the license plate number of the other vehicle, I try to track down the vehicle’s owner to obtain their insurance information. If I am able to get this information, the claim then proceeds as with any other type of motor vehicle accident claim.

However, if it is impossible to track down the other driver’s information, or if the other driver does not have insurance, the accident will usually fall within the client’s uninsured motorist coverage – assuming that the client has this type of coverage on their auto policy. If not, obtaining any recovery for the client can be extremely difficult.

Q: Will the other driver’s insurance company pay for my vehicle to be fixed?

When an accident is caused by the other driver, that driver’s insurance company must pay for the damage to your vehicle, among other things.

Q: Do I have to agree if the insurance company says my vehicle is totaled?

Under Texas law, the responsible insurance company has a choice: it can either pay for the vehicle to be repaired or declare the vehicle to be totaled and pay the owner for the vehicle’s fair market value. Insurance companies generally choose the cheaper option. The vehicle owner’s preference in this decision is generally not a factor. However, in many cases, the insurance company will agree that the owner can keep the vehicle, even if it is totaled. In such cases, the insurance company deducts the salvage value of the vehicle, usually several hundred dollars, from the amount the vehicle owner would otherwise have paid. This option is sometimes preferable when the vehicle owner believes that he or she can have the vehicle repaired and wants to continue to use the vehicle.

Q: How will I get around while my vehicle is being repaired?

Texas law says that when a vehicle is going to be repaired, insurance company for the at-fault driver has to either pay for a rental car while his or her car is being repaired, or reimburse the vehicle owner for the rental car expense.

Q: What if the insurance company says my vehicle is totaled, but is offering me less than the amount that I owe on my car loan?

Texas law only requires that the insurance company pay for the vehicle’s fair market value, not the balance owed on the car loan. This can cause problems, particularly for owners of newer vehicles, since there is a sharp decrease in the fair market value after purchasing a new car. Because of this drop in value, when a loan has been taken out to buy the vehicle, there is often a substantial period of time before the loan balance is less than the vehicle’s fair market value. During this period, if the vehicle is totaled in an accident, the vehicle owner is not only left without a vehicle since the fair market value of the vehicle is paid to the lien holder – the bank or loan company – but the vehicle owner is also left owing money to the bank or loan company and is without funds to buy a new vehicle. For this reason, it is a good idea to purchase “gap” insurance, which applies in this situation and pays for the difference between the fair market of the vehicle and the balance owed on a loan, and the fair market value of the vehicle.

Q: Can I still get a rental car if my vehicle is totaled?

Due to an opinion handed down by the Texas Supreme Court, the law in Texas says that if the vehicle is going to be repaired, the owner is entitled to a rental car while his or her car is being repaired or at least entitled to recover for the cost of obtaining a rental car during that period. On the other hand (and this is the misguided part), if the vehicle is totaled, the vehicle’s owner is not entitled to a rental car.

However, even when the vehicle is determined to be totaled, I always attempt to obtain a rental car for the client, and in many cases, depending on the insurance company involved, I’m able to arrange it for the client.

Q: Is cell phone use or texting while driving illegal in Texas?

In Texas, it is illegal for school bus drivers and drivers under the age of 18 to talk or text on cell phones while driving.

Q: What if I am a passenger in a vehicle and get hurt in an accident?

Passengers have the same rights as any other party hurt in an accident – they are entitled to recover their damages from the person or persons who caused the accident, or that person’s insurance company. In some cases, both the driver of the other vehicle in the accident AND the driver of their vehicle are responsible for the accident. In that case, both insurance companies are responsible for the passenger’s damages.

Q: What if I am a pedestrian and am hit by a car?

Pedestrians have the same rights as anyone else hurt in an accident – they are entitled to recover their damages from the person who caused the accident or that person’s insurance company. Auto/pedestrian accidents often result in very serious injuries and even death. For that reason, and also because the circumstances in an auto/pedestrian accident can become very complicated, in terms of the applicable traffic ordinances and right-of-way issues, it is important to contact an attorney if you have been injured in an auto/pedestrian accident.

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