Can I Get Punitive Damages After a Car Accident in San Antonio?

Monday, March 22, 2021
Damages are the financial compensation you can receive for your economic and noneconomic losses after an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, such as a car accident in San Antonio. There are two main types of damages available: compensatory and punitive. Most car accident claims result in compensatory damages; punitive damages are much more rare.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Compensatory damages make a victim whole again by restoring him or her to the state he or she would have been in had the accident never happened. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish a defendant for his or her wrongful actions. The goal of punitive damages is to dissuade the defendant and others from committing the same type of wrongdoing in the future. They act as a warning against similar negligence in the community.

When Are Punitive Damages Awarded in a Car Accident Case?

Although most successful personal injury claims will result in compensatory damages for a victim’s tangible and/or intangible losses, not all claims will result in punitive damages. The laws regarding punitive damages differ from state to state. These damages are not available in some states. In Texas, punitive damages are only awarded by a judge in special cases to punish the defendant for gross negligence, fraud or malice. If a defendant is guilty of egregious wrongdoing, severe carelessness, a wanton disregard for the safety of others or a malicious intent to harm, the injured victim may receive punitive damages to penalize the defendant. To recover punitive damages, a plaintiff in Texas must specifically request these damages and prove the severe nature of the defendant’s tort. The plaintiff may need a lawyer’s assistance with this burden of proof.

What Types of Car Accident Cases Are Most Likely to Receive Punitive Damages?

A judge will award punitive damages on a case-by-case basis. Whether or not a victim receives this type of award depends on the unique factors of the case. For a car accident case in San Antonio to result in punitive damages, the defendant must be guilty of extreme negligence or recklessness. Common examples of car accident cases that may receive punitive damages in Texas are:
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Road rage or aggressive driving
  • Excessive speeding or racing
  • Driving while distracted
  • Hit-and-run accident
  • Driving with a revoked or suspended license
  • A bus driver texting and driving
  • A manufacturer concealing known auto defects
A plaintiff’s eligibility for punitive damages in San Antonio will depend on the specific situation. Punitive damages will depend on factors such as the defendant’s actions in causing the accident, how much the defendant’s tort affects the sense of justice in the community and the defendant’s ability to pay punitive damages.

Texas’ Punitive Damages Cap

Like many states, Texas has a cap on punitive damages available in a personal injury case. There is a limit to how much you can receive in punitive damages as a plaintiff during a car accident lawsuit in San Antonio. A jury in Texas cannot order a defendant to pay more than $200,000 in punitive damages if you did not receive an award in economic damages. If you did receive an economic award, the punitive damage cap increases to twice the amount of your economic damages plus an equal amount in noneconomic damages, up to a maximum of $750,000.

When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in San Antonio

If you believe the person or party who caused your car accident in San Antonio is guilty of extreme negligence, malice or a wanton carelessness for the safety of others, consult with a car accident lawyer for assistance with your claim. A lawyer can help you request punitive damages and prove your eligibility for this type of compensation using evidence such as eyewitness statements, a police report and any citations given to the driver. The best way to secure the compensation you deserve, including a punitive damage award, is by hiring a lawyer to represent you.
Posted by at 6:02 pm

What Happens If Someone Else Is Driving My Car & Gets in an Accident in Texas?

Wednesday, March 17, 2021
You may not think twice before letting a friend or family member borrow your car. If that person gets into an accident while driving your vehicle, however, it is you who must deal with the insurance process. Find out what to expect from your insurance company if you were not the one driving your car in an accident.

Insurance Covers the Car, Not the Driver

It is a common misconception that the auto insurance a driver pays for covers the driver. In reality, auto insurance covers the car. This means no matter who was driving your vehicle, your car insurance company has to pay for damages. Unfortunately, this can mean paying a large deductible and dealing with an increase in your insurance premium – even if you were not the driver involved in the accident.

First-Party vs. Third-Party Insurance Claim

In Texas, the car insurance of the party at fault for causing the collision is financially responsible for damages. If your friend was at fault for causing the crash, therefore, your auto insurance company will pay for victims’ medical bills and property repairs. You will need to file a first-party insurance claim with your own insurance provider for coverage. How much your insurance company pays for the accident will depend on your policy. If you only have the minimum required amount of liability insurance in Texas, your insurance carrier most likely will not pay to repair the damage to your own vehicle. The minimum required amounts of automobile insurance only pay for the damages of others in a crash. You must have an additional form of coverage, such as collision or comprehensive insurance, for coverage for your own car. If you do not have this insurance, the insurer of the person you let use your car should pay for your losses. If the person you let borrow your car was not at fault for the accident, you will seek financial compensation from the auto insurance carrier of the at-fault party. You will file what is called a third-party insurance claim against the other driver’s carrier in pursuit of compensation for medical bills and vehicle repairs. In this scenario, your own insurance premiums should not increase, as your company did not pay for the damages.

Primary and Secondary Insurance Coverage

A car accident when someone else is driving your car may involve both primary and secondary insurance. Primary insurance coverage is your insurance policy as the vehicle’s owner. Secondary insurance is the automobile policy of the person who was driving your car. As the owner of the vehicle, your insurance policy will provide the primary (first) coverage for related losses. If you do not have enough insurance to cover 100% of the damages, the driver’s liability insurance will provide secondary coverage. For example, if the victim of the car accident suffered $35,000 in medical expenses but your auto insurance policy only covers up to $30,000, the person who was driving your vehicle will cover the remaining $5,000 through his or her auto insurance policy. Primary and secondary auto insurance work together on cases involving a vehicle owned by one party but driven by another to fully cover a victim’s losses.

Potential Challenges With Your Claim

For the most part, your auto insurance company will cover someone else driving your car. If, however, the person driving your car did not have your permission to do so, such as in an incident of theft, your insurance may not cover the driver. Coverage would come from the at-fault driver’s insurer instead. If you are guilty of negligent entrustment, you could also encounter challenges. If you knowingly allowed an intoxicated individual or unlicensed driver to drive your car, for example, someone injured in a subsequent accident may be able to hold you personally responsible for the collision as well as seek damages from the at-fault driver’s insurer. Due to the complexity of these types of cases, it is wise to consult with a  San Antonio car accident attorney to discuss your rights. An attorney can help you navigate the insurance claims process in San Antonio.
Posted by at 5:59 pm

What Is the Average Settlement for Whiplash in San Antonio?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Whiplash is a common injury suffered in auto accidents in San Antonio, Texas. Whiplash describes soft-tissue damage to the muscles or tendons in the neck. If you have whiplash from a San Antonio car crash or another accident, you may be curious about how much you could receive in an insurance settlement or jury verdict for your medical bills and losses. The answer to this question depends on your situation.

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury most commonly caused by car accidents. However, it can also be caused by falls, sports and other incidents, such as physical assault. It occurs when something jerks the head and neck rapidly backward and forward, whipping the neck around hard enough to stretch, tear or damage the soft tissues. Whiplash can cause many painful and debilitating symptoms, including:
  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness or lost range of motion
  • Shooting pains, tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Back pain or tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Trouble sleeping
Medical care for a whiplash injury may involve pain medications and physical therapy. A victim with whiplash might be unable to return to work right away. If the victim was not at fault for the incident that caused the injury, he or she could be eligible for financial compensation for these losses from the negligent party.

Settlement Amounts Vary Significantly

It is not possible to estimate the value of your whiplash injury settlement based on average award amounts in prior cases. Insurance companies and courts in Texas do not assign damages based on average settlements. Instead, every personal injury settlement or jury verdict for whiplash is unique and tailored to the victim’s needs and losses. Some injured accident victims can receive $10,000 or less for their whiplash injuries. Others might receive around $5,000. Still other crash victims could receive substantially more than $10,000 if they have significant injuries, such as a serious spinal cord injury. The factors that go into determining a whiplash settlement amount include the level of the injury, the victim’s prognosis, how long he or she will need medical care, health, age, income, and more.

Types of Damages Available

Although there is no average settlement for whiplash in San Antonio, you can get an idea of how much your claim might be worth with help from an attorney. An attorney can estimate the value of your case based on the compensable losses you suffered in the accident. A defendant may be financially responsible for many of your past and future damages:
  • Health care bills
  • Long-term treatments such as physical therapy
  • Medications or medical devices
  • Lost wages and capacity to earn
  • Property repairs
  • Disability-related expenses
  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Punitive damages
A personal injury lawyer in San Antonio can help you list all of the damages you and your family have suffered as a result of a defendant’s negligence or recklessness. Then, your lawyer can help you pursue maximum financial compensation for these losses. Although most whiplash cases settle, a lawyer will have the power to go to trial against a defendant, if necessary.

Negotiate Your Settlement With Help From a Whiplash Attorney in San Antonio

If you suffered a whiplash injury in an accident in San Antonio that significantly interferes with your life, consult with an attorney for assistance with the claims process. An attorney will have the knowledge, resources and legal tactics to successfully negotiate or litigate your injury claim. Handling your case without an attorney may expose you to insurance bad-faith tactics. Your lawyer will fight for maximum compensation on your behalf, as he or she will want to optimize your award. An insurance company, on the other hand, will want to devalue your whiplash claim. An insurance company may wrongfully deny your claim, for example, or underestimate your future medical needs. If you hire a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio to represent you, he or she can negotiate for just compensation. This will increase the odds of receiving a fair settlement offer. A lawyer can demand the financial outcome you need to finally move forward from a whiplash injury.
Posted by at 5:40 pm