Can I Make a Claim as a Passenger If I’m Injured in a Car Accident?

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
If you are riding in someone else’s car when he or she gets into an accident, you have the right to file a claim for financial compensation for your hospital bills and other expenses as a passenger. Since you were not the one driving, you will not have to dispute fault for the crash. One of the driver’s insurance providers will pay for your losses. You may also have the power to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party in San Antonio, Texas.

Who Is Liable for Passenger Injuries?

Texas uses a tort-based insurance system to determine liability for car accidents. Liability is the legal term for legal and financial responsibility for an accident. According to Texas law, the driver or party at fault for causing the wreck is liable for related economic damages. As an injured passenger, you may be able to file a claim against one or more parties for financial compensation:
  • The driver of the vehicle. The simplest step as an injured passenger is filing a claim with the insurance company of the driver of your vehicle. That driver’s bodily injury liability insurance will pay for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses. Texas law requires all drivers to carry this type of car insurance.
  • The driver of the other vehicle. If the other driver caused the collision, you can file a claim with that driver’s insurance company. However, filing with your driver’s insurance company is generally enough, as the insurer will seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurer, if applicable.
  • The passenger’s insurance provider. If an incident occurs where one or both drivers are uninsured or do not have enough insurance to fully cover your losses, you can seek secondary coverage from your own insurance company. If you have personal injury protection insurance, this can help you pay for your medical bills.
  • A third party. If an investigation of the crash finds that a third party caused the car accident, such as a property owner, product manufacturer or the government, that party may be financially responsible for your losses.
In general, filing a claim against the driver’s insurance policy will result in benefits to reimburse you for your related injuries and losses as an injured passenger. If the driver does not have enough insurance to cover your expenses, however, you may need to seek additional benefits from a second or third source.

Potential Challenges During a Passenger Injury Claim

You may not face liability for a car accident as an injured passenger, but you could encounter other challenges when trying to obtain financial compensation. For instance, you may get caught in a liability dispute between the insurance companies of the two drivers. This could draw out the insurance settlement process and force you to wait for reimbursement for your expenses. If there were multiple passengers injured in the crash, you may also run into an issue obtaining enough coverage for your losses. The insurance available must be divided among all injured passengers, up to the policy’s maximum. You could also face a problem such as an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run accident. You might need an attorney’s assistance overcoming these unique challenges in San Antonio.

What to Do as an Injured Passenger

If you get into a car accident as a passenger, make sure someone reports the collision to the police. Check yourself and others involved in the crash for injuries. Then, gather as much information about the car accident as you can while still at the scene. This includes both drivers’ names and insurance information, a description of both vehicles, eyewitness statements, and photographs. Go to a hospital in San Antonio immediately for professional medical care. Then, consult with a car accident attorney for assistance with the claims process.
Posted by at 11:53 am

How Can Texas Crash Reports Help Your Car Accident Claim?

Monday, April 26, 2021
If you get into a car accident in San Antonio, there are a few steps you need to take to fulfill your legal responsibilities as a driver. One important step is contacting the police so that you can obtain a Texas crash report. The crash report will have key details about your accident that can help you support an insurance claim.

Do You Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident in Texas?

It is recommended that you call 911 to report any car accident to the police in Texas – even a minor collision. However, state law only requires you to report a car accident if it causes injuries, fatalities or property damage that appears to exceed $1,000. If you fail to report a serious crash, you could face a fine of up to $5,000 and/or jail time.

Why Crash Reports Are Important

Even if your car accident was minor and you are not required to report it by law, contacting the police can be useful to you as an injured victim. Reporting your collision can provide you with an official document to use during your insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit in Texas. The crash report can help your car accident claim in a few important ways.

Proving Your Accident Happened

Insurance fraud is common enough that insurance companies are careful about the claims they accept. Some policyholders try to stage car accidents or lie about how they sustained their injuries for insurance coverage. One way to prove that you are being honest about your crash is by providing the insurance company with a crash report from the police. An official crash report drawn up from the scene of your car accident can prove to an insurance company that your car accident took place the way you say it did. If you were involved in a hit-and-run crash, for example, having an accident report can help you prove that you did not cause the property damage yourself. Details from the responding police officer can establish the truth behind your claim.

Documenting Basic Information

You have enough to worry about in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. You should have the freedom to focus on your injuries and wellbeing rather than documenting the facts of the crash. If you call the police to respond to the scene of the crash, you benefit from a law enforcement officer recording the basic details about the accident for you. The police report will list information such as the other driver’s name, the names of any eyewitnesses, vehicle descriptions, license plate numbers, and the date, time and location. A car insurance company can use this information to understand the basic facts of the crash before conducting its own investigation.

Providing Evidence of Fault

If the other driver involved in your car accident committed a moving violation, such as speeding or driving under the influence, the police report will document the citation given to the driver by the responding police officer. Although the citation alone is not indisputable evidence of fault, it can help you prove a case against the other driver. A Texas crash report will also include the responding officer’s opinion as to who or what caused the crash. An insurance company will take this opinion into account.

How to Obtain a Copy of Your Crash Report in Texas

If you wish to obtain a copy of your police report for an insurance claim or your own records, contact the police station in the county where your car accident took place. Give them your police report number and your basic information. If the officer has already submitted the paperwork (typically, officers have 10 days to do so), you can pay a small fee to have a copy mailed to you. Filing a crash report can be one of the most important things you do after getting into a car accident in San Antonio, Texas. Reporting your accident puts it on the official record and provides documentation you can use during the insurance claims process. For assistance with a crash report, contact a car accident lawyer near you.
Posted by at 11:51 am

10 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Friday, April 23, 2021
If you suffer a serious injury in San Antonio, you may be overwhelmed by medical bills, physical pain and emotional suffering. It is important, however, to learn as much as you can about the legal process if you wish to obtain fair financial compensation. Otherwise, you could make a common mistake that negatively impacts your claim.

Admitting Fault

It may be in your nature to immediately apologize for an accident while at the scene, such as apologizing to the other driver after a car accident. Saying you are sorry, however, can be construed as an admittance of guilt. Be polite, but do not apologize and do not admit fault for an accident. Doing so could automatically place liability – financial responsibility – with you, even before an investigation is finished.

Not Reporting Your Accident

Do not keep your accident or injuries to yourself. It is important to report the accident to an authority figure immediately so that it is documented on the official record. The authority you should contact will depend on the nature of the accident. After a car crash in San Antonio, for example, you should call the police. After a slip and fall accident, tell a store manager.

Forgetting to Collect Evidence

Although you may have a lot on your mind after suffering an injury, do your best to collect evidence before you leave the scene. Some evidence may not be available if you wait. If you were injured by a property defect, for example, the property owner may repair the hazard before you can return to take photographs. Collect evidence as soon as possible, even if this means asking for help from a friend, family member or personal injury attorney.

Delaying Medical Care

Always go to a doctor or hospital right away after any type of injury. Delaying medical care can allow an insurance company to argue that your injuries were not serious or did not happen the way you say they did. Delaying medical care or ignoring your doctor’s treatment recommendations could also have negative consequences on your health.

Posting on Social Media

Avoid posting anything on social media following an accident. An insurance company can use your social media activity as evidence against you, regardless of your privacy settings. Any photographs, location check-ins, status updates or comments made on other people’s pages could be twisted around and used against you later.

Waiting Too Long to Tell an Insurance Company

Most insurance companies have rules that require injured parties to file claims as soon as possible – typically within 72 hours of the accident. Do not wait too long to file an initial claim, as this could potentially bar you from financial recovery from the insurer.

Believing the Insurance Company Is on Your Side

When communicating with an agent or claims adjuster from an insurance company, do not make the mistake of thinking he or she is on your side. The insurance company will want to save as much money as possible by devaluing your claim. Do not agree to give the insurance company a recorded statement and do not sign anything until speaking to an attorney.

Settling Too Soon

It is normal to want to resolve your case as quickly as possible. Settling too early, however, could mean accepting less than you deserve for your serious injuries. Wait until you reach the point of maximum medical improvement to accept a settlement. Discuss the value of your claim with an attorney before settling, as well.

Missing Your Statute of Limitations

In Texas, a law called a statute of limitations places a deadline on your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, the courts will typically refuse to hear your case, meaning you cannot recover money damages. The statute of limitations in Texas is two years for most cases.

Failing to Seek Help From a Personal Injury Attorney

Do not attempt to handle a personal injury claim alone – especially if you suffered catastrophic or permanent injuries. Work with a personal injury attorney in San Antonio for professional legal assistance with your case. A lawyer can help you with all the stages of a lawsuit for the best possible outcome.
Posted by at 11:41 am

What Is a Personal Injury Liability Waiver?

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
If you get injured due to someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, that party may be financially responsible for your injuries and related medical bills. If you signed a personal injury liability waiver, however, you may have given up your right to hold someone legally accountable. Learn more about liability waivers – including when they are unenforceable – to find out if you have a claim.

How Do Liability Waivers Work?

A personal injury liability waiver is something you may have to sign before participating in an event or activity that poses foreseeable injury risks. These waivers are designed to protect the creator from liability (legal responsibility) if a participant gets injured – even if the entity was negligent and this is what caused the injuries. Common activities in Texas that require participants to sign personal injury liability waivers include:
  • Amusement parks
  • Bungee jumping
  • Concerts
  • Cruises
  • Daycare centers
  • Equipment rentals
  • Gyms
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Skydiving
  • Spas
  • Sporting events
  • Tours
  • Trampoline parks
  • Vehicle rentals
In some scenarios, you may be given a written liability waiver that you must fill out and sign before you can participate in an activity. Otherwise, accepting the terms of a liability waiver may be implied when you purchase a ticket. When you buy a cruise ticket, for example, the liability terms you are automatically agreeing to are in fine print on the back. Either way, once you agree to a liability waiver, you may forfeit your right to hold the entity legally responsible for your injuries.

Can You Still File a Lawsuit With a Personal Injury Liability Waiver?

Liability waivers are not infallible. In certain circumstances, it is possible to work around a liability waiver and hold a party accountable for negligence. However, the fact that you signed a personal injury liability waiver will make a lawsuit more difficult. In Texas, a defendant’s attorney may use the assumption of risk defense against you to combat liability for your injuries. This defense states that since you assumed the known risks of an activity, the defendant is not liable for any injuries suffered. You or your personal injury lawyer will have to prove that you are still eligible to file a lawsuit after signing a waiver based on an argument such as:
  • An invalid or unenforceable waiver. An attorney will analyze the liability waiver you signed to search for issues that could make it unenforceable. A liability waiver must contain clear and unambiguous language, for example, and cannot go against public policy.
  • Failure to warn of known risks. If a liability waiver (or the defendant) fails to clearly list the foreseeable injury risks associated with an activity or event, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Gross negligence. Although a liability waiver can protect a defendant from lawsuits brought on the basis of negligence, no waiver can prevent liability for gross negligence, recklessness, intent to harm or a wanton disregard for the safety of others.
Other exceptions that could make a liability waiver invalid are if your injuries are from a defective product or due to a misrepresentation of fact. A manufacturing company cannot use a waiver to avoid liability for a defective product that injures a customer. In addition, a defendant misrepresenting the activity could constitute fraud, which will invalidate a liability waiver.

What to Do If You Were Injured After Signing a Liability Waiver

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident after signing a personal injury liability waiver in San Antonio, consult with an attorney for assistance. Hiring an attorney can be crucial for protecting your rights, documenting your injury, and bringing a case against one or more defendants. Your lawyer can help you navigate the unique challenges that may arise during a personal injury case involving a liability waiver or the assumption of risk defense. For more information about personal injury liability waivers in Texas, consult with a lawyer from The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C.
Posted by at 11:39 am

Can You Claim Damages for PTSD After a Car Accident?

Friday, April 16, 2021
If a driver was careless or reckless and this caused your car accident in San Antonio, Texas, you can file a claim against the driver for financial compensation for your injuries and related expenses, such as medical bills. You may also be able to obtain a monetary recovery for physical pain and emotional suffering, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Is PTSD? What Are the Symptoms?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder associated with surviving or witnessing a traumatic event. While many people associate PTSD with soldiers in combat zones, it can affect anyone who has lived through a traumatic event. This includes survivors of motor vehicle accidents. Symptoms commonly associated with PTSD include:
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety associated with the activity
  • Phobias or avoidance
  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability or behavioral changes
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
PTSD related to a car accident could come from the trauma of the crash itself, serious injuries suffered in the car accident or watching a loved one die in an auto accident. Diagnosing PTSD often requires seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist and discussing the symptoms being experienced. PTSD treatments may include therapy, medication or a combination of both.

Claiming Damages for PTSD After a Car Accident

Damages is the legal term for both the losses suffered by a car accident victim as well as the financial compensation available for his or her losses. Claiming damages after a car accident in Texas takes filing a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver or party. If an insurance claim does not result in adequate compensation, the case may go to trial. However, most car accident claims in Texas are resolved with settlements. Although it is possible to claim damages for PTSD after a car accident, insurance companies make it notoriously difficult to recover compensation for this type of intangible or noneconomic loss. PTSD – along with damages such as physical pain, emotional suffering and mental anguish – are more difficult to value compared to losses that are easily documented, such as medical bills and lost wages. Proving PTSD during an insurance claim or lawsuit often takes evidence such as medical records from a psychiatrist and expert testimony to speak on behalf of what the victim is feeling and experiencing. This is why it is important for a car accident victim to see a mental health professional as soon as possible upon recognizing the signs of PTSD. An official diagnosis of this mental health condition is often necessary before an insurance company or jury will award financial damages for this type of loss. A victim can also improve the odds of obtaining compensation for PTSD by keeping an injury journal to document his or her thoughts, emotions and moods in the days and weeks following a traumatic car accident.

How Are PTSD Damages Calculated?

Another challenge when bringing a claim for PTSD after a car accident is obtaining a fair amount of financial compensation for this type of loss. Insurance companies are notorious for devaluing clients’ claims to save themselves and their investors money. During an insurance claim, a car insurance company may offer less than a victim deserves for emotional suffering and post-traumatic stress disorder without help from an attorney. If the insurance company does not offer an adequate amount, the case may have to go to trial. Before a jury will award pain and suffering damages during a car accident lawsuit, however, the victim must prove that he or she has this condition and that it has negatively impacted his or her life. If you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident, a car accident attorney in San Antonio can help you increase the odds of a successful damage claim. An attorney can gather evidence to prove your PTSD and the effect it has had on your life. A lawyer can also help you negotiate for maximum financial compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages. Discuss your case with a car accident attorney at the law firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. today for more information.
Posted by at 11:35 am