Should you file a Houston auto accident lawsuit or settle with the insurance company? The answer depends on the specifics of your case. Your attorney works with you to determine a course of action to suit your case and help you receive fair compensation.
First, let’s look at the difference between settlement and a lawsuit:
Most car accident claims end in settlement, rather than a trial. A settlement is when you negotiate an amount with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation for damages, like medical expenses for injuries, damages to your vehicle, and lost wages.
A lawsuit is where you sue for compensation. Generally, you file a Houston auto accident lawsuit against the negligent driver. In many cases, their insurance company represents them and provides them with an attorney if you go to trial.
Even after you file a lawsuit, your case may end in settlement. Insurance companies often want to avoid the expense of a trial, so they may negotiate with you for settlement to avoid a trial. However, if this doesn’t happen, then you’ll go to trial and present evidence for a judge and jury to decide.
Is the Insurance Adjuster Undervaluing Your Claim? Consider Filing a Houston Auto Accident Lawsuit
One of the most common reasons you might consider filing a Houston auto accident lawsuit is if the insurance company is undervaluing your claim. Unfortunately, many insurance adjusters will try to get you to take a low-ball settlement or even deny your claim. This is because the insurance company doesn’t want to pay you more than they have to.
Generally, after filing a claim, you or your Houston accident injury attorney will negotiate the amount with the adjuster. In some cases, it may be difficult to reach an agreement for a fair settlement amount. Adjusters are usually trained to settle for the least amount possible to keep profits high. Often, this means offering a settlement significantly lower than what your claim is worth.
When this happens, you may consider filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. For this, your attorney will need to gather evidence to show that the driver acted negligently, leading to the accident, and that the driver’s negligence caused your damages. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, you might need medical records stating that your injuries were a result of the force from the crash.
Often, after you file a lawsuit, the insurance adjuster may be more willing to negotiate a fair settlement to avoid a trial. Therefore, your case may still end in settlement. However, in other cases your case may go all the way to trial. If this happens, your attorney will advocate in court on your behalf for fair compensation. This includes giving evidence of your damages and of the other driver’s fault for the crash.
Filing a Houston Auto Accident Lawsuit for Compensation Above the At-Fault Driver’s Policy Limits
Another reason you may consider suing the at-fault driver is if their policy limits don’t cover your accident-related expenses.
Texas law requires every driver to have car insurance that meets certain minimums. Those minimums are:
- $30,000 per injured person
- $60,000 maximum for total injuries
- $25,000 for property damages
In many cases these limits may not cover all your expenses. For instance, costs for medical care can quickly outstrip these dollar amounts. However, the insurance company will likely not offer a settlement over the limit.
In these instances, you may wish to file a Houston auto accident lawsuit against the driver for compensation above their policy limits.
It’s important to note that in many cases the insurance adjuster may want you to sign a release when you accept a settlement for your claim. This release generally states that you won’t file a lawsuit or seek additional compensation from the insurance or the driver after being paid the settlement amount. If you sign this, then you may take a lawsuit off the table for yourself even if the limit doesn’t cover your expenses. Therefore, it’s important to discuss your options with your Houston accident injury attorney.
Under Texas law, insurance companies can’t postpone payment for your claim to try to force you to sign a release form.
Before you decide to file a Houston auto accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver, it’s also important to consider all the facts. In many cases, the other driver may not have the cash or assets to cover the amount. While a judge may order garnishment of their wages or a lien on their property, it can be difficult to collect from the driver after winning a lawsuit. Your attorney can help you determine which course of action to take.
How Long Can You Wait to File a Houston Auto Accident Lawsuit and How Long does it Take?
In many cases, you may try to file a claim and negotiate with the other person’s insurance company before deciding to sue. Many people wonder how long they have to file a Houston auto accident lawsuit.
Generally, you can file a lawsuit up to two years after the accident. However, there are some special exemptions that may apply to your case. Ask your attorney about time limits based on the specifics of your case.
A car accident lawsuit can also take some time. For example, in many cases a trial date will be set for one year from the date you file. Gathering evidence before filing can also take some time. Talk to your Houston accident injury attorney about the specifics of your case to help you decide what to do.
Working with Your Houston Accident Injury Attorney for Settlements and Lawsuits
If you need legal help after a car accident, contact our team at DeSimone Law Office. We offer experience in Houston traffic accident law and have helped settle thousands of cases. We even take care of all your out-of-pocket expenses so you can focus on getting back to normal after a crash. Our team can help you negotiate with the insurance company and advocate for you in and out of court. Call us today at (713) 526-0900 to speak directly to an attorney for a free case evaluation.