Automobile accidents happen in an instant, but serious collisions can have results that last a lifetime. Major traffic accidents may lead to property damage, sustained injuries, loss of work, emotional trauma, and even loss of life. Pain can make working and other daily tasks a difficult and frustrating ordeal.
Injuries can turn your life — and the lives of the loved ones around you — completely upside down.
If you have been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident in Austin, it’s important that you understand your rights — and how you can protect those rights by making educated decisions.
We’ll help you decide if you have grounds for legal action and guide you through the process of creating a claim, filing a complaint, obtaining a settlement, or even going to trial. We can’t undo the consequences of an accident, but we can help you recover your losses and hold negligent parties responsible for their actions. Making informed decisions can save you tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Perhaps the most immediate and distressing aspect of a major automobile collision is their tendency to result in injuries, both temporary and lasting. In fact, many permanent head, neck, and spine injuries are commonly attributed to automobile collisions.
Victims suffering from these conditions often face long recovery times, high medical costs, emotional trauma, loss of motor function or ability to work, and more.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Injuries to the brain are among the most serious results of a car accident. The force from a collision can sometimes cause drivers and passengers in the vehicle to strike their head against the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows. This can result in a range of injuries, from bruising and mild concussion all the way to comas, permanent cognitive damage, loss of vision or hearing, and other long-term problems.
- Spinal cord damage. Spinal cord injuries are another danger faced by those involved in major accidents. The sudden impact of a motor vehicle collision can cause a blow to the spine, fracturing, dislocating, or otherwise damaging the vertebrae, ligaments, discs, and/or nerves located in the spinal column. The resulting trauma can be quite serious, causing paralysis, loss of sensation and motor function, intense pain, and other complications.
- Herniated discs. Another frequent result of car accidents are herniated spinal discs. While not as serious as spinal cord injuries, which can cause paralysis, herniated discs can cause severe pain in the limbs and extremities, often coupled with numbness or tingling sensations and muscle weakness. This condition can also lead to complications like bone spurs and permanent nerve damage. Many disk herniations lead to permanent symptoms that can require invasive treatments including surgery.
- Nerve damage. Some motor vehicle accident victims experience neurological problems. These may be induced from blunt force trauma to the head or spine, whiplash, or lacerations sustained during the accident. These incidents may compress, stretch, or sever nerves, causing debilitating pain, headaches, emotional and mental problems, weakness, and more.
- Whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head and neck are jerked back and forth during a motor vehicle collision, most often when the victim is rear-ended by another automobile. Whiplash is a painful condition that affects the head, neck, and shoulders, and it can result in numbness or tingling, stiffness and reduced range of motion in the head and neck, dizziness, and fatigue. Serious cases of whiplash can cause permanent structural damage to the spine that requires a lifetime of medical treatment.
- Joint Injuries. Because of the forces involved in serious car wrecks, many victims sustain injury to joints in their bodies, such as their shoulders or knees. These injuries can range from minor sprains to serious cartilage or ligament tears that require surgery to repair, and result in lasting pain and impairment.
- Broken Bones. Some car crashes in Austin are serious enough to result in broken bones. For example, airbag deployment can cause broken arms that require casting or surgical repair, and sudden forward movements can drive legs into the dashboard and feet into the floorboard, resulting in broken legs and injury to the foot and ankle. These injuries can be life-altering.
Painful injuries are difficult enough, but there may be additional economic and emotional burdens associated with your recovery that are not reflected by medical bills alone.
The lifetime expenses of living with an injury or caring for a loved one with a debilitating condition can be very high, often totaling up to millions of dollars in serious cases.
Even less permanent issues can have serious financial consequences. For instance, you may need to miss work and therefore suffer from lost wages, or you may have to hire professionals to help you take care of basic tasks like transportation, cleaning your home, preparing meals, and so forth.
You may also suffer emotional trauma or loss of quality of life — non-economic damages that still impact your standard of living. Many accident victims experience serious mental anguish, developing post-traumatic stress conditions, depression, or anxiety. And if a relative or loved one has passed away due to an accident, the loss of companionship can also cause a great deal of suffering.
Our experienced Austin motor vehicle accident lawyers can help you access the actual cost of your accident, including losses that are difficult to calculate, like lowered quality of life and emotional trauma.
When motor vehicle accidents occur, it’s important to respond quickly and properly, both to ensure the health and safety of yourself and other involved parties, and to help your case should you have grounds to seek compensation.
- Get Out of Harm’s Way. Your safety should be your number-one priority after a traffic accident. If you are physically able, relocate to a safe location like the sidewalk or side of the road. If you can, check on the other parties involved in the collision and ensure that no one is in immediate danger. If you feel that you may be seriously injured, however, you should stay where you are. Never leave the scene of the accident until the police say you may go.
- Call EMS. If you or another party has been seriously injured in the accident, make sure that someone has called emergency medical services on the scene, or call them yourself if you are able. This can help document your injuries and start the process of getting medical attention for your injuries, and can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
- Call the Police. Reporting the collision to the police is a pivotal part of your accident investigation, which will form the basis of the discovery portion of your case. Under Texas Law, police are required to create formal crash reports if someone is injured or if there has been over $1,000 in damage to property because of the collision. Austin police reports can provide evidence that can be used to help secure a settlement or victory at trial. People change their stories and time makes memories fade, but the crash reports remain.
- Don’t Admit Fault. Car accidents happen quickly, and it’s not always immediately obvious which parties are at fault. For this reason, it’s imperative that you do not assume blame for the accident. By doing so, you limit your ability to pursue compensation and punitive damages should you decide to file suit.
- Collect Information. The more you are able to document the details of your accident, the better. Be sure to collect the names, phone numbers, and addresses of any involved parties and any witnesses who may have seen the collision occur. You’ll also want to collect the license plates and insurance details for the other vehicles involved in the collision. If you are able, you may want to take pictures of the damage to your automobile and the crash scene. Finally, it can be helpful to identify nearby businesses that might have caught the incident on a security camera.
- Avoid Giving Recorded Statements. Even when another driver was clearly at fault, it is not a good idea to “cooperate” with their insurance company by providing a recorded statement. Vague and misleading questions can result in answers that create ambiguity about who was at fault for an accident, and those statements can be used by the other insurance company to deny responsibility. While contacting your own insurance company is usually safer, do not provide them a recorded statement either until you have spoken with a personal injury lawyer for guidance.
- Seek Medical Care. We recommend all motor vehicle accident clients seek medical care immediately when any symptoms arise, no matter how minor. Although your first instinct may be to wait and see if the pain will go away, you may have a serious condition and not realize. Many individuals suffering from injuries that end up being serious and permanent do not exhibit symptoms immediately following the accident. For instance, you may not feel the effects of a serious orthopedic or internal injury until several days or weeks after the collision. This is particularly true with spine injuries, such as intervertebral disk herniations. Seeing a medical professional not only ensures your well-being but also helps your legal case. The results of medical tests, doctor’s notes, and other health records can be used to document your injury and provide evidence in court. Our legal team can begin building your case immediately after you see a medical professional. Additionally, if you wait to receive medical care, it can appear to insurance providers as if your injury isn’t as serious as it is, undermining the legitimacy of your case and dramatically decreasing the chances the case will settle for an acceptable level of compensation.
- Contact our Austin Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers. Following a serious motor vehicle accident, we recommend contacting a personal injury law firm such as FVF. Negotiating with insurance companies may be difficult on your own, especially when there are costs associated with your injury that fall outside the realm of medical bills. And when there is negligence involved, such as speeding, reckless driving, or impaired driving, attorneys can help you seek punitive damages. Most importantly, an experienced personal injury lawyer will take the time to educate you on your options, so you can immediately begin make informed decisions that can change the outcome of your case.
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The Role of Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers
The primary roles of a personal injury lawyer are to educate you about your rights and options, counsel you through the entire claim and legal process, and help you make decisions and develop a strategy for maximizing your recovery in your motor vehicle accident case.
Austin motor vehicle accident lawyers do a lot more than bring cases to trial, though the lawyers at FVF are glad to take a case to trial when necessary and have secured outstanding jury verdicts in the past. But most motor vehicle accident cases are resolved with a settlement before trial, which helps avoid the risks and uncertainty that a trial can bring.
We will explain your options for seeking medical treatment and help you understand what kind of medical tests and documentation you need from your doctor. We can begin to formulate your case as soon as you see a doctor, and specifically tailor the best strategy for your case based on all facts and circumstances.
Our expert team of Austin personal injury specialists can also help you understand your rights when dealing with insurance providers, whether the other auto insurance carriers, your own automobile insurance provider and your health insurance.
We will advise you on how to seek care that will not put you in financial duress, and evaluate the sources of recovery to make sure you are making the best choices possible for your medical treatment.
We’ll also ensure that the incident is thoroughly investigated, internally and with the proper authorities. Our team will help you capture evidence to support your case, obtaining records and data that may prove crucial to your claim. We will help you identify all of the parties involved, particularly as they pertain to insurance providers, cases involving commercial vehicles, or wrongful death claims.
There are several elements involved in building a case and seeing it to conclusion. While not every case will go through all of these steps, this is the basic process for seeking compensation.
- Investigation. When you contact a legal professional, he or she will first seek to understand the details surrounding your case. Your legal team will also reach out to medical professionals who may have treated you, insurance companies, police, witnesses, and any other involved parties on your behalf to help decide if you have a valid claim to compensation. If so, we’ll use these communications to capture evidence and begin building your case.
- Demand Letter. After discussing the details of your case and learning the full extent of your short- and long-term harms and losses, your attorney will send a demand letter to the party or parties responsible, also known as the defendant(s). This letter details the particulars of the motor vehicle accident and the repercussions, including medical costs, lost wages, and other damages. It will explain what happened during the accident and why your attorney feels the other party is at fault, as well as covering the specifics of your injury or injuries.
- Lawsuit. If the insurance company denies your claim or does not agree to pay the listed damages in full, your attorney may decide to file a formal petition. This document essentially begins the process of filing a lawsuit, and is filed with the proper court. The petition is also usually sent to an insurance provider, commercial vehicle company, or other party responsible for contributing to the motor vehicle accident. Your petition lists your rights as an injured party and lays out what you are requesting for compensation. This petition is then served to the involved parties, who are named as defendants, triggering their responsibility to answer and make an appearance in the lawsuit.
- Settlement. The majority of cases are resolved with a settlement outside of court — that is, an agreement by both parties to end the case, assuming certain obligations are met. Generally, the defendant(s) will agree to pay a certain amount of damages and, in exchange, the plaintiff agrees to drop the lawsuit. While settlement is usually a great outcome, there are a variety of factors that determine whether settlement is appropriate, or whether the case should proceed to trial.
- Trial. Very few personal injury claims ever make it this far. Court cases are very expensive, time-consuming, and risky, since the personal injury claimant is asking a jury comprised of other members of the community to award them money as compensation for their injuries and losses. Many people choose to avoid these risks and settle the case for a guaranteed payment that is fair and reasonable. However, a very small portion of accidents will be brought to court by car accident trial lawyers. When that happens, a judge and jury will hear arguments from both the plaintiff and the defendant, and then agree to a verdict — either deciding that the defendant is liable and assigning damages, or dismissing your case. In the event of a dismissed case, plaintiffs have the option of either appealing to a higher court or dropping the case.
Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents We Handle
At FVF, we have successfully handled many different types of motor vehicle accidents in Austin, including those involving commercial motor vehicles, wrongful death, and more. We can help you understand your rights and assist you in the process of seeking damages and compensation for your injuries. Here are the types of motor vehicle accident cases we most frequently handle.
The process of seeking damages from a motor vehicle accident can be very complicated for an individual to navigate alone. Our skilled personal injury attorneys can hold negligent parties responsible for their actions and protect your personal and financial well-being.
Our team has a passion for the law and a personal commitment to the victims of motor vehicle accidents, coupled with a strong reputation for winning millions of dollars in settlements and trial verdicts on behalf of individuals injured in collisions. We believe our first responsibility is to our clients, which is why we offer education and expert guidance to every individual who engages us.
If you’re ready to learn more about your rights after a motor vehicle accident, contact us today to uncover your options and receive a free initial consultation with a lawyer. Our Austin motor vehicle accident lawyers are standing by and has the experience to make sure all your questions are answered.