The Kipness Law Firm, P.C

DALLAS AUTO & CAR ACCIDENTS

Q: What should I do if I am involved in an auto accident?

A: You should report the accident to the police and your insurance company, get medical help if injured, get names and addresses of all witnesses, be polite to the police officer or EMS, and exchange insurance and driver’s license information with all parties to the accident.  You should also get a copy of the 911 calls by contacting the investigating police department.

Q: If I was rear ended, can the other driver or his insurance company blame me for the accident?

A: Possibly if you did not stop in a safe manner or made or a sudden turn. However, basic driving rules require drivers behind you to stay far enough behind to safely stop their car.

Q: Am I required to wear a seat belt in Texas and are children required to be in child passenger safety seat system?

A: Yes. All adults including driver and passengers must wear seat belts. Children are required to be in child passenger safety seat systems if they are under 8 years of age or less than 57 inches in height. All children 8 and older must wear a safety belt.

Q: What if I was injured in a car accident but my car does not have a lot of damage, will this affect my claim?

A: Insurance companies and sometimes juries believe little property damage means no injury.  In fact, sometimes the opposite is true, which is little property damage can cause severe injuries.  Scientific evidence shows low impact collisions can cause serious injuries.  You should contact a car accident attorney for advice.

Q: What if I do not have auto insurance but I am injured in an auto accident, can I assert a claim?

A: Yes but an investigating police officer may issue you a ticket for not having liability insurance.

Q: Should I get medical treatment after a car accident?

A: If you were injured, you should get medical treatment.  Prompt medical attention will maximize your recovery and although injuries at first might be minor, if left untreated, they often develop into larger medical problems. If you delay treatment, the insurance company will take the position you were not seriously injured and decrease the value of your claim.

Q: What happens if I am injured by a “hit and run” driver or a driver who does not have insurance or low insurance limits?

A: You may file a claim under your auto insurance, which is known as an uninsured or underinsured claim (UM/UIM).  This type of insurance should pay your medical bills and lost wages.  

Q: If I assert a UM/UIM claim, will my insurance company automatically pay the claim?

A: No.  Even your own insurance company may assert defenses against the claim including disputing your injuries and medical treatment.  If they do this, you may have a “bad faith” claim against your insurance company.

Q: If my insurance company denies my claim, what can I do?

A: You may be able to file suit and litigate your case against your insurance company.

Q: How much UM/UIM insurance should I purchase?

A: You should buy the highest amount available to offer the most protection if you are involved in auto accident with a “hit and run” driver or driver with no or small amounts of liability insurance.

Q: If I am injured in an auto accident, who will pay for my medical bills?

A: If you have personal injury protection (“PIP”) coverage on your auto insurance policy, PIP can pay for your medical bills and lost wages. This is coverage is usually available regardless who is at fault for the accident.  If you have no PIP coverage, your health insurance can pay for your medical bills.

Q: How much PIP coverage should I get?

A: You should buy the highest amount available to offer the most protection for payment of medical bills or lost wages if you are involved in an auto accident.  

Q: What is my PIP coverage is exhausted and I still owe payment on medical bills?

A: You should contact a car accident attorney, who may be able to stop any collection efforts and arrange for payment of medical services if your case is settled.

Q: Can my health insurance pay for my medical bills?

A: Yes.  However, you may be required to pay back the health insurance company when you settle your claim.  If you have PIP coverage on your auto insurance, you should use this first to pay your medical bills because it usually does not have to be repaid.

Q: What can I expect from an insurance adjuster?

A: An insurance adjuster is not your friend and is not concerned with compensating you for your injuries.  An insurance adjuster is concerned with protecting their negligent driver and paying you as little money as possible to settle the claim.

Q: If an insurance company pays for damage to my car, will they automatically pay for my medical bills and injuries?

A: No because their goal is to pay as little money as possible on the claim.  Also, there may be one insurance adjuster assigned to your property damage and a separate adjuster assigned to deal with your injuries.

Q: Should I give a recorded statement if requested by claims adjuster?

A: There is no requirement that you give a recorded statement.  Remember, the claims adjuster does not represent you or care about your best interests. You should contact an auto accident attorney before giving a recorded statement.

Q: Should I give an insurance company access to my medical records?

A: An insurance company will need medical records and bills that are related to your injury from the accident.  However, you should not sign a medical records authorization because the insurance company could have access to all of your medical records, including information not related to your accident injuries. Insurance companies like to gather all medical records and deny claims based on the arguments that your injuries are from a pre-existing condition and not from the auto accident.

Q: Will an insurance company pay my claim if I write them a letter?

A: No.  Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying claims and the less they pay on the claim, the more money they will make.  Their goal is dealing with a claim is to take advantage of your lack of experience in determining a fair value of the claim and cause frustration on your part so you will accept a low offer or drop the claim.  You should contact a car accident attorney.

Q: What is contributory negligence or comparative responsibility and how does it affect my injury claim?

A: These terms refer to a legal rule that says the value of your claim can be decreased by any negligence on your part.  For example, if a jury finds the auto driver is 80% at fault and you are 20% at fault and you are awarded $100 for your injuries, the Court will reduce this award to $80 because you were 20% negligent. You cannot recover compensation for your negligence and part in causing the accident.

Q: What type of compensation can I recover from an auto accident?

A: You can recover your medical bills, lost wages, future medical care expenses, future loss of earning capacity damages, and compensation for pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, and impairment.

Q: If a person dies from an auto accident, can a claim still be pursued?

A: Yes, under a wrongful death statute a claim can be pursued by spouses, children, and parents of the deceased.

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