El Paso Car Accident Attorneys
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A car accident can change a life in an instant. One moment, you could be traveling to your destination, and the next, you could be facing injuries that will require weeks, months, or even years of recovery, and it's possible you will have to live with them for the rest of your life. On top of it all, you could be left with expenses for medical bills and property damage, and paying for them becomes harder if you're forced to miss work due to your injuries.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car wreck, the skilled El Paso car accident attorneys at Zinda Law Group can offer excellent legal guidance and help protect your rights. Our injury attorneys represent a wide variety of auto accident cases, whether it involves a single car or multi-car accident, hit and run accident, or a collision with an uninsured driver.
You May Be Entitled To Compensation
An injured person may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and damages if that person can prove that the other party is liable for causing the accident. When calculating the amount of compensation to be awarded following a car accident, there are two primary forms of damages: Economic damages and non-economic damages.
Types of Cases We Handle
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Uber Accidents
- Drunk Driving
- Rear-End Accidents
- Rollover Accidents
- Driving While Texting
- Uninsured Driving
- Truck Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Highway Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Hit and Run Accidents
- Wrongful Death
Economic damages are quantifiable costs and expenses resulting from the car accident. In a car accident case, economic damages may include:
- Medical and pharmacy expenses;
- Lost income and wages;
- Future economic losses; and
- Property damage
A general rule of thumb, severe accidents resulting in significant injuries and property damage lead to greater awards of economic damages than relatively minor accidents.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are subjectively evaluated by a jury in a car accident case. Although non-economic damages are harder to quantify than economic damages, this form of damages can be greater in value than economic damages. Types of non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Disfigurement and/or disability;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages are a form of damages that are not intended to restore an injured party. Rather, punitive damages are awarded to punish a wrongdoer. Although punitive damages are not typically awarded in a standard car accident case, punitive damages may be available in instances where the actions of the at-fault party were especially reckless, egregious, or intentional.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim?
A “statute of limitations” can be thought of as a legal time-limit on which a person must pursue a type of claim. If the person does not bring a claim within the relevant statute of limitations, that person is effectively barred from litigating the claim in court.
In Texas, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This includes injuries that are caused by car accidents. This means that a person that is injured in a car accident must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident.
In cases of minor children, the statute of limitations is "tolled," or extended, until the child reaches the age of majority or until the child is legally emancipated. The child then has two years from that date to pursue a claim. However, this applies only to claims that belong to the child and not to claims that belong to the parent. This means that while claims such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring, disfigurement, and physical impairment can be brought by the child, claims such as medical expenses for the child’s injury (which belong to the parents) cannot be brought.
Because the statute of limitations is a very important consideration that must be taken into account when evaluating your claim, it is important to consider seeking the advice of a car accident attorney, especially if you think the statute of limitations period is running out. An attorney can provide you with legal advice regarding the status and viability of your claim.
To learn more about the statute of limitations, view our article, "How Long Do I have to File a Lawsuit After A Car Accident?"
How to File An Auto Accident Claim
If you have been involved in a car wreck and would like to seek compensation, you will likely need to file a car accident claim against the at-fault driver or the driver’s insurance company. Listed below are the steps and components that comprise this process.
1. Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
The first step towards recovering compensation is to contact a car accident lawyer. A lawyer will listen to the facts of your case, including how the accident occurred and the resulting injuries you sustained. The lawyer will then consider these facts and provide valuable legal advice which will outline your best options moving forward.
Because automobile accidents often involve complex legal issues, it is important that you consider consulting with a car accident lawyer before making any settlement decisions. A lawyer will work on your behalf to negotiate with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement offer. If necessary, a lawyer will initiate the formal process of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The investigation phase of the car accident claim process is necessary to strengthen the value of your claim. This stage of the process involves your attorney taking the time to conduct a thorough investigation into the accident, particularly with respect to how it occurred.
The process may require interrogating the at-fault parties, speaking with witnesses to the accident, reviewing important documents, and formulating the best legal strategy for your case. This process also involves accounting for each of your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
3. Case Settlement
During the claim process, it is possible that the at-fault party’s insurance company will attempt to settle your claim. This settlement process will likely involve back-and-forth negotiations between you, your attorney, and the insurance company. During the settlement, your attorney will advocate on your behalf to get the insurance company to pay the full value of your claim. If the insurance company refuses to pay an amount that is fair and just, it may be necessary to litigate your claim in court.
Who is at Fault?
Determining who is at fault after a car accident is critical when it comes to a person’s ability to seek financial compensation. This is because the apportionment of the fault will determine the value of your claim. For example, if the accident was caused entirely and exclusively by the other driver, you may be entitled to full compensation for actual damages that can be proved. However, if you were partially at-fault for the accident, then the value of your claim may decrease. Listed below are the different parties that may be at fault for a car accident.
The Other Driver
If you were involved in a two-car collision, the other driver might be at fault. For instance, if the other driver was texting or ran a stop sign before crashing into you, the other driver can be held liable for causing the accident.
Employer of the Other Driver
If you were struck by a commercial vehicle, the company that owns and operates the vehicle may also be held liable. Under this form of vicarious liability, an agent’s actions are the same as those of the principal who directs the agent. This means that if the employee (agent) is working under the requirement (order) of the employer (principal) his actions are considered as the employer’s. The employer thus becomes the at-fault party.
A car accident can be caused by a pedestrian. For instance, if a person unexpectedly runs onto the road, or jaywalks in an unmarked area of a highway, that person may be held liable if you end up crashing your vehicle.
A carmaker or automobile part manufacturer can also be held liable for a car wreck. For example, if properly maintained brakes on your vehicle suddenly malfunction, the brake manufacturer may be held liable for any resulting injuries and damages.
Remember that it is possible that you may also be partially at fault for an automobile accident. For instance, if you were texting immediately before crashing into a vehicle that was speeding, both parties may be held liable to some extent.
How To Determine Fault
Determining fault requires utilizing key pieces of evidence such as police reports, witness statements, traffic surveillance videos, and other forms of physical evidence. Therefore, it is important to keep a thorough and organized record of all materials relating to your accident and resulting injuries. A personal injury attorney can use this evidence to build a case against the other party.
Determining fault also requires analyzing relevant statutes and traffic laws. A personal injury attorney will vigorously analyze these complex statutes to determine how fault is determined in certain car accident cases. The attorney will then use the evidence to build a case in accordance with the applicable statute.
What To Do After a Car Accident
A car accident is a serious event. Even minor accidents can place a person under a significant amount of stress. It is therefore essential to familiarize yourself with what steps you should take following a car accident. Learning these steps may help alleviate some of the stress that follows an accident.
1.) Seek medical attention
A significant amount of automobile accidents result in immediate injury in one form or another. For instance, the driver of a vehicle that was rear-ended may suffer whiplash, leading to acute neck and back pain. On the other hand, some car accidents result in a delayed injury. For example, the victim of a car accident may have sustained a spinal injury that did not manifest until hours or days after the collision.
Because both immediate and delayed injuries are prevalent in car accidents, it is critical that you seek medical attention as soon as possible following a wreck. Seeking prompt medical attention will allow your injuries to be properly treated, thereby putting you in a better position to recover as quickly as possible.
2.) File a police report
Another important step to take following a car accident is to report the accident to the police. This is especially true for car accidents that resulted in substantial vehicular damage or severe physical injury.
A police officer will draft an accident report which will give you the opportunity to disclose all important details relating to the accident and how it occurred. Because a formal police report will serve as an official record of the accident, the report may prove to be very helpful in eventually strengthening the value of your claim.
3.) Document the Accident
A critical step to take following any car accident is to “document the accident” by maintaining an organized, running file of every document relating to the car accident. This file should include important documents and materials such as:
- A copy of the police report;
- Copies of your medical bills,
- Photographs of the damage to your car;
- Photographs of your physical injuries;
- Car repair estimates; and
- Copies of witness statements, if applicable
Documenting these materials can be used as evidence to strengthen the value of your claim.
4.) Contact a Car Accident Attorney
Your final step following a car accident should be to contact a car accident attorney. In addition to providing valuable legal advice, an attorney will be able to utilize valuable resources which may strengthen the value and legitimacy of your claim. An attorney will be able to fiercely negotiate with insurance companies to prevent them from paying less than what your claim is worth. Finally, should your case go to court, an attorney will advocate on your behalf to seek fair and just compensation for your injuries and damages.
Preserve Your Case
Many motor vehicle injury and fatality cases in El Paso are caused by the carelessness of another driver. A driver might follow another vehicle too closely, fail to yield the right-of-way, or be distracted, drowsy, drunk, high, or otherwise negligent.
Our car accident lawyers conduct a full investigation of the facts, witnesses, and evidence for the car crash. When necessary, we'll utilize the services of accident reconstruction and medical experts. We will seek to prove negligence on the part of the other driver so that we can seek the full and fair compensation you deserve as a victim.
We Seek Maximum Compensation for Our Clients
When we take on your car accident case, we immediately begin seeking the maximum compensation that the law allows. You could be eligible for compensation for many aspects of your accident. Some of the common damages include:
- Past and future lost wages
- Past and future medical bills
- Any permanent disfigurement or disability
- Vehicle damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Funeral and burial costs in the event of a wrongful death
Our El Paso car accident attorneys offer personalized legal help and will seek compensation for all the ways the accident cost you as a victim. Our lawyers are also skilled at negotiating with representatives from even the most profit-driven insurance companies and will try to get you the best settlement possible. If we can't get a fair settlement offer, we are ready and prepared to fight for your rights in court.
El Paso Car Accident Laws
Reporting the Accident
According to Texas law, the driver of any vehicle that is involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person, or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be safely driven from the scene, must immediately report the accident to the local police department or to the local sheriff's office. If the accident is not investigated by local law enforcement, the driver is expected to file a Crash Report, Form CR-2 within ten days of the accident.
Further, it is recommended that you exchange the personal, vehicle, and insurance information with the other drivers, and get the names and contact info for any witnesses.
Because Texas is a "fault" car insurance state, you are allowed to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This means that every driver can be held liable for any damages he causes in a car accident. Many individuals cover this by purchasing liability insurance with at least the following minimum limits:
- $30,000 for each injured person;
- $60,000 total for injuries per incident;
- $25,000 for property damage
However, it is important to remember that a driver can be sued for expenses beyond these minimums covered by insurance.
Modified Comparative Fault
In Texas, the modified comparative fault rule applies in cases where an injured person may have actually contributed in some way to their accident. In general, this rule allows victims who do contribute to their own accidents to recover at least some compensation from the party who is more at fault.
Texas’ modified comparative fault rule follows a 51% bar rule. This means that an injured victim will not be allowed to recover compensation if they are found to be 51% or more at fault for causing a car accident. This also means that when victims are found to be 50% or less at fault for contributing to an accident, their recovery will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, if a victim was found to be 20% at fault for an accident, and the other driver 80% at fault, the victim’s recovery would be reduced by 20%.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a lawyer charge after a car crash in El Paso?
Most car accident attorneys charge on a “contingency fee” basis. A contingency fee means that the firm will not get paid any attorney’s fees unless you recover money in your case. The lawyer will get paid a percentage of money received from any car insurance settlement or jury verdict. The actual percentage involved in a contingency fee agreement varies, but a typical range is 25 to 40 percent. For example, if you agree to a 25% contingency fee arrangement and ultimately recover $100,000.00 in your car accident case, your attorney will receive around $25,000.00.
How much do you get for pain and suffering in a car accident?
There is no hard and fast rule for calculating a person’s pain and suffering. Typically, the amount is calculated using a “multiplier” method. This method consists of multiplying the plaintiff's actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) by a certain number (generally between 1 and 5. The more severe the accident, the higher the multiplier number will be. So, for instance, if a car accident victim incurs $5,000.00 in medical bills related to a neck injury, he might multiply that by three, and conclude that $15,000.00 represents a reasonable amount for pain and suffering.
What is the average settlement for a car accident?
The amount of compensation received after being involved in a car accident will vary from case to case. The exact settlement amount will depend on a combination of important factors such as type of injuries sustained, medical bills incurred, property damage, missed time from work, age, driving history, and emotional trauma. In general, the more extensive your injuries and property damage, the higher the possible settlement amount.
Get Help From Our El Paso Car Accident Attorneys Today
Our experienced car accident lawyers have handed more than 1,500 car accident cases and can seek the best outcome for your case. Our car injury attorneys can help you investigate the accident, establish negligence, negotiate with the insurance companies, and seek compensation for all the ways the accident cost you as a victim. Our firm also operates on a contingency basis, which means if we don’t win your case, you won't owe us a dime.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.