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Personal Injury FAQ

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I SHOULD DO AFTER A CAR WRECK?

The first thing you should do following a car accident is to call the police so that an accident report will be prepared so that you can document that you were involved in an accident and so that all of the basic information about the people involved in the accident is recorded. Far too often people involved in an accident do not have a valid driver's license or insurance information. The police have the ability to verify this information at the scene. Unfortunately, the police do not always come to the scene of every accident. Even if the police come to the scene, you should:

  • write down the names, addresses, telephone numbers and driver's license numbers of all of the drivers involved in the accident,
  • write down the license plate of all of the vehicles involved in the accident, especially the license of the vehicle that hit you;
  • write down the name, address, telephone number and policy number of everybody's insurance company
  • write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses. Do not assume that the police will record this information in the police report as they often leave it out;
  • TAKE PICTURES! If you have a camera or a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of anything you think of that is relevant to the case:
    • all of the vehicles involved including photographs of the position of the vehicles on the roadway,
    • the lane markings and roadway itself as streets often change over time due to construction,
    • accident debris,
    • skid marks and even the lack of skid marks,
    • road signs and traffic lights,
    • your visible injuries;
    • the drivers involved in the wreck; and
    • if you suspect that any of the driver's involved in the collision may have been drinking, look for alcohol in the vehicle and take pictures of all of the alcohol containers.

WHAT DO I DO IF I AM INJURED IN A CAR WRECK?

If you are injured in a car wreck, then you should seek medical treatment. If you delay in seeking treatment because you want to tough it out or see if the pain will go away on its own, the insurance company may try to claim that you were never injured because you did not go to the emergency room or because you did not immediately seek treatment with or notify your family doctor or another doctor that you feel comfortable treating you.

DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?

You probably need an attorney. Our legal system has become so complex and convoluted, that unless you hire a qualified, competent lawyer that experienced in handling your type of case that you have, you may lose all of your rights or find that your valid claim will never get paid.

The insurance companies train their adjusters to look for ways to save money by paying you less than you deserve. The insurance companies are not concerned with your well being, and they have no problem in taking advantage of the fact that you may not know your rights or that you operate under the assumption that if you are honest and try to treat the insurance company fairly, that the insurance company will treat you fairly. Unfortunately, the truth is, as far too many people have discovered too late in the process, the insurance companies are not obligated to treat you fairly and they may have led you to believe that they were going to pay you a fair amount for your claim when in fact that is not the case.

While many accident victims decide to handle their own claims because they believe they can get more money without paying an attorney, most people do not know their rights and do not understand the law. As a result, most people do not understand what they must do in order preserve their rights or what they must do just to get paid a fair amount on their claim. Dealing with an insurance company is not only frustrating, it can also be very tricky. By hiring a qualified, and competent attorney you can "level the playing field" to pursue your right to receive fair compensation for your injuries.

WHEN SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY?

It is important to contact an attorney as soon as your are able. A competent and experienced attorney will begin the process of preserving any evidence, obtaining police reports and contacting any witnesses to the accident. If this work is not begun promptly, often the evidence will be forever lost and the value of your case will suffer because of it. We strongly recommend that you hire a competent and qualified attorney before you start to communicate with the insurance companies so that you can understand your rights and the process and get the compensation that you deserve. In addition, although generally the law in Texas gives you a two year period to sue for most injury claims, some cases require that written notice be given within 6 months or even as short as 60 days after the incident, and that if the proper written notice is not given then you lose all of your rights to get compensated even if you file a lawsuit within the 2 year statute of limitations. We strongly recommend that you contact Montes Law Group, L.L.P. as soon as possible after you have been involved in an accident so that your rights are protected.

SHOULD I TALK TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY FOR THE PERSON AT FAULT?

We do not recommend that you communicate directly with the insurance company for the person at fault regarding the facts of your case or the details of your injuries and damages. Frequently, our clients are told that the insurance adjuster for the person who caused the wreck claimed that the insurance company cannot pay the claim unless you give a recorded statement or unless you sign an unlimited medical authorization giving the insurance company the right to spy into your private life over matters that are in no way related to the case. If the adjuster for the party at fault tells you they must have this information the adjuster is not telling you the truth. You have no obligation to contact the insurance company which insures the person who caused the car wreck or to provide them with a recorded statement or an unlimited medical authorization. The reason they want the recorded statement and unlimited medical authorizations is to see if they can get you to say something or if they can find something in your medical records that hurts your case! Remember that the adjuster has been trained to ask very specific questions which may benefit their denial or reduction of your claim, if you do not fully understand the law, you may not understand the question correctly or realize that the questions you are being asked are unfair. We recommend that you contact Montes Law Group, L.L.P. before you speak to any insurance company. We will give you a free consultation in order to assist you at this stage of your claim. As your attorneys, we can review the information and decide what information is appropriate to release to the insurance company in order to fairly compensate you.

SHOULD I CONTACT MY OWN INSURANCE COMPANY EVEN IF I AM NOT AT FAULT?

Yes, you should promptly notify your insurance agent after you have been involved in any motor vehicle accident. In fact, almost every insurance policy expressly requires that you promptly notify the insurance company any time you are involved in an accident so that they can investigate the claim, process your claim or perhaps defend you if the other person tries to claim the accident is your fault. However, we recommend that before you give any type of written or recorded statement to your agent or carrier that you contact our firm to discuss the case to that you will understand your rights.

WHAT IF THE PERSON WHO HIT ME HAS NO INSURANCE OR IF I WAS THE VICTIM OF A HIT AND RUN ACCIDENT?

Although the law requires every driver to have insurance, it is estimated that approximately one out of every four driver's on the road is uninsured. That puts you at a great risk for being in an accident that is not your fault, but where the other driver has no money to pay for your damages. To combat this problem, many cities and even some states are enacting new laws to encourage people to be insured by allowing the police to tow uninsured vehicles that are involved in accidents or that are pulled over for a traffic ticket. Hopefully, this will help the situation, but in the meantime, you need to take action to protect yourself and your family. You need to make sure that your auto insurance has Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This coverage will pay for your damages if you are hit by an uninsured motorist or if you are involved in a hit and run accident. This insurance coverage will help pay for the damage to your vehicle, your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and damages for physical impairment. However, in most cases, you need to understand the insurance policy in order to get your claim paid properly. Since most people have never read their insurance policy or would not understand if they did, it is important that you contact attorneys such as Montes Law Group, L.L.P. who are experienced and qualified to handle these claims.

WHAT IF THE PERSON WHO HIT ME WAS DWI, DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS?

If the police report or witnesses indicate that the driver of the vehicle that caused the car wreck was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then that driver needs to be punished for his grossly negligent conduct. This may also entitle you to recover punitive damages that are designed to punish the drivers who engage in these dangerous behaviors and to discourage others from doing the same. The law makes it very difficult to not only recover these damages, and to collect those damages. If you have a case where someone was driving under the influence of drugs, you need to contact an attorney immediately.

WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS IF THE PERSON WHO HIT ME WAS DRIVING WHILE TLKING ON A CELL PHONE OR SENDING A TEXT MESSAGE OR EMAIL?

Cities all across Texas are beginning to enact city ordinances that prohibit driving while using a cell phone, especially in school zones. These cities have come to realize that driving while using a cell phone is a dangerous activity much like driving while intoxicated. If you are involved in an accident because a driver was using a cell phone, you may also be entitled to recover punitive damages on your case. Contact us to find out your rights.

Among the cities that have enacted such bans or that are considering a ban include Dallas, Southlake, Highland Park, University Park, Denton, Hurst, Flower Mound, Watauga, Irving, Duncanville, Rowlett and Denison. Across the state many other cities and towns have taken similar action, and it is expected that legislature may enact state-wide legislation this session. It should be noted that Texas law bans the use of hand-held cell phones by school bus drivers who are transporting minors and by drivers under 18 for the first six months after they are issued their license. At Montes Law Group, L.L.P. we treat accidents caused by people talking on their cell phone with the same tenacity that we go after drunk drivers. If you have been injured by a motorist who was distracted by talking or texting on a cell phone or pda, call us now.

WHAT IF MY DAMAGES EXCEED THE AMOUNT OF THE INSURANCE OF THE PERSON AT FAULT?

Many drivers carry minimum liability insurance and your claim may exceed the value of these limits. When this occurs the negligent driver's insurance company may offer to settle your case for the amount of the available insurance. This offer should not be accepted until a thorough investigation is completed. Often times, other insurance, such as under-insured motorist coverage can supplement your recovery. We have found many creative ways to help our clients in circumstances where it appeared that the coverage was insufficient. This insurance coverage will help pay for the damage to your vehicle, your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and damages for physical impairment. However, in most cases, you need to understand the insurance policy in order to get your claim paid properly. Since most people have never read their insurance policy or would not understand if they did, it is important that you contact attorneys such as Montes Law Group, L.L.P. who are experienced and qualified to handle these claims.

WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?

The truth is that no lawyer can accurately estimate the value of your case until all facts have been discovered and reviewed. Very often there are facts that you may not consider to be important at all that can have a huge impact on the value of your case. We work hard to get you a fair and reasonable result. If you talk to an attorney or law firm that promises you your case is worth a lot of money, be cautious about that law firm, because legal cases are too complex to evaluate after a short telephone call.

WHAT CAN I DO IF THE PERSON THAT HIT ME IS NOT LICENSED TO DRIVE A VEHICLE?

Just because the person does not have a license does not mean that they are not insured. Some insurance policies exclude coverage for unlicensed drivers while others do not. In addition, often a claim can be made against the owner of the vehicle for negligently entrusting the vehicle to a driver they know or should know is reckless, incompetent, or unlicensed driver.

CAN I HOLD A BUSINESS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NEGLIGENT DRIVING OF A COMPANY DRIVER?

Yes, companies are responsible for the acts of their employees that are committed within the course and scope of the employee's employment.

WHAT CAN I DO IF MY LOVED ONE WAS KILLED IN A WRECK?

You need to contact an experienced, qualified attorney immediately. The law in Texas allows for the spouse, children and parents of a A: Under the Texas Dram Shop Act, if a bar or other establishment that sells alcoholic beverages (1) serves an alcoholic beverage to a person who was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others at the time the beverage is served and (2) the intoxication of the person being served causes damages to another, the bar or other establishment may be held liable for the injuries caused by the intoxicated individual.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY?

Most auto accident lawyers, including our law firm, will take your case on a contingency fee. This means that unless and until you get paid, you do not owe us any attorney's fees, expenses or court costs. Do not hesitate to contact Montes Law Group, L.L.P. to discuss a potential case as the initial consultation is always free.

WHAT IF I NEED MEDICAL TREATMENT, BUT CAN'T AFFORD IT?

Although you have the right to recover the cost of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses from the person responsible for the collision, the insurance company insuring the person responsible for the collision has no obligation to pay for these medical expenses as they are incurred. This can place a severe hardship on an individual with no health insurance, personal injury protection insurance, or medical payments coverage. As a result, some people feel forced to accept a low settlement of their claim in order to pay their medical providers. This does not have to happen. You should contact your doctor or an attorney for advice as to what programs and deferred payment plans may be available to allow you to complete treatment prior to settling your claim.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO SETTLE MY CASE?

All claims are handled individually and on a case-by-case basis. No two cases are exactly alike. In general, the finalization of your claim is determined by your length of treatment and time of rehabilitation. We will proceed promptly with your claim as soon as your doctor(s) have released you from treatment.

If you have been injured and need our law firm on your side - please contact us today for a free, no-risk consultation.


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