Auto Accident FAQs
I have been in an accident, what do I do?
- If you are injured or think you may be injured, seek medical attention immediately,
- Call the police to the scene or file an accident report explaining the accident,
- Get the other drivers:
- Drivers License number,
- License plate, and
- Insurance Information (insurer, policy number, the name of the insured, dates of coverage).
- Contact the Merman Law Firm at 713-351-0679 or fill out the online form,
- Do not give any statements to the other driver’s insurance company,
- Your attorney will need:
- The name of the investigating police force, the police report, and/or a copy of the accident report
- The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all the doctors you see after the accident (you can find this information on your invoice from the doctor, or you can get a business card from your doctor to your appointment).
- Be sure to keep track of all of your losses, including:
- Lost time from work,
- Mileage to and from doctor appointments,
- Prescription bills,
- Rental car contract and invoices, and
- The dates and times of all of your doctor's appointments.
I am hurt and I don’t have money for a doctor, what do I do?
Call the Merman Law Firm. We will do everything we can to help you. In most cases, we will be able to help you find doctors and specialists to treat you for your injuries. Our staff will work to find doctors in your area that specialize in the treatment you need, help you set up appointments, and make arrangements to defer billing until your case is concluded.
The most important thing is your health. There is an old saying, “you have lots of problems until you have a health problem, then you only have one problem.”
What about my car?
The Merman Law Firm will help you resolve your property damage claim with the other driver’s insurance, or your insurance if you have full coverage and choose to go that way. We typically do not take a fee on property damage cases unless we file suit because we do not want to leave you short on your repairs. So, we assist you with the process and confirm that the offer you are receiving is fair.
Do I have a case?
As you can imagine, there is a lot that can affect whether you have a case or not. Any negligence case, whether it is a car accident, defective product or industrial accident has the same basic elements:
Duty: Did the person accused of negligence have a duty to act a certain way? Sometimes the answer is logical and easy, but not always. With car wrecks, there are laws that prescribe a duty on motorists. Each driver has duties imposed by law to stop at red lights, to follow at a safe distance, and to control your car, to name a few. There are duties that are imposed through common-law (rules based on Court interpretations of duty), also. In the context of a car accident, every person has a duty to operate their vehicle as a reasonably prudent driver. Every driver owes duties to the other motorists and pedestrians on the road.
Breach: Did the person accused of negligence breach a duty owed to you, the injured person and is the breach excused for some reason? If someone rear-ends you at a stop light, they have breached the duty to control their car (a law) and the duty to operate their car in a reasonably prudent manner, to name a couple. In every car accident case, the injured person is required to prove that the person accused breached a duty owed to the injured person.
Causation: Did the breach of a duty cause harm or damage? This is actually a more complicated issue than it appears on its face. If you are stopped in traffic and someone hits you and you are injured, clearly that person caused your injury. But what if your back was hurting before, did the wreck cause your damage? Did it exacerbate your injury? Usually, the answer is discoverable, but you may need the help of a lawyer to do it.
One potentially confusing component of causation is foreseeability. The law requires that a person accused of negligence could have anticipated the general character of the damage he caused in order to be legally responsible, or negligent. Usually, harm resulting from negligent conduct is foreseeable. Often, if the wrongdoer has an attorney, causation becomes far less simple. You need to make sure you have an attorney that knows the law and can protect your interests.
Damages: The final element of negligence is damages. In order to have a negligence claim, you must have suffered some damages that are recognized under the law. If someone runs a red light but does not hit anyone, they have broken the law, but they are not liable in civil court. Some damages are intuitive, like medical bills and repair bills. Some damages are less intuitive, like impairment, disfigurement, and loss of use. In almost every case, it is in the client’s best interest to have a lawyer that understands legal damages and can make the client’s case for her.
Timeliness: The law prescribes a certain time period to bring your case. In most situations, you have (in Texas) two years from the date of the injury to bring your case. If your case is filed two years and one day after the date of the injury, without some reason the time limit should be extended, or “tolled,” then there is no case. There are exceptions – for example, in some cases, the time limits on a minor (under 18) client’s case does not start until they turn eighteen. If the injury was not discoverable, there may be extensions of time until the point where a reasonable person would have discovered the injury. Each situation depends heavily on the facts and should be evaluated by a competent attorney.
What is the process/how long will this take?
First, we need to develop all of the evidence required to get your case settled or ready to file. There are two main components of any case – 1. Liability (did someone do something wrong) and 2. Damages (did the thing they did wrong hurt you).
To establish liability, we collect the evidence of who was at fault (hopefully not you!). If someone’s negligence caused your injury, it will be our burden to prove it. Usually, the police report gives us a head start in that task, although the findings of the officer are only sometimes admissible in Court. The circumstances of the accident also tell us a lot. If you were rear-ended on the highway during rush hour traffic, chances are the person behind you was not paying attention and caused the accident. Sometimes it can be more complicated and we retain an accident reconstruction expert. Each case is different; the best course of action is to hire the best car accident lawyer in Houston you can find. A top car accident lawyer can determine the best course of action and execute the plan in a cost-effective way.
If you were injured, you will need to go to the doctor.