Category: Personal Injury

Can You Sue for a Car Accident If You Are Not Hurt?

Can You Sue for a Car Accident If You Are Not Hurt?

Although it might surprise you to learn, you can sue for a car accident if you are not hurt. But in many cases, you will not need to file a lawsuit to recover your damages. The time, effort, and money put into a lawsuit will not justify the damages you recover in these situations.

There are a few narrow circumstances in which you might file a lawsuit without an injury. The decision to file a lawsuit over damaged property will depend on the property in question and the at-fault driver’s assets.

Here is some information about the situations in which you might sue for a car accident, even if you weren’t hurt.

How Car Insurance Works

Car insurance in California includes bodily injury liability (BIL)  insurance and property damage liability (PDL) insurance.

Bodily Injury Insurance

In California, bodily injury liability insurance covers people injured in an accident caused by the insured party. After a car accident in California, all of the accident victims file a claim against the at-fault driver’s BIL policy.

The insurer investigates who caused the accident. As a result, the accident victims may find themselves searching for an “auto accident lawyer near me” early in the claim process because everything hinges on proving liability for the accident.

Property Damage Insurance

Every state requires property damage liability (PDL) insurance. The limits of these policies vary from state to state. For example, California requires every registered vehicle owner to carry at least $5,000 in PDL insurance.

PDL insurance pays for the cost to repair or replace property damaged by the insured. In most cases, the damaged property will consist of a vehicle. But PDL also covers the repair or replacement of your fence or tree if a negligent driver hits it.

You rarely need to search for a “car accident lawyer near me” for property damage only (PDO) accidents. Instead, you will file a damage claim against the driver’s PDL insurance.

How Much Can Someone Sue for in a Car Accident?

Your damages for property damage include the cost of repairing or replacing the property. For example, you may find yourself wondering, “Someone totaled my car. Can I sue?” In short, you can. However, you’ll usually start by filing an insurance claim.

When you file an insurance claim for property damage, the claims adjuster will:

  • Inspect the damage
  • Collect repair estimates
  • Set a value for your vehicle
  • Offer a damage settlement

Even if your car gets totaled, the at-fault driver’s insurer can estimate its replacement value. Because the adjuster bases the estimate on objective sources like Blue Book values, you can usually negotiate a fair payout without filing a lawsuit.

When Could You Sue for a Car Accident Without Getting Hurt?

Occasionally, you might sue for a car accident without getting hurt. This usually happens because something has gone wrong with the insurance claim process.

Some scenarios where you might sue rather than settle include:

You Were Hit By an Uninsured Driver

If the person who hit you did not have insurance, you must negotiate compensation with the driver. In many cases, you will need the extra leverage of a lawsuit to get the at-fault driver to pay your damages.

Your Damage Exceeds the Policy Limits

If the value of your property exceeds the at-fault driver’s PDL limits, you may need to file a lawsuit to make up the difference. This can happen if you have:

  • Expensive property
  • Vintage property
  • Custom property

Bear in mind that this situation could happen even if you do not drive a Lamborghini. A van customized to include a wheelchair lift could easily exceed California’s PDL minimum of $5,000.

Claiming Compensation Without an Injury

Most injury lawyers will help clients file a PDL claim along with a BIL claim. If the case does not settle, the injury lawyer will include the property damage in the injury lawsuit.

But fewer lawyers are willing to act as your auto accident lawyer without an injury. The damages in these cases rarely justify the lawyer’s fee. Instead, you will often receive a better outcome by negotiating with the at-fault driver’s insurer.

How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth in Boston Massachusetts?

How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth in Massachusetts?

Many factors impact how much you can recover from a personal injury claim. Some are statutory factors that apply in every case; others are case-specific.

Understanding the types of damages available in a Massachusetts personal injury case can help you determine your case’s value.

Types of Damages Awarded in Personal Injury Cases

Generally, you can receive three types of damages when another party causes you injury: economic, non-economic, and punitive. These damages are typically available in all injury cases, including fatal car accidents, medical malpractice, product liability claims, slip and fall accidents, and more.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are divided into two categories.

Special damages, or “economic damages,” represent an injury victim’s financial losses and out-of-pocket expenses related to an accident and injury. 

Examples of economic damages include:

  • Medical bills
  • Therapy expenses
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
  • Loss of income, including a reduction in earning potential

An injury victim proves the value of these damages through receipts, invoices, bills, and pay stubs. Future financial losses are also available in a personal injury claim, including ongoing medical care and future lost income. Medical experts and economists often assist in estimating future financial damages.

General damages, or “non-economic damages,” represent the pain and suffering an accident victim experiences because of an injury or accident. 

Examples of general damages include:

  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Mental anguish and trauma
  • Emotional distress 
  • Psychological injuries, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD
  • Scarring, disfigurement, and permanent impairments or disabilities
  • Decreases in quality of life and enjoyment of life

Non-economic damages are subjective and therefore more difficult to calculate. There is not a statutory formula for valuing pain and suffering. 

Many personal injury lawyers, insurance providers, and juries use the multiplier method to value non-economic damages. Parties assign a number between 1.5 and five to a victim’s case based on the severity of their injuries and other factors. Then, the parties multiply that number by the total amount of economic damages to arrive at a value for pain and suffering losses.

Punitive Damages

These damages are unique as they are not compensatory in nature. Instead, punitive damages “punish” the at-fault party for egregious wrongdoing, such as wanton, willful conduct taken without regard for others’ safety. 

Factors That Impact the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim in Massachusetts

Common factors that impact how much money a personal injury claim is worth are:

Damages Caps

Some states limit the amount of money a victim may receive for non-economic damages. Massachusetts does not cap non-economic damages, except in medical malpractice cases. 

According to MGLA 231 §60H, there is a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in actions against health care providers. 

There is an exception to the rule. The jury may award a higher amount for non-economic damages if the jury finds that there is:

  • Substantial disfigurement
  • Substantial or permanent impairment of a bodily function
  • Other special circumstances that warrant a higher amount for general damages

The jury must find that the imposition of a cap would deprive the victim of just compensation for the injuries incurred.

Comparative Negligence

You must prove that the other party was at fault for the cause of your injury to recover injury-related damages. However, suppose you were partially responsible for the cause of your injury. In this case, Massachusetts’s comparative negligence law will reduce your damages to account for your share of the blame.

However, if you were 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of your injury, you could not recover any money for your damages. This rule is known as a “51% bar.”

Severity of Injuries

Generally, cases involving catastrophic injuries or permanent impairments are worth more than cases involving minor injuries. There are several reasons for this trend.

First, it costs more to treat and care for catastrophic injuries. If a person has a disability, they may require ongoing medical treatment and 24/7 personal care. 

Second, a person with a traumatic injury typically loses more time from work, which increases the amount of lost income. Permanent impairments can significantly reduce the person’s ability to earn an income in the future.

Third, it is generally presumed that a person suffers more when they sustain severe injuries. Therefore, the pain and suffering damages are likely to be higher in these cases.

Your Case Is Unique, So Don’t Base It on Another Case

Other factors could impact the value of your case, such as:

  • The availability of insurance coverage
  • The parties involved in the case
  • The statute of limitations
  • The willingness of insurance providers and other parties to negotiate in good faith

You should consider seeking legal counsel before settling a claim on your own. Most settlement agreements contain waivers of future liability. You cannot demand more money after settling the claim — even if you discover additional damages.

Knowing how much your personal injury claim is worth is essential to protect your best interest.

7 Tips for Finding the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Texas

7 Tips for Finding the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Texas

After an accident in Texas, you’ll only have one opportunity to seek compensation for your financial costs, physical trauma, and emotional suffering. Ultimately, choosing a personal injury lawyer to represent you will be one of the most important decisions you make. In fact, your choice of attorney can make or break your case. It can impact how much money you win – or if your case is even a success, at all.

But how do you find the best personal injury lawyer to help you? It can be more difficult than it should be. Law firms advertise on TV, billboards, and the radio. They spend tons of money on marketing to get their law firm websites to rank high on Google search results. They might bombard you with information – but not necessarily the information you need to pick a lawyer.

So, here’s what you really need to know about finding the best personal injury lawyer in Texas. 

First – Understand the Lawyer’s Role in Your Life After an Accident

First - Understand the Lawyer’s Role in Your Life After an Accident

Before you hire a lawyer, you need to understand what an attorney does in your case. Lawyers perform a few vital functions

Here are some of the most important ones:

Provide Legal Advice and Counsel

As a legal adviser and counselor, your lawyer should provide you with clear explanations of the law. The lawyer should provide an objective evaluation of your case. This includes telling you about any problems in your case and the risk that you might lose.

A lawyer helps you to make decisions by presenting the pros and cons of each legal strategy. A good lawyer also accounts for non-legal matters, including financial and familial considerations, when providing advice and counsel.

Represent Your Interests

A lawyer speaks for you when negotiating with claims adjusters. The lawyer acts on your behalf and in your best interests. The lawyer must also satisfy their ethical duties by dealing fairly and honestly with opposing parties and the court.

Advocate for Your Legal Rights

The lawyer uses the knowledge and experience gained through their practice to formulate the best possible legal arguments to support your position. They seek to obtain the best possible outcome for your case within the bounds of the law and ethical rules.

Provide Support and Guidance During a Tough Time

Your lawyer should do more than handle the technical and legal aspects of your case. Your lawyer should be able to provide support, guidance, and a true sense of comfort to you as you navigate the challenges of your post-accident life. 

Their job isn’t just to help you win a legal dispute – their job is to help you move forward and work toward rebuilding your life. An attorney who is genuinely empathetic and caring about your situation will work that much harder to get the best results for your case.

Strategies For Finding the Best Lawyer For Your Personal Injury Case

Finding the best lawyer means finding the right one for you and your case. Lawyers have different skills, experiences, and personalities. The best lawyer for one case might not provide the right fit for another case.


1. Use Online Reviews as Guidance

Use Online Reviews as Guidance

Online reviews can provide a lot of great information about attorneys and law firms. You can get a sense of how former clients felt about their experiences and identify potential issues that might not make that particular lawyer the best fit for you. 

But, reviews should be considered with a grain of salt. They might not always provide a reliable assessment of a lawyer’s skills. Opposing parties can manipulate online reviews after losing a case. Dissatisfied clients are more likely to submit negative reviews than satisfied clients are to submit positive reviews. As a result, a lawyer’s online reviews might present a skewed view.

Instead of looking at online reviews, look at the lawyer’s ratings from legal directories like AVVO and Martindale-Hubbell. These publications use algorithms based on surveys of colleagues and clients, as well as objective records such as court verdicts and disciplinary histories. 

Houston personal injury lawyer online profile AVVO

These ratings can provide a more reliable summary of a lawyer’s background, skill, and ethics than online reviews.

Another great place to look for reviews is on the attorney’s Google My Business listing. To do this, just go to their map’s listing and from there you can see their reviews.

Also, look closely at how the attorney responds to any negative reviews. That says a lot about how much they value their clients’ feedback.

This is the maps listing from Brian White, a personal injury attorney in Houston, TX.


2. Look for Experience – Especially With Cases Like Yours

Look for Experience - Especially With Cases Like Yours

Experience matters. The more experience an attorney has, the better they’ll understand the laws and procedures related to your case. It’s not just overall experience that matters, either. Consider how much experience an attorney has handling cases like yours.

In Texas, different types of personal injury cases can be subject to different rules and laws. Some of these areas of law are quite complicated – like workers’ compensation or medical negligence. Having an attorney who not only has experience with these types of claims, but who specializes in them, can offer you a huge advantage. 

They’ll already have tackled the learning curve, know the parties who are regularly involved in these types of disputes, and have developed strategies to help their clients win.


3. Research Disciplinary Histories

Research Disciplinary Histories State Bar of Texas

Before you meet with a lawyer, find out whether the State Bar of Texas has any record of disciplinary action for them. Lawyers must follow the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct in their practices. When they violate a rule, the state bar can sanction the lawyer with a censure, suspension, or disbarment.

Prior run-ins with the state bar are a red flag. Ethical violations can put your case at risk. You also need to know if the state bar has suspended or disbarred them. If the lawyer is currently under suspension or disbarred, they cannot practice law.


4. Schedule a Free Consultation – and Take Advantage of the Time to Learn About the Lawyer

Most injury lawyers offer free consultations. This isn’t just an opportunity for them to learn about and assess your case. It’s an opportunity for you to ask questions and learn about the attorney.

Ask them about their experience. Ask them if they have handled cases like yours. Ask them about their approach – and who at the firm would be handling your case if you hired them. 

What does your gut tell you about the attorney? Would you feel comfortable confiding in them and being honest about every aspect of your case? Do you think your personalities would get along well? 

Don’t underestimate these things. Trust your instincts.


5. Talk About Fees

Attorney fees can create friction between lawyers and clients. Avoid this issue by discussing fees during the free consultation. 

Most personal injury lawyers in Texas work on a contingency fee basis. You only have to pay them if they win your case. Typically, their percentage will probably fall anywhere between 33% and 40% of your award. But, it’s really more involved than that. 

Make sure you ask questions about how case-related expenses will be handled. Ask if the attorney’s fee be calculated before or after those are factored into the equation. Whether or not the attorney’s fee will be determined using the gross recovery or net award can have a sizable impact on how much money you’re ultimately awarded when your case is over.

You can also look for warning flags like vague answers to your questions about fees and costs.


6. Ask About the Merits of Your Case

Ask About the Merits of Your Houston Personal Injury Lawyer

At an initial consultation, most lawyers will give you a preliminary assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. A lawyer might even provide an estimate of the compensation you could expect to receive for your injuries.

This conversation can help you to set your expectations for your case. It also gives you a chance to assess the lawyer’s logic and communication skills. You do not want a lawyer who cannot communicate clearly. If you cannot follow the lawyer’s explanation about your case, a claims adjuster or juror might also be unable to follow the lawyer’s logic.


7. Consider Past Results

Past results won’t guarantee future success. But, it’s important to consider an attorney’s ability to win compensation for their clients. 

What kind of results can they show you? Do they seem to have a demonstrated ability to win? Does it appear that they are eager to settle or can they show that they’re willing to take cases the distance to trial, when necessary? 

Results – above and beyond the amounts recovered – can tell you a lot about a lawyer. 


Making the Decision to Hire an Attorney After an Accident in Texas

If you have the time, think about your options. After you find a lawyer you like, contact their law office to hire them. The lawyer will have a fee agreement that you will need to review and sign. You will also need to sign a HIPAA release so your doctors can provide medical records to the lawyer.

Once the lawyer has your written consent to represent you, they can get started on recovering fair compensation for your injuries.