Should I Accept a Settlement Offer or File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident In Texas?
Houston car accident lawyers explain legal options available to injury victims
Expenses associated with a car accident in Texas can add up fast. From medical bills to vehicle repairs and lost income, it doesn’t take long for car accident expenses to quickly add up to thousands of dollars or significantly more.
This is why it’s important for injury victims to understand how the compensation process works for car accidents in Texas. Otherwise, you might not get the money you deserve and could be forced to pay for your accident out of your own pocket.
In general, car accident injury victims in Texas have two options to pay for their accident – accept a settlement offer or file a lawsuit seeking damages. Which approach is the best one? Should you accept a settlement offer or take legal action? Our Houston car accident lawyers at Smith & Hassler Attorneys at Law explain the pros and cons of both choices.
What is a car accident settlement?
A car accident settlement is a one-time payment designed to resolve your car accident claim. A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract between two parties: the person injured in the accident and the at-fault driver (and, by extension, their insurance company). You accept a certain amount of money in exchange for giving up your right to sue for damages in the future.
This might seem straightforward. However, there’s often a great deal of debate before a settlement offer is made and a settlement agreement is finalized and approved. Insurance companies often do everything they can to avoid paying injury victims the settlement they rightfully deserve.
What is a good settlement offer? What expenses should a settlement offer include?
The short answer is your settlement offer should cover all your car accident expenses, now and in the future. Such expenses can cover a wide range, including:
- Cost of all medical treatment, including emergency medical care, diagnostic medical tests, hospital fees, follow-up doctor’s appointments, and future surgical procedures.
- Replacement income if you cannot work while you are recovering from your car accident injury.
- Lost future income if you cannot work in the future due to a permanent disability sustained in the accident.
- Pain and suffering (in some cases).
As such, the size of a “good” settlement offer depends on the nature of your injuries and the effects they have had on your life. It may also be affected by the amount of available insurance coverage. Ultimately, only an attorney can tell you how to evaluate a settlement offer—and help you decide what to do with it.
What should I do if I receive a settlement offer? Should I accept it?
Here’s the first thing you need to know: once you accept a settlement offer, that’s it. Your case is settled, and you can’t go back for more money, even if your expenses turn out to be much higher than you deserve. And remember, the cost of your accident may turn out to be significantly higher than it first appears, especially if you may need future surgery or other medical treatment.
Here’s the second thing you need to know: you can ask for more money. Even if the insurance company says or implies it’s their best offer, settlements are negotiable. And you also have the option of filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to put more pressure on the insurance company.
So which approach should you pursue? Again, it depends. That’s why you need an experienced Texas car accident lawyer to explain your options and advise what is in your interests.
Pros and cons of accepting a settlement offer
There are two main reasons to accept a settlement. First, you get paid right away, and second, you avoid litigation. Accepting a settlement means resolving your claim and moving forward without having to go to court.
The downside is that you may be leaving a significant amount of money on the table. Insurance companies are notorious for “lowballing” car accident victims to try to resolve claims before the full cost of the accident becomes known. This can cost you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances.
Your other option is to file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Remember, just because you file a lawsuit doesn’t mean you’ll have to go to trial. Often, filing a lawsuit is what it takes to put pressure on the insurance company to make a better settlement offer. You can still reach a settlement at any stage in the process, even on the eve of trial.
Why should I hire a Houston car accident attorney?
The stakes are high after a serious car accident in Texas. Depending on the severity of your injuries, the length of your recovery, and other factors, your accident-related expenses can easily add up to many thousands of dollars or significantly more.
If another driver clearly caused your collision, you should be financially compensation for all your accident expenses. That’s the law in Texas, and that’s how the system should work. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. That’s why you often have to fight for every dollar you rightfully deserve.
Our results-driven Houston car accident lawyers at Smith & Hassler Attorneys at Law can help you every step of the way. We have years of experience successfully resolving complex legal cases on behalf of car accident injury victims throughout Texas. As a result, we have an in-depth understanding of how the legal system works in the Lone Star State.
Get the Texas law firm that means business. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a Houston car accident attorney who aggressively advocates for injury victims. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only have to pay us if we secure a financial settlement or verdict for your case.
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