Houston Car Accident Lawyer Fighting For Justice For Injured Victims
It can happen to you in the blink of an eye, without any warning whatsoever. You’re in a car accident and you are severely injured. If this happens to you, you must seek medical treatment at once, and then you’ll need reliable legal advice and guidance.
If you drive in the State of Texas, there will be a great deal to learn and understand if you are injured in a car accident. For starters, you will need to discuss your legal rights and options with the right Houston car accident attorney. Your options may include filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
A serious car accident, especially if you are injured, can turn your life upside-down, devastate your family, wreck your finances, and ruin your future. After a car accident injury, your health and your long-term best interests may depend on choosing the right Texas car accident attorney.
Why Hire The McNeal Law Firm?
If you’ve been injured by a negligent motorist, call the Houston-based The McNeal Law Firm immediately at (832) 819-3281 and schedule a legal consultation with attorney David McNeal. The McNeal Law Firm will fight aggressively and effectively for the compensation you need to pay your medical bills, replace your lost wages, and cover your other injury-related losses.
If a negligent driver injures you, attorney David McNeal will hold that driver accountable. He will review what happened, give you honest and sound legal advice, and work aggressively and effectively to acquire the full compensation amount that you are entitled to by Texas law.
Keep reading, and you’ll find plenty of important information here that applies to car accidents in Texas and the injured victims of negligence in those accidents.
Some of your questions will be answered as you read, but every case is different and every auto accident injury victim is unique, so if you have been injured, after you’ve read the following information, get the personalized legal advice you need by contacting The McNeal Law Firm.
What Should You Know About Auto Insurance and Liability in Texas?
Knowing the Texas auto insurance rules is essential to understanding any car accident case. Your auto insurance protects you from personal injury lawsuits by paying the other driver’s medical bills if you cause an accident. Texas law requires motorists to carry at least $30,000 of automobile insurance coverage for injuries per person, up to a total of $60,000 of coverage per accident, and $25,000 of coverage for property damage. This is called 30/60/25 coverage.
Every driver in Texas should consider purchasing additional auto insurance coverage. The minimum liability limits might be too low if you cause a multi-vehicle accident or if the other driver’s vehicle is totaled. If you do not have enough liability coverage to pay for the damages and injuries you cause, you might have to pay out of your own pocket, and the other driver could file a personal injury lawsuit and identify you as the defendant.
If you are injured in an auto accident because another driver was negligent, the other driver’s insurance company may offer you a settlement – even before you know the full extent of your injuries or you’ve had the chance to speak with a Houston auto accident attorney. You should reject that offer. If you accept a first settlement offer after a car accident, you lose your right to take further legal action or to seek additional compensation should you require it in the future.
Dealing With an Auto Insurance Company – “Loose Lips Sink Ships”
If you are injured in any car accident in or near the Houston area because another driver was negligent – or even if you are not sure whether the other driver was negligent – do not even speak to that driver’s insurance company. Remember – “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” Do not make any formal or recorded statement to the insurance company.
Why? Because anything you say to the insurance company could be twisted and used against you to deny your compensation or even to shift the fault for the accident onto you. After you’re injured in a car wreck, your first priority is seeking medical attention, but once you’ve been seen and examined, your next priority is finding the right legal help.
Refer all questions and inquiries from the other driver’s insurance company to your accident lawyer, and reject any quick settlement offer. Houston accident attorney David McNeal will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf for a substantially more generous settlement.
How Is Liability Determined After a Texas Car Accident?
Personal injury and negligence laws are quite complicated in Texas, but these laws are based on simple common sense. Texas makes the negligent drivers who cause car accidents pay for the injuries and damages they are responsible for. “Which driver was at fault?” is the first question that must be asked after a car accident.
The fault for an automobile accident cannot be accurately assigned until the evidence has been gathered and scrutinized carefully. Insurance companies and accident attorneys make several standard presumptions about fault when they investigate automobile accidents.
If another motorist “rear-ends” your car, for example, that driver is presumed to be at-fault, because drivers are supposed to be able to stop a vehicle safely in any driving situation. Another presumption made by attorneys and car insurance companies is that drivers who are turning left into an intersection are responsible for collisions with vehicles that are moving straight through the intersection.
Of course, there are a number of exceptions to these presumptions. If the driver who was crossing an intersection was also running a stop sign, running a red light, or speeding when the other driver was making a left turn, both motorists may be considered at-fault, and modified comparative negligence – which is explained below – will apply.
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
If the other driver was entirely at fault for your car accident, Texas law requires that driver to compensate you for your medical bills, your lost wages, and for the other losses that you have suffered. But what happens if you were, yourself, partially at fault for the same car accident?
Texas is a “modified comparative fault” auto insurance state. Under this system, when a dollar figure for your damages has been determined, the share of your responsibility for the accident is then assessed. If you were 30 percent at fault and the other driver was 70 percent at fault, and if your damages amounted to $100,000, that amount would be reduced by 30 percent to $70,000.
How Does Modified Comparative Fault Apply in an Accident?
Here’s an example. Let’s say that one of your headlights is out while you’re driving outside of Houston on a two-lane highway. That’s when an intoxicated driver crosses the center line and crashes into your car head-on while speeding at 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
A jury might decide that your broken headlight made you 20 percent responsible for the accident, and if your damages amounted to $500,000, that amount would be reduced by 20 percent to $400,000.
“Modified comparative fault” in Texas applies only when an accident victim is no more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If you are found to have more than 50 percent of the fault for an accident, the State of Texas bars you from recovering any damages or compensation whatsoever.
What Are the Leading Causes of Car Crashes? Can They Be Avoided?
What are the leading causes of car accidents in this state? Negligence is almost always the root cause of an automobile accident. If neither motorist was negligent and there’s an accident, negligence may still be assigned to:
- A mechanic or repair shop that did faulty repair work on one of the vehicles
- A vehicle or parts manufacturer for putting a defective product on the road
- A government agency for a poorly-designed or poorly maintained roadway
“Vicarious negligence” is the legal principle that can extend the liability for an accident to an employer who hired an irresponsible or unlicensed driver or to a car owner who has allowed an irresponsible or unlicensed driver to operate the car.
Almost every automobile accident in Texas is the result of some type of negligence: distracted driving, driving while fatigued, aggressive driving, or driving while intoxicated.
Can Distracted Driving – And Distracted Drivers – Be Avoided?
Do not try multitasking while you are behind the wheel. Driving requires your complete and absolute attention. Whatever takes your attention away from driving, even for a moment, could cause a serious car accident. Currently, cell phones are the leading driving distraction. One research study determined that texting while driving quadruples your chances of an accident.
Of course, phones are not the only distractions for drivers in Texas. Otherwise harmless tasks like grooming, eating, handling kids and pets, or just daydreaming can all become dangerous driving distractions. Commit yourself to eliminating distractions entirely while you drive.
If you are injured by a distracted driver in the Houston area or anywhere in the state, you are entitled by law to compensation for your medical treatment, your lost wages, your personal pain and suffering, and your other accident-and-injury-related losses and damages. The McNeal Law Firm will help you win the compensation that you are entitled to after a car accident caused by a distracted driver.
What If You’re Injured By A Reckless or Aggressive Driver?
Speeding is the most common form of aggressive driving, and it’s a factor in about a quarter of the car accidents and traffic fatalities in Texas. Aggressive driving includes tailgating, failing to yield the right-of-way, failing to signal, and disregarding traffic lights and signs.
There is never a need for aggressive driving. It is better to run late than to injure yourself or someone else. If you are injured by an aggressive motorist, schedule an appointment – as quickly as possible – to discuss your right to compensation with Houston injury attorney David McNeal.
What Should You Know About Fatigued Driving?
More drivers in Texas are driving while they’re fatigued. Overnight shifts and long commutes contribute to the growing problem of fatigued driving. Fatigued driving is the leading cause of truck collisions, and it is a factor in about one out of every four automobile accidents.
It is important for every driver in Texas to realize that the driver next to you may be fatigued or even asleep. Fatigued motorists have slower reaction times and more trouble processing what they hear and see. The National Sleep Foundation reports that fatigued drivers are also more apt to become irritated and to drive aggressively.
If you feel fatigue while you’re driving – if you can’t focus or can’t stop yawning – pull over in a safe spot, lock the doors, and rest or take a short nap. You’ll protect yourself and others on the road. If a fatigued driver injures you in a car accident in or near the Houston area, discuss your rights and options promptly with attorney David McNeal at The McNeal Law Firm.
How Common Are Alcohol-Related Accidents and Injuries?
We all know that driving while intoxicated (DWI) causes car accidents, serious injuries, and far too many deaths. The rule is “Don’t Drink and Drive,” but too many drivers are still drinking before driving a car. Here are some important – some might say disturbing – facts about intoxicated driving:
- Every two minutes in the U.S., someone is injured in an alcohol-related car crash.
- 27 people – on average – die in alcohol-related accidents every day in the U.S.
- Over 25 percent of the drivers charged with DWI have a prior DWI conviction.
If you are injured in a car wreck with an intoxicated driver, and if that driver is convicted of DWI by a criminal court, the conviction can be entered in your own personal injury case as proof of negligence, and your personal injury claim will probably prevail. Of course, you will need legal advice and aggressive representation from the right Houston personal injury attorney.
When a Car Accident Happens, What Steps Should You Take?
If you are injured in a car accident with a distracted, aggressive, fatigued, or intoxicated driver, no lawyer will be at the accident scene to give you advice. Try to think clearly and calmly. From the moment an accident happens, you need to protect yourself legally, and if you have been injured, you will need swift medical attention. Take these measures immediately after a car accident:
- First, call for medical help and determine if anyone else was injured.
- Then, summon the police and ask the officers when and how to acquire a copy of their written accident report. Any hint in that report that the motorist who injured you may have been negligent enhances your personal injury claim. For car accidents within the Houston city limits, accident reports from the Houston Police Department are available for purchase online by clicking this link.
- Eyewitness statements are often persuasive in personal injury cases. If you are able to, approach any witnesses at the scene and ask for their names, phone numbers, and any other details that might help your lawyer find these witnesses and obtain their statements.
- Take plenty of photographs. If you are incapacitated, ask someone to help. Get photos of the license plates, the vehicle damage, the crash scene, and your own injuries. Persuasive photos can often lead to the quick settlement of a personal injury claim.
- After your medical treatment, contact The McNeal Law Firm at once.
If You Feel Fine, Why is a Medical Exam So Imperative?
Your paramount and immediate priority after a car accident is obtaining medical treatment, even if you feel fine. If you decline medical care, a latent or difficult-to-detect injury could emerge – days or even several weeks later – as a serious medical condition.
Without an immediate medical exam, you may not be able to link a latent or hard-to-detect injury directly to the car accident, the person who injured you may claim that you were injured in some other way, and you may not be able to prove that you are entitled to compensation.
An immediate medical exam can give you peace of mind if you have not been injured, and if you have been, it creates the medical paperwork that you will need if you seek compensation and file a personal injury claim.
If a medical condition develops later, and you did not have a medical exam, you may not be able to link your injury to a specific accident, and a defendant’s lawyer or auto insurance company may claim that the injury happened at another time and place – or that you aren’t genuinely injured at all.
How Will The McNeal Law Firm Help You?
When you take your personal injury case to Houston’s McNeal Law Firm, attorney David McNeal will examine every detail of the car accident to ascertain who was at-fault and to determine if you have grounds to take legal action. If you do, David McNeal will fight aggressively on your behalf for the compensation – and for the justice – you need and deserve.
Houston car accident attorney David McNeal will launch an immediate investigation into the accident and your injury. He will compile and examine the evidence, including your medical records and test results, the written police accident report, and any photos or video of the accident. He will question the eyewitnesses, and if necessary, obtain the help of experts such as a medical authority or an accident reconstruction specialist.
Attorney David McNeal will handle every aspect of your personal injury case. As mentioned previously, in some car accidents, no driver is at-fault. If a defective part or a defective vehicle is the reason why you’ve been injured, attorney David McNeal may suggest bringing a product liability action against the auto or auto part manufacturer.
What Are the Steps in the Personal Injury Process?
Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean that your case will go to court. It’s a way to gain the advantage and show the other side that you’re serious about recovering compensation. Often, an acceptable settlement can be reached immediately after a lawsuit has been formally filed.
Both sides in a personal injury lawsuit should thoroughly investigate all of the charges and details in the case – and especially the other side’s claims regarding liability. If the initial investigations and the formal filing of a lawsuit do not generate a quick out-of-court settlement, the “discovery” phase of the personal injury process will begin.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you are the “plaintiff,” and the person or business that purportedly injured you through negligence is the “defendant.” The lawyers for each side gather and examine facts and evidence in what is called the discovery process.
What Are Interrogatories, Depositions, and Subpoenas?
Discovery is meticulous and time-consuming. Discovery usually involves submitting questions in writing (called “interrogatories”) to the witnesses. When witnesses are questioned in person and under oath during the discovery phase, the question-and-answer session is called a “deposition.”
Subpoenas are another tool attorneys use in discovery. A subpoena is a legal document that orders someone to testify at a deposition or that requires the production of specific documents (such as maintenance logs or medical records) for examination by the attorneys for both sides.
During and after the discovery phase, most personal injury claims are settled by the lawyers for both sides in private negotiations. Not that many personal injury cases actually go to trial in Texas.
What Happens When You Settle an Injury Claim?
Settling a personal injury claim means that you agree to accept monetary compensation in return for dropping your claim. A claim can be settled at any point before, during, or after discovery or even in the middle of a trial. If you “settle,” you will sign a form that releases the defendant from further liability or legal action.
Houston attorney David McNeal can advise you to take a settlement offer or reject it and seek a better offer at trial, but the final choice to reject or accept a settlement offer is yours alone as an injured victim of negligence. Why do so many car accident cases never go to trial? There are three basic reasons:
- Fear of losing: If a plaintiff rejects settlement offers but loses at trial, he or she receives no compensation. Defendants may fear that a jury will order a higher compensation amount than the plaintiff had been willing to accept.
- The cost: A trial can be costly. The more complex the case, the more it will cost both sides. Frequently, one side will decide that a trial isn’t worth the cost, and that side will settle.
- The pressure: A plaintiff may sometimes accept a low settlement offer, even for less than the injury claim is worth, because the plaintiff needs the money now. You should always consider your attorney’s recommendation before you accept a low settlement offer.
When a personal injury case is settled out of court, the plaintiff gives up any right to seek additional compensation. Winning at trial, however, may trigger an appeals process that can delay the payment of your compensation.
If Your Case Goes to Trial, What Will You Have to Prove?
Attorneys make every effort to settle a personal injury claim before a trial begins. Most personal injury cases in Texas are resolved out-of-court, but when an injury claim is disputed, or if the defendant will not make an acceptable settlement offer to the injury victim, a trial becomes necessary. Attorney David McNeal is both a skilled negotiator and an experienced trial lawyer with an impressive record of success on behalf of clients.
If the other side suggests taking your car accident claim to arbitration rather than to trial, in most cases, that suggestion should be rejected. The decision of an arbitrator is binding, and if that decision goes against you, you’ll have no right to appeal and no other options for compensation.
If your case cannot be settled out-of-court, The McNeal Law Firm will take your case to trial, and attorney David McNeal will tell the jurors what happened in the car accident and why they should order the payment of your compensation.
What does it take for an injured victim of negligence to prevail at trial with a personal injury claim? To win a personal injury case and prove that the defendant was in fact negligent – and has liability for your personal injury or injuries – you and your attorney will have to prove that these four conditions existed:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care to avoid negligence.
- The defendant acted in a way that breached the duty owed to the plaintiff.
- The defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries.
- The defendant should compensate the plaintiff for the personal injury or injuries.
What is a Duty of Care?
The first question that must be answered in a personal injury trial is whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a “duty of care.” While we all have a legal duty to avoid intentionally injuring others, the duty of care owed by a defendant differs in different circumstances. Doctors, for example, owe their patients a duty to provide competent and adequate medical care.
Manufacturers of consumer goods have a duty to protect the public from hazardous defective products. Property owners have a duty to keep their premises reasonably hazard-free. And drivers owe other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians a duty of care to drive safely, soberly, and without distractions.
What is a Breach of the Duty of Care?
The next question that must be answered in a personal injury trial is whether the defendant breached the duty of care by behaving or failing to behave as a “reasonably prudent” individual would have behaved in a comparable circumstance.
A defendant will probably be deemed liable for a plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries if an average individual, in the same or a similar circumstance, would have behaved otherwise by not breaching the duty of care.
How is “Causing an Injury” Defined?
The third question that must be answered in a personal injury trial is whether the defendant’s breach of the duty of care was or was not a direct cause of the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries. A plaintiff cannot recover damages based upon the speculation or even the possibility that the negligent behavior of the defendant caused the harm.
Of course, you actually have to be injured to bring a personal injury claim. If a negligent driver crashes into your car and you walk away unharmed, you may have a claim for property damage, but not for personal injury.
You and your attorney must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of your personal injury or injuries. Your attorney will use whatever evidence is available – photos, video, eyewitnesses, medical records, and more – to prove that the defendant’s negligence was in fact the direct cause of your personal injury or injuries.
How are Personal Injury “Damages” Determined?
If you can prove that a defendant owed you a duty of care, breached that duty with negligence, and you were injured because of that negligence, the last phase of a personal injury trial concerns your compensation. Personal injury victims are entitled by law to compensation for quantifiable monetary damages like medical bills and lost wages.
Attorney David McNeal will seek compensation for both your pending medical bills and your projected long-term medical expenses. He will also seek compensation not only for your lost wages, but if you will be unable to work, temporarily or permanently, he will also seek compensation for your projected future lost earnings.
Personal injury victims are also entitled by Texas law, in most cases, to compensation for personal pain and emotional suffering arising from the accident and injury. When it is appropriate, emotional suffering damages may include compensation for loss of consortium or loss of the “enjoyment” of life.
How is a fair dollar amount determined for noneconomic and “emotional” injuries? Attorneys, courts, and insurance companies use standardized and widely accepted formulas to calculate a fair and just compensation amount for personal pain and emotional suffering.
Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit Always the Best Path to Compensation?
A personal injury lawsuit may not always be an effective way to deal with the injuries sustained in a car accident. Even if ordered by a court to pay your damages, some people, for whatever reason, have no insurance coverage and no way to pay you.
The Insurance Research Council tells us that 14 percent of all drivers in the U.S. are uninsured, and in some states, the figure is 25 percent. If you are injured by a driver who has no auto insurance or insufficient coverage, or if you’re injured in a hit-and-run accident by a driver who cannot be located or identified, where can you turn for the compensation you will need?
As mentioned previously, Texas makes motorists carry insurance coverage to pay for the accidents and injuries they cause, but too many Texas drivers break the insurance law and drive without any coverage. They’re broke, so even if you win a lawsuit against a driver who has no insurance, that driver can declare bankruptcy and escape the responsibility of compensating you.
Do You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage protects you in accidents with hit-and-run drivers and drivers who have no automobile insurance. The best way to protect yourself from uninsured or hit-and-run drivers is to have the maximum uninsured motorist coverage.
Underinsured motorist coverage is similar. It bridges the gap when you are injured by a motorist who has car insurance but not enough coverage to pay for your medical bills and other losses.
With the right coverage, after a car accident, if you discover that the driver who injured you was uninsured or underinsured, you can file a claim with your own insurance company, and you should also contact The McNeal Law Firm and arrange a consultation with attorney David McNeal. He may be able to identify another potential source of compensation or suggest another legal option.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Claim? Do You Need an Attorney?
In Texas, if you believe that you have been injured by another automobile driver’s negligence, how can you know if you have grounds for a personal injury claim and need a personal injury lawyer? The best way to find out is by scheduling a legal consultation with Houston personal injury lawyer David McNeal.
At your first consultation, attorney David McNeal will examine the facts about your car accident and injury or injuries. He will explain how Texas personal injury laws apply. You’ll receive frank and candid legal advice, and you will learn where you stand legally.
It is imperative to consult an injury attorney as soon as possible after you’ve been injured in a car crash. If you have a case, your attorney can begin immediately to gather evidence and speak with witnesses.
How Can You Find the Right Car Accident Attorney?
Houston is filled with personal injury lawyers. Obviously, they cannot all offer you an extensive legal background or provide the best results. If you have been the victim of a personal injury caused by a negligent driver in a car accident, you will need to find the right attorney.
Before you agree to be represented by any car accident lawyer, ask that lawyer these questions and any other questions you may have, and get answers that satisfy you:
- How many car accident cases have you handled that are similar to mine?
- How many injury claims have you taken to trial? What were your results?
- How long does it typically take to resolve cases like mine?
- Do you have references from former clients?
- How much is the contingency fee, and how does it work?
Make sure that you like your car accident lawyer personally and that you are “comfortable” with the attorney, because you may be working together for several months or even longer. No matter which attorney you choose to handle your case, do your research. If a lawyer has a relatively good reputation or a relatively bad reputation, it should not be difficult for you to find out.
Let David McNeal’s Background Be Put To Work For You!
David McNeal earned his Juris Doctor degree from the Tulane University School of Law. He earned the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Navy Reserves before transferring to the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS), where he earned a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. While attending law school, he served as a legal officer with the 4th Marine Logistics Group and 4th Marine Division.
Attorney David McNeal has practiced personal injury law in the Houston area since 2011. He has recovered millions of dollars for scores of injury victims, and he has established a reputation for tenacity and legal excellence.
The team at The McNeal Law Firm has also built a reputation for superlative client service. You will be treated with complete respect and dignity, and you’ll be provided with every professional courtesy and consideration.
When Should You Contact The McNeal Law Firm?
Under the Texas statute of limitation for personal injuries, a personal injury claim must be filed within two years of the date of a car accident. If you do not begin the legal process within two years, you will not be allowed to recover compensation.
However, in practical terms, you really cannot wait for two years and then scramble at the last moment to file a personal injury claim. You should not even wait two weeks to speak with an attorney. Over time, evidence in the case can deteriorate or even disappear, and if the witnesses themselves don’t disappear, their memories will fade.
The sooner you put your car accident case in the hands of The McNeal Law Firm, the more likely it is that your injury claim will prevail. As soon as you’ve been examined and treated for the injuries you sustain in a Houston-area auto accident, make the call to (832) 819-3281 and schedule your appointment with The McNeal Law Firm.