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How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Dallas Texas?

Car accidents are an unfortunate reality everywhere, including Dallas, Texas. When a car accident results in injuries or vehicle damage, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will likely offer a settlement to resolve any claims. However, accident settlements can be complicated. This article explains how car accident settlements work in Dallas and provides guidance on navigating the process.

Determining Liability

The first step in any car accident settlement is determining who was at fault for causing the crash. Texas is a “modified comparative negligence” state, meaning the person who was primarily responsible for the accident will be held liable. However, damages may be reduced based on the victim’s percentage of fault, if any.

Police will investigate the scene and file an accident report, noting contributing factors based on evidence and statements. The insurance companies will also conduct separate investigations to decide liability.

Factors that determine fault include traffic violations, distractions like cell phone use, intoxication, and failing to yield the right of way. Witness accounts and physical evidence like skid marks are also considered.

If liability is disputed, the case may go to court where a judge or jury will decide based on the evidence. Having an experienced car accident lawyer Dallas Texas argue your side can help secure a favorable liability ruling.

Calculating Damages

Once liability is established, the at-fault driver’s insurer will assess damages to determine a settlement value. Damages in a car accident case may include:

  • Property damage: Repair or replacement costs for damaged vehicles and other property. This includes the cost to tow and store the vehicle, diminished resale value due to the accident, rental car fees during repair delays, and compensation for totaled vehicles based on actual cash value or replacement cost.
  • Medical expenses: Costs of treatment, rehabilitation, prescriptions, etc. This includes physical therapy, doctor visits, emergency room treatment, ambulance fees, chiropractic care, prescription drugs, medical equipment rentals or purchases, and follow-up treatment. Future medical costs may also be awarded if injuries cause ongoing health issues.
  • Lost wages: Income lost due to missing work from injuries. This is calculated based on net income after taxes and employment benefits. Documentation like pay stubs and employer records help verify the wage loss claim. Missed promotions, seniority, and earning capacity can also be factored in. Awards account for both past and future lost income.
  • Loss of future earning capacity. If injuries diminish the ability to work and earn as before, damages can compensate for decreased future earning potential over the victim’s career. Vocational experts may assess skills and experience to project value.
  • Pain and suffering: Compensation for physical and emotional trauma. Physical pain and discomfort from injuries as well as mental anguish from the accident are included. Permanent disfigurement like scars can also contribute. The type of injury, severity, treatment involved, and length of recovery impact pain and suffering damages.
  • Other damages: Other losses caused by the accident like childcare expenses while recovering, damages to personal property, and loss of consortium claims from a spouse for accident-related emotional distress and intimacy issues. Punitive damages may be awarded if gross negligence caused the crash.

Documented evidence like repair estimates, medical bills and records, pay stubs, vocational assessments, therapy notes, and testimony from doctors, employers, and family will help quantify damages. Serious injuries that result in disability or diminished quality of life warrant higher payouts, as do wages lost from a lucrative career. Texas caps pain and suffering damages under most circumstances.

Negotiating a Settlement

The insurance company will typically make an opening offer—this is just a starting point. Victims can negotiate for a higher settlement up to the driver’s policy limits by presenting evidence to justify greater damages.

An experienced Dallas car accident lawyer can handle negotiations and advocate aggressively on your behalf for maximum compensation. Hiring an attorney on a contingency fee basis means no upfront payment is required. The attorney receives an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement amount.

Sometimes negotiations stall and mediation or arbitration may be alternatives to avoid a lengthy trial. Special mediators or arbitrators hear both sides and facilitate a binding settlement. The mediator may confer privately with each party to broker a compromise. Arbitrators have more authority to impose a settlement based on arguments and evidence.

If the at-fault driver’s insurance won’t provide adequate compensation, additional options include filing a claim with your own insurer under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or pursuing the driver’s personal assets. Legal action may be required to access certain assets.

Types of Settlements

So, how do car accident settlements work? There are a few different ways car accident claims typically settle:

Lump Sum Settlement: This involves payment of the full settlement amount at once in a single check. It resolves the entire claim so no further compensation can be sought. Lump sum settlements allow claimants full control over the funds. However, recipients should consider taxes and carefully manage large payouts.

Structured Settlement: With this option, payments are made in installments over an agreed-upon timeframe through an annuity purchased by the insurer. This provides a steady stream of tax-free income. Structured settlements provide financial security, especially for victims with ongoing medical needs. Payments can continue for a set period or even a lifetime.

High-Low Agreement: Here the parameters are set for the minimum (low) and maximum (high) amounts the insurer will pay, creating a range for the final number. It limits risk for both sides if the settlement is left open. Either party can request a hearing if the final number falls outside the high-low range. If both sides accept the amount, the case resolves.

Bodily Injury Settlement: The portion of a settlement meant to cover injuries and damages like medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering is the bodily injury settlement. It is generally paid after property damage. Complex cases with severe injuries and extended losses typically have higher bodily injury settlements.

Contact Our Legal Team Today

Seeking qualified legal counsel is crucial for maximizing your settlement after an auto accident. Our Dallas car accident lawyers have a proven track record of success. Call 800-4THE-WIN or reach out online to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. The dedicated team at Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys will fight to help you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

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