Buckle up! Click it or ticket! We all know the rules and the ad campaigns designed to increase awareness. Use a seat belt when you are driving or a passenger in a car or suffer the consequences. What then if you are involved in a car accident, failed to adequately fasten your seatbelt and sustain injuries? Are you entitled to damages, or are you out of luck? A car accident lawyer can help.
To successfully recover in a car accident case, you must prove the other driver was negligent in some manner and you were hurt as a result. But let’s say the other driver rear-ended your car and was clearly at fault for doing so, but you were not wearing your seat belt. You claim your injuries are due to the collision, but the other guy says you were only hurt because you neglected to wear your seat belt. Who is right? Can you both be right?
In some jurisdictions, if you contributed in any manner to the accident, you could not recover anything. Texas does not follow this legal concept, instead favoring a comparative negligence rule.
Under Texas law, each person who is found to be at fault in an accident is apportioned a percentage of fault. The injured party collects the portion of his or her damages accordingly. For example, if you were found to be 25 percent negligent in an accident leaving you with $80,000 of damages, your award would be limited to $60,000 if you proved the other party was also negligent.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Company
When you deal with an insurance company, it is always prudent to keep in mind some realities. Insurance is a business made profitable by denying claims or settling for low dollar amounts. Claims adjusters are professional negotiators who are often incentivized for improving the company’s bottom line. If you choose to handle your own claim, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Your Insurance Company
Many people are surprised and disappointed to learn their own insurance company does not provide much better assistance. You have faithfully paid your premiums and expect now that you need help they will be there for you. However, too often, instead of acting as your advocate and fighting for the best result for you, your insurer simply is seeking a quick resolution and to clear your file from the active list. This type of approach is seldom, if ever, in your best interest.
In many insurance claim cases involving car accidents, but especially with issues of contested liability, you need an experienced car accident lawyer on your side. Your case may require an accident reconstruction professional to sort out what exactly happened. Almost certainly you will need a medical expert witness to explain your injuries and how you would have been hurt even if you had properly worn your seatbelt. The type of representation you need to prove your case and prove the measure of damages giving you the best potential recovery is not found in self-representation and it is not found in turning it over to insurers. It is found by contacting an experienced lawyer for legal advice.
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