Car accidents in Houston can cause serious personal injuries and property damages. When dealing with insurers, it is important to understand the difference between bodily injury and property damage claims. As experienced Houston personal injury lawyers, Johnson Garcia LLP explains these two types of claims and how to seek compensation after an accident.
What is a bodily injury claim?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), more than 100,000 car accidents happen in Harris County each year. They often occur due to reckless driving behaviors such as speeding, running red lights, and driving distracted or while impaired. When other motorists are at fault, you have the right to seek compensation through automobile insurance policies they have in place.
A bodily injury claim focuses on reimbursing you for the costs associated with personal injuries due to car accidents in Houston, such as:
- Medical expenses: This includes coverage of current medical bills and any future medical costs you are likely to incur, such as follow-up care, medications, and rehabilitation therapy.
- Lost income: This includes compensation for your current lost wages and any future losses in earnings and benefits in the event your car accident injuries result in permanent disabilities.
- Pain and suffering: You may be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering your injuries caused and any loss of enjoyment in life you experience as a result.
- Legal fees: In the event a car accident settlement cannot be reached and a personal injury lawsuit is filed, legal fees may be covered.
- Funeral expenses: This reimburses surviving family members for funeral costs and other expenses in the event car accident injuries end up proving fatal.
What is a property damage liability claim?
In addition to the personal injuries you suffer, property damages in Houston car accidents can add up to significant amounts. Whereas a bodily injury claim focuses on compensating you for damages to your person, a property damage liability claim covers the costs of damages to things. This includes:
- Compensation for vehicle damage: This includes the cost to repair or replace your vehicle.
- Compensation for damage to other property: This includes items in your vehicle that are damaged, such as your laptop, cell phone, or equipment carried in your trunk. It also covers damages if a driver crashes into your home or surrounding property.
Texas insurance minimum requirements for bodily injury and property damage liability
While car accidents involving uninsured drivers do happen, all motorists are legally required to carry bodily injury and property damage liability coverage to cover damages other drivers suffer in car accidents for which they are to blame. The following are mandatory minimum insurance requirements in Texas :
- For bodily injury: $30,000 in coverage per person, up to $60,000 per car accident if multiple people are injured.
- For property damage: $25,000 in coverage for damage to another person’s vehicle or other property.
Why won’t a lawyer take my car accident case if I didn’t suffer bodily injury?
Having an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer on your side can help you get the maximum amount in your insurance settlement. However, personal injury lawyers typically do not handle property damage claims alone. Why won’t a lawyer take my car accident case if I didn’t suffer bodily injury?
- Smaller amounts of damages: Property damages alone typically are less than $5,000 and often less than $2,000.
- Contingency fees: As legal fees are not included with property damage insurance, this would leave you little for repairs after a lawyer’s contingency fee is taken into account.
- Hourly attorney fees: Likewise, when you take hourly attorney fees into account, the smaller amounts awarded in property damage-only claims mean that even if you win, you may still end up with less.
Property damage-only claims typically can be resolved in a matter of days or weeks. Having an attorney involved needlessly prolongs the settlement process and could jeopardize your rights to compensation. Many drivers have collision and comprehensive insurance coverage through their own policies, which allows you to file a claim through your own insurer, rather than having to prove the other driver was to blame.
What to do after a vehicle accident
When a car accident in Houston happens, your actions after could impact your rights in a claim. Here’s what to do:
- Report it immediately to the police;
- Exchange contact and insurance information with other drivers;
- Get contact information for witnesses, take photos, and gather other evidence at the scene;
- Seek medical attention, regardless of your symptoms or the severity of your injuries;
- Review your comprehensive and/or auto collision coverage.
- If you suffer bodily injury, speak with our Houston personal injury lawyers before accepting any settlements.
Our Houston personal injury lawyers can help with your bodily injury claim
With more than 30 years of experience helping clients with personal injury claims, Johnson Garcia LLP provides the legal guidance you need when car accidents happen. To protect your rights in dealing with insurers, give us a call or contact our Houston personal injury lawyers online and request a free consultation today.