EL PASO PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS
Our experienced El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for people injured in accidents. Call (915) 581-0020 or fill out our easy to use online form to make an appointment with one of our lawyers in El Paso, TX. Call us today for help with:
CAR ACCIDENTS IN EL PASO, TX, LAS CRUCES, NM AND THE SURROUNDING AREAS
TRUCK ACCIDENTS IN EL PASO, TX, LAS CRUCES, NM AND THE SURROUNDING AREAS
DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS
SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
The El Paso, TX lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates are licensed in Texas and New Mexico. We welcome you to call our El Paso attorneys at (915) 581-0020 to discuss the specifics of your case.
The El Paso personal injury lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. represent clients in West Texas and Southern New Mexico, including El Paso, Socorro, Fabens, Anthony, Canutillo, San Elizario, Horizon City, Clint, Fort Bliss, Sierra Blanca, Van Horn, El Paso County, Hudspeth County, Texas, Las Cruces, Silver City, Deming, Lordsburg, Alamogordo, Mesilla, Otero County and Dona Ana County, New Mexico.
CAR ACCIDENT – FAQS – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
El Paso County and Dona Ana County auto accident statistics
Auto accidents are one of the most common types of injury claims made in Texas and New Mexico. In 2008, there were 13,333 automobile accidents, 1424 serious injury crashes and 63 traffic fatalities in El Paso County. In 2007, there were 3995 auto accidents, 1335 serious injury crashes and 12 fatalities in Dona Ana County. The car accident lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. have prepared this informative brochure to help answer many of the questions we routinely receive from clients who have been injured in Texas or New Mexico car accidents. We are happy to offer this information free of charge. You may also call (915) 581-0020 for a free consultation from one of our Car Accident Lawyers in El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico.
I’ve just been involved in an automobile accident, now what?
Immediately after a car accident, you should report the accident to the police and your insurance company, get medical help if injured, get names and addresses of all witnesses, be polite to the police officer or EMS, and exchange insurance and driver’s license information with all parties to the accident. You should also get a copy of the 911 calls by contacting the investigating police department.
Should I get medical treatment after an automobile accident?
If you were injured in a car accident, you should get prompt medical treatment. Often times, the adrenaline produced in a person’s body as a result of a sudden accident will mask the severity of injuries prompting a car accident victim to erroneously tell the responding EMS or police officer that no injuries were incurred. Whiplash injuries can take a day or more to produce significant pain. You should tell the personnel responding to the scene of a car accident about any and all of your pain and injuries. If warranted, you should go to the emergency room to be treated for your injuries and promptly follow up with medical specialists to treat your injuries. Prompt medical attention will maximize your recovery. Although injuries at first might be minor, if left untreated, they often develop into larger medical problems. If you delay treatment, the insurance company will take the position you were not seriously injured and decrease the value they place on your claim.
What if the car accident didn’t cause much property damage to my vehicle?
Insurance companies often wrongly believe that low property damage means little or no injuries. However, the opposite can be true, which is little property damage can cause significant injuries. Scientific evidence shows low impact collisions can cause serious injuries.
Who will pay for my medical bills if I am injured in a car accident?
There are many possible sources of payment for your medical bills. If you have personal injury protection (“PIP”) coverage on your auto insurance policy, PIP can pay for your medical bills and lost wages. This coverage is usually available regardless who is at fault for the accident. If you have no PIP coverage, your health insurance can pay for your medical bills. If your health insurance pays for your medical bills, you may be required to pay back the health insurance company when you settle your claim. The right of your insurance company to be reimbursed if you receive a settlement from the negligent party is called subrogation. In Texas, health insurance companies have a very strong right of subrogation given recent Texas Supreme Court precedent favoring subrogation. New Mexico is much more favorable when it comes to protecting car accident victims from their own health insurance companies. The insurance company of the negligent driver may be responsible for paying you the value of your past and future medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident up to the driver’s insurance policy limits; however, the payment is contingent on a finding of liability on the part of the driver.
If you have PIP coverage on your auto insurance, you should use this first to pay your medical bills because it usually does not have to be repaid.
Unlike a lot of law firms, the El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates do not charge attorney’s fees for the collection of PIP.
What if I don’t have PIP or health insurance and can’t pay my medical bills?
A car accident lawyer can be helpful in stopping any collection efforts and arranging for payment of medical services if your case is settled. Many health care providers will provide services to persons injured in car accidents on a letter of protection (“LOP”) which is an agreement to pay the health care provider out of the settlement of your automobile accident claim. The El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates have relationships with several providers in El Paso and Las Cruces who will provide services on an LOP.
How much PIP coverage should I get?
You should buy the highest amount available to offer the most protection for payment of medical bills or lost wages if you are involved in an auto accident.
What happens if I am injured by a “hit and run” driver or a driver who does not have insurance or low insurance limits
If you purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, you may file a claim under your auto insurance, which is known as an uninsured or underinsured claim (UM/UIM). This type of insurance is available to pay your medical bills and lost wages. You have UM/UIM coverage unless you sign a waiver of that coverage with your insurance company. In New Mexico, certain insureds are able to “stack” coverage limits for each automobile covered under the policy. Our El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers can help you determine the amount of coverage available under your UM/UIM policy. The auto accident lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates have lots of experience with UM/UIM claims in Texas and New Mexico.
If I assert a UM/UIM claim, will my insurance company automatically pay the claim?
No. Even your own insurance company may assert defenses against the claim including disputing your injuries and medical treatment. If they do this, you may have a “bad faith” claim against your insurance company. Both Texas and New Mexico have specific statutory provisions dealing with unfair insurance practices. In addition, the common law imposes a duty of good faith and fair dealing on an insurance company when dealing with its insured.
How much UM/UIM insurance should I purchase?
Like PIP, you should buy the highest amount of UM/UIM insurance to offer the most protection if you are involved in auto accident with a “hit and run” driver or driver with no or small amounts of liability insurance.
If my insurance company denies my claim, what can I do?
You may be able to file suit against your insurance company for violations of the Insurance Code, the Consumer Protection Act, for breach of contract and/or for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. The El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates have experience suing the insurance companies of our clients in Texas and New Mexico for these “bad faith” claims.
Can I settle my car accident case without hiring a lawyer?
If you are in a very minor car accident with minimal medical bills and injuries, it may not be necessary to hire an attorney to settle your claim. Beware that the insurance adjuster is not on your side and will take every measure to compromise your claim for bottom dollar. If you are injured in an accident requiring follow up visits to a doctor, it is advisable to hire a car accident lawyer.
A car accident lawyer has experience negotiating with the insurance companies and can address all of the legal issues involved in a car accident, including addressing liability and damages, finding all applicable insurance coverage, including PIP and UM/UIM and addressing subrogation and lien claims by healthcare providers, the government and your insurance company.
The El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates are happy to discuss your case with you free of charge. If we decide to take your case, we will only charge a fee if you recover. Call today at (915) 581-0020 to set up an appointment.
What can I expect from an insurance adjuster?
An insurance adjuster is not your friend and is not concerned with compensating you for your injuries. An insurance adjuster is concerned with protecting their negligent driver and paying you as little money as possible to settle the claim.
If an insurance company pays for damage to my car, will they automatically pay for my medical bills and injuries?
No, because their goal is to pay as little money as possible on the claim. Also, there may be one insurance adjuster assigned to your property damage and a separate adjuster assigned to deal with your injuries. Our firm does not charge a fee for assisting with the settlement of property damage.
Should I give a recorded statement if requested by claims adjuster?
There is no requirement that you give a recorded statement. Remember, the claims adjuster does not represent you or care about your best interests. You should contact an auto accident attorney before giving a recorded statement.
Should I give the insurance company a medical authorization?
Generally, it is not a good idea to give the insurance company a blanket medical authorization as it can be used to gather all of your medical history and may provide the insurance company with ammunition to deny your claim based upon a pre-existing condition.
What is contributory negligence or comparative responsibility and how does it affect my injury claim?
These terms refer to a legal rule that says the value of your claim can be decreased by any negligence on your part. For example, if a jury finds the auto driver is 80% at fault and you are 20% at fault and you are awarded $100 for your injuries, the Court will reduce this award to $80 because you were 20% negligent. You cannot recover compensation for your negligence and part in causing the accident. The rules of proportionate responsibility are different in Texas and New Mexico. An experienced car accident lawyer can address these issues if there are allegations that you were at fault for the accident.
What type of compensation can I recover from an auto accident?
You can recover your medical bills, lost wages, future medical care expenses, future loss of earning capacity damages, and compensation for pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, and impairment.
If a person dies from an auto accident, can a claim still be pursued?
Yes, under a wrongful death statute spouses, children, and parents of the deceased can pursue a claim.
What if I was hit by an 18-Wheeler or commercial truck?
If you or a loved one were hit by an 18-Wheeler or commercial truck or vehicle, you should seek the assistance of a truck accident lawyer immediately. Accidents caused by negligent truckers often cause catastrophic injuries or death and time is of the essence.
Over-the-Road truckers are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations. There are many regulations designed to protect the motoring public that are all too often ignored by truckers who are pressured by their companies to deliver their loads on tight deadline. The truck accident lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates have experience suing negligent truckers and the companies that employ them. We have successfully recovered millions of dollars against trucking companies. Please call (915) 581-0020 and ask to speak with Mr. Gilstrap if you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an 18-Wheeler, commercial truck or vehicle.
What’s meant by statute of limitations?
Statute of limitations refers to the need to file a lawsuit within a time limit. In Texas, many causes of action, such as for a car accident, have a two-year statute of limitation, but not all. Some lawsuits, such as lawsuits against the government require a notice within a short time, such as 90 days or six months. In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for a car accident is generally three years; however, if a governmental entity is involved, the statute of limitations is generally two years.
The car accident lawyers at the El Paso Personal Injury Law Firm of Gilstrap & Associates can assist in interpreting the relevant statutes of limitations in Texas and New Mexico. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your car accident to avoid losing your right to sue.
Can I talk to you about my case for free?
Yes. The El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates are more than happy to talk with people about their case without charging a fee for the consultation. Call (915) 581-0020 and ask to speak with Mr. Gilstrap.
How much will I have to pay for you to handle my case?
Our fee is taken as a percentage of the recovery that is made. If a lawsuit is filed on your behalf, the percentage increases, due the increased amount of work required in prosecuting the lawsuit. However, if we are unable to recover money for you, you do not pay us anything.
How much money is my auto accident case worth?
Your case is worth either what you agree with the insurance company it’s worth or the amount of a cash award granted by a judge and jury. The El Paso Car Accident Lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates examine all of the conditions surrounding your case in order to arrive at a figure that we believe the insurance company must pay for your injuries.
Generally, the dollar value is dependent upon the type and extent of your injuries and the degree of fault of the person that caused the accident. Other factors influencing the dollar value of your case are the amount of medical bills, length of treatment, frequency of treatment, future medical bills, permanent disabilities and any other damage that can be documented. We study every detail so that we can get you the money you deserve for your injuries.
Will I have to go to court?
If the insurance company agrees to pay what we believe your case is worth and you wish to settle for that amount, then your case will not go to court. This is what happens in most situations. Some cases do require a formal trial proceeding, however. In either situation, hiring a car accident lawyer with experience in handling personal injury cases is critical.
The El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates prepare all of our cases as if they are going to court and this is the very reason why most of our cases get settled outside of court. We are always prepared, and our preparation allows us to negotiate from a position of strength, helping you get the maximum award for your injuries.
How long will my case take?
The El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates work very hard to resolve your case as quickly and efficiently as possible. The length of time it takes to reach a resolution depends on the nature and extent of your injuries, the length of treatment, and whether a case is settled, a lawsuit is filed or the lawsuit is taken to trial. It can take as little as a few months to over a few years to reach a resolution of your case. Rest assured, our firm is dedicated to efficient representation of you in your car accident claim, but we will not cut corners to quickly settle your claim for a low dollar amount.
How do I contact you?
You can call our El Paso Personal Injury Law Firm at (915) 581-0020. You can submit your case online at www.gilstraplaw.com. You can also email El Paso personal injury lawyer T.O. Gilstrap directly at email@example.com.
We are licensed in Texas and New Mexico and take cases throughout both states.
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