Although every car wreck gives rise to different issues there are several things that everybody should, but usually doesn’t, know.
The at fault driver and their insurance company is not obligated to provide the auto accident victim with a rental vehicle if the victim’s vehicle is a total loss. Insurance companies sometimes pay for a rental vehicle in a total loss situation either because they initially mistakenly believed that the vehicle was repairable or because they hoped to keep the injured victim from hiring a lawyer but there is no legal requirement that they do so. The tortfeasor’s legal obligation in Texas is limited to providing a rental vehicle during the reasonable period that it take to repair the damaged vehicle.
Just because a police officer issues a traffic citation does not mean that the driver who received the ticket is legally liable for the accident. A traffic citation is what is known as an “extra-judicial finding” and it is meaningless in the legal world. However, if the person receiving the ticket pleads guilty to the allegations in the citation then their act becomes a “judicial admission” which is admissible against them. Nonetheless, insurance adjusters often place considerable weight on traffic citations and it is obviously good to have them issued in your favor.
Personal injury protection insurance is a no fault, no subrogation coverage that pays for accident related medical expenses and lost wages regardless of fault. PIP also often pays benefits even though there is some other type of coverage that covers the same expense. PIP is often the only no fault coverage that pays for things like broken eye glasses or dentures.
If you show up at a Texas hospital within 72 hours of an accident and you are in need of emergency care then the hospital must provide you with emergency medical care. However, if you have been in an automobile accident then the hospital has a right to file an emergency medical services lien against the proceeds of any public liability policy that covers the accident. The problem arises because studies consistently show that the hospitals that file these liens usually inflate their bills by between 200% and 300%. Dealing with these liens can be quite difficult.
If you are in an accident, go to the emergency room for treatment, and have health insurance then the hospital must file on your health insurance. If the hospital fails to file on your health insurance then they waive the right to collect more than the amount which they would have received from your health insurance. If a Texas hospital believes that there is liability insurance available many will refuse to file on the victims health insurance, inflate the bill by 200 to 300%, and file a lien in hopes of getting a windfall. This practice is illegal and should be challenged.
If you are involved in an accident and are unsuccessfully solicited by an attorney or his representative then recent changes to the Government Code provide that you have a right to be paid a $10,000 penalty or fine by each person involved in the illegal solicitation. If you incur attorneys fees in collecting the fine then you are also entitle to recover your attorneys fee.