Interview with Attorney Daniel S. Cartwright of The Cartwright Law Firm L.L.P. On Auto Accidents
Even a minor collision can be a seriously traumatic event. Dealing with the insurance companies following the incident can be a challenge even more frustrating than the incident itself. Getting hurt only raises the stakes, and insurers are playing for keeps — at a time when your main focus is on recovery.
So how can an attorney really help, and what separates the very best lawyers from all the others?
We talked with Daniel S. Cartwright, featured in Legal Leaders as one of Texas’ Top Rated Lawyer of 2015, of the Cartwright Law Firm, L.L.P., about auto accidents and how the best lawyers can make all the difference to a client, both with their claim and in their lives.
Why might I need an attorney? Why can’t I just deal with an insurance company after an accident and be done with it?
You can deal with an insurance company directly; however, insurance companies are in the business of collecting premiums and many times underpaying or not paying claims. Insurance companies routinely tell clients that certain repairs are not needed to a vehicle, will undervalue the value of the vehicle if it is a total loss and only pay for the portion of medical expenses they deem “reasonable and necessary” regardless of what your medical doctor says. Furthermore, some insurance companies try to urge an insured to sign a Release prior to the insured being released from a medical doctor for treatment of their injuries. This allows them to cease paying for your treatment. Having an attorney advocate will prevent this from happening.
Does it matter what attorney I choose?
Yes. You should choose an attorney who has dealt with insurance companies for many years and knows how to develop a strong liability case with supporting documentation on your behalf to present to the insurance company.
I got hurt. What’s that potentially worth to me?
It depends on the nature and extent of your injuries. All injuries are different and factors such as age, overall health, and preexisting injuries or conditions can affect the overall value of your claim. The value of the injury is usually established by reasonable and necessary medical bills to treat the injury as well as any future medical expenses that the insurance company deems as being reasonable and necessary as a result of the injury. Any lost wages is also a factor in the total value of your claim.
What should I do right after the accident happened?
Contact the proper authorities and file an accident report. If you are injured in any way, seek treatment from a medical professional. Start keeping a diary/log containing a detailed description of the accident, keep all receipts pertaining to the repair of the vehicle and any expenses related to injuries. Take pictures of all vehicle damage and of your injuries. Set up a claim with the insurance company by calling them.
For More Information About The Most Common Car Accident Injuries, Visit Here.
What if I didn’t have insurance?
If the accident was not your fault, you can still file a claim against the insurance company of the person who caused the accident. If the accident was your fault, the other driver may file a civil claim against you individually for any damages to the vehicle and any personal injuries, including lost wages, he or she sustained as a result of this accident. That is why it is imperative as a driver in Texas to purchase the minimum auto liability coverage.
Does it matter if it really was my fault?
Yes. If you have insurance coverage, you will be responsible for your deductible and most likely your insurance premiums will increase.
When should I get an attorney?
This question really depends on the facts of the case. If your claim is for property damage only, I would suggest trying to work the matter out directly with the insurance company. When it comes to property, the insurance company looks at two things – 1) the value of the vehicle and/or 2) the damage to the vehicle as a result of the accident. Insurance companies do not pay for sentimental value when it comes to a vehicle. It does not matter if the vehicle has been with you or your family for years, through thick and thin – the insurance company is only paying for the cost to repair or the actual value of the vehicle on the date the accident occurred. However, if the insurance company refuses to pay, even if the accident is as a result of their insured’s negligence, you should to seek the help of an attorney even if your claim is for property damage only if you want to get paid for your damages.
If you sustained injuries as a result of an accident, we always recommend talking to an attorney before trying to negotiate and settle with the insurance company for your personal injuries. Insurance companies are not in the business of paying claims. Even if they ask you to submit medical bills or expenses, they are likely going to try to undervalue the costs of medical services you incurred or argue that some or all are not “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses and therefore, refuse to pay for those services. In addition, they often try to get the injured party to sign a Release immediately even if the injured party has not been released from medical treatment. These are all things that an attorney can advise you of before you sign anything with the insurance company which could ultimately prevent you from receiving the fair compensation you deserve.
When do I NOT need an attorney?
If the insurance company is agreeing to pay you a fair value for the damages to your vehicle or the value of your vehicle (if the vehicle was deemed a total loss as a result of this accident) and have paid you for all of your medical expenses associated with this accident after you have been released from a medical professional for your injuries associated with this accident, then you probably do not need an attorney. We urge you to still seek the advice of an attorney to make sure you are receiving fair compensation for your pain and suffering as a result of this accident.
Will I have to go to court? How long will it all take?
It depends on the injuries sustained and the amount and duration of medical treatment to treat those injuries. If the responsible party’s insurance company immediately denies liability, a lawsuit can be filed within days. However, even if the negligent party’s insurance company accepts liability, there is no guarantee they are going to be willing to pay what is owed to the other driver who was not at fault. In that case, a lawsuit may still have to be filed. Since there are so many factors to consider, it is impossible to say specifically how long a claim will take to resolve. If a lawsuit has to be filed, there is always a chance of having to go to court but most cases do settle prior to a trial.
What sets you apart from the countless other attorneys and firms?
Our law firm has over 36 years of combined legal experience and most of those years have been spent fighting against insurance companies and big corporations on behalf of our clients. Because of this, we have built an excellent reputation as worthy foes among insurance companies, adjusters and defense attorneys for our professionalism and our attention to detail. Our goal in every case is to put our clients’ interests first and make the best legal decisions we can for our clients. Unfortunately, some attorneys put their financial interests and their fee before the clients’ interest. However, we work for our clients at The Cartwright Law Firm. Our decisions are motivated by what is in the best interest of the client after reviewing all legal options and speaking directly with our clients about these options.
How do you deal with the very real and serious personal impact a wreck & injury can have on lives?
As attorneys, the best way for us to deal with the accident impact is to provide strong legal counsel on behalf of our clients. We urge our clients to trust the legal aspect of their claim to us so they can focus on treating and healing. It is a privilege to represent our clients. We strive to be empathetic to what our clients are going through and we are their voice against the big insurance corporations.
Why do your clients love you?
We strive to build a strong, personal bond with our clients. Our clients are important to us. We listen to our clients, answer their questions and respectfully guide them through their legal challenges.
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