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August 2019 - Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law

What to Expect in Court for a Car Accident

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Very few car accident cases end up in court. Instead, over 90% of personal injury disputes will settle. However, going to court is sometimes a possibility if the person who struck you refuses to settle for a fair amount, or if he denies that he is responsible for the crash.

In this article, we’ll give you the highlights of what to expect in a car accident lawsuit. If you need legal representation, contact an Austin pedestrian accident attorney today.

Pre-Trial Hearings

Unless you are in small claims court, you can expect many hearings before your trial. These hearings serve different purposes. You might have a dispute around what documents each side needs to hand over to the other. A judge needs to hear argument and then decide.

There might also be a summary judgment hearing. A judge can grant summary judgment when the facts are in the favor of one side and there is no chance the other side could win. If you win on summary judgment, you don’t need to go to trial. Summary judgment is rare in car accident cases, but your attorney might need to defend against the other side’s summary judgment motion or submit one of her own.

Trials

In a trial, both you and the defendant get to present evidence and witnesses. As the person bringing the lawsuit, you will present evidence first.

The evidence your attorney uses will depend on the circumstances. For example, witnesses can testify about what happened, and you can introduce photographs. Whoever took a photograph will need to testify about when they took it. After your lawyer presents evidence, the defendant gets a chance to put on a case, which can include presenting witnesses and other evidence.

Testifying in Court

If your case gets to trial, then you might have to testify. You will talk about many of the same things you discussed in your deposition, such as:

  • How the accident unfolded
  • What you did in the moments before the accident and after
  • The extent of your injuries

The defendant’s lawyer can also cross-examine you, which could be stressful. Lawyers handle cross-examination differently. Some are very aggressive and will try to trip you up while others might ask only a few questions. Everything depends on the lawyer’s theory of the case.

If you are nervous, your lawyer can help you prepare for your testimony in the same way you were prepared for your deposition. Remember to always listen to the question being asked and don’t volunteer any information. If you need a break, ask the judge, especially if you are getting emotional.

Verdict

You might decide to have a bench trial, which means the judge will decide who wins, but you most likely will have a jury trial. After the lawyers make final arguments, the jury withdraws to deliberate. If you win the case, you get a “judgment,” which is a piece of paper. Ultimately, it is up to you to get the defendant or his insurer to pay you.

Contact a Trusted Car Accident Lawyer

Car accident trials are stress. Fortunately, if you hire the right lawyer, you will be in safe hands. Speak to Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law, to discuss your case. Our firm offers a free consultation.

Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident

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It is against the law in Texas to leave the scene of an accident. Nevertheless, people do this almost every day, leaving behind badly injured victims.

Pedestrians are uniquely vulnerable in a hit and run accident. They can suffer much more serious injuries than those riding in cars and require longer recovery times. If you have been struck in a hit and run, reach out to an Austin pedestrian accident attorney today. We will be happy to discuss your options.

Texas Laws on Hit and Run Accidents

Texas Transportation Code §550.021 is the section that deals with accidents that cause bodily injury or death. According to the law, the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident must:

  • Immediately stop or immediately return to the scene of the accident
  • Remain at the scene and provide important information, such as their registration number, name, insurance, and driver’s license if requested
  • Provide reasonable assistance to the injured, including taking someone to the hospital or calling for an ambulance

Unfortunately, many motorists do not follow these requirements but instead leave injured pedestrians to fight for themselves. It is against the law, but unless the driver gets caught, they will not suffer any punishment.

Next Steps After an Accident

After the accident, you should try to contact the police as soon as possible. Share any information you have about the driver who struck you:

  • Color and make/model of the vehicle
  • Any distinguishing marks about the vehicle, such as a bumper sticker
  • What direction the vehicle was traveling in
  • Any description of the driver, if you saw anything
  • As much of the license plate as you saw

Witnesses might also have important information that they can share with the police. If the accident happened near a business, then surveillance video could have captured the vehicle, also. An attorney can help canvass the area and find as much useful information as possible.

Of course, getting medical help is the most vital step, so ask someone to contact an ambulance if you can’t get to the hospital on your own. Receiving prompt treatment is important for your recovery.

Compensation for a Hit and Run Crash

Generally, a person who has been struck can bring a lawsuit against the negligent driver. However, there is a hurdle in a hit-and-run crash—you often can’t identify the driver. This means there is no one you can sue. If the police find him or her, then you can sue or bring a claim against the driver’s insurer. Unfortunately, many drivers flee the scene because they do not have insurance.

Unfortunately, you might never find out the driver’s identity. If you have health insurance, then you can use that to help defray the costs of medical care. You might also have short-term disability insurance through your work, which can help cover lost wages.

If you purchased personal injury protection benefits or uninsured motorist coverage, then they could provide compensation even though you were a pedestrian. Check your policy.

Meet with an attorney to review your options. Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law, has represented many pedestrians injured in car crashes. Give our firm a call. We offer a free consultation.

How To Find Witness For A Car Accident

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On average, a person is hurt in a car accident around every two minutes and five seconds in Texas, according to the Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics for recent years. The implications of these injuries are extensive and affect many areas of your life, so it’s good to know that those accident victims have legal options. However, success depends on your ability to prove that the other driver was at fault – which can be challenging.

Often, you can bolster your case by providing information about those who may have observed the crash. Your Austin auto accident attorney can provide guidance and support, but it may help to review some answers to questions about how to find witnesses for a car accident. 

Can other vehicle occupants serve as witnesses?

People who were in the car with you may be helpful, but their credibility may be in question when an insurance company reviews the information. A claims adjuster knows that you’re likely to be in the car with friends, family, or acquaintances. These people could be viewed as biased, while neutral witnesses may be more favorable.

How do I find a neutral witness?

Anyone who may have seen, heard, felt, or otherwise perceived the accident could be a potential witness to support your claim. If you can access anyone in cars that were not involved in the crash, you should attempt to address them. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and any passersby are also potential witnesses.

What should I do if I find a witness to my car accident?

Get name and contact information from anyone who’s willing to talk with you. Avoid making any statements about the crash, especially as they relate to a fault. Anyone who can act as a witness for you may also be asked about the incident. That person may reveal information that doesn’t support your interests.

Can I use other evidence to support my claim?

Even if your efforts in getting a witness aren’t fruitful, there are other sources of evidence that you can use when filing a claim.

  • Use your cell phone to capture pictures of the scene of the accident, property damage, your injuries, and other physical conditions;
  • Scan the area around the crash, as there may be businesses in the region that have installed security cameras; and,
  • Jot down your recollections of how the collision happened, being as detailed as possible. This information may be critical for your claim, and your compensation could depend upon your ability to refresh your memory in the future.

Set up a Free Consultation with an Austin Auto Accident Attorney

This information on how to find a witness for a car accident may be useful, but this is just one of many aspects of such a case. There are countless additional factors, all of which can affect your right to compensation. If you were hurt and want to know more about your rights, please contact Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law in Austin, TX.