What Happens in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

June 1, 2023 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
What Happens in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, you’re likely facing medical bills and lost days from work and wondering if you could recover compensation for your losses through a car accident lawsuit.

You’re not alone. Nearly 4,500 people died1 in traffic accidents in Texas in one recent year, and crashes seriously injured another 19,448, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Motor vehicle crashes cost almost $1 trillion in losses2 annually. 

Car accident victims rely on insurance companies to provide compensation for the damages they suffer. Policyholders shell out an average of $1,771 per year for this protection. When insurance companies refuse to provide fair compensation to car accident victims, they may have grounds to take legal action through a car accident lawsuit.  

But how do car accident lawsuits work? What happens when you file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your car accident? How can a car accident lawyer help you? We’ll answer those and other questions below.

How Often Do Car Accident Lawsuits Go to Court?

We don’t know how often car accident claims go to court. The Law Dictionary reports that roughly 95 percent of pending lawsuits end in pre-trial settlements. Both sides usually prefer to avoid time-consuming and expensive trials. 

Building a case with expert witnesses and accident scene investigations can cost thousands of dollars. However, 90 percent of car accident cases that do go to trial end in victory for the person who brought the suit.

What Happens if My Car Accident Lawsuit Goes to Trial? 

If your car accident case is the rare one that does go to court, it may go through several phases.


In the discovery phase, your lawyer builds your case by gathering evidence, reviewing relevant laws and statutes, interviewing witnesses, reviewing the police report, investigating the accident scene, and determining your damages' full extent and value.


Once your lawyer builds your case, they will try to avoid going to trial by negotiating with the defendants and insurance companies for a fair settlement. If the parties agree on the settlement amount, you can receive a payout without going to court. However, if the parties cannot agree, your car accident case may progress to trial.  

Arguments and Trial 

Your case moves into the courtroom for the arguments and trial phase. This is where your car accident attorney makes arguments supporting your claim, presents evidence, and possibly brings expert witnesses to testify about the accident or the severity of your injuries. 

Verdict and Award

The final phase is when the jury issues a verdict in your case after considering all arguments and evidence from both sides. If the jury rules in your favor, it will announce a monetary amount the defendants must pay you. 

Car accident cases rarely go all the way to court. And, even then, both parties may reach a settlement agreement during the process, which resolves your case before it reaches a jury. 

How Long Will a Car Accident Trial Take?

The length of a car accident trial will depend on: 

  • The number of defendants
  • The severity of your injuries
  • How strong your case is
  • How strong the defendant’s case is
  • How many of witnesses are testifying 
  • Each party’s percentage of fault 

Who Pays for Damages in a Car Accident?

Texas allows drivers to purchase optional no-fault personal injury protection insurance. If you buy this coverage, you will file a claim with your own insurance company first. If your personal injury protection policy won’t cover your costs, you can then file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy to recover the difference.

If you don’t purchase no-fault insurance, the at-fault driver and their insurer must pay the damages related to the accident.

Do I Have a Car Accident Claim? 

To collect damages in a car accident claim, you must show that the other driver’s negligent actions caused the accident that injured you.

The four elements of negligence are:

  • Duty of care: The at-fault driver had a legal duty to drive safely and follow the rules of the road to ensure the safety of others.
  • Breach of duty: The at-fault driver breached his duty of care by driving recklessly, running a red light, or driving in a way that posed a risk to others.
  • Causation: The at-fault driver’s breach of duty caused the accident that injured you.
  • Damages: The injuries you suffered caused you actual damages, such as medical bills, property damages, and lost income.

What if I am Partially at Fault for My Car Accident?

Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule that determines the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover in an accident based on their percentage of fault. People with less than 51 percent of the fault for their own injuries and damages can demand compensation from the defendant. However, the percentage they receive will decrease by their percentage of their fault.

A car accident lawyer can ensure you don’t take more blame for the accident than you deserve, and fight to recover all of the compensation the at-fault party owes you.  

What Other Parties Can I Hold Liable for Car Accidents?

You can hold several parties liable for a crash. For example, you might hold a government entity liable for an accident caused by poor roadway design and maintenance. You could hold a manufacturer responsible if a defective vehicle part such as a tire blowout or power steering failure causes an accident. If a trucker or delivery driver caused your accident well-performing the duties of their occupation, you can hold their employer liable.

What Damages Are Available to Car Accident Victims? 

Car accident victims may recover three types of compensation:

Economic Damages

Economic damages are financial losses you suffered due to your accident, and include:

  • Past medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Property damage

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages represent less tangible damages caused by the accident, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Scars or disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship

Punitive Damages

In rare circumstances, Texas courts will allow juries to award punitive damages to punish wrongdoers. This includes situations like drunk driving, where the at-fault party acted with deliberate disregard for the safety of others.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit?

Texas has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits, so you have two years from your injury to file a legal claim with the court. If you fail to meet this deadline, you will lose your right to seek financial recovery.

Limited exceptions to this rule may shorten or extend this deadline. If you are still determining whether your car accident claim falls within this deadline, consult an experienced car accident attorney. 

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

The actions you take immediately after a car accident can strengthen your claim and prove valuable if your case goes to court. 

Get Medical Attention

You may feel disoriented and in shock after a car accident. Assess any injuries and notify the police and emergency services. Even if you do not believe you are injured, or you believe the crash only caused mild injuries, get checked out by a medical professional. Some accident injuries don’t present symptoms for hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. Follow up with your doctor after your accident as well. This will establish your injuries on your medical records. 

Take Photos 

Most people have smartphones or cellular phones with cameras. Take as many photos as possible of the accident scene, damages to vehicles, injuries sustained by those involved, any debris from the collision, skid marks, road hazards or obstructions, property damage, and others at the scene.

Gather Witness Testimony

Ask others at the scene for their contact information and what they saw or heard. Write down what they tell you. Memories fade over time, and essential details can fade. 

Initiate a Police Report

Under Texas law, you must report your car accident to the police if it resulted in serious injuries, death, or property damage of more than $1,000. (It doesn’t take a bad accident to cause more than $1,000 worth of damage to a modern vehicle.) Failing to do so could lead to steep fines and jail time. To be safe and create a record of the accident for your insurance company, always call the police after an accident regardless of how minor it may seem, and ask how to get a copy of the police report.

Collect Information from Others

You will need to share information with others in the accident, such as name, contact information, and car insurance information from all drivers involved.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Have your car accident attorney notify your provider as soon as possible. If you fail to do so promptly, your insurance company may deny your claim or cancel your policy altogether. 

When you contact your insurance company, don’t admit blame or provide too many details. Insurers are notorious for using your words against you to get out of paying you the full compensation you deserve. If you retain a car accident attorney, let your attorney handle all communications with insurance companies.

Save all Documents and Communications

Save all medical bills and other expenses related to your injury, including any medical equipment or special care you require. If your injuries prevented you from working, you may recover compensation for lost income. Collect pay stubs or income tax returns to show your earnings at the time of the accident and save any communication with your job regarding your injury-related absences from work. This information will help your car accident lawyer determine the value of your damages. 

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

Hiring the right car accident attorney after you suffered injuries in a car accident can dramatically improve your chances of getting full and fair financial compensation for the damages you suffered.

A qualified car accident attorney can:

  • Determine the full extent and value of your accident-related damages.
  • Identify all liable parties, including drivers, car owners, and manufacturers.
  • Negotiate with insurance companies for full compensation for your damages.
  • File your car accident lawsuit with the court before the statute of limitations.
  • Represent you in court and pursue a jury verdict should your case go to trial.

Call a Car Accident Attorney Today

If you suffered injuries in an auto accident and want to know whether you have grounds for a car accident lawsuit, speak with a personal injury attorney in Texas. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the legal process, determine the value of your damages, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court in a car accident lawsuit.

1 - Nearly 4,500 people died
2 - $1 trillion in losses