Section 3 – Types of Damages in an Auto Accident Case

There are two types of general damages in auto accident cases: Property Damages and Personal Injury Damages.


The Property Damages involve the damages and costs relating to:

  • Vehicles
  • Damage to Personal Belongings resulting from the Accident
  • Towing Costs
  • Vehicle Storage Fees
  • Appraisals, if necessary
  • Public or Private Property Damaged by the Accident
  • Body Shop Repairs
  • Replacement Costs

Our law firm can and will evaluate your property damage claim. Property damage claims are usually resolved swiftly. However, certain insurance companies can be notoriously slow in processing property damage claims, so your patience will be necessary.

Many automobile owners have collision coverage on their vehicle. It is this collision coverage that pays for property damage to their own vehicle, whether the damage was caused by themselves or someone else who cannot be found or is unable to pay for the damages. Using collision coverage can speed the process of restoring your vehicle. You will need to rely on the negligent parties’ liability coverage if you do not have collision coverage. Unfortunately you may not be treated fairly by the negligent parties’ insurance carrier since they may feel it is in their best interest to do so. It is at those times, we will see to it that your rights are protected and negotiate to get the justice you deserve. We cannot, however force {short of litigation) the at-fault insurance carrier to pay fairly for your damages. We will encourage the insurance carrier, using the law and the facts in your case, to pay fairly for your damages.

We do not advise you to try and settle your property damage claim on your own. Unlike many law firms, we will assist you with the settlement of your property damage claim at no additional charge to you.

Usually, automobile damage is classified into two areas – repairable or totaled. (See discussion Section Ten,) Your vehicle will most likely be totaled by the insurance company if the cost to repair your automobile is more than the current fair market value. It is important to note that in some instances the fair market value of the totaled vehicle may be less than what is still owed to a bank or finance company. If this problem arises we will advise you of your rights.

You may qualify for the use of a rental vehicle from your own insurance company if your damaged, but repairable, vehicle is not legally or physically drivable. Your declarations page of your vehicle’s insurance policy will indicate whether you contracted for this additional coverage.

The at-fault insurance carrier is not required by law to furnish a replacement rental. However, at times the at-fault carrier will agree to pay for a few days of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. when it is in their overall best interest to cooperate with us early on in the case.


Personal Injury Damages are classified into the following areas:

  • Ambulance Services
  • Emergency Room Supplies
  • Physical Aids and Appliances
  • Physical Therapy
  • Staff and Doctors
  • Transportation
  • Loss of Wages
  • Medical Specialists
  • Hospital
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Permanent Injury or Disability

This is just a partial list of the personal injury damages that you may have incurred as a result of an auto accident. Because each and every case is different, we are unable to make generalizations about the value of your case until all available facts have been discovered and the case investigated.

We may recover Personal Injury Damages from different coverages of both parties’ insurance policies, or in some instances from third-party insurance policies. The person at fault in the accident is principally responsible to pay for your injuries. As many drivers do not have enough assets to pay for damages caused by their negligence, we first determine if there is insurance coverage available to pay for your damages. If the coverage is available your lawyer then must convince the insurance company(s) that (1) the insurance coverage includes your situation, (2) you are not at fault, (3) you have actual damages for medical care, and (4) you have incurred pain and suffering and/or other damages.

Your personal injury damages will be pursued primarily from the at fault insurance carrier through the at-fault parties’ liability policy.

Several other insurance coverages may be available to compensate you for your injuries. Our investigative personnel will use its expertise to locate all possible insurance recoveries. You will find some of these coverages explained in Section Nine of this website.

In some cases the at fault party has adequate resources to pay your damages even if they are uninsured. This is uncommon, as most people who have large sums of money also protect their other personal assets from judgment with adequate insurance.

If you have contracted Personal Injury Protection (PIP coverage) from your insurance carrier, you may use that coverage to pay for your medical expenses up to the limits of your policy. The declarations page of your vehicle’s insurance policy will verify which coverages you have contracted.

If you find you do not have PIP coverage you may still be eligible for the coverage as long as you did not sign a form rejecting PIP at the time you purchased the insurance coverage. The law requires that the insurance company pay you as if you contracted for the coverage. If you believe you did not sign a PIP rejection of coverage, we can demand that your insurance company produce the signed rejection. If your insurance carrier does not produce the rejection form with your signature, they are obligated by law to honor your PIP claim as though you had contracted PIP coverage. PIP coverage in the state of Texas is $2,500.00 minimum.

Statutory Liens-Subrogation

It is important to be aware that any treatment you receive from a hospital through Medicare or Medicaid, through worker’s compensation, or through certain other statutory protected entities, particularly if any of these entities incurred cost for medical expenses on injuries sustained in your auto accident, they have what is called a statutory lien and right of subrogation on any personal injury award you may receive. This means that they can demand payment for medical treatment paid for by the protected entity(s), out of any settlement or jury award that you may receive resulting from your accident. Please understand this is a common occurrence and should this happen, you must understand that our law firm has no control over this situation. You are required to honor these Texas statutory laws and certain federal laws which impose this lien and right of subrogation in personal injury cases. As your lawyer, we are required to see that the liens are paid out of any proceeds recovered on your case.

Subrogation by Contract

You also need to be aware of a certain contractual obligation, known as subrogation by contract, contained in many group health policies. What this means is that if some of the medical bills from your accident are paid out of your group health insurance policy, you may be responsible to repay some or all of the costs incurred for reasonable and necessary treatment. If this applies, reimbursement will be requested from your settlement or jury award. We will advise you if the right of subrogation by contract applies to your case. You will need to provide us a copy of your health insurance policy. It is necessary for us to see the actual policy to determine your exact legal rights. If you were never given a copy of the policy, please request a copy from your employer. Your employer is required to provide a copy upon request. You can request a copy from your health insurance provider, but this can be a slow process resulting in long delays.

It is almost always advisable, even if you have subrogation provisions, to attempt to get your health insurance carrier to pay the cost of your medical treatment resulting from your accident. The reason for this is that we are sometimes able to convince health insurance providers to accept fewer subrogation funds from the final settlement of your case. This results in a higher amount of net funds that you will receive from your settlement.