After being injured because of another person's reckless or negligent behavior, victims must take immediate steps to obtain the compensation they deserve and improve their recovery process. The first step is to understand what a personal injury is, the legal process for dealing with it, and how the injured person can protect their rights while getting maximum compensation.
Personal injury is a term referring to emotional or physical harm suffered because of another person's negligence. The law covers various negligence-based incidents, including car crashes, dog bites, defective products, slip-and-fall accidents, and work injuries. One can also file a wrongful death claim.
Injury victims can get compensation for damages they've suffered by filing personal injury claims or lawsuits against an at-fault party. Damages can include lost wages, medical bills, emotional distress (pain and suffering), and property damage expenses. However, most personal injury lawsuits are complex, and victims must build a strong case with help from legal counsel.
This article explains the types of cases, tips for filing a personal injury case, and much more.
Texas Personal Injury Cases - Types
Personal injury cases come because of the harm a victim suffers as a result of the reckless, negligent, or illegal behavior of another person.
Overall, negligence indicates that the at-fault party didn't exercise reasonable care. They didn't use the caution and concern that an average person would do in a similar situation. On the other hand, reckless behavior is considered a gross deviation from what that reasonable person might do.
Regardless, if it caused harm to another person, they can file a personal injury lawsuit or claim to be compensated for their losses. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, and mental anguish.
Here are the typical personal injury cases in Texas:
Workers' compensation insurance often handles work injuries. Victims cannot sue their employers, even if they were negligent, because of this insurance. However, if a loved one gets killed at work, the surviving children and spouse can file a gross negligence claim against that employer for any punitive damages.
Motor vehicle accidents include pickup trucks, SUVs, cars, and commercial vehicles. They make up most of the personal injury claims. There are many negligent behaviors that can lead to a car accident, including failure to yield right of way, running red lights, speeding, and driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol.
The dog owner is responsible for all attacks and bites. Negligence can include not keeping the dog fenced in or not using a leash. Likewise, Texas law is strict on owners who have abnormally dangerous dogs. Therefore, owners often have tenant insurance or homeowners' insurance to protect them against dog bites.
Slips and Falls (Premises Liability)
Property owners are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the premises are free of dangerous conditions. Texas law is complex in this situation, though. Victims can bring claims if they can prove the owner didn't exercise ordinary care to eliminate or reduce unreasonably dangerous conditions and didn't warn the person. Common claims here include slip and falls or falling merchandise.
Companies produce products and are required to manufacture and design them correctly. Otherwise, it could lead to an injury. If this happens, the company is held liable.
Design defects can be hard to prove. The victim must establish that it was a defective product and that there was a better way to design it when it was produced.
Understanding the Process for a Texas Personal Injury Lawsuit
After being injured because of another person's negligence, the victim can bring about a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Typically, personal injury cases vary significantly, so the compensation amounts can be very different. Awards range from $1,000 to $10 million, depending on the severity and type of injuries.
Likewise, Texas uses the modified comparative negligence rule to determine award amounts if multiple people were responsible for the incident. It applies when the defendant and plaintiff are both liable.
According to the modified comparative negligence rule, if one party is partially blamed, they are held liable for the damage amount for which they were responsible. Victims can still file a personal injury lawsuit against the other party, but they will see a reduction of compensation based on their percentage of fault.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys could help victims with a personal injury case like any of these:
Fatigued semi-truck driver
Improperly manufactured tires
Refinery not performing maintenance, which leads to death, fire, or explosion
How to Know If One Has a Personal Injury Case
To have a successful personal injury case, negligence must cause the accident and be responsible for the victim's injuries.
For example, in an automobile accident, negligence indicates the driver didn't drive in a reasonable manner. They might not have obeyed the traffic laws or checked for road conditions. In most personal injury claims, victims have the right to be compensated for property damage and personal injuries. Monetary damages will cover the costs for lost wages, medical expenses, mental anguish, and more.
The statute of limitations in Texas is two years for most cases. The case must be settled, or the victim must file a lawsuit before the two-year expiration, which starts on the date of the incident.
Steps to Take for Texas Personal Injury Lawsuits
When negligent acts result in a personal injury, the injuries and the responsible party are the two most important factors. It's crucial to retain a personal injury attorney because they have the experience and knowledge to understand which laws are applicable to that case. Likewise, they can help secure evidence and pursue the claim against the right parties.
Here are the steps of a traditional personal injury case:
Consultation - This is often free and confidential. It's where the victim explains what happened, but they also learn how the legal process works and the next steps.
Case Investigation - Every successful personal injury case has evidence. This can include photographs, medical records, financial records, witness testimony, and video. Here, the attorney will evaluate the damage and liability aspects of the case and help the victim gather evidence.
Demand Letter/Package - Once the investigation is over and the medical treatment is complete, a demand package is sent to the corporation or insurance company. Parties then negotiate.
Litigation - If the case doesn't settle, the attorney can file a lawsuit. This involves depositions and written discovery. Mediation is the next step, but if that isn't successful, the case goes to trial.
How Much Is a Texas Personal Injury Lawsuit Worth?
Being injured because of someone else's negligence can change a person's life. There is physical and mental pain from the injury, but the victim is also dealing with missed time from work, medical bills, and ongoing treatment. There's a significant financial burden here, which is why they have the legal right to get compensation.
It's impossible to determine the amount of any claim, but jurors look at various factors to decide on a value. The two most important ones include the degree of damage and how well the evidence is presented.
Here are a few other factors that can determine the value of a victim's personal injury claim:
Property Damage - Victims should be compensated for damaged property.
Insurance Policies - Insurance companies usually use a formula to calculate claim value. This involves taking all medical expenses incurred and adding dollar amounts to other damages, such as pain and suffering.
Loss of Work - Recovery often takes time, so victims may miss work and are entitled to recover those lost wages. However, self-employed individuals might find it harder to do, which is why a lawyer is beneficial.
Medical Compensation - All medical and hospital bills the victim incurred to treat the injuries are added to the claim. This includes emergency treatment and transportation, as well as ongoing therapy.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life - After suffering a permanent or serious injury, it detracts from the victim's quality of life and enjoyment. Courts often compensate them for the emotional and physical damage that led to this loss.
Personal Injury Claim vs. a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After being injured, the first thing to do is get information from the drivers and witnesses. Then, medical attention is the next step. It's also wise to contact the insurance company, even if it wasn't the victim's fault.
The victim's insurance company will likely be on their side; it wants the negligent party's insurance to pay out. Overall, the insurance company has experience building cases against at-fault parties.
Usually, it's wise to avoid talking to the other party's insurance company. The Houston personal injury lawyer should do this. However, if the victim does speak to the insurance adjuster, they should always say that they do not want their conversation recorded. The insurer will likely use anything said against the victim.
The next question is: should one file a personal injury lawsuit or negotiate a claim?
Differences Between a Personal Injury Lawsuit and Claim
Though the terms are often used interchangeably, they're not the same. Personal injury claims are negotiations with the other party's insurance company. It's used to reach a fair settlement amount. The benefit here is that the court system isn't involved.
However, insurance companies are businesses, so they often undervalue claims and low-ball settlements. It might be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit, which is a legal proceeding and is heard in front of the judge or jury.
Creating Personal Injury Claims in Texas
The victim should start gathering all the evidence they can, including medical records, police reports, and other documentation for the injury and accident. Then, they should call a Texas personal injury lawyer to help them through the process and ensure that their best interests are at heart. One thing that the victim and attorney will do is look into whether PIP plays a part in the insurance policy. They can also explain what a personal injury demand letter is.
In Texas, each insurance company must offer insured persons Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It's included unless the party signs a waiver to reject coverage. The purpose is to cover any expenses arising from an accident, such as lost wages and medical bills.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the victim and other parties cannot reach a fair settlement to cover all the damages, they and their lawyer will consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. Texas has a statute of limitations of two years after the injury.
Here are the steps involved with a lawsuit:
The attorney files a Petition with an appropriate court. This lays out the information presented, including the damages being sought.
The defendant (person being sued) is informed of the pending lawsuit. They're ultimately notified of the case.
Once the defendant is served the information, they will answer the complaint. Sometimes, victims win their lawsuits by default when they fail to do this.
The attorney gathers all the information necessary to present the case. Anything the defendant has is received through "discovery," and they have the right to get data from the victim, which includes witness testimony.
Pre-trial motions are where the lawyers present their information to the judge. They then determine if the issue should go to jury trial.
If the case goes to trial, the lawyer might decide it's in the victim's best interest to let the judge hear the case instead of a jury.
Why Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
After being injured because of another party's negligence, recklessness, or carelessness, it's crucial to work with a personal injury lawyer. Whether the victim suffered a brain injury, bone fracture, back injury, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after a car crash or something else, they need help from a reputable law firm.
Personal injury laws are often confusing, especially when the victim is still recovering from the injuries. Therefore, they need a lawyer to help them get the maximum compensation possible within the time limit.
It is important to request a free consultation from one of the top law firms in Houston, Texas. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys goes to War For Hou. Please fill out the online form or call to speak with a representative now.