Accidents happen without warning, and injuries create a lot of turmoil: physically, emotionally, and financially. This is possibly the first time you have ever been hurt by someone’s carelessness, and it can be hard to know where to start. By learning about Texas personal injury claims and how they work, you can secure better results and move through the process easier.
At Anderson Injury Lawyers, we have compiled the following information about Texas personal injury claims to help. With offices in Dallas and Fort Worth, we are valuable resources for our clients and fiercely committed to assisting Texas injury victims.
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Texas Personal Injury Law & Proving Fault
Regardless of how you came to be injured, these cases are typically handled in state court. While there are various elements and legal statutes that govern civil law in Texas, the central issue will be establishing that the incident that caused your injury was due to another’s negligence.
Negligence means a failure to exercise the same degree of care that an ordinary person in similar circumstances would expect to avoid injury.
- Were You Owed a Duty of Care?
The first step in proving negligence is determining whether the alleged party owed you a “duty of care.” This is the legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure your safety. The most common example would be that motorists owe fellow drivers a duty of care by obeying traffic laws and operating their vehicles safely.
- Did Their Actions Breach that Duty of Care?
After establishing that you were owed a certain level of care, you need to show that another’s actions or inaction violated this obligation. In a car accident, if the other driver was speeding or distracted by their phone, this would indicate that they were putting others at risk.
- Did the Breach Cause You Harm?
Determining causation in a personal injury case can be technical depending on the circumstances, but this revolves around linking the other party’s actions and your injuries. For example, if you were injured in a car accident with an impaired driver, you can establish causation by showing had they not been intoxicated, the accident and your injuries could have been avoided.
- Have You Suffered Damages?
Once the negligence is confirmed, an injury victim must demonstrate that they incurred losses or damages. According to Texas law, you may be entitled to a financial recovery for these losses. This includes measurable economic damages like your medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages, as well as more subjective, non-economic damages like your pain and suffering.
Is There a Time Limit to File?
Like all states, Texas puts a limit on the timeframe to file personal injury claims. This is the statute of limitations, and in Texas, a claim must be filed within two years from the date of the injury or after discovering the injury. While there are some exceptions, missing the two-year deadline usually means losing out on compensation. This makes contacting a lawyer critical in any personal injury case.
What If I Share Responsibility?
There are some situations where the target of a claim will suggest that you are in fact or at least in part to blame for the incident in question. This is commonly seen in car accidents involving multiple vehicles. However, even if you bear some degree of responsibility, under Texas’ modified comparative negligence rule, you may still be entitled to damages.
In a Texas personal injury claim, your potential award could be reduced by a degree equal to your level of fault up to 50 percent. For instance, if you incurred $100,000 in damages after a car accident, but you are found to be 10 percent responsible, you can recover up to $90,000. On the other hand, if you found to be more than 50 percent to blame, you will be disqualified from recovering any damages from the other parties.
What is My Injury Claim Worth?
The precise value you can expect from a personal injury settlement or verdict depends on several factors. Some people only calculate their immediate medical costs and lost wages, but there are less obvious losses to consider. These include compensation to cover the costs of future medical care, not to mention your diminished earning capacity caused by the time it took to recover, and the pain and suffering you experienced. If you are thinking about a Texas personal injury claim, you should assess the full impact of your injury on your life, and work with an attorney to maximize the value of your claim.
The Texas Injury Claim Process: Step by Step
Moving forward with an injury claim can feel like a large undertaking. Sometimes, the issues are straightforward, and a favorable settlement is reached quickly between the parties involved. However, insurance companies are known to make initial offers far below what’s appropriate. This can extend things, and it helps to know what to expect.
- Filing the initial claim:
After an injury, you’ll need to file a claim with the insurance companies involved either on you own or through an attorney. We recommend consulting a lawyer before making any statements because what you say could be used to negatively influence potential offers. This will involve evaluating the facts, the damages you incurred, and negotiating a fair recovery.
- The Initial Petition:
If the claim does not result in a suitable offer, you should work with an attorney to draft an official complaint. This is the beginning of the lawsuit process, where you identify the at-fault parties and outline your case.
- Serve the Notice:
The initial petition will be filed officially with the court, which will issue a notice to all the parties named in your compliant.
- The Response:
This gives those you allege to be at-fault or their representatives the chance to respond to your claims. If no official response is filed with the court, it could result in a default judgment in your favor.
- Discovery & Fact-Finding:
At this stage, everyone has been informed of the legal action and represents the bulk of the claim’s timeline. Both sides will exchange information and documents like medical records and reports that pertain to your case. This preserves important evidence and gives you the chance to review material that may support your claim.
- Pre-Trial Motions and Negotiations:
After the evidence is collected and reviewed, the court will rule on any issues of procedure or law. This is also when alternatives to trial are discussed, which may include a new settlement offer that reflects the evidence.
- Trial and Verdict:
While most personal injury cases are resolved through a negotiated settlement, the next phase will involve a trial where the facts of the case will be decided by a judge or jury.
At Anderson Injury Lawyers, we are skilled negotiators with a track record of getting results. Our goal will always be the quick resolution of your claim for the highest possible value. However, if you are best served by taking your injury case to trial, we have a litigation team trained to bring your case to court. We've won millions of dollars for our clients over the years, and we are confident in our ability to bring you justice.
Why Legal Help is Important
Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and that money comes at a price. The more money insurance companies pay out in claims, the less they get to keep for themselves. Unfortunately, this skews their incentives - and it pits them against you.
When insurance adjusters evaluate a claim, they don't just look at its merits. They also look at the experience and the reputation of the lawyers involved. If you hire an experienced trial lawyer who won't hesitate to take your case to court, the insurance company knows it, and it makes them much less likely to offer an unfair settlement. Simply having a reputable firm on your side benefits you tremendously.
Besides our decades of experience handling personal injury claims, here are a few things Anderson Injury Lawyers provides our clients:
- Ensure that all steps of the accident investigation are met, including an extensive accident investigation, which is vital to the success of any case.
- Recommend medical specialists we trust, particularly specialists who understand the importance of meticulous documenting of your claim. If you see a doctor who doesn't write enough down, you cannot prove your position in court.
- If necessary, discuss medical treatment plans with the client's doctors to make sure the medical and financial ends are meeting.
- Hire experts to explain the liability and damage issues if either are in dispute.
- Construct a legally sound case, including gathering medical bills and records, employment information, lost wage information, police reports, etc.
- Analyze a client's insurance policies and the at-fault party's insurance policies to ensure all relevant insurance coverage is being used.
- Deal with any medical lien issues that arise during the claims process (mainly from hospitals, worker's comp and government agencies who demand to be reimbursed).
- Use our experience to appropriately determine the value of a claim and use that knowledge to refuse all unfair offers.
- Evaluate each case and decide if an attempt at pre-litigation makes sense or if we should go directly to litigation.
- Prepare and file the lawsuit, handle all court-related procedures, including citations, written discoveries, depositions, etc. We also try cases before a judge or jury.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Let Anderson Injury Lawyers review your case and pursue maximum compensation. Call us at (817) 717-4731 or via our online form. Your initial consultation is completely free, comes with zero obligation, and if you don’t recover compensation you won’t owe us anything.