Personal Injury Law
The Basics of Texas Personal Injury Law
While every personal injury lawsuit is different, there are some simple things that can help you understand the process better.
What is Negligence?
At the heart of every personal injury lawsuit is negligence. Negligence occurs when the person who caused the accident or injury did not maintain a level of care that would be expected of a reasonable person. For example, a driver who becomes legally intoxicated, drives, and causes an accident as a result of that intoxication is negligent. When a drunk driver causes harm, he or she may be held legal and financially responsible for injuries and damages they cause. The legal elements required to prove negligence in a personal injury lawsuit are:
- Duty of care– the duty the person who caused the injury owed to the person who was injured. Each person who is behind the wheel of a car owes a duty of care to other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
- Breach of duty – when a person violates a traffic law, such as running a red light, being under the influence or fails to pay attention because they are using a cell phone, they have breached the duty owed to others on the road.
- Causation – generally this is the easiest to prove; when one driver hits another because they were inebriated, failed to yield or weren’t paying attention, they are the cause of the injuries sustained by a victim.
- Damages– medical bills, property damage to a victim’s vehicle, lost wages and ongoing rehabilitation or surgical procedures are all considered actual damages. These damages must be proven for a victim to be able to show the other person caused them financial damage.
Proving Fault in Personal Injury Cases
Facts including the statement of the victim, witness statements and photographs can help show who is at fault in an accident. Other ways to prove fault include a review of evidence which includes the vehicles involved. Your accident attorney may depend on evidence developed from accident reconstruction, police reports and even cameras at local businesses in the area of the accident.
What is a personal injury claim?
When someone is injured in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, the injured party may file a personal injury claim. The basis for a most personal injury claims is negligence.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Texas law allows victims in most personal injury cases to file a lawsuit within two years from the date of their accident. Exceptions may exist if the responsible party is a government agency; in these cases, you may have as little as six months.
How do I determine who is responsible for my injuries?
When someone is negligent, they may be held responsible for your injuries. Negligence is often difficult to define; however, a drunk driver can be considered negligent. Negligence takes on many forms – for example, a trucking company may be pushing drivers to travel long distances without allowing sufficient time between deliveries. In this case, the company may be considered negligent if you were injured by a truck driver who was speeding to get to his next delivery destination. A personal injury attorney will discuss all of the aspects of your accident with you and help determine who is responsible.
Do I really need an attorney after an accident?
Most of the time, the answer is yes. While most of us believe an insurance company will act in good faith and pay our clams in full, the fact remains that insurance companies are interested in protecting their bottom line. This means they will attempt to pay as little as possible out in claims. Additionally, a Texas personal injury attorney will investigate the circumstances of your accident to make sure the responsible parties are held accountable.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
We don’t charge any upfront costs. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means that we don’t charge you a dime unless we recover money through a settlement or through a jury trial. The consultation is free and we handle the upfront costs of filing suit, hiring experts (if necessary), and taking your case to jury trial. If we do not prevail, you do not have to cover any of our costs.
Are there other things I need to know about personal injury claims?
In addition to being aware of the statutes of limitations as they pertain to Texas injury claims, you should also be aware of what is called “shared fault” statutes. Texas uses a modified comparative negligence rule meaning that if you are partially at fault for an accident where you suffer an injury your final award may be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
It is also important to know that if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault, you will be unable to collect any damages. Let’s say your car is broadsided by a truck while you were distracted by a passenger in your car. The determination is that you were 25 percent at fault for your injuries. If the total award was granted at $100,000, you would recover $75,000 due to the other driver’s fault, but you would not recover the $25,000 caused by your own fault.
What compensation am I entitled to after an accident?
A personal injury lawsuit can help you recover financial damages for past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, damage to your vehicle, medical care including the care you receive immediately after the accident and any ongoing medical care you may need after an injury.
What should I do if I’m contacted by an insurance adjuster?
Insurance adjusters should be referred to your personal injury attorney. This is to protect yourself – remember, the adjusters task is to get you to settle your claim for as little as possible. In nearly all cases, the amount of the settlement is likely to be far less than your claim is worth. Be very cautious when answering any questions posed by an insurance adjuster because they will try to prove your injuries are not as serious as you claim and they may also try to get you to admit partial responsibility for your injuries.
Does every personal injury claim go to court?
In many cases, we can negotiate a favorable settlement with the insurance company. However, when the insurance company offers less than your case is worth, we will be fully prepared to take your case to court to fight for the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one was injured in a Texas trucking accident, contact the Eric Ramos Law, PLLC at (210) 404-HURT (4878) for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose since we do not collect a fee unless we are successful in securing a settlement on your behalf.