Personal injuries happen every single day. In fact, they happen at such high frequency that unintentional injuries are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. What makes this issue worse is an alarming number of these injuries happen because of someone’s recklessness, ignorance, or just plain stupid behavior.
In Texas, if someone else’s negligence injured you, you may have a personal injury case. To learn more about your rights after an accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney!
What exactly is a personal injury?
The term personal injury seems pretty straightforward. Ask almost anyone how they define personal injury and they’ll probably say something along the lines of: “That’s easy, it’s an injury that happens to a person.”
To the average person, that’s exactly what a personal injury is, but from a legal standpoint, a personal injury doesn’t just refer to the nature of the injury. It also accounts for the cause and effect of that person’s injury.
According to the American Bar Association, every personal injury case must include two basic aspects: liability and damage.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you were in a car accident and broke your leg in the collision. Your insurance company will first look at who was at fault and whether you were hurt.
Let’s pretend the insurance company completes its investigation and discovers the other driver ran a red light. In this example, there’s a good chance you have a personal injury case because you can prove A) Liability (the accident only happened because the other driver was negligent) and B) damages (the cost to fix your leg.)
After an accident, you should be able to answer three simple questions:
- Did you suffer an injury?
- Were your injuries someone else’s fault?
- Will you incur expenses as a result of your injuries?
If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, it’s time to talk to a personal injury attorney.
How do personal injuries happen?
Ask any personal injury attorney and they’ll tell you they have seen injuries happen in all places imaginable. Accidents happen on our roads, at the store, and far too often at the workplace. In Texas, injuries are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 1 and 44.
If you have suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence, the most important thing to understand is you have rights. A personal injury attorney can help you fight for damages, make a full recovery, and move on with your life. Common types of personal injuries include:
Motor vehicle accident injuries
Some may describe driving in Houston as more than a bit frightening, and for good reason. A recent report analyzed the 50 most dangerous highways in the United States. Want to take a guess how many were in Texas? Eleven! In Houston, three highways made the list with I-10 coming in at number five. I-10 also made the top 10 when it comes to drunk driving fatalities, with a whopping 44% of all 1-10 fatalities listing driving under the influence as the primary cause. There is no question—drivers in Houston have to do better.
Common causes of motor vehicle accidents include:
- Speeding or driving too fast for condition
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
Slip and fall injuries
Somewhere along the way, slip and fall accidents have gotten a reputation for being frivolous or baseless legal claims. It doesn’t help that prank shows and home videos laugh off falls as no big deal. But the truth is, falls are anything but funny. In many cases, they can cause very serious injuries.
When a person owns a home or business, they have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of anyone who enters their property. When a property owner fails to keep their land and building safe, you can hold them liable for any injuries that occur.
Common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Loose or unsecured electrical cords
- Uneven flooring or kicked up rugs
- Uneven sidewalks
- Unmarked steps or dips in the walkway
- Liquid spills
- Ice or other weather conditions
Medical malpractice injuries
When you go to the doctor, they have one job—to treat your condition. But what happens when a doctor misses a diagnosis or makes your condition worse? When you leave the doctor worse than when you came in, it can be frustrating and honestly, outright infuriating.
Doctors have a legal and ethical obligation to administer the best care possible. When a doctor’s negligence causes you personal harm, they may bear legal liability for your damages.
Common examples of medical malpractice claims include:
- Missed or delayed diagnosis
- Medication errors
- Surgical mistakes
- Improper follow-up care
- Birth injuries
Defective product injuries
When you buy a product from the store, you expect the product manufacturer has done their job to ensure the product’s safety. From research and development to production, there are many steps a business must take before a product hits the market.
Unfortunately, bad products come out every single day. Just check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s list of current recalls and you’ll find thousands upon thousands of products that have been deemed unsafe for consumers. When a business doesn’t do its due diligence, serious injuries or death can occur.
It’s important to note, a product recall does not make a manufacturer immune from legal liability. If a defective or dangerous product has injured you, contact a personal injury attorney to learn more about your rights.
Pedestrian and bicyclist injuries
Once again, Texas has made another top 10 list… And once again, it’s a list you don’t want to be on. According to the NHTSA, only nine states have worse pedestrian safety numbers than the Lone Star state. In its report, the NHTSA found there were 2.24 pedestrian deaths for every 100,000 people. During the same time, the nationwide average was 1.9 deaths per 100,000 people.
Pedestrian accidents are serious. Survivors of pedestrian accidents often face a long road to recovery and may have difficulty moving on from the accident.
Common injuries after a pedestrian accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Cuts, lacerations, scrapes, and bruises
- Depression, anxiety, and PTSD
What to do after you suffer a personal injury
If someone else’s negligence injured you, the last thing you should do is “grin and bear it.” Remember, this accident was not your fault and you should not have to pay for the costs you incur. Under Texas law, you have rights. Now is when you need to stand up and fight for those rights. Sure, it may be difficult, but when you have an attorney in your corner who you know has your back, the process becomes a lot easier.
After an injury, there are certain things you can do to protect your rights:
- Prioritize your safety: After an accident or injury, nothing else matters but your safety. If you have suffered a serious or life-threatening injury, get to the doctor right away. If you can’t move, call for help.
- Gather evidence: You wouldn’t believe how many people make up stories to try to deny liability. After an accident, you have to protect yourself from getting stuck in a case of “he said, she said.” How do you do this? Gather evidence. Pull out your phone and start taking pictures. If you were in a car accident, take pictures of vehicle damage, skid marks, and anything else that will prove your case. Don’t forget to get the driver’s contact and insurance information. If you were injured on someone else’s property, get images of anything that might help prove your case.
- Talk to witnesses: Witnesses can be gold in a personal injury case. They can fill in any gaps and shut down any lies the other party might say to get out of having to pay. Keep it simple for now: just ask if they saw the incident and if they’d be willing to make a statement. Don’t forget to get their contact information.
- Report the incident: How you do this will depend on what exactly happened. If you were in a car accident, you may need to call the police or make a police report. If you fell at the store, you’ll need to report the incident to the manager on duty. When you report the accident you create a record of what happened that your attorney can refer to later on down the road.
- Go to the doctor: After an accident or injury, it’s always a good idea to go get checked out. However, you can skip the emergency room unless it’s an actual emergency. Your local urgent care will be much cheaper. When you go to the doctor, your care provider will record your symptoms and check for any serious injuries. Not only does this ensure there are no underlying problems, but it also creates a record of your injuries.
- Call an attorney: Personal injury cases are complex. The simple fact is, insurance companies and private institutes don’t like to pay. In fact, they will use every tactic in the book to get out of responsibility or diminish the value of your case. The right lawyer will know how to combat these tactics and help you build your case.
The law limits how long you have to file a personal injury case. In Texas, victims have two years from the date of the accident or injury. While this may seem like a long time, you need to allow your attorney enough time to review your case.
What should I expect from my personal injury case?
The purpose of a personal injury claim is to make you “whole” after an accident or injury. This means you shouldn’t have to suffer any unnecessary burden or cost because of someone else’s negligence. Luckily the law allows victims to pursue reasonable damages through a personal injury suit. These damages include economic and non-economic costs.
Every case is different, but common damages include:
- Medical bills: The cost of a personal injury can range from a couple of hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Regardless of how much your costs are, these bills are not something you should have to pay on your own. Remember, the goal is to make you whole. This means your attorney will likely fight to recover these costs dollar-for-dollar.
- Lost wages: Most people don’t have enough money in the bank to cover emergency costs, let alone take time off of work to recover from a serious accident. Lost wages claims can help you recover any salary lost, from the date of the accident up until you can return to work.
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is a broad term that covers all sorts of emotional distress. Accidents don’t just cause physical injuries, they can cause prolonged pain and leave emotional scars. While it’s hard to put a dollar amount on pain, there is no doubt you deserve compensation for your stress and suffering. When the court or insurance company calculates pain and suffering they may consider the degree of your injuries, your prognosis, and any long-term effects of your injuries.
Take control of your future
Personal injuries are just that—personal.
When someone else’s negligence diminishes your quality of life, it’s time to stand up and regain control of your life. Personal injury cases aren’t just about the money, they’re about gaining the resources you need to move on.
If someone else’s negligence injured you or someone you love, the law may entitle you to financial compensation. Speak with a local Houston personal injury attorney now to find out more.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.