What is a Personal Injury Accident?If you’re like many people suffering after a personal injury accident, you might be unsure how your case is defined. Being injured can leave you with so much stress and confusion that you just don’t know how to move forward with a legal claim. That’s where personal injury lawyers can help. The cases personal injury lawyers deal with most commonly include:
- Drunk driving accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability and/or slip and fall accidents
- Wrongful death claims
- Prove the defendant owed you a duty of care. For example, if an accident injured you, you can prove that the defendant owed you the duty of care any reasonable person could expect from other drivers on the road.
- Prove the defendant breached their duty of care.
- Prove the defendant’s negligence caused the accident that led to your injuries.
- Prove the injuries and other losses you suffered were serious.
The Evidence You Need to Prove a Personal Injury ClaimYou will need solid evidence from various sources to prove your claim. If your case goes to court before a judge and jury, all evidence you have will be presented to the jury so that they can properly deliberate who was at fault in your accident and how much you might deserve in compensation. If your case doesn’t go to court, you will use the evidence to negotiate with the insurance company over how much you should receive as compensation for your losses. The evidence you need will prove how much you suffered, why you suffered it, and how to pay you back for it. Here are a few main pieces of evidence you may want to use in your personal injury claim:
- Medical bills and records detailing the injuries you received after the accident and how much it cost you to receive treatment and care for those injuries.
- Photographic or video evidence gathered from the accident scene that can prove how the accident occurred and show what part you played in it as the victim.
- Eyewitness testimony from those who saw the accident.
- A police report detailing the cause and circumstances of the accident and who the police believe to be responsible.
- Eyewitness testimony from family and friends who can testify to how much you have lost and suffered because of the accident.
- Expert testimony from a medical or another professional who can testify to the future costs and consequences your injuries will bring to your life.
- A journal detailing the personal struggles you have faced since your accident, including both the physical and mental anguish you have endured.
- Receipts and bills from costs to repair damaged property such as your vehicle.
What Damages I Can Recover After a Personal Injury Accident?Once you have the evidence you need, you can make a solid argument explaining what you lost because of the accident and what you deserve in terms of compensation. The various losses you suffer are usually called damages. Damages detail your economic and non-economic losses for consideration by the defendant, judge, and jury. Common damages in personal injury claims include:
- Medical expenses. These can include current expenses and future expenses and should cover things like emergency room visits, surgeries, ongoing therapy, and medication or special equipment (e.g., wheelchairs, crutches, etc.).
- Property damage repair expenses for repairs to your car or other items (e.g., cell phones) damaged in the crash.
- The income you lost when taking time off work to recover after your initial crash.
- Future loss of earnings if you cannot return to work or can’t function in the same capacity as before.
- Loss of life enjoyment from those activities you cannot perform as effectively with your injuries.
- Loss of consortium if the stress of your injuries strained your relationships.
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional trauma and distress.
How Much Your Personal Injury Claim May Be WorthAccording to the CDC, fatal car accidents alone cost an estimated $55 billion per year in the United States. These costs stem from medical expenses, lost income, and the burden that families and friends suffer from their loved ones’ deaths. In Texas, medical costs and work loss costs about $5.7 billion in a typical year. Your personal injury case could be worth a lot. Your case may not be worth millions, but it’s sure to be worth a lot to you. You have lost a great deal because of someone else’s negligence, and you deserve to be compensated fairly for those losses. Covering the losses that you and your loved ones will suffer because of a personal injury accident is always going to prove challenging. To determine how much your claim may be worth based on the losses you’ve endured, find a personal injury lawyer who can help you make an appropriate calculation. Usually, your personal injury lawyer will set a range for what they deem your case to be worth. They will probably set the highest amount they believe you could win along with a lower amount that they believe is the least you should accept in settlement. Then, when you start negotiating with the insurance company of the defendant, you can get the highest amount possible within that range.
Who Is Responsible for Personal Injury Accidents?In most states, including in Texas, the person responsible for the accident must usually pay compensation to other parties. So, if you were in a drunk driving accident, you can hold the other driver accountable because they acted recklessly and disobeyed the law by driving under the influence. In other types of accidents, such as premises liability accidents, whoever acted negligently is still held responsible. If you were injured on someone’s property because they didn’t warn you of a hazard on the premises (e.g., a violent dog or a broken stair), you can hold that property owner/manager responsible for the injuries you suffered.
What Do I Do After a Personal Injury Accident?Accidents that lead to serious personal injuries are always stressful and often feel pretty devastating. You might not be initially prepared to deal with everything going on, especially if you’re in a lot of pain or shock. However, the steps you should take after a personal injury accident aren’t complicated. Here’s what you can do after an accident to help you regain control of the situation:
- Remain calm by taking a few deep breaths and focusing your thoughts. You must remain calm to ensure that the rest of the process goes smoothly.
- If you were in a car, pull off the road as far as you can to stay out of the way of other traffic.
- Call an ambulance right away to make sure you and anyone else who is injured can get medical attention. You may not notice some injuries right away due to the effects of shock and adrenaline. You want to get medical experts on the scene as soon as possible.
- Call the police, if applicable. In Texas, you must call the police if an accident injured anyone or caused $1,000 or more in property damage. The police will need to file a report detailing what happened, which could help you in a personal injury claim later on.
- Take photos. You will want pictures of injuries, property damage, and any relevant environmental factors that might have influenced the accident (e.g., you might want a picture of the tripping hazard that caused your fall or of skid marks on the road that proves the other driver drove unsafely).
- Talk to witnesses. You need to get contact information from all witnesses to the accident. If possible, you can also ask them for a written statement that you can take with you.
- Talk to the other driver. You’ll need to exchange insurance information and contact information to use in the rest of your claim.
- Call your insurance company. Don’t apologize when you call, as this could look like an admission of guilt. Simply explain what happened so they can start a claim for you.
- Keep track of evidence. As you receive medical treatment and start paying for repairs, keep all records and bills for future reference.
- Call a personal injury lawyer in Plano. You’ll want to get your claim started quickly, as you’ll probably only have two years total to file a claim in your case. Call a lawyer to get started as soon as possible.
Plano Personal Injury FAQsIf you sustained a severe personal injury, you know how difficult it can be to recover all you’ve lost. You’ll have to fight hard to recover from your injuries, repair damage to your car or other property, and get back to life as you once knew it. The process can take a long time and tax your relationships, body, and finances. If you were in a severe personal injury accident that led to a challenging situation, we are here to help. Our experienced team of Plano legal professionals is always just a call away. We want to help you recover the money you’ve lost, find help for your mental and physical healing, and see justice done to the person who caused you so much harm. After your personal injury accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Plano personal injury lawyer for help getting back on your feet as soon as possible.
What are Plano’s Laws Regarding Personal Injury Claims?The Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code outlines the process of pursuing a personal injury claim. This code governs all personal injury claims that are not groundless or frivolous. It details who, plaintiffs can hold liable for a personal injury to another, how much a claimant can recover in damages, what types of damages the claimant can recover, time limitations for bringing a claim, how to deal with class actions, how to handle appeals, etc. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure further guide courts as they hear personal injury claims. The rules cover such topics as the case’s timeline, the lawyers who can work on a claim, how the jury should conduct itself during a case, what evidence is admissible in court, and many more. Together, these pieces of legislation help claimants and lawyers fight their claims effectively under Texas and Federal law. In general, as long as a claimant brings a legitimate claim and seeks compensation for tangible losses, they can bring the claim before a judge and jury for proper judgment. However, you will have to prove that you suffered real (i.e., significant and substantial) losses because of the accident. You can’t seek compensation if you lost your health or property before the accident from some other cause.
How Does the Process of a Personal Injury Claim Work?As you may know, personal injury claims can take quite a long time to complete. Gathering evidence, handling negotiations, and arguing a case before the court are all processes that add up to a lot of time and energy spent. If you’re considering a personal injury case, you’ll need to know precisely how the process works so that you can decide if pursuing a claim is the best choice for you. Here are the steps you’ll typically need to follow in a personal injury case.
- Call a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation. This is where you’ll discuss your case and decide whether pursuing it will be worth it to you and the lawyer.
- Meet with a personal injury lawyer. You may want to interview several lawyers to determine who you want to work with on your claim. At an in-person meeting, you’ll go over the evidence in your claim, the circumstances around the accident, and what kind of compensation you can expect from pursuing a claim. When you find a lawyer who is the right fit, you’ll sign a contract to begin working together.
- Gather evidence. Your lawyer will gather evidence on your behalf from hospitals, medical providers, police reports, etc. All you have to do is give them your signature to act as your legal representative in gathering this sensitive information.
- File a complaint. Your lawyer will put together a comprehensive complaint that details the circumstances of the accident, all you have lost because of the accident, and how much compensation you deserve from the responsible party (the defendant). They will send this complaint to the defendant and/or their insurance company to begin the legal process.
- Receive a response. Within about 20 days, the defendant must respond to your complaint. They will either reject your demand or make an initial settlement offer.
- Gather more evidence. After receiving a response, you’ll need to begin negotiations for a settlement. To effectively negotiate, you’ll need plenty of evidence to present your claim. Your lawyers will gather more evidence from the accident scene, any evidence the defendant’s lawyers have, and testimony from experts. In addition, they will take interrogatories and deposition from involved parties and witnesses.
- Interrogatories are written questionnaires that all parties will receive. You and others involved will have to register your answers to each question provided with as much detail as possible.
- Depositions are verbal statements. They mirror the questioning process in court in which the lawyer on the opposing side will ask a series of personal and accident-related questions to see how strong your story is. These depositions usually take place in private in a lawyer’s office, and you will have time to practice with your lawyer to make sure yours goes smoothly.
- Negotiate for a settlement. As lawyers gather evidence, the defendant will make settlement offers that they are willing to pay. Your lawyer will discuss each offer with you, and you will decide whether to accept it or want to keep negotiating for something higher.
- Go to court. If you and the defendant cannot settle favorably for everyone, you may need to move your case to court for a judge and jury to try.
- Testify. Your lawyer will present all evidence gathered in your claim before the judge and jury. You and other involved parties will testify of what happened in the accident and what injuries resulted from it.
- Receive your settlement. Finally, the judge and jury will hand down a verdict and the final payment you can receive from the defendant. Your lawyer will help you gather your settlement and get back to your everyday life.
How Do I Get My Settlement After a Personal Injury Claim?Whether you receive the check after a successful settlement negotiation or after trying your claim in court, the process will take some time. Here are the steps you’ll follow when getting your settlement check from the defendant.
- Sign a release. Before any money is sent out, you must sign a release promising that after you are paid your settlement, you will take no further legal action against the defendant.
- Wait for release processing. It may take some time for the insurance company to process the release. As soon as they have, they will release the check, usually payable to both you and your Plano personal injury lawyer.
- Deposit the check. Your personal injury lawyer will deposit your settlement check for you. However, it is essential to note that you will probably not receive the entire settlement amount. This is because your lawyer will need to settle any debts you accrued while your case was pending. These debts may include medical costs, insurance costs for whatever insurance company paid for damages, etc.
- Deduct legal fees. Your lawyer will probably deduct legal expenses from your check. If you work with a personal injury lawyer, they will not ask for any payment until they win your case. However, after winning, they will take a percentage of your settlement in compensation for their services.
- Receive your settlement check. Finally, you’ll receive all the settlement money left over after paying your debts. You can save this money to help you recover from the injuries and damages you’ve suffered after your personal injury accident.
Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in a Plano Personal Injury Claim?As a victim of a severe accident, you’re already dealing with a lot of stress. You may be unwilling to add more stress to your life by hiring a personal injury lawyer. And since the law does not require a lawyer for you to negotiate a personal injury claim, why do you need one? There are a few reasons you should hire a personal injury lawyer.
- Lawyers reduce stress. You’re already dealing with a lot trying to get medical treatment, heal physically and mentally, and find the work you need to pay for your damages. You don’t need further stress from having to fight an insurance company for the settlement that you really deserve. Your lawyers will take this additional stress on by negotiating for you and guiding you to the settlement amount you truly deserve.
- Lawyers provide support. Many personal injury lawyers have worked with hundreds or thousands of personal injury victims. They know the struggles you’re facing, whether that’s finding the right medical help, getting transportation when your car is totaled, or getting help watching your kids. Personal injury lawyers can help you find resources for support so that your recovery process is easier.
- Lawyers get higher settlements. According to one survey done by the Insurance Research Council, victims who use lawyers win 3.5x more than victims who fight claims alone. If you want to get the most from your claim, a personal injury lawyer is essential.
- Lawyers know the law. You may not know all the legal rules surrounding personal injury claims. Unless you went to law school yourself, you’ll be unfamiliar with the processes of pursuing a successful claim and may not even know your legal rights. Personal injury lawyers will fight for your rights and will help you follow all the laws that govern your claim. They can also help you meet all deadlines so that you don’t get cut off from a settlement because you were too late to file a complaint.
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"As a relatively new resident of Houston, I did not know of an attorney to contact for a personal injury suit. I randomly went through the yellow pages contacting two attorneys that had rejected my case prior to me contacting Stewart Guss. Stewart took my case on and settled for far more than I had anticipated. The silver lining of this is that I will now have enough money to go back to school for retraining, so I will be able to reenter the workforce in a new capacity. The paralegal, Angela, was kind and supportive throughout the process. If I did not understand the legal jargon, I did not hesitate to ask, and was never once made to feel that I was incompetent. Thank you Stewart and Angela for giving me a new lease on live."