PERSONAL INJURY LAW


 

 
 

What Is Personal Injury Law?


Accidents are common - whether at work, on the go around town, or in the home. Depending on the severity of the accident, this can be a very stressful time in a person’s life. Accidents often affect a person's livelihood and possibly their entire family as well. Personal injury law exists and is designed to protect in the case that a personal injury negatively impacts your life. While you may be aware that you have certain rights with this type of injury, you might not understand the exact specifics of personal injury law or how it works. To have a personal injury lawsuit or claim, you must have suffered some type of personal injury. A personal injury is an injury to your body, mind, or emotions. It can be either physical or psychological.


When a person suffers some sort of injury because of an accident, someone else may be responsible. The injured person has the legal right to begin the process of a personal injury case in order to prove they were not at fault, in most cases to help with medical or other bills associated with the incident. A formal lawsuit can be filed by one person on another individual, a corporation, or even a government agency. Typically, this is to show that an injury was sustained because of neglect or something along those lines. The most common types of personal injury cases include:

  • car accidents
  • medical malpractice
  • slips and falls
  • workplace negligence
  • product defects
  • dog bites
  • assault and battery
  • defamation


Even though you may have been badly injured in an accident, it does not guarantee that you will win a personal injury case. Without significant proof of your injuries, pain, suffering, and financial losses, and help from a qualified attorney, the decision of your lawsuit may not go in your favor. Preparation is key to successfully winning any lawsuit, especially when it comes to those dealing with a personal injury.

Seek Medical Care

It is not enough to say that you’re injured. You need to have medical treatment as soon as it happens. Get the medical help you need, follow your doctor’s instructions, and continue with your follow-up care as prescribed. Don’t be a martyr and try to tough it out. When you don’t seek medical treatment, the defense has room to say the injury was not as significant as you’re making it out to be.

Make Sure to Document Everything

Be consistent and communicate all your symptoms to your doctors when filling out your paperwork, and when speaking to them during your examinations. If current symptoms worsen or new ones show up, tell your doctors so the new information is added to your medical records. Make sure to accurately describe the pain or sensations you’re feeling, such as any numbness in the areas where you were hurt. You should also discuss your injuries with other doctors you see for conditions unrelated to your injury to add further documentation.

Don’t Hide Prior Medical History

If you have had a prior injury, such as a back injury, you may be hesitant to disclose this to your doctor or your personal injury attorney at the thought that it will affect the outcome of your case. What you may not realize, however, is that by not being open about a past injury, you will jeopardize your legal claim. Personal injury laws allow you to file suit even if you had an existing injury aggravated by the accident, or made your pre-existing medical condition worse. But if you fail to be honest and try to hide your history, the judge and jury may side with the defense.

Keep Doctors and Your Attorney in the Loop

Make sure that all your doctors are kept up to date with the tests, x-rays, MRIs and any prescribed procedures or therapy. Communicate this information to your attorney so they can help you navigate through the process as they continue to build your personal injury case. Be sure to speak with your attorney before applying for any assistance from the government, including disability, because this could have a negative effect.

How much is my case worth?

How much is my case worth? I don't believe any lawyer can tell you how much any case is worth on the front end when you first consult with them. Many factors are involved. There are liability issues and collectibility issues. This is why you should consult with an attorney, go over the facts of the case and they can give you a general idea of what the case is going to be worth. Most cases, the amount of damages drive the value of the case but again, there's no one case that's just like another. There's different factors involved that affect the value of every case.

Personal Injury Lawyers

Personal injury lawyers represent those who claim to have been injured by another. The goal of the personal injury lawyer is to make you, the plaintiff, whole again. They begin by investigating your claim. You will play a major role in this process by providing medical information, the facts of the case as you experienced it, and any witness testimonies that you were able to obtain. Your personal injury lawyer will interview both expert witnesses and those who were present when you experienced your personal injury. After gathering evidence, the personal injury lawyer will read over case studies to determine if there are any prior cases that can be used to justify a legal ruling.

Your Lawyer’s Specialization

Ideally, you will want to work with a personal injury lawyer that has experience, preferably trial experience, with your specific type of case. Many lawyers specialize in medical malpractice, car accidents, or workplace injuries. These lawyers will be able to better assess your case to determine if it has merit.

When you are interviewing potential counsel, ask the lawyer you are talking to how many cases he or she has tried to a jury and how they would handle your personal injury case if it does proceed to a jury trial. Look for an attorney who has tried and had primary responsibility for at least twenty-five jury trials. If he or she hasn’t, or if you can’t get a straight answer to that question, keep looking.

Experience Matters

You may be surprised to hear that many personal injury lawyers have tried few if any, cases. Some lawyers have a reputation for settling all of their cases. Insurance carriers and the attorneys they use to defend cases are generally familiar with the lawyers in the area. They are aware of which attorneys have substantial trial experience, those that are willing to take a case to trial, and those who settle everything. A lawyer who has not brought many cases to trial may be more fearful than one who has. If an insurance company knows a lawyer does not have trial experience, they expect he or she will try to settle a case (potentially for less than they should) in order to avoid trying the case. They may offer less to settle that case than they would if your case was being handled by an experienced trial lawyer. You want a lawyer with substantial trial experience who is not afraid to take your case to trial if that is what is needed.

The Judgment Period

Personal injury cases can often be settled outside of the courtroom. Two lawyers or two insurance companies can often come to a favorable agreement for both parties without having to take on a full lawsuit. It’s always preferred for a settlement to be reached peacefully, as this saves both sides valuable time and money. When a negotiation is made, both parties will sign an agreement that prevents them from being able to pursue a lawsuit in the future regarding the particular incident.

Statute Of Limitations

Once an injury has been sustained, there is a certain amount of time that can go by when a lawsuit is no longer an option. This amount of time can vary based on the state where the injury occurred or the type of incident. This statute of limitations is also in place to keep things honest. A person should not be able to come along ten years later, trying to seek retribution for something that happened so long ago. If a personal injury claim is legitimate, a case should be set into motion as soon as possible.

Determining If You Have A Case

Each personal injury case is different, and a professional attorney who is experienced with personal injury law can help determine whether or not you have a valid case. Consulting with a professional will allow a thorough investigation of the timeline of the events, the laws involved, and the evidence that exists.

Valuing A Personal Injury Claim

In Texas, to pursue a personal injury claim in court, you must file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party.  You cannot sue the at-fault party’s insurance carrier directly. Moreover, the Texas Rules of Evidence prohibit lawyers at trial from discussing, introducing or even suggesting that there is an insurance company involved.  Therefore, in most cases that get to a trial, the jury will never be informed that an insurance company has hired a lawyer to represent the at-fault defendant, or that the insurance company will be paying any money the jury might award to the claimant in the case.

Many personal injury claims are resolved without filing a lawsuit, and even claims that do require filing suit are settled before trial.  The at-fault party’s insurance company typically has the ultimate decision as to how much it will pay to settle a claim.

There are many factors insurance companies may consider in determining the value of a particular car accident or personal injury claim.  They include but are not limited to:

Nature and Extent of the Claimant’s Injury

As can be expected, the more serious the claimant’s injuries, the higher the value of the case.  For example, a case where the claimant’s leg was broken as a result of an auto accident is likely worth more than a case where the claimant has a soft tissue injury to his or her back and receives care from therapy from a chiropractor.  If everything else is the same, the driver of the car of the vehicle in the first picture likely has a claim with a higher value than the driver of the vehicle in the second photo.

Permanent Impairment

Another factor would be whether the claimant’s injuries will cause permanent problems for the claimant.  The claim may have more value if the injuries caused by the accident will cause long-term or permanent problems for the claimant.  In some cases, as a result of the accident, the claimant may be permanently prevented from doing something he or she loved to do before the accident (like play baseball, ride a bike, sit for hours at their desk at work, be exposed to sunlight for the entire day, etc.).  Lawyers call this type of damage “permanent impairment.” If there is permanent impairment, the value of the claim may be higher, particularly if it may interfere with the claimant’s ability to work.

Scarring or Disfigurement

Next, would be whether the claimant has any permanent scarring or disfigurement. (Lawyers call this “permanent disfigurement.”)  If there is permanent scarring or other disfigurement caused by the accident, the value of the case is generally higher.

Medical Bills and Lost Wages

The total of medical bills paid or incurred by the claimant. In general, the higher the medical bills, the higher the value of the case, though medical bills from a doctor and a hospital stay or emergency room visit may be given more weight than bills for physical therapy or chiropractic care.

The amount of lost wages and time off from work as a result of the car accident. Lost wages for the time that the claimant had to spend in the hospital, recuperating at home before being released back to work, or making visits to a doctor’s office and missed work.

Aggravating Conduct

The claim might have a higher value if the at-fault party was engaged in illegal, reckless or dangerous behavior at the time of the accident.  Examples are driving while intoxicated, road rage, driving with excessive speed/racing, texting or talking on the phone while driving.

Jason Thomas Law - Experience that Matters

Jason Thomas is an experienced personal injury lawyer who has tried over 75 cases to a jury during his career to date. For his work done in the state, Mr. Thomas has been named a Texas Super Lawyer. He is a member of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates (“ABOTA”), a national organization of experienced trial lawyers with chapters all over the United States. In addition to personal injury, Mr. Thomas also has case experience with property damage, contract disputes, business disputes, automobile liability, insurance bad faith, premises liability, trucking litigation and other general negligence litigation. Mr. Thomas is an active member of the law community, has served on boards and is a member of several organizations.

You’ve been injured in an accident, your car is damaged or even totaled, and you are not getting anywhere with the other driver’s insurance company –or at least not quickly enough– and you need to hire a personal injury lawyer. Now what? How do you find an experienced attorney well-suited to handle your case? What should you be looking for and how do you find it? It seems that today, most folks involved in a car accident use the internet to find their attorney. While this is a good place to start, it is NOT a fool proof way to find the right lawyer to handle your case. It is important to ask the right questions. Find a Personal Injury Lawyer With Experience, Preferably Trial Experience.

Where do I begin with my personal injury case?


How are personal injury values determined?

In Texas, in order to pursue a personal injury claim in court, you must file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party. You cannot sue the at-fault party’s insurance carrier directly. Moreover, the Texas Rules of Evidence prohibit lawyers at trial from discussing, introducing or even suggesting that there is an insurance company involved. Therefore, in most cases that get to a trial, the jury will never be informed that an insurance company has hired a lawyer to represent the at-fault defendant, or that the insurance company will be paying any money the jury might award to the claimant in the case.

Many personal injury claims are resolved without filing a lawsuit, and even claims that do require filing suit are settled before trial. The at-fault party’s insurance company typically has the ultimate decision as to how much it will pay to settle a claim.