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.
Criteria Insurance Companies Use to Value A Personal Injury 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.
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.
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.
The trial experience and reputation of the lawyer involved in pursuing the case on behalf of the accident victim. Would you use a surgeon who had never performed surgery? When you are interviewing attorneys, ask them how many cases they have personally tried to a jury. You may be surprised at the answer. Many personal injury lawyers have tried few if any, cases, but the client does not think to ask that crucial question. Some lawyers have a reputation for settling all 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 and 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 fearful that because they have little trial experience. Insurance companies can smell fear. If they know 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, and 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.
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Jason Thomas has tried over a hundred personal injury lawsuits in his career, and he is well-respected in the legal community. The J Thomas Law Team is ready to take on your personal injury claim too! Click here to request your free case review or call them today at 817-442-2410 for your free consultation. If we agree to take on your case, you pay nothing unless and until you achieve a recovery in your case.