How do I know when I need a lawyer?
If you have been injured and negligence may have caused the accident, you should at least seek the advice of an experienced personal injury (PI) attorney. If there was no injury and only property was damaged, those claims are much more straightforward. With a few exceptions, you may be able to successfully handle a property damage claim yourself. But if you were injured, an experienced PI attorney can help you understand your injuries’ “objective” value in an insurance claim, then protect your rights as you move to recover damages.
How much is my claim worth?
This is a very legitimate question. The value of your claim depends on many variables – a few of which can include:
- The nature and severity of your injuries
- The total cost of your medical expenses (both past and future)
- How long it takes for you to recover
- How much income you have lost because you can’t work
- How severe your physical and emotional pain and suffering are
- The degree of negligence (or whether willful intent was displayed) by the defendant
Because of the number of variables that influence the value of the claim, even the most experienced personal injury attorney cannot give you a black and white figure at the beginning of your case. It takes careful development of any claim before the value can be fairly assessed to get you the compensation you deserve.
How long will it take to resolve my claim if we file a lawsuit?
There is no way to say for sure how long it will take after the paperwork initiating the lawsuit is filed – each case is unique. If it’s possible to negotiate a fair settlement out of court, your claim could be resolved in as little as a few months if there are no lingering physical issues and you experience no noteworthy disabilities from the accident. But if negotiations do not produce an acceptable settlement from the defendant’s insurance company, it could take several years to resolve your civil lawsuit.
Will I have to go to court?
The odds are only one in ten that you’ll see the inside of a courtroom; about 90% of injury claims are resolved by negotiating a settlement between you (with the help of your attorney) and the liability insurance company that covers the defendant. During negotiations, you – the client – will decide when the settlement offer is acceptable.
What sort of damages can be claimed in a Texas personal injury lawsuit?
The following are the basic personal injury damages that can be awarded at trial or negotiated in order to avoid a trial:
- All medical expenses from accident to “recovery” – which can also include monies for rehabilitation and any expenses surrounding full or partial physical disability
- The monetary value of all property damaged in the accident
- Lost income (including the value of any employer benefits contributions that are part of job compensation packages, such as employee healthcare plans or a 401k)
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Punitive damages if the defendant acted recklessly or with intent to injure
- Other damages, such as wrongful death and loss of consortium, might also apply
Your attorney can clearly explain all damages that may apply to your specific case
What should I do if the defendant’s insurance company contacts me first?
If you’re injured, you can count on that happening within a day or two after the accident.
Tell them five words and nothing more: “I’ll get back with you.” If they ask questions, or even offer you some sort of financial settlement, tell them again: “I’ll get back with you.”
Here’s why. Liability insurance companies are in business to take in millions of dollars each month in premiums but pay out as little as possible in claims. It’s what insurance companies do.
To that end, the job of an insurance adjuster – the one who calls you – is to gather as much information as possible to deny paying a claim. Or, if they must pay, give the claimant as little as possible. And they’ll twist your own words around to use them against you. So if you think you can win against an insurance company by yourself, remember this. Alone, you’re playing their game by their rules. They have the home-field advantage. So tell them you’ll get back with them, then start looking for a lawyer. After you hire one, you’ll immediately reap this benefit: Once a lawyer represents you, the insurance company must deal with your lawyer and, to your relief, leave you alone!
What’s the most important thing I should do after an accident?
Other than gathering as much information from witnesses and evidence from the accident (like smartphone pictures of the scene), your greatest obligation is to yourself. Seek medical treatment immediately! You may have been taken to an emergency room. But even if you’re treated there and released, you should still try to see your own primary care doctor the next day, if possible.
Other than beginning your recovery as soon as you can, a quick follow-up with your own doctor sends a clear message when you file a claim. You were indeed injured and you take your health seriously. Often people will wait a few days to do this. But when the opposing insurance company learns that, it can argue the victim wasn’t seriously hurt or that the injured person didn’t take their injuries seriously. Give insurance adjusters no ammunition to use against you. Begin your treatment ASAP, which then gives you the records necessary to make your injury claim the strongest possible.
Do I have a time limit to file my claim?
In Texas, the general statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury to file a civil lawsuit. ***There are several exceptions to this. The only way to know the exact deadlines that apply to your potential claims is by speaking directly with an experienced attorney licensed here in Texas.***
What are my responsibilities once I retain Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law?
Your main job is simple. Follow doctor’s orders, make all your treatment appointments, get better, and return to work so you can support your family again.
If your case does not settle before a lawsuit is filed (we will keep you well “in the loop” on this as your claim progresses), you may be asked to answer discovery (questions sent over by the other side) and give a deposition. However, that happens later… much later… maybe. If that time does come, we will prepare you very well beforehand. We will probably bring you settlement offers from the opposing insurance company from time to time and tell you whether we think the offers are fair. But we will never accept any settlement offer without your full approval, nor force you to accept an offer with which you’re not completely comfortable.
If you have any questions about how personal injury claims or lawsuits could affect you and your family after a serious injury, contact our office. The attorneys and support staff at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are here to help you at 1 (800) 444-5000. Or, if you would rather, fill out a FREE initial consultation form today to make an appointment to discuss your situation.