We all have a responsibility to exercise caution around one another, a rule the law refers to as “reasonable care.” It’s the reason we look both ways before we cross the street, or check for traffic before making a turn. When people fail to exercise reasonable care, they are guilty of negligence, which forms the basis of virtually every personal injury claim.
Personal injury is a broad area of the law that seeks to provide victims of injuries with compensation. Also known as tort claims, these lawsuits are one of the most important aspects of our civil court system. Personal injury lawsuits are vital to the health of our nation for several reasons:
Personal injury attorneys are becoming the last line of defense for accident victims who feel they’re running out of options. Whether we’re taking on a trucking company, large corporation, or your employer, we only have one goal: to help you get back to the life you deserve.
All personal injury cases rely on the idea of negligence. To successfully pursue a personal injury case, we must prove three things:
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Proving you were injured is perhaps the easiest of the three. Generally, your medical records will speak for themselves.
Next, you must prove your injuries were the direct result of negligence, which will form the basis of your personal injury claim. Negligence is defined as the failure to use “reasonable care.” In other words, someone “knew or should have known” that their actions were wrong.
We can define this more clearly with an example. Suppose you were in a car crash, and suffered a broken collarbone. The other driver involved was speeding and texting while driving. Since the laws prohibit both, they knew or should have known their actions were wrong. In this scenario, the other driver was negligent – and responsible for your injuries.
Finally, you must prove that your injuries incurred specific damages. Since personal injury cases can be so expensive to litigate, the courts want to know that there are significant costs involved. These costs can be put into two types:
Each state has its own set of rules that limit when a person can sue for damages, and for how much. The first of these rules is referred to as a statute of limitations. In Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit with the state’s civil courts. There are notable exceptions to this rule – for example, in cases involving minors, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until their 18th birthday.
Since symptoms of an illness or injury might not fully manifest until weeks or months after an accident, consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The second limitation in personal injury cases is called a damage cap. These caps limit the amount of money you can collect from a defendant, and applies in a few situations:
Sometimes the party you are filing a personal injury claim against will argue that you are partially to blame for the incident that led to your injury. If a jury agrees that you share some of the liability for your accident, it will affect the amount of money you receive from the party at fault.
In the state of Texas, this is a legal notion referred to as shared fault. Each state has its own rules for shared fault, and Texas follows the “modified comparative negligence rule.” This simply means your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. On the other hand, if a jury finds you more than 50% at fault, you won’t be eligible to collect anything.
Let’s illustrate this with an example. Say you were rear-ended in a car accident, which usually means the other driver was at fault; unfortunately, in this scenario, your brake lights weren’t working at the time, which leads a jury to believe you were 10% at fault for the accident. Let’s also say that your total damages were $25,000. This would affect your settlement amount by $2,500. Under the Texas modified comparative negligence rule, your settlement would be reduced to $22,500.
The civil court system is obligated to follow this rule only if an injury lawsuit makes it to trial. Don’t be surprised if a defendant’s attorney brings this up during settlement talks. The comparative negligence rule is one reason why it’s important to have an experienced attorney by your side.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, your mind is likely full of questions. How will you pay for your medical bills? How much work will you have to miss? Will disability benefits be enough to live on? How will you provide for your family, and the other costs associated with your recovery?
Though the aftermath of an accident is fraught with uncertainty and difficulty, here’s the good news: a personal injury settlement is intended to provide the answers to these questions, and more. But how do you know if you have a case?
If you want to know if a personal injury settlement is right for you, simply ask yourself three questions:
If you can answer yes to each of these, you may have a case. Your first step is consulting with a personal injury attorney.
Our legal team deals specifically with personal injury law. We see negligence on a regular basis, so we know what to look for, and how to determine if you have legal grounds for a claim.
Here’s a tip: if an insurance company or attorney approaches you with a settlement offer, you probably have a legal right to collect damages. Be wary of these offers, as you could be entitled to more for your lost wages, medical bills, and suffering.
With a legal advocate by your side, you’ll be better equipped to pursue a personal injury claim. We’ll talk to witnesses, gather testimony, and review your medical records to determine your best course of action.
When it comes to having grounds for a personal injury claim, there’s only one rule: you won’t know unless you ask.
Most accidents aren’t accidents at all – they happen because someone was careless or reckless. When looking at legal liability, we follow this basic rule: if one person involved was more careless than another, they will owe the other party damages. We may also determine the liable parties using the following considerations:
One of the first things you should do after you’ve been injured is to seek medical attention. Once you’re feeling well enough, however, it’s important to gather evidence about your accident. This will help your personal injury attorney decide if you have a case, as well as how you should proceed. We recommend taking the following steps:
Taking these notes can be useful 2, 6, or 10 months down the line, when you compile all your notes into a document that demands compensation for your injuries. These notes will provide important details about what happened, how you suffered, and will be more reliable than trusting your memory.
Choosing a personal injury lawyer to represent you will be one of the most important decisions you make. Your choice should be based on both a personal connection and research. Your lawyer should be compassionate, but also confident. They should have experience with personal injury law and a reputation for aggressively pursuing fair compensation. Make a list of personal qualities that are important to you, and make sure your chosen attorney represents these values. In the meantime, consult this list of questions that will help verify your attorney’s credentials and experience:
By asking these questions, you’ll have a better idea if your chosen firm is a good fit.
At the Law Offices of Gordon, Elias, & Seeley LLP, our practice is based on one core belief: that you should never have to pay the price for someone else’s negligence. Let us put our years of experience to work for you. Contact us for a free case evaluation. You won’t pay a penny unless we win.