When you’ve suffered a serious injury through no fault of your own and the injury only occurred due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing, you shouldn’t be left responsible for the damages. In personal injury cases, “damages” refers to the consequences of an injury. Damages can be both economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. When negligence causes a serious injury, the victim deserves compensation. But before you begin a claim, it helps to know how the personal injury process works in Texas.
First, Protect Yourself at the Scene
Some injuries may be so severe that you’re able to do little other than wait in place for help to arrive. If you’re able to use your smartphone or ask someone else to use it for you, you can protect your physical and financial future by doing the following:
- Call 911 to request an ambulance and the police if the injury occurred in a car accident or as the result of a crime
- Take photos at the scene, being sure to include anything that contributed to the accident
- Take photos of visible injuries
- Add the contact information of eyewitnesses and anyone directly involved
- At the hospital, ask for a complete medical evaluation and a detailed report
Gather all evidence, including a police report for a car accident or criminal violence, and then call a Texas personal injury attorney with a strong track record of success in similar injury claims.
Your Side Must Prove the At-Fault Party Liable
If the injury occurred due to someone else’s actions, your Texas personal injury attorney will do the following:
- Investigate all aspects of your injury to determine the liable party; for instance, another driver in a car accident, a negligent property owner in a slip-and-fall case, or the manufacturer of a defective product
- Document evidence of liability proving the necessary legal points, including that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injury to others—such as a driver’s duty to obey traffic laws—that they breached this duty by acting negligently, and that the negligent breach directly caused injury. Finally, a claim requires proving that you’ve suffered significant damages from the injury
- Present the evidence in a demand package to the appropriate insurance company, like a negligent driver’s personal injury protection insurance or a store owner’s commercial property liability policy
Once your attorney has clear evidence of liability, they can carefully calculate your economic damages by adding your past medical expenses, estimating future ones related to the injury, and adding the amount of income you’ve missed during recovery. Then they use a formula to calculate the amount of compensation due for your pain and suffering and any other non-economic damages.
Negotiate with the Insurance Company of the Liable Party
Most Texas personal injury claims resolve out of court through a skilled attorney’s negotiations with the insurance company to arrive at an agreeable settlement amount. In less than 10% of cases, an insurance company wrongfully denies the claim or seriously undervalues the amount of compensation in their settlement offer. In this case, you and your attorney may decide to file a lawsuit and take the matter to court as long as it’s within the state’s two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.
What if I’m Partly at Fault, but It Was Mostly Someone Else’s Fault?
Under the modified comparative negligence system in Texas insurance law, even if you’re found to be partly at fault for an injury, you can still recover a portion of your damages minus your percentage of fault as long as you’re less than 50% to blame. For a $100,000 claim, you can still recover $75,000 if you’re found to have been 25% at fault. If the other party is entirely to blame, you’ll recover the full amount. It’s important to have an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your best interests in the claim process since insurance companies commonly protect their profits by over-assigning blame.