Accidents are one of the leading causes of death and disability in the US, and statistics reveal that millions of victims and their families are affected. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost 225,000 people die because of unintentional injuries every year, making accidents the #4 causes of fatalities. Plus, another 49 million individuals seek medical care at the ER or their physician’s office after suffering accidental injuries. If you were hurt or lost a loved one, you may be aware that Texas personal injury laws provide you with rights. However, you may not know where to begin with pursuing your legal remedies.
You can count on our team at the Stano Law Firm to seek all available compensation from the at-fault party, as we have extensive experience advocating on behalf of accident victims. We are also knowledgeable about Texas laws, so our lawyers develop a solid strategy to obtain a favorable outcome. Please contact our firm to set up a free consultation with a Greater Houston personal injury attorney who can describe the legal process in more details. It is also helpful to review some answers to the most frequently asked questions about accident claims.
1. How do I prove a Texas personal injury case?
Most accidents occur because someone was negligent, but the term has a special meaning in the legal field. Negligence is a theory of liability for personal injury cases that requires you to prove four essential elements:
1. The at-fault party owed you a duty to exercise reasonable care and not create a risk of harm.
2. That person or entity breached this legal duty through unsafe actions and misconduct.
3. The breach of legal duty was the direct cause of the accident in which you were injured, such that you would not have been hurt but for the failure.
4. You suffered physical, financial, and emotional losses because of being hurt.
Texas personal injury laws also cover intentional misconduct that cause injuries, such as criminal attacks and assault. There are fewer elements to prove, so you must show that the offender committed the act, and you suffered injuries as a result.
2. What are examples of negligence in accident claims?
You can better understand the underlying principles of when you review some of the most common types of negligence in accident cases. The Houston personal injury lawyers at the Stano Law Firm handle a wide range of claims, including:
· Car collisions caused by speeding, drunk driving, and running red lights
· Motorcycle crashes that often happen because of driver inattention
· Pedestrian and bicycle accidents, typically the result of distracted driving and failure to yield
· Commercial truck collisions, which may occur due to typical traffic violations as well as violations of trucking regulations
· Slip and falls and other accidents that happen because a property owner failed to keep the premises reasonably safe
· Claims for work injuries and occupational diseases
· Wrongful death cases, in which surviving loved ones have a claim after a family member was killed in an accident
3. Can I recover compensation for accidental injuries?
If you have sufficient proof regarding the four essential elements described above, you may qualify for various types of monetary damages. Compensation is intended to make a victim whole after an accident, at least as much as practically possible. There are two classes of damages that apply in most personal injury cases:
1. Economic Damages: Some losses are tangible, definite, and have a dollar amount attached. A large percentage of compensation in an accident claim will be medical costs for surgery, emergency treatment, hospitalization, pain medications, and other care. You may also qualify to obtain amounts for your lost wages and out-of-pocket costs for treatment.
2. Noneconomic Damages: You sustain other losses when injured that are not as definite, but you definitely endure hardship. Noneconomic damages are your personal, subjective losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and diminished quality of life.
4. What are Texas laws on wrongful death cases?
When an accident is fatal, there is a legal remedy available to the deceased person’s family members. A wrongful death claim aims to compensate survivors for the losses they sustain due to their loved one’s passing. To recover monetary damages, you must have evidence of the four essential elements of negligence as you would in an injury claim.
However, there is an additional element: You must have standing to sue, meaning you must have legal authority under Texas law. The matter of standing comes down to timing:
· If you are the surviving spouse, a parent, or a child of the person who was killed, you can file a lawsuit within the first three months after death.
· Beyond three months, the decedent’s personal representative has the power to sue. This is an individual named in a will or appointed by the probate court.
In a wrongful death claim, it is possible to recover for the deceased person’s medical expenses, funeral, and burial costs. Survivors may also obtain amounts for lost financial support, contributions, emotional guidance, education, and other losses.
5. How do I recover compensation after an accident?
With many personal injury matters, your first step will be filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Home, property, and business owners carry policies to protect their interests in the event of an accident, and motorists are required to have auto insurance by Texas law. You might expect that the claims process is just filling out forms, but keep in mind that insurers are in the business for profit. Many companies deny claims or counteroffer a lowball amount to protect their own bottom line.
If the insurance company will not agree to pay a fair amount in settlement discussions, the next step in the legal process is going to court. You start a lawsuit by filing a complaint and going through the pretrial stages, and eventually your case is scheduled for trial.
6. Is there a time limit on suing after an accident?
Yes, Texas has a statute of limitations for personal injury cases, like all other US states. You have two years to file a lawsuit in court, and the clock starts on the date of the accident. A notable exception is wrongful death cases, in which the statute of limitations begins to run on the date of death. Another scenario involves children who are injured in accidents, who are under a legal disability and do not have the capacity to sue. In such a situation, the clock begins to run on the date the victim turns 18 years old.
If you fail to initiate litigation before the deadline expires, you are forever barred from suing for monetary damages. The two-year statute of limitations may seem like a long time, but keep in mind that settlement negotiations with an insurance company can be time-consuming.
7. Are there any other limitations on personal injury claims?
Another factor that could affect your case is the Texas rule on comparative negligence, which focuses on your own conduct in an accident. If you also breached the duty to exercise reasonable care, there are implications for your monetary damages. The concept is also termed proportionate responsibility because it serves to reduce your compensation by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
8. Do I need a lawyer to help with a Texas personal injury case?
There is no rule that requires you to hire an attorney, but retaining legal counsel should be a priority. Without a background in law, you are at a disadvantage in dealing with the insurance company and proceeding to litigation. You can expect that the insurer has a large legal department and healthy budget for defending your claim, so you level the playing field when you have a lawyer on your side.
The Stano Law Firm is prepared to support you throughout the legal process. You can rely on our Texas personal injury attorneys to handle such essential tasks as:
· Gathering evidence to show fault and defend claims of comparative negligence
· Reviewing your medical records
· Completing a demand package for the insurance company, in which you request payment and provide all evidence of your losses
· Engaging in negotiations with the insurer in an attempt to settle out of court
· Representing you during mediation, a process in which a trained mediator works with both sides to come together on agreement
· Filing a lawsuit and assisting with all stage of litigation
A Knowledgeable Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Can Answer Additional Questions
This information is helpful as an overview, but you will need experienced legal representation to ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses. The Stano Law Firm will serve your needs throughout the process, and we are prepared for challenges in dealing with the insurance company. Our team is also skilled in trial advocacy, so we will take your case to court as necessary to protect your rights.