If you’ve ever wondered “what does a personal injury lawyer do?”, you’re certainly not alone. These trusted professionals help with a variety of legal services, from initial advice and guidance to discovery, negotiations, and settlements. If you’ve suffered an injury or been through an accident in the state of Texas, they can help you to file a personal injury claim and get the compensation that you deserve.
Whether you’ve been through a serious accident on the road or suffered a minor injury at work, or suffered a motorcycle accident working with a personal injury lawyer is the best way to streamline your claim and maximize your payout.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
Before you ask “what is a personal injury lawyer?”, it’s important to understand the details of personal injury claims. In the state of Texas, a personal injury claim can arise when harm is caused by negligence or wrongful conduct. A variety of situations meet this definition, from car accidents to workplace injuries, product defects, and medical malpractice.
People who have suffered a personal injury often experience loss or damage, of which there are several kinds. Personal injury claims are designed to compensate against these losses, from tangible elements like medical expenses and lost income to intangible elements such as pain and suffering and mental anguish. While most personal injury cases are designed to compensate the victim, family members can also receive compensation in the case of wrongful death.
A wide variety of events can lead to a personal injury claim, including the following:
- Car and vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian hit-and-runs
- Injury on property or premises
- Workplace slip-and-falls
- Construction site accidents
- Industrial site accidents
- Product liability
- Medical malpractice
What Is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer, sometimes referred to as a PI lawyer or accidental injury lawyer, is a legal professional specializing in personal injury cases. Personal injury law can be complicated in the United States, and a dedicated lawyer can provide the best possible representation. A personal injury lawyer delivers extensive services, from initial advice to gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and negotiating with insurance companies.
If you’ve experienced any kind of personal injury, a dedicated PI attorney is the best person to have in your corner.
What Is Involved in a Typical Personal Injury Case?
While each personal injury case is unique, they all follow a well-recognized legal path. A good lawyer helps you to navigate this path successfully, making sure nothing is missed and dealing with all the paperwork along the way.
The following elements are central to personal injury cases:
- Filing a complaint – Your complaint states the facts of your case and what you are seeking in damages.
- The discovery phase – This is the stage where both parties request documents and information from each other.
- Motions filed – These are requests seeking potential relief, such as a motion to dismiss or to compel discovery.
- Potential settlement – With settlement, you can avoid court through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.
- Potential judgment – If needed, a trial allows you to present evidence in a court of law, where a verdict is met.
Common Services Offered by a Personal Injury Lawyer in Texas
To understand the importance of working with a personal injury lawyer, you need to break down their typical services. Far from a single service, they deliver a comprehensive legal solution based on a wide array of related services. Each client and personal injury claim is unique, and a good personal injury attorney can support and represent each person based on the specifics of their case.
Various legal services are needed throughout the process, from early advice and guidance about legal proceedings to investigations, negotiations, and documentation. The following services are among the most important:
Legal Advice and Guidance
From the outset, it’s vital to have professional legal advice. A personal injury lawyer can make recommendations about how to proceed, give you a breakdown of events, and present you with likely complexities based on the nature of the case. From the moment of first contact to the investigation and negotiation phases, professional legal guidance is worth its weight in gold.
Investigating the Incident
If you’ve suffered an injury or been through an accident, it needs to be investigated. Among other things, a personal injury lawyer will review accident and police reports, interview witnesses, and possibly search for physical evidence at the scene. They will also consult with medical providers, research laws and statutes, and review insurance policies to verify coverage and policy limits.
Filing Insurance Claims
If you’ve suffered an injury in the state of Texas, insurance companies will probably be involved. Whether it’s car insurance, property insurance, or product liability, your attorney will communicate with insurance companies to find out whether you’re covered. They will file notices on your behalf, calculate and monitor deadlines, and research coverage details to ensure maximum compensation.
Depending on the nature of the case, gathering evidence can sometimes take months. Personal injury cases are often highly complex, especially when fault is hard to determine or multiple parties are involved. In many situations, the lawyer might need to hire a special investigator to obtain evidence and prove your case. Most PI lawyers have existing relationships with investigators to streamline this process.
Preparing a Settlement Demand
In the context of personal injury cases, a settlement demand package is needed to determine current and future damages based on the nature of your injuries. Once you have completed medical treatment, your personal injury attorney will prepare this package based on a summary of key facts and legal arguments, along with a detailed description of your injuries, damages, and settlement demands.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Working with insurance companies is notoriously difficult, which is why you should always work with a PI lawyer. After the insurance company has reviewed the settlement demand, it will respond by analyzing the claim and sending a counteroffer. If the offer is fair, your attorney may advise you to accept it. However, there may be room to alter the agreement and boost the compensation you receive.
Reaching a Settlement and Receiving Compensation
If you can agree on a settlement amount, it will be prepared and drafted as a binding contract. This releases all parties from any claims arising from the accident, with compensation awarded and presented based on the details of the incident. Settlement can be reached in a few different ways, and without an agreement, you must go to trial.
Representation in a Court of Law
If needed, a personal injury lawyer can represent you at trial. While this process can be lengthy and stressful, it may be necessary if a fair settlement cannot be reached. This may arise due to conflicting expert testimonies, multiple or complex at-fault scenarios, or insufficient evidence. However, the cost of a trial can outweigh the value of the claim, which is why it’s vital to get advice from a legal expert.
Personal Injury Settlements vs. Judgments
As mentioned above, every personal injury claim ends in two possible situations: settlement or trial.
- A personal injury settlement involves reaching a decision without a trial, either through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.
- A personal injury judgment involves reaching a decision with a trial, either in small claims court or civil court.
There are three primary ways to reach an injury settlement and avoid court:
- Negotiation – You communicate with the defendant’s insurance provider until a fair settlement is reached for both parties.
- Mediation – You use the services of a mediator to encourage settlement, with both parties agreeing through compromise.
- Arbitration – An arbitrator sits down with both parties, but unlike a mediator, the arbitrator makes a binding decision.
While most personal injury cases settle without going to court, trials are often necessary to ensure fair compensation. Insurance companies often refuse to reach a fair settlement, and some refuse to negotiate altogether. Deciding between settlement and trial is a complex process, and many factors need to be considered. Before making this serious decision, it’s vital to speak with an experienced serious injury attorney.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Texas?
If you’ve been through an accident, it’s important to understand the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Texas. You have 2 years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, your case is likely to be dismissed. However, this deadline can be extended in the following two situations:
- If the injured person was “under a legal disability” at the time of the event, such as being under 18 or “of unsound mind”
- If the at-fault party leaves the state before the lawsuit is filed
What Are the Steps Involved in a Personal Injury Case?
Whether you’ve been involved in a car accident, suffered a workplace injury, or been attacked by a neighbor’s dog, PI law can be complex and difficult to navigate. There are lots of individual steps and invested parties, and the difference between success and failure often comes down to minor details. For this reason, it’s vital to have an expert lawyer fighting in your corner.
While each case is unique, most personal injury cases involve the following steps:
- Initial meeting and review
- Thorough investigation
- Filing insurance claims
- Gathering and analyzing evidence
- Preparing a demand package
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Settlement or trial
- Ongoing negotiation with medical providers
What Are the Benefits of Working with a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Working with a specialized personal injury lawyer is the best way to make sure your case will be handled properly. Professional lawyers bring so much to the table, from specific legal knowledge and resources to negotiation skills and courtroom experience. Along with asking “what does a personal injury lawyer do?”, it’s important to ask “what are the advantages for me?”
A good personal injury lawyer will benefit your case with the following skills:
- Thorough legal knowledge based on experience
- Access to personal injury resources and experts
- Comprehensive discovery and investigation skills
- The ability and desire to prove your case
- Vast experience with local Texas law
- Attention to detail and document management
- Negotiation skills for insurance and medical providers
Q. What is the average personal injury settlement in Texas?
A. Personal injury claims vary widely based on the nature of the injuries and the type of incident. Based on figures from the Insurance Information Institute, the average car accident settlement for claims with bodily injury was $22,734 in 2021. This number has risen steadily over the last decade, from under $15,000 in 2012.
Q. How are personal injury settlements paid out in Texas?
A. There are two ways to receive a personal injury settlement payment in Texas: a single lump sum payment and a structured installment-based settlement. If your case is successful, you can select either of these options.
Q. Can personal injury settlements be garnished in the state of Texas?
A. If you have an outstanding debt, your personal injury settlement is unlikely to be garnished. There are some notable exceptions, however — a lien can be placed on a settlement if you owe child support.
Q. How long does it take to get a settlement check for a personal injury case in Texas?
A. If your case is successful, you will normally receive money within 5 business days. The settlement check will be sent to your lawyer, either as a lump sum or in a series of installments. However, some payments do require a signed settlement agreement.
Q. What non-economic damages can be recovered in a personal injury claim?
A. Along with medical bills, lost income, and other tangible losses, you can also receive compensation for non-economic damages. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional pain, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium.
Q. Is there a cap on personal injury damages in Texas?
A. In Texas, there are no limits on how much you can recover for economic damages. There are limits for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, however, of up to $250,000 per health care provider or $500,000 in total. There are also limits for government defendants, at $250,000 per defendant or $500,000 per case.
Contact the Trusted Personal Injury Specialists
If you want to connect with an experienced personal injury firm in Richmond, Texas, Vendt Accident Attorneys is here to help. We deal with a wide array of personal injury cases, and our team has vast experience with local courts. Reach out to our personal injury specialists today to get the compensation that you deserve.