When you’re hurt by the negligence of others in Houston, TX, you need a caring, compassionate, and competent professional on your side. Don’t try to muddle through medical and legal waters by yourself; instead, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can provide peace of mind and fight for the compensation to which you may be entitled.
Get Full Compensation for Your Personal Injury in Houston, TX
Many injury cases are resolved by a settlement, especially if the accident’s responsible party is clear. But before you reach this stage, your lawyer must submit a demand for recompense from the defendant’s insurance provider. A proper demand requires you and your lawyer to work together to determine the value of your case.
If the insurance provider receives a demand amount that is too low, they’ll likely accept. You, however, may not receive enough compensation to cover your total losses. On the other hand, an unreasonably high demand will likely cause the other party to reject your figure. They may also stop negotiations and force your case to trial. This takes significantly more time, and a jury is used to hear your case and identify a fair settlement based on the facts presented.
Finding the Middle Ground
The goal is to calculate fair compensation based on your losses. That means you and your lawyer must substantiate the settlement you’re seeking and lay out the facts in the demand letter. Some cases may also be eligible for compensation based on pain and suffering. These elements are harder to quantify and require the skill of an experienced attorney.
It’s equally important to refrain from the pitfalls that commonly sabotage Houston, TX, cases. Many accident victims don’t realize their actions are under scrutiny once a lawsuit against an insurance provider is filed. Acting without care can have a significant impact on the value of your case and force you into a settlement lower than you deserve.
Steps to Avoid
The first step to avoid is perhaps the easiest. If you’ve suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence, don’t delay in contacting an attorney. All states impose statutory limits on the time you have to file a lawsuit after suffering harm. In Texas, the statue of limitations on a personal injury case is two years.
If your lawsuit is not filed before this window closes, you will likely lose your right to compensation. Certain circumstances may allow the deadline to be extended, but your best bet is to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Admitting Fault for an Accident
When at the scene of an accident, many feel an urge to apologize for the trouble caused. But you must be cautious with the words you say. The insurance company will likely use to its advantage any blurted statement you make.
The truth is that even when a situation appears quite obvious, we won’t know who is responsible for an accident until a complete investigation is made. Reconstruction experts will analyze the evidence and then provide a professional explanation. If you are interviewed after an accident, simply relay the series of events as they happened and let your attorney handle the rest.
Failing to Follow Medical Orders
After an accident, it’s critical you seek medical attention even if you think you are not injured. Conditions that aren’t readily apparent but can be very serious include:
- Soft tissue damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
You must also follow the treating doctor’s recommended plan. For instance, if he or she prescribes pain medication to be taken twice daily, you need to adhere to the regimen as directed. Likewise, if you’re instructed to stay home from work and rest for two weeks, do not return until your doctor provides clearance or the two weeks have elapsed.
Ammunition for the Insurance company
Failure to follow these orders exactly as they are provided can provide the insurance company with ammunition against you. For instance, they may argue your injuries were caused by your own actions, portray you as careless, or contend you aren’t hurt as severely as you claim. Any argument of this nature can reduce the compensation you receive.
Posting Incriminating Statements to Social Media
When an insurance company recognizes a plaintiff may be awarded a large settlement, they look for ways to diminish the payout. One of the most obvious places to start is social media, where people innocently post photos and videos of themselves at home, on vacation, and with family members.
Regardless of how they were intended, any of these posts can be used as evidence that your injuries are less serious than you state. Even a simple photo of you enjoying a birthday party can be twisted to the insurance company’s benefit. We, therefore, recommend you avoid social media platforms until your case is settled.
Understand the Law
In some cases, the defendant will argue you are responsible – at least in part – for the incident that gave way to your injuries. If this claim is found to be true, the compensation you receive from other at-fault parties will likely be affected. This situation is known as a shared-fault injury case, in which Texas follows a “modified comparative negligence rule.”
This rule simply means the compensation you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of responsibility. If, however, it is determined you are more than 50% responsible, you cannot collect any monies from other at-fault parties.
How It Works
To understand how this rule works, consider the following scenario. Another driver rear-ends you at a stop sign, but one of your brake lights is inoperable at the time. Your case goes to trial, and the jury determines you hold 25% of the accident’s blame, while the other driver is found to be 75% at fault. Your damages equal $20,000, but under the comparative negligence rule, you’re awarded $15,000. This accounts for the one-quarter responsibility you bear.
Texas courts must oblige by this rule if a case makes it to trial. But even in settlement negotiations that often take the place of a trial, an insurance adjuster for the defendant will likely raise this issue.
Caps on Injury Damages
Some states limit the compensatory damages a plaintiff can receive after successfully bringing a personal injury case to trial. In Texas, however, limitations apply only to medical malpractice cases. The nature of these caps is quite complex, but to summarize, non-economic damages in most of these suits are limited to $250,000 per defendant and $500,000 overall. Non-economic damages are those awarded for such factors as pain and suffering.
When medical malpractice results in wrongful death, the cap is adjusted for inflation. It started at $500,000 in 1977 but is approximately two million dollars now. Keep in mind these limits do not apply to all personal injury cases: only those resulting from medical malpractice.
A lawyer will review your case, calculate your documented losses, and negotiate with the defendant’s insurance provider on your behalf. He or she will also prepare for trial if negotiations fail to yield desirable results. Since 1951, our office has served the people of Houston, TX – fighting to protect their rights in the toughest of times. Schedule your free consultation today by contacting the legal team at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner.