As personal injury attorneys, we understand that many victims will consider pursuing their compensation without a lawyer. There are a number of reasons why they may consider doing so.
The most common reasons, and misconceptions, are that they will be able to win more money from their personal injury claims when they do not have to consider the fees of their attorney or that they will be left in a worse position financially if they lose their case.
However, in the majority of cases, victims not only stand a better chance of success when they have a personal injury lawyer representing them, but in the majority of successful cases, the payout is still higher, even when fees have been deducted.
The Cost of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney from Abraham Watkins
Here at Abraham Watkins, we believe that every victim that has been involved in an accident caused by somebody else’s negligence should have the opportunity to pursue compensation and the recovery of their damages. Victims should not have to worry that they may end up with costly attorneys fees if they lose their case.
For that reason, we offer both a free initial consultation and evaluation of your case and work on a contingency fee basis. This means you can seek our advice and have your case evaluated for free without any conditions. Neither party is legally obligated to follow through with the case. If we think your case is worth taking on, we will tell you, and you will be free to do what you wish.
Most personal injury attorneys today work on a contingency fee basis, our team included. This means we will take the case on for no up-front cost, and if we cannot win your case, you do not owe us anything. We only take our fees from winning cases as a flat percentage of your settlement or the awarded damages in court.
There is no point where you have to pay us directly from your own bank account. We take on the risk for our clients to give them the confidence to pursue justice and compensation from those responsible for their injuries.
What You Need to Know About Representing Yourself in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
There are no laws in the state of Texas that state that you need to obtain representation to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. You have every right to represent yourself in your personal injury case.
However, just because you have the right to represent yourself, does not make it a sensible idea.
Personal injury cases involve a whole branch of Texas law. Personal injury law can be complex, and you will be at a massive disadvantage without a comprehensive understanding of these laws.
Firstly, you are already suffering from injuries that have been caused by the accident. If your injuries are severe, it is likely that you will still be recovering, and this means that you should avoid high-stress environments that could affect your recovery.
A personal injury case can last several years, meaning you will be responsible for pushing your case during this time.
Regardless, the main reason you might want to consider representation from a personal injury attorney is that the other party and their insurance company will definitely have their own legal team. Insurance companies are driven by profit, and this means that they will always hire the most capable and aggressive legal teams to defend their clients and reduce their payouts.
This means that if you are representing yourself, you will be up against a highly trained legal team who spend every day fighting claims like yours and have extensive knowledge of personal injury law. This puts you at an incredible disadvantage when it comes to fighting a winning battle.
Most insurance claims adjusters will use every tactic they can to reduce their payout to the very minimum or to avoid paying out whatsoever, and without a lawyer from an experienced law firm on your side, there is a strong chance you may not win anything at all.
What a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do for You
When you obtain representation from a skilled personal injury lawyer, you level the playing field.
Firstly, they will take over your case in its entirety, including liaising with other parties, the court appearances, and the paperwork. This gives you the space to recover and focus on your own mental well-being whilst your case is handled by an attorney with experience fighting personal injury lawsuits and negotiating personal injury settlement.
They will also be better equipped to handle the legal aspect of your case. They will have access to expert witnesses and will have an investigation team ready to spring into action, ensuring important evidence does not disappear, such as CCTV footage of a car accident.
Law firms like ours which have been serving the state of Texas for over 70 years, have usually built a stellar reputation. When insurance companies find out that you are represented by an attorney from a law firm with a proven track record for success, they are much more likely to offer a fair settlement and treat you seriously. This is because they know that you have an attorney on your side that they do not want to fight in court.
One of the most important tasks that a skilled personal injury attorney will carry out for their clients is the calculation of their damages. This is extremely important, as it will form the basis of your settlement negotiations. Your economic, non-economic and punitive damages will be the deciding factor in how much compensation you receive.
Types of Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuit Claims
Your economic damages are the damages you have suffered that will cost you money. Economic damages are easier to evidence, as there will be a clear figure that can be attached to calculations, and there will usually be receipts, bills, or invoices that can back the sums up.
Medical Expenses/Medical Bills
You should never be left responsible for paying for medical bills that you have incurred because of a negligent party’s actions. It can be scary if your health insurance or personal injury protection (PIP), in car accident claims, does not cover the treatment of any serious injury you have received.
Your attorney will look to calculate what your medical bills have cost you up until this point, and they will also speak to medical experts to help them understand what your future medical expenses may be worth.
Your compensation should completely cover your future medical costs, which is one of the biggest mistakes people make when pursuing a case without a lawyer. Often, they will win damages that cover them for their current medical costs, but the amount is not enough to cover all their future treatment.
For the majority of accident victims, there will be the need for treatment that requires recovery time. This usually means the victim will need to take a period of time off work. Unfortunately, this often results in lost wages.
When victims are already suffering from injuries, and the anxiety of medical bills and property damage, the additional prospect of losing income can be extremely traumatic, especially for those that are the main income in their family household.
Your non-economic damages are more difficult to put a figure to. It will be down to your attorney to decide what your non-economic damages are worth. They will need to use their experience in previous cases to do this, which is one of the reasons it is important to choose an attorney who has won similar cases.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Often, the most substantial damages that are included in any settlement or awarded in court are your pain and suffering damages. These damages should compensate you for the pain you have been through and any emotional trauma or distress.
To calculate your pain and suffering damages, your attorney may use a multiplier system, applying a multiplier between 1 and 5 to your total economic damages. The more severe your pain and suffering, the higher the multiplier they apply.
Loss of Enjoyment
Loss of enjoyment compensates victims for any changes to their normal life. If you cannot participate in sports or hobbies you used to, or your injuries prevent you from carrying out normal tasks like carrying your child to bed, you should be compensated for this loss.
Punitive damages in a Texas personal injury case are monetary damages that are intended to punish and deter the wrongdoer for actions that were especially reckless or malicious. They can only be awarded by a Judge, meaning your case must have reached the trial stage. You will not be able to pursue punitive damages if you accept a settlement.
Serious Injuries That Qualify for a Personal Injury Claim
As a law firm that has been working with personal injury victims for over seven decades, we have seen a wide variety of accidents and injuries. This means we have likely fought and won cases for clients suffering similar injuries to you from similar accidents. Winning cases similar to yours means we can draw upon past experience to tailor a bespoke strategy that has a higher chance of success.
Some injuries and accidents are more common than others. At Abraham Watkins, we have experience in handling:
- Burns to the skin, abrasions, and lacerations (cuts)
- Animal bites and attacks
- Drowning and choking
- TBIs (traumatic brain injuries)
- Injuries to the spine
- Back and neck injuries, such as whiplash and crushing
While these are the most common injury types that we deal with, this is not a comprehensive list. Any accident caused by the negligence of another party that has left you with injuries may qualify you to make a claim against that party.
If you are unsure, you should take advantage of the free case evaluation that we offer to all injury victims. We can tell you if your injuries were indeed caused by negligence, and we can help you hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. By doing so, we can help you recover your damages and pursue compensation for your pain and suffering.
Can I Get a Settlement Without a Lawyer?
Yes, in fact, if your accident was clearly caused by the negligence of the other party, there is a good chance you will be offered a settlement by their insurance company. It is a common tactic for insurance companies that know they will likely have to pay out in the future to offer a settlement to the victim in the days or weeks following the accident.
Usually, this is because they have run the numbers and estimated their payout if you pursue a claim with representation. They will offer you a sum that may seem attractive but is much lower than you deserve. Once you accept a settlement, you forgo the right to pursue further compensation, which can ultimately mean you do not have the money to pay for treatment.
Without a lawyer, you may not be fully aware of your damages and their worth, making it much easier for the other party and their insurance company to get away with offering you a lowball settlement.
When you have an attorney, you will be able to discuss any settlement offer, and they will be able to tell you if it is fair and reasonable. In the majority of cases, we advise you to decline the first offer. The first offer is almost always a lowball offer, one that opens negotiation talks.
Your attorney will have calculated your damages, giving them an idea of what your case should be worth. Finding the optimal middle ground in between that value and the offer the other party has made will be the goal, allowing you to accept an offer that is fair and reasonable without the need for court involvement.
Common Mistakes Accident Victims Make Without an Attorney
Being involved in an accident can be traumatic, especially if the victim has been left with serious injuries. In the aftermath of the accident, there are a number of common mistakes that victims make that can lead to a lower chance of a successful claim later on down the line.
Not Calling the Police/Ambulance
We recommend that you call for an ambulance if there are any injuries, no matter how minor. It isn’t worth the risk to avoid doing so. Some injuries, such as head trauma and internal bleeding, can carry no outward symptoms yet still prove fatal. Symptoms for serious injuries may also be masked by adrenaline or shock, and by the time the adrenaline wears off, and the symptoms become obvious, it may be too late.
The police should always be called in the event of a criminal act or traffic accident. This is important for several reasons. First, they make the scene safe for others. If there are aggressive parties, it will ensure you are safe. If you were involved in a traffic accident, the police will make the road safe for others and if there was a drunken driver involved, it becomes even more important as the police will carry out a blood alcohol test that will prove instrumental.
If either the police, or an ambulance attends the scene of an accident, they will file an accident report. This report contains information regarding the accident and is great evidence because it is unbiased.
Not Gathering Evidence
In some cases, when you have been involved in an accident, you may need to be rushed to the hospital, and you will not have the chance to record any evidence. In these cases, you should call an attorney at the earliest possible convenience, as they will likely send an investigation team to the scene as soon as possible.
If you are able to, and your injuries allow it, you should collect as much evidence as possible. This includes taking pictures and videos and recording a brief statement.
If there were eye-witnesses that saw the accident, and that are willing to help, you should ask them to give you a statement of what happened and collect their details to pass on to your attorney.
Not Getting Prompt Medical Attention
An important part of your personal injury claim will be proving the four elements of negligence. The third element of negligence is causation. Proving causation means proving that the accident caused the injuries that have led to you suffering damages that you wish to recover.
The best way to prove causation is to seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. If an ambulance attended the accident scene, the accident report they filed and your medical records would prove this. If you have not required an ambulance, we recommend heading to a hospital or your doctor and asking for a checkup. This will serve as proof your injuries occurred directly from the accident.
Sharing Information Online
Nowadays, social media is everywhere, and it has become commonplace for everyone to share everything that happens to them online. Many people do not understand the risk of doing so when it comes to a personal injury claim.
Anything you post about your case, may be used against you by the other party, especially if there are any discrepancies in your story.
Discussing Your Case with the Other Party’s Insurance Company
You must always remember anything you say to the other party or their insurance company can and will be used against you. If the other party’s insurance adjuster calls you, you should always tell them you don’t want the call to be recorded.
This is one of the main reasons why it can be really beneficial to seek legal representation. Once you have obtained legal representation, you can tell any party that calls you and tries to get in touch with you to liaise with your attorney. You are not legally required to give them any information.
Waiting to File a Claim
In Texas, as in most states, personal injury claimants are bound by the statute of limitations. This statute places a time limit on claims to prevent people from suing other parties many years down the line when the case will be difficult because of a lack of evidence and the time that has passed.
In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the incident. After this point, your claim will be thrown out in most cases. There are a few exceptions to this, such as in the event that personal injuries are not discovered until later. In these cases, you may be entitled to an extension that gives you two years from the date of discovery.
Not Hiring a Personal Injury Accident Lawyer
Potentially, the biggest mistake you may make is not hiring a personal injury lawyer. While you are fully entitled to seek compensation and pursue a claim by yourself, there are a number of pitfalls and mistakes that you are likely to make by yourself. You will be up against a legal team trained to reduce or deny your claim, and without your legal representation, they will take full advantage of your lack of legal knowledge.
Contact Abraham Watkins Today
At Abraham Watkins, we have over 70 years of experience handling personal injury claims in Texas. We have a long history of success and have won countless cases for victims in similar cases to yours. Our experience means that no matter what happens in your case or what direction it takes, we are prepared to deal with any problems.
We take the time to educate our clients, making sure we build a trusting, confidence-inspiring client-attorney relationship from the very first meeting. We don’t leave our clients in the dark, we always keep you informed of what is going on in your case.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 713-535-9319.