Being involved in an accident caused by the negligence of another party can leave someonein a state of shock, stress, and trauma. The injuries caused by anaccident, the pain caused by thoseinjuries, and the mental distress of the shock can all create an overwhelming time in a person’s life.
If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault, you may be uncertain of the next steps.If you were injured and required medical attention, you may be concerned about the medical expenses you may have to pay. You may also be anxious about lost income if you need time off work to process what happened and recover from your injuries.
Thankfully, if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may pursue a claim against them that will give you the chance to recover your damages and seek compensation for the pain and suffering you have been through because of their actions. Essentially, any damages you have incurred because of the accident may be recoverable.
Personal injury law can be rather complex, and the best strategy always starts with hiring a skilled personal injury attorney who can help build a strong case on your behalf. A strong case like this relies on the accurate calculation of your damages and an effective investigation, something an experienced personal injury lawyer can help carry out on your behalf.
Abraham Watkins – Speak to One of Our San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyers Today.
Abraham Watkins is a law firm you can trust. With over 70 years of service in the state of Texas, we have fought and won countless cases on behalf of our many San Antonio clients. We have won some difficult cases on behalf of clients just like you, and this long period of service means we have a library of knowledge and experience to draw upon, allowing us to tailor a bespoke and robust strategy.
Call us at 713-535-9319 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney serving San Antonio, TX.
The First Steps in a Personal Injury Case
Before anything else, your health and well-being should always be top priority. This means that you should always make sure you have received the medical attention you need before considering anything else.
If you are injured on the scene, wait for the ambulance to arrive and for first responders to check your injuries. If you do not need emergency medical attention, make your way to the nearest hospital or doctor’s office for a check-up. Once your injuries have been treated, contact a personal injury lawyer.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Many clients have never needed to hire an attorney before, which can make the task feel more difficult than it is. We recommend finding an attorney that offers a free initial consultation and case evaluation. This gives you the space you need to ask any questions that you may have, and it will also provide your potential attorney the opportunity to evaluate your case.
They may tell you that your case is not a valid one, and it is better to know that as early as possible. However, if your attorney decides after the evaluation that your case is worthy, you can agree to their representation and they can begin working on your behalf.
As one of the longest-serving law firms in the state, we have always offered free consultations to new and old clients. These meetings never have strings attached.
Our law firm also works on a contingency fee basis, meaning that your initial consultations and evaluation, and our initial representation, do not cost you a penny. We believe that all of our clients deserve access to high-quality legal representation without an upfront cost. We take our fees from your settlement if we can win your case. If we lose your case, and you do not receive a settlement, we do not charge a penny for our services.
We do this to allow all victims the opportunity that we believe they deserve, to pursue compensation when they have been injured by someone else’s negligence, without the fear of being left in a worse situation if they lose the case.
What Damages Make Up My Compensation?
If you have done some research on personal injury lawyers, you have probably heard the term damages thrown about. Your damages make up the compensation figure that your attorney will pursue from the other party and are split up into two different types: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are damages you have suffered that are going to result in you losing money or having to spend money. Common examples are lost wages and medical expenses. They are easy to add up and easy to evidence.
Your non-economic damages, on the other hand, are a little more complex. These are damages that you have suffered without tangible costs. You deserve to be compensated for the pain you have been through. However, pain does not have an exact cost and it will be down to your attorney to place a value on your pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Here are the damages that your attorney may consider:
Medical Bills and Expenses
One damage that is usually immediately worrying is the medical bills and expenses that you may face following your accident. In San Antonio, TX, medical care is extremely expensive. For those with strong insurance, you may be covered to an extent, but even those that have premium insurance policies may be shocked at how quickly their coverage is exceeded when they suffer a serious accident.
For those that do not have insurance or have a lower level of coverage, the idea of having to pay expensive medical expenses may cause extreme anxiety. Paired with the fact that you may be facing lost wages whilst you recover, you may be worried about providing for your family, especially if you are the primary source of income in your household.
If your claim is successful and your attorney can assign liability, the other party may be responsible for covering all of your medical bills and expenses. This includes your medical costs, hospital expenses, such as transport to the hospital and back, and food costs.
If you have suffered a serious injury that will require a long period of treatment, your attorney may need to speak to a medical expert that can help them determine what this treatment may cost in the long term. This will allow them to pursue a figure that covers your long-term costs.
Lost Wages/Earning Capacity
Most people that suffer a serious accident will need to take time off work to recover and receive crucial treatment for their injuries. This usually means they will suffer some form of lost wages or earning capacity.
Victims may be worried about their financial security in this situation and this anxiety and stress can further exacerbate their injuries.
Personal injury attorneys will understand this and they will work hard to accurately calculate how much you have lost in lost wages.
They may also need to speak to financial expert witnesses who can help them determine what a lifetime of lost wages could look like. If you have been injured in a way that means you cannot return to the same job ever again, your attorney may try to recover a lifetime of lost earning capacity.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages will usually be the most substantial damages awarded in a successful personal injury claim. Pain and suffering damages are non-economic, meaning they are subjective and it will be down to your attorney to place a figure on how severe your pain and suffering has been.
The severity of your pain and suffering can be calculated in several ways. They may look at the severity of the pain, the length of time you are in pain or will be in pain, and how badly your pain and emotional trauma have affected your life and mental health.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Another non-economic damage that is often included in the calculation of damages in a personal injury case is your loss of enjoyment of life. This is reserved for injuries that have had a drastic effect on how you enjoy your life.
A common example of this is when someone has suffered injuries that mean they can no longer pick up their baby or ride their bike with their kids, for example. If you used to play baseball with your friends every weekend and you can no longer pick up and swing a baseball bat, you deserve to be compensated for the loss of enjoyment of life that you will suffer.
In the most tragic cases, a victim may lose their life in an accident. These cases, when the accident was caused by the negligence of another individual, are known as wrongful death cases.
The difference with a wrongful death case is that it is a representative of the person’s estate that files the claim on behalf of the deceased. This can provide financial support to the victim’s family and pay for things like funeral costs.
No amount of compensation will ever bring the loved one back, but it helps provide financial security during this terrible period.
For punitive damages to be awarded, your case must be heard in front of a Judge as they are the only ones able to award punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the Judge wants to make an example of someone for their behavior. This is usually reserved for malicious behavior or behavior that is grossly negligent.
The Four Elements of Negligence and What They Mean for Your Case
Legally speaking, there are four important elements that need to be established in a negligence case, which most personal injury cases and wrongful death cases involving catastrophic injuries are.
Duty of Care
The very first element to establish in order for your case to be valid is that the at-fault party, the party that you are blaming for your accident, owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident.
A duty of care is a legal obligation to act in a reasonable manner so that your behavior does not lead to the injury or harm of another party.
One of the most common examples of a duty of care is the duty that every driver assumes to the other users of the road when they get behind the wheel of their car. This includes other drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians.
Breach of Duty
Once it is established that the at-fault party did, in fact, owe the victim a duty of care at the time of the accident, the next step is to prove that they breached this duty of care with their actions.
To breach the duty of care, their actions must have been unreasonable. We prove this by comparing their actions to that of another reasonable and prudent party if they were in the same situation and circumstances.
An example of behavior that would count as a breach of the duty of care would be if a driver runs a red light or a stop sign because they were on their phone. A reasonable driver, one who owes a duty of care to all the other users of the road, would not have used their phone while driving and they would have stopped at the red light or stop sign.
In this scenario, it is relatively easy to compare the negligent driver’s actions to the reasonable driver’s actions. In more complicated situations, your attorney may need to contact expert witnesses who can help them deduce if the behavior was unreasonable.
The third element, after you have proven that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care and breached that duty of care with their actions, is proving that this breach led to an accident that directly caused you injuries.
This is one reason it is so important that you seek timely medical attention following your accident. Medical records that show you received medical attention in the direct hours that followed the accident are hard to dispute. If you waited several days to seek medical attention, the other party may question why you waited. Worse, they may say your injuries were caused in the days after the accident and not from the accident you say caused them.
Once the first three elements have been proven, the last step is to prove that the damages you suffered as a result ofthe accident.
San Antonio, TX Accident Aftermath Guide
There are certain steps that you can follow in the aftermath of the accident to protect your health and chances of a successful claim.
Here are the steps to follow:
Prioritize Your Safety
The first and most important thing following an accident is to make sure you look out for yourself as a priority. This means taking note of your injuries. If you feel pain in high-risk areas like your neck, back, or shoulders, do not let anyone move you until you have received emergency medical treatment from a qualified paramedic.
If your injuries allow it, and you are in further danger, move away from that danger. A common example of this is moving to the side of the road following a traffic accident. If you are confident and your injuries allow it, you can take note of others and their injuries.
Call an Ambulance/Police
It does not matter how serious you think the injuries you have suffered or that others have suffered are. If there are injuries, you must call for an ambulance. Remember, a lot of serious injuries can have hidden symptoms, or the adrenaline and shock that people are experiencing may mask the symptoms. These injuries may surface later on and at this point, it may be too late for the most effective treatment.
If you have been involved in a road traffic incident, you must call the police. They will make the road safe and, if the guilty party was driving under the influence of alcohol, they will carry out a BAC test. This blood alcohol test, if it comes back positive, will be a crucial piece of evidence in your case.
Calling the police and ambulance services also serves another purpose. The emergency services will usuallyfile an accident report after they have attended the scene of the accident. This is an unbiased report that simply states the facts, which makes it a strong piece of evidence as your attorney can get these reports and they are hard to dispute.
If your injuries allow it and you have already called the relevant emergency services to the scene, you should consider collecting any evidence you can. Evidence fresh on the scene is always the strongest and if you can take a video and some photos, it could prove instrumental to your case. If you have time, you should also write in your own words what you think happened.
Advice for Speaking with Insurance Companies in San Antonio
One role your attorney will take on, on your behalf, is to speak and liaise with the other parties involved on your behalf. This includes your own insurance company.
Often, victims fall into the trap of believing that their own insurance company is on their side. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and if it looks like the other insurance company is not willing to pay out, your insurance company may begin to turn on you and look for ways they can avoid paying out the full amount you need.
Equally, the other party’s insurance company is not to be trusted. If they call you, do not let them record you as anything you then say may be used to reduce your payout. You should also tell them that all settlement offers should go through your attorney.
One of the most common insurance company tactics is to offer a quick and attractive settlement to victims in the days or weeks following the accident. Without truly understanding your long-term costs, you may be tempted to accept this settlement. But be warned that once you do, you forgo the chance to secure further compensation.
Usually, they will have calculated what they stand to lose and they will have offered you a sum much lower than this.
Deadlines to File a Personal Injury Claim
Every state has a statute known as the statute of limitations, and this is a legal time limit for victims to make a personal injury claim. This statute is designed to protect defendants from being sued many years, even decades after the event.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death cases is two years from the date of the incident that caused the injury or death.
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if the injured person was a minor (under 18 years old) at the time of the incident, the statute of limitations may be extended until two years after their 18th birthday.
Another exception is if the injured person was mentally incapacitated or legally declared incompetent at the time of the incident. Here, the statute of limitations may be extended until they regain their mental capacity or the legal declaration of incompetence is removed.
Additionally, if the injury or death was caused by the negligence of a government entity or employee, there may be specific notice requirements and shorter time limits for filing a claim. It is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the specific statute of limitations and any applicable exceptions in your case.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases in the San Antonio Area, TX
At Abraham Watkins, with our 70 years of experience helping injured victims and dealing with personal injury trial law, we have dealt with almost every type of personal injury accident, including:
There are lots of motor vehicle accidents in San Antonio, Texas, on a daily basis. This is because of the huge number of cars on the roads. There are also a worryingly high number of DUI-related crashes, with one happening every 20 minutes across the state.
When a driver is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are much less likely to notice hazards, will take longer to break, and are less likely to notice stop signs and red lights, meaning the crash is usually a high-impact one that has a significant chance of causing injury or death.
Commercial Truck Accidents
Commercial trucks make up the backbone of our state logistics, with millions of 18-wheeler trucks taking to the roads every hour of the day.
These trucks have the potential to weigh upwards of 30 times that of a normal passenger vehicle, making them harder to control, slower to brake, and when things go wrong, making the chance of catastrophic injuries and fatality high.
Commercial truck accidents are particularly complex because the fault can lie with multiple parties. There are several federal laws and important rules that truck companies must follow. They must ensure their drivers are trained and follow the right break schedules and must maintain their trucks. If they fail to do so, they may be liable.
Commercial truck accidents have historically resulted in large payments and, for this reason, the trucking companies in San Antonio now employ the strongest legal teams around. This means that if you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck driver, you need to approach the case with a stellar attorney that has experience fighting these legal teams and winning against the trucking companies.
Do I Really Need a San Antonio, TX, Personal Injury Lawyer?
There are no laws that state personal injury lawsuits must be fought with legal representation. In fact, you are well within your rights to fight your case by yourself. However, we strongly recommend against doing so.
Insurance companies do not want to pay you what you are owed, so they employ strong legal teams to fight and devalue your claim. This isn’t just a one-off case for them. They spend all of their time fighting against claims, and this puts you at a disadvantage by yourself.
To level the playing field, the best thing you can do is get legal representation from an attorney that is well-known and experienced. Their reputation alone should mean that the other side treats you fairly. If you hire an attorney from a team of powerful trial lawyers, like those here at Abraham Watkins, you may find they are more likely to settle with you outside of court.
Some victims may believe they can win more if they do not have to account for an attorney’s fees, but statistically, this is false. In most cases where a skilled attorney is hired, the payout is usually significantly higher, meaning that the claimant walks away with more, even with fees deducted.
Having a reputable attorney on your side can provide some relief, as they will handle your case for you. This will not only increase your chances of being taken seriously by the other party but may also lead to a quicker settlement. Your attorney’s experience and skills will be an asset in fighting for your rights and ensuring you receive fair compensation.
Questions to Ask a Potential San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer
When deciding which personal injury law firm to hire in San Antonio, you should make use of the free initial consultation on offer by most personal injury law firms. This gives you the chance to sit down with the potential attorneys that may represent you and ask important questions, such as:
- Do I need to pay anything upfront?
- Does your law office specialize in personal injury cases?
- How much experience do you have with San Antonio personal injury claims?
- How much of a percentage will you take from my final settlement?
- Do I have a valid claim and if so, how much could it be worth?
- What are the important factors in my case?
- Will you provide regular updates on how the case is progressing?
- Do you have reviews and testimonials from previous clients?
How long will my personal injury case take?
The time it takes to resolve a personal injury case willvary widely depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the severity of the injuries, and whether liability is disputed. It is difficult to provide a specific timeline for a personal injury case, as each case is unique and may require different amounts of time to resolve.
In general, personal injury cases can take anywhere from several months to several years to be resolved, depending on the circumstances. Cases that involve minor injuries and clear liability may be resolved more quickly, while cases involving serious injuries or complex legal issues may take longer.
The duration of your personal injury case can also depend on the willingness of the parties involved to negotiate a settlement outside of court. If the parties can come to an agreement on the amount of compensation, the case may be resolved relatively quickly. However, if negotiations break down and the case goes to trial, it may take much longer to reach a resolution.
Is compensation for my injuries guaranteed?
No, compensation for your injuries is not guaranteed in a personal injury case. While you may be entitled to compensation if someone else’s negligence or intentional actions caused your injuries, the amount and availability of compensation will depend on several factors, including the strength of your case and the insurance coverage of the at-fault party.
You should be wary of any attorney that will promise you a victory, as this is highly unethical.
Do I need to go to a particular mechanic after a car accident?
In Texas, there are no laws that state that you must use a specific mechanic if you have been involved in a car accident that was somebody else’s fault. Sometimes, an insurance company may try to convince you that you must use their chosen mechanic, but this is not true. You are entitled to use whoever you want to repair your car.
Do I need to go to a particular medical professional for treatment?
There are no laws that dictate what medical provider you have to use following an accident. The only exception would be that you may have to use a workplace-approved healthcare provider if you have been involved in an accident at work.
The insurance company has offered a settlement. Should I accept?
If an insurance company has offered you a settlement for your personal injury case, you should not accept it without first consulting your attorney. Insurance companies are often motivated to settle cases quickly and for as little money as possible, and their initial settlement offer may not reflect the full extent of your damages.
Your attorney can help you evaluate the settlement offer and determine whether it is fair and reasonable, given the circumstances of your case. They can also help you understand your legal rights and options, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and advise you on the best course of action.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in San Antonio, TX!
As one of the longest-serving law firms in Texas, Abraham Watkins is proud of the reputation we have built for ourselves over our 70 years of service. We work hard to ensure our clients get the very best treatment. We are skilled at negotiation, meaning we are adept at securing reasonable settlements, but more importantly, our attorneys are known for their fierce litigation.
Insurance companies may think twice when they hear you are represented by one of our skilled trial lawyers and you can be certain they will treat you fairly once they find out we are involved.
Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us today for a free consultation with a San Antonio, personal injury lawyer at 713-535-9319.
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