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A GUIDE TO PERSONAL INJURY LAW IN TEXAS

Thousands of people are seriously injured each year by the negligent acts of individuals and businesses. These injuries can result in long-lasting and sometimes debilitating complications and leave victims with lingering mental and emotional trauma too.

The period following a personal injury accident can be stressful and confusing for victims who have to deal with mounting medical bills, lost wages, and insurance companies hell-bent on shrugging off liability and responsibility.

During such trying times hiring a Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer allows victims to focus on the healing process while the attorney tackles the insurance companies, and prepares and files a claim on the victims’ behalf.

PERSONAL INJURY LAW IN TEXAS

Personal Injury law deals with legal disputes that arise when an individual suffers an injury due to another person’s negligence and wrongful conduct. The plaintiff who is the injured person initiates legal action to seek compensation from the defendant, the person or business responsible for causing the injury.

In Texas, personal injury cases are governed by the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This Code helps define and determine negligence, duties of care, Statutes of limitations, liability, damages, and recovering compensation.

TEXAS SHARED FAULT RULE

Texas shared fault rule states that If a person is partially to blame for a victim’s accident or injuries, then such a person will be held liable for an amount of damages proportionate to his or her share of fault.

If multiple parties contributed to a victim’s injuries, the Court will assign each party a percentage of fault based on how much they were responsible.

Thanks to the Texas shared fault rule, a victim can recover compensation even if he or she is partially at fault for his or her own accident and injuries.

Texas follows the 51% bar rule. This means that you may not be able to recover damages if you are determined to be 51% or more at fault for your own accident and injuries.

Common types of Personal Injury Claims include:

  • Auto accidents.
  • Truck accidents.
  • Workplace accidents.
  • Premise Liability.
  • Product Liability.
  • Medical Malpractice.
  • Negligent Security.
  • Dog bite accidents.
  • Child injury.
  • Child Abuse.
  • Wrongful death.

ROLE OF A TEXAS PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER

If you are injured due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person or business entity in Texas, it is in your best interests to hire a lawyer to represent and assist you. Your lawyer will take the requisite steps to gather and preserve evidence to support your claim and initiate communications with insurance companies on your behalf.

The attorney will establish fault, identify the liable parties, gather photographic evidence, witness statement, and official reports.

STAGES IN A TEXAS PERSONAL INJURY CASE

INVESTIGATION

An experienced Texas Personal Injury Attorney will conduct an in depth investigation to determine whether the facts and circumstances genuinely support a claim for damages. The lawyer will seek to address the following questions:-

  1. Which of the party/parties were at fault.
    Determining who was at fault can be very difficult. Insurance company of the opposing party will attempt to transfer the blame on the victim for causing or contributing to the accident.
  2. Were injuries sustained, and if so, were they caused by the accident?
    It is vital to document injuries caused by the accident. This injuries are documented by collecting and studying medical records, medical bills, doctor’s evaluation etc.
  3. Is there insurance available to provide adequate compensation?
    A competent Personal injury Lawyer will seek to identify all potential sources of compensation for a victim. The lawyer will evaluate insurance coverage of the at fault parties and ascertain other possible sources of insurances available to the victim such as personal injury protection and health insurance.

SENDING DEMAND LETTER WITH COMPILATION OF DOCUMENTS TO INSURANCE COMPANY

The lawyer sends a demand letter to the insurance company to notify of the victim’s claims. A demand letter is drafted professionally and precisely by the lawyer and is supported by necessary documents which contain:-

  1. A summarized list of all the facts and information regarding victim’s claim.
  2. Victim’s rationale explaining the liability of the at fault party.
  3. Detailed description regarding the medical treatment undergone by the victim and the expenses incurred.
  4. Detailed description of all income lost.
  5. Detailed description of all types of damages and losses sustained.
  6. A demand for a compensation amount to resolve the claim.

NEGOTIATIONS

After intensely scrutinizing the claim made by the victim in the demand letter, the insurance company may:-

  1. ACCEPT DEMAND.
    In this scenario, the insurance company accepts the demand and agrees to the compensation claimed in the demand letter. Such a thing rarely happens as Insurance companies always indulge in negotiations to bring down the claim made by the victim.
  2. COUNTER OFFER MADE BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY.
    The insurance company offers the victim an amount less than what he or she had asked for in the demand letter. The victim decides to accept such an offer, or continue negotiations or file a lawsuit after consulting his lawyer.
  3. INSURANCE COMPANY DENIES CLAIM.
    The insurance company may deny the claim out rightly and refuse to pay.

LAWSUIT

In the event of a victim rejecting the offer of the insurance company or the insurance company denying the claim of the victim out rightly, the victim through his lawyer files a lawsuit.

MEDIATION

In mediation, a neutral mediator, usually a retired Judge or a lawyer, assists the parties to amicably settle issues and differences in the case.

The mediator guides the parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution. A mediator generally does not render a decision. If parties reach a settlement, insurance company will transfer the agreed upon amount to the victim who in turn will drop the lawsuit.

If parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will go to trial.

TRIAL

The case will be conducted before a jury and a judge or a judge without a jury.

Phases of a trial are as follows:-

  1. Jury selection.
  2. Opening statements.
  3. Witness testimony.
  4. Closing arguments.
  5. Instructing the jury.
  6. Deliberations and
  7. Verdict.

A jury verdict is unpredictable and this reason motivates parties to settle a case and not leave the outcome in the hands of a jury.
Lawsuits are an expensive proposition and litigating parties face mounting legal costs.

A party unhappy with a verdict can seek to Appeal if there is sufficient legal basis for it.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR FILING A PERSONAL INJURY CASE IN TEXAS

There are specific time limits, restrictions and rules for filing a personal injury claim. A Board Certified Houston lawyer ensures that you fully understand the Federal, State and Local laws that might apply to your case. The Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code establishes a general Statute of Limitations for various personal injuries. The application of the Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in Texas is complex and complicated and depends on the circumstances of that particular case.

The Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in Texas is as follows:

  • General Personal Injuries – 2 years.
  • Medical Malpractice – 2 years.
  • Product Liability – 2 years.
  • Legal Malpractice – 2years.
  • Assault and Battery – 2 years.
  • Wrongful Death – 2 years.

Children would have two years from the date of having been legally recognized as adults to settle or proceed with their personal injury claims.

COMMON ELEMENTS NECESSARY FOR A VALID PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT

The Legal Information Institute defines Negligence as the failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. While the behavior in question usually consists of actions, it can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act.

To prove negligence, the plaintiff (the injured party) must establish the following four main elements:-

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a reasonable duty of care.
    The defendant is legally responsible for the injuries caused by his or her negligent actions or inactions.
  • The Defendant breached his or her duty of care.
    The breach of care by the defendant is the crux of the personal injury law. If the defendant breaches any of his or her duties or responsibilities, he or she can be held liable for the injuries sustained by the victim. It is the plaintiff’s burden of proof to convince the judge or jury that there was a breach of care committed by the defendant.
  • The breach of duty by the Defendant caused the injury.
    It is not enough to show that the Defendant was negligent, careless or reckless, the breach of duty must directly result in injuries suffered by the victim. It has to be established beyond reasonable doubt that the negligent action or inaction of the defendant was the main cause of the injury suffered.
  • The plaintiff suffered compensable damages.
    The lawyer of the plaintiff has to establish that his or her client suffered damages due to the breach of duty by the defendant. Damages may include physical injury, pain and injury, mental anguish, emotional distress, lost wages of parents, loss of quality of life.

COMPENSATION FOR A VICTIM OF AN PERSONAL INJURY IN TEXAS

Texas personal injury lawyers seek to get maximum compensation for victims of personal injuries and help them and their families explore other options and alternative ways to seek additional compensation for their injuries and sufferings.

Our skilled and resourceful Texas personal injury lawyers strive tirelessly to achieve adequate compensation for victims of personal injuries who have to undergo numerous lifestyle adjustments.

Our personal Injury lawyers help victims recover:

ECONOMIC DAMAGES

  • Past and current medical costs.
    In most of the personal injuries cases, the medical bills are the largest single expense incurred by the victim. Adequate medical care and treatment is required by the victim for his or her injuries. When seeking medical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit, victims are entitled to recover for procedures and services such as doctor visits, ambulance fees, emergency room treatment, medications, MRIs, X-rays, and other scans.
  • Future medical costs.
    After initial treatment and rehabilitation, victims of personal injuries often require further medical care in the future. Expert testimony from doctors and therapists can establish that the victim requires further extensive treatment.
  • Lost wages and business income.
    A victim, whether employed, self employed or a business owner, is entitled to recover compensation for the time spent away from work or business.
  • Loss of future earning capacity.
    Some personal injuries harm the victims in such a manner that they are no longer able to do the job that they were doing before the injury. In many instances, a victim may have to change from a full time job to a part time job or move from a highly paid job to a lower remuneration job. In such cases, additional compensation maybe awarded.
  • Permanent injury and disability.
    Some injuries have life long implications on the health of a victim.
    A victim never recovers fully from his injuries.

NON ECONOMIC DAMAGES

  • Pain and suffering.
    Injuries cause pain which can be extreme and debilitating. Such pain Is accompanied by emotional suffering and stress. Texas law allows victims to collect compensation for such sufferings.
  • Emotional distress.
    Additional mental and emotional illnesses can arise from personal injuries sustained Emotional distress, if proven by experts can support a victim’s claim for compensation.
  • Loss of consortium.
    Many injuries can limit and restrict a victim’s basic life functions resulting in loss of love, affection and companionship. Under loss of consortium, a victim can claim damages for physical isolation suffered due to injuries.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.
    A victim of a personal injury is entitled to receive compensation if he or she is unable to perform physical, social and recreational activities which he or she enjoyed performing before sustaining the injury.

THE IMPORTANCE OF HIRING A BOARD-CERTIFIED ATTORNEY IN TEXAS

Being certified by the Texas Board for Legal Specialization proves that lawyers have focused their practice on a certain area of law and are capable of passing rigorous peer reviews and tests to prove their excellence.

Clients can be hesitant to trust lawyers with their cases. A Board Certification indicates that an attorney is highly regarded and proficient in his or her work. It gives potential clients additional confidence and insight while selecting an attorney for representation.

Obtaining a certification in Texas is not easy and requires a lot of dedication from the participating attorney. It takes a substantial investment of time and money. Texas Board for Legal Specialization requires reputable peer evaluations and requires the lawyer to undergo demanding tests.

Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Shane R. Kadlec earned his certification in personal injury trial law from Texas Board for Legal Specialization in 2003 and his re-certification in 2008, 2013, and 2018 respectively.

CONTACT THE LAW OFFICE OF SHANE R. KADLEC

All personal injury cases handled by the Law Office of Shane R. Kadlec are taken up on a contingency basis, which means our clients pay nothing unless we win their case or settle it.

Personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Shane R. Kadlec represent clients in Houston and throughout its surrounding areas of Texas.

Initial consultations are free. Clients should bring along with them the following documents if possible, when they come for the free case evaluation:

  • Name and contact details of the at fault person.
  • Contact information of insurance companies.
  • Copies of letters and emails received from the client’s insurance company or insurers of other parties.
  • Copies of police report and accident report.
  • Medical records
  • List of names of witnesses and their contact details.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the carelessness, recklessness or negligence of another person, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. Call an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer at our firm for a free case evaluation right away.