Personal Injury Legal Process in Texas
When you get hurt due to another person’s neglectful or intentional actions, you’ll likely find it necessary to bring the perpetrator to court. Such a case will need to be filed in civil court with the help of a personal injury attorney.
Before getting involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll probably want to know what to expect. It’s a complicated process, but the attorneys at Hernandez Law Group, P.C. will help you navigate the process and achieve the best outcome for your case.
Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
The first step in any legal process is hiring a lawyer. While you may be considering representing yourself in court, but this is rarely a good idea – especially in a personal injury lawsuit. The reasons that you should avoid self-representation include:
- You could make errors when filing the lawsuit. There are many steps and a lot of paperwork involved in filing a civil lawsuit. Any misstep in these processes could get your case delayed or even thrown out. An experienced personal injury attorney will lead you through the filing process to make sure that your case proceeds correctly.
- You will have to deal with the insurance companies on your own. Any time that you get injured, your insurance company and the perpetrator’s insurance company will want to talk with you. Since they wish to pay as little as possible, they will likely try to manipulate you into accepting partial or full responsibility for the accident. They may even offer you a settlement that is way less than you deserve. You should never accept a settlement or deal with the insurance companies without your personal injury attorney.
- You may underestimate your damages. If you don’t realize how much you deserve after an accident, you may end up accepting an insufficient settlement in court. An experienced personal injury attorney will help you file for all the damages that you deserve.
- You may be at a disadvantage. If the defendant has an attorney but you don’t, you will be at a disadvantage in court. This disadvantage will likely cause you to lose your case.
When choosing a personal injury attorney, you should look for one who is Texas board-certified to practice personal injury law. Juan Hernandez is one of the mere 2% of attorneys who has this certification.
Claim and Medical Record Review
During your initial meeting with a personal injury attorney, they will review your claim, damage, medical bills, and other bills that you accrued as a result of your injury. They will then help you determine what damages you are entitled to compensation for.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you are of course entitled to compensation for your bills. However, there are also other types of damages you may be entitled to. Common damages in a personal injury case include:
- Medical bills. Your injuries will require medical treatment. You should be compensated for any bills that you accrue during this treatment.
- Income loss. The injuries you suffer will likely make you incapable of working for a while. If the injuries are bad enough, they may even prevent you from earning future income. You should be compensated for any of this income loss.
- Property damage. Certain injuries are caused by accidents that also lead to property damage – especially car accidents. This is another type of damage that your Texas personal injury attorney can get you compensation for.
- Pain and suffering. Not all damages will show up on bills. Your injuries may lead to lifelong pain and suffering. While money will not relieve this pain and suffering, you should still receive compensation for these damages.
- Mental anguish. Like pain and suffering, mental anguish may not be readily apparent. However, your personal injury attorney can help you prove your mental anguish and get you compensation for it.
- Funeral expenses. If the accident led to the death of a loved one, the family should receive compensation for any funeral expenses.
Negotiation and Filing
Some personal injury cases can be settled out of court. If your Texas personal injury attorney determines that this may be possible in your case, your attorney will reach out to the defendant and try to negotiate a settlement. If this fails, however, your attorney will move on to the filing process.
The Discovery Process
Once the lawsuit has been filed, it’s time to begin the pretrial processes. The first step in the pretrial period is known as the discovery process. This is when everything is gathered that will be necessary in court. Such elements may include evidence, witnesses, medical experts, and anything/anyone else that should appear in court.
The next pretrial step involves each side appearing in court to present motions. The most common pretrial motions include:
- Motion to exclude. Your attorney may ask that certain evidence be excluded during the case. Examples include evidence that was gathered illegally or statements from unreliable witnesses.
- Motion for change of venue. If your case has gathered too much publicity or there are threats to your safety, your personal injury attorney may ask that the trial be moved to another courtroom.
Second Settlement Attempt
The last pretrial step is mediation, which is another attempt to settle the case out of court. The first attempt at out-of-court settlement may have failed, but this does not automatically mean that the second attempt will fail as well. Certain factors may have convinced the other party that they are better off avoiding court and settling the case through mediation. If this fails, it’s time to move onto the trial.
Personal Injury Trial
Civil trials all proceed in a similar manner. The steps in a Texas personal injury trial are:
- The presentation of evidence
- Interrogation of witnesses
- The rendering of a verdict by a jury or judge
- Determination of compensation amount by the judge
A big factor that will be considered when determining the outcome of the case and how much compensation should be awarded is comparative negligence. Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that if the plaintiff is determined to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, they cannot be awarded compensation for their damages.
Furthermore, if the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for the accident (but less than 50%), they cannot receive full compensation for their damages. For example, if the defendant is found to be 80% at fault for the accident and the plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff can only receive compensation for 80% of their damages.
Texas Personal Injury Attorneys
At Hernandez Law Group, P.C., our attorneys have extensive experience litigating and winning personal injury cases. Our team – led by Texas Board-Certified personal injury attorney Juan Hernandez – will help you file your case, gather evidence, and bring your case to a successful conclusion. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today.