What is Personal Injury?
“Personal injury” is the type of law we focus on at Crosley Law Firm. It is a specific area of legal practice and a broad term that means any kind of accident or occurrence resulting from the negligence or wrongdoing of others that leads to bodily injury. Many personal injury questions can be answered with a few examples of personal injury:
- Brain injury
- Car, truck (including 18-wheeler), motorcycle, bicycle, plane, and helicopter accidents
- Birth injury
- Wrongful death
- Product liability (injury from any defective product)
- Bad medication
- Mesothelioma (asbestos)
- Injury from defective medicines/prescriptions
- Military malpractice
Do I have a Personal Injury Case? If So, How much is it Worth?
If you have been injured as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another, under the law you may be entitled to compensation for past and future out-of-pocket damages, including medical expenses, loss of wages, and/or loss of earning capacity. You may also be entitled to reasonable and fair compensation for what the law calls “general damages,” which include such things as pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment in life.
In assessing whether you have a case and its value, some factors to be considered include the nature and extent of the injuries, the degree of pain and/or emotional suffering, your degree of disability, and the length of time that and extent to which the injury will affect your life. Our firm’s attorneys are experienced at evaluating cases and their estimated value. To have your case reviewed for free by one of our attorneys, contact us today!
Will The Crosley Law Firm Take My Case?
Our practice is devoted exclusively to representing Plaintiffs in a variety of personal injury claims. We carefully and comprehensively evaluate each case individually. We are happy to review your case for free and quickly let you know whether we are able to take your case. Call our office or submit a free online case review on our website.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any external force or trauma that results in injury to the brain.
Most TBIs are the result of the brain jostling within the skull violently after a force or impact. This can cause bleeding, bruising, or shearing of the nerve fibers (axons). Other TBIs may be caused by an object penetrating the skull and damaging the brain directly.
RELATED: San Antonio Brain Injury Attorneys
What Are the Symptoms of a TBI?
Common symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) may include:
- Feeling dazed, confused, or disoriented
- Temporary loss of consciousness (up to a few minutes) after the initial injury
- Sensory problems (blurred vision, ringing in the ears, etc.)
- Difficulties with memory or concentration
- Mood changes
You don’t necessarily need to experience all these symptoms to be diagnosed with a mild TBI. For example, many people never lose consciousness, but still develop other physical, emotional, and cognitive problems.
Mild TBIs are often difficult to diagnose because symptoms aren’t always obvious to outside observers, and sufferers may have normal-looking MRI and CT scans. Partly as a result, most contentious legal claims following brain injuries are for mild TBIs, rather than moderate or severe TBIs (which have more severe symptoms that are impossible to dispute).
If you believe you may have suffered a TBI, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
What Is the Difference Between a Child Brain Injury and an Adult Brain Injury?
A child who suffers a traumatic brain injury is likely to have a worse prognosis than an adult. However, noticeable symptoms may not become obvious until months or even years later.
A child’s brain is rapidly developing. The frontal lobe, which is responsible for executive functioning and decision-making, doesn’t truly begin to develop until adolescence and beyond. As a result, very young children who suffer serious brain injuries may continue to hit normal development milestones. Cognitive impairments might not be obvious until later in childhood and adolescence.
If you are pursuing a personal injury case for a child who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, it is important to work with an attorney who understands the differences between child and adult brain injuries and has experience handling childhood TBI cases successfully.
What Should I Do If I Have Headaches After an Accident?
Most people who suffer concussions or mild head injuries experience headaches. But if those headaches continue to persist—particularly longer than three weeks—it should be a warning sign that you need to follow up as soon as possible with your doctor.
Give your medical team a detailed description of your headaches, how often they occur, and how often you have them. It may also be wise to ask for a referral to a neurologist, who is a physician who specializes in brain and nerve issues.
Fortunately, for most people, the headaches will gradually go away. However, some victims continue to deal with post-traumatic migraines, which can be a life-changing injury. In either case, seeking treatment as early as possible can not only improve your medical outlook, but it also will provide critical evidence to support any personal injury claim you choose to pursue.
What Are the Symptoms of Post-Concussive Syndrome?
Common symptoms of post-concussive syndrome include:
- Memory disturbances
- Mood disturbances
- Inability to focus
- Difficulty with word-finding
- Visual disturbances
Typically, doctors will diagnose post-concussion syndrome if three or more classic symptoms are present for a sustained period of time after a concussion (or mild TBI).
Most people with post-concussive syndrome do eventually get better, even without treatment. However, about 15 to 20 percent of patients develop a persistent post-concussive syndrome that lasts six months or more. Further, most doctors agree that if you are still experiencing symptoms two years after the initial head injury, they will likely persist for the rest of your life.
How Can I Have a TBI if My Hospital Scans Are Normal?
Normal brain scans are expected in the case of a mild TBI. Because the damage to brain cells in a mild TBI happens on a microscopic level, conventional brain scans like MRIs or CT scans usually aren’t sensitive enough to detect them. A normal doesn’t always mean a normal brain.
If damage to the brain is visible on an MRI or CT, that almost always means the patient has a moderate to severe TBI. Identifying a mild TBI on a brain scan usually requires the use of more sensitive (and far more expensive) imaging technologies that aren’t available or don’t get run in a typical hospital ER.
What Are the Classifications of Traumatic Brain Injury?
Doctors will classify brain injuries as either mild, moderate, or severe, typically during the initial period right after the accident.
- Mild: A mild TBI diagnosis is made if the patient lost consciousness for less than 30 minutes (or not at all), had less than 24 hours of post-traumatic amnesia, and experiences other common symptoms of TBI (headaches, dizziness, mood disorders, etc.)
- Moderate: A person with a moderate TBI may have lost consciousness for up to 24 hours or more. There are usually noticeable neurological deficits associated with specific parts of the brain that were damaged (such as speech problems, vision problems, or loss of control over a specific area of the body).
- Severe: The patient is often in a coma, completely non-functioning, and unlikely to fully recover.
While TBIs are often classified just hours or days after the injury, long-term outcomes for people with mild TBI are highly variable. While most people make a full recovery, some experience long-term, or even permanent, post-concussion syndrome with life-changing symptoms.
What are the Leading Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury?
The leading causes of traumatic brain injury include falls, motor vehicle crashes, being struck by an object, and assaults. Those causes represent more than 80 percent of all known causes of TBI based on emergency room admission data collected in the United States.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer With Bicycle Accident Experience for My Bike Case?
Yes and no. The most important thing overall is hiring an attorney who has a long, successful track record handling injury cases.
However, there is no substitute for experience, and there are several good reasons why hiring an attorney with direct experience handling bicycle accident cases, and is even a cyclist themselves, can benefit your case.
Injured bicycle riders often must overcome a lack of understanding about cycling—and often outright harmful stereotypes—when arguing their legal case. An attorney who understands the cycling community may be in a better position to represent their client effectively.
Insurance laws can also be complicated in terms of whether bicyclists are covered in certain situations, so an attorney who has worked bicycle cases before, understands the insurance rules, and knows which sources of coverage will apply is a definite bonus.
What Are Contingent Fee Cases? Does the Crosley Law Firm Take These Types of Cases?
As a general rule, accident and personal injury litigation (which is what we specialize in at Crosley Law Firm) is frequently handled on a “contingent fee” basis. A contingent fee arrangement is a method that allows individuals who have been injured or who are seeking personal injury damages (such as those resulting from an auto accident case) to obtain legal representation, even if they do not have money to pay for a lawyer at the outset of a case.
Crosley Law Firm takes all qualified cases on a contingent fee basis. This means we advance all expenses and costs of the law suit. You do not pay legal fees until and unless we settle or win your case in court. Once your case is paid out by award or settlement, attorney’s fees are deducted and then client expenses and costs are deducted. The balance of the award or settlement goes to you, the client.
What are the Crosley Law Firm’s Attorneys’ Fees?
If we accept your case, our law firm will represent you on a contingent fee basis (explained above). Our typical fees range from 25-40 % of the total recovery we obtain by settlement or verdict. Often, the fee range is dependent on the complexity and type of case and whether or not a lawsuit must be filed in your case. Fee structure is agreed upon prior to our firm taking your case. If you would like further information on our fee structure, feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail.
What about Costs . . . . Does the Crosley Law Firm Pay Them?
Costs are separate from attorneys’ fees. When we accept your case, we will advance all costs required to bring your case to a successful conclusion. This includes items such as travel expenses, obtaining and reviewing medical records, investigation and deposition expenses, filing fees, and other expenses associated with trial preparation and court costs.
When required, it may also include expenses for expert witnesses (e.g. doctors, engineers, specialists, etc). Our law firm uses some of the most experienced experts to help give our clients the best opportunity for successful resolution of their case. These experts can be expensive at times, so we like to keep our clients informed when we hire experts and if we will incur major expenses on their case.
Crosley Law Firm takes all qualified cases on a contingent fee basis. This means we advance all expenses and costs of the law suit. You do not pay legal fees until and unless we settle or win your case in court. Once your case is paid out by award or settlement, attorney’s fees are deducted and then client expenses and costs are deducted. The balance of the award or settlement goes to you, the client.
Will The Crosley Law Firm talk to me about my Case for Free?
Yes! If you want to talk to one of our lawyers about a case, please do not hesitate to call our office. After you have answered a few basic questions with one of our staff members, one of our attorneys will be happy to discuss your case for free, either on the telephone or in our office. Generally, it will take only fifteen to thirty minutes for us to decide whether or not we can help you. You can also submit a free online case review on our website.
If the Crosley Law Firm Takes my Case, What Next?
One of our goals is to make the entire legal process as easy as possible for you. After we agree to take your case, we will immediately take action to protect your interests in the case.
This may include contacting any insurance companies and other parties to notify them that we represent you and to request that they direct further communications about your case to us. You will be protected from their attempts to obtain recorded statements or obtain private information about you and your medical history without contacting us first.
We will immediately preserve any evidence in your case and obtain information from key witnesses. The timing of this is important since witnesses may forget significant facts, move, or pass away. Obtaining and preserving evidence immediately can, at times, be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful result in a case.
Once we obtain facts and evidence regarding your case and determine the nature and extent of your injuries and all relevant damages, we will generate a demand and present it to the at-fault party and their insurance company. The demand is an extensive summary of the evidence, including facts of the case, analysis of the applicable law, a summary of all past and future out-of-pocket losses, and an analysis of all past and future damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, and disfigurement. The demand is supported by relevant medical records, medical bills, witness statements, and expert opinions. The demand is essentially an in-depth overview of your case and an offer for settlement for a dollar amount that you and our attorneys agree to in advance based on the factors and nature of your case.
A thoroughly prepared demand package is the best way to avoid litigation and promptly settle a case. In fact, the majority of our cases settle at this stage, prior to a lawsuit ever being filed. For those cases where it is necessary to go further in order to obtain justice for our clients, the next step is to file an actual lawsuit.
How Do I Choose a Personal Injury Attorney?
The first thing to consider when selecting an attorney is the attorney’s level of success handling difficult and complex personal injury cases. An attorney with a “general practice” typically does not have the experience or expertise to handle a serious personal injury case. You are best off with a lawyer that devotes their practice to representing personal injury plaintiffs.
Essentially, you need an attorney that can competently handle your case. If your case involves significant damages and complex issues, it will require extensive time, energy, and resources to bring to court. Make sure your attorney is prepared to and can handle your case.
Another important consideration is your comfort level – you should feel comfortable with your attorney and the law firm’s staff. You should feel a high level of trust that your lawyer is the type of person who will listen to and be available for you. You need to feel as though your case is as important to your attorney as it is to you! A lawyer that is not committed to your case is not going to get the best results for you.
At Crosley Law Firm, we accept personal injury cases ONLY and our dedication to our clients’ interests is unparalleled. We have the experience, expertise, and resources to achieve desired results. At the same time, we have compassion for our clients and a passion for pursuing justice on their behalf. Our proven track record speaks for itself, so contact us today!
How Does the Litigation Process Work?
Litigation begins when a lawsuit is filed and defendants are served with a summons and complaint. A complaint is a legal document that summarizes the plaintiff’s (the injured person’s) claims against the defendants. Each defendant is then required to file an answer to the complaint.
The next step in the litigation process is called “discovery.” During discovery, both sides use formal procedures to obtain information from each other. These procedures include written questions or requests to produce documents and other relevant information. Witnesses may also be placed under oath and asked questions before a court reporter who documents the interview in a deposition.
After both sides have completed the discovery phase, they are ready to try the case in a court of law. Prior to the actual trial of the case, however, the parties typically try to settle the case through a process called mediation. If a case is well prepared, it usually will settle at this stage without ever having to go to trial.
Should I Talk to the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company?
We recommend that you DO NOT speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company or sign any documents they present you unless you have first consulted with your attorney. Insurance companies make their money by paying out the least amount possible for claims.
“Friendly” insurance adjusters are well-trained investigators that seek to obtain information that may very well damage or hinder your case. Unfortunately, these adjusters often misrepresent the truth and the law to unsuspecting accident victims.
DO NOT provide insurance companies with any information or sign any documents without first consulting Crosley Law Firm or a qualified attorney.
How Long Will My Personal Injury Claim Last?
The average is about 18 months from start to finish. If the case can be settled without filing suit, that can result in a case settling in 6 months to 12 months. If the case goes into a lawsuit, it might take 12 months to 24 months. I have had a case that only took three weeks to handle, and I’ve had other cases that took over 4 years to handle, but the data shows the average is about 18 months.
What are the variables that make some cases take longer and other cases take less? One is if the client has got complicated medical issues that require ongoing medical care. For example, most lawyers don’t want to settle an important case until they know with some degree of certainty how bad the medical injuries are, or what the future medical treatment is going to be. If a client is still going to the doctor and there’s not a final prognosis that’s been given by the doctor, then the lawyer is going to wait and settle that case until after the doctor gives a final opinion.
Other things that may slow a case down are if there are multiple parties to the lawsuit. For example, if you have an airbag defect case and you’ve sued the vehicle manufacturer, the maker of some of the airbag components, and the driver of the other car, you can see how there might be multiple defendants. When you get lots of people involved in the lawsuit, it can complicate things and drag things out. However, the average remains 18 months.
Do Injury Claims Always Go to Court?
No. In our experience, about 8 out of 10 injury claims settle without needing to file a lawsuit or go through the court process. Furthermore, most of the cases that do go to court are settled before reaching a jury trial.
Both sides can agree to a settlement at any point of the process, right up until the start of trial. During the pre-trial process, both sides share evidence, talk to witnesses, and prepare their cases for a potential trial. Quite often, the new information revealed during these steps will lead to an agreement.
While most cases do settle, it’s still important to hire an attorney with trial experience. One, because some cases do end up in trial. And two, because an attorney who has proven they are willing and able to win cases at trial will be in a better position to negotiate a fair settlement.
If I Signed a Waiver Can I Still Sue?
If you signed a waiver and then were injured by someone else’s negligence, it is possible that you still have a case. It depends on the facts. If you find yourself in this situation, we highly suggest that you seek experienced legal counsel to discuss whether your situation qualifies for one of the exceptions to the validity of the waiver.
For example, pre-injury waivers concerning minor children are usually not enforceable. For adults, if the waiver was ambiguous about what conduct you were granting a waiver for, the waiver may not be enforceable.
Never assume that you don’t have a case just because you signed a waiver.
What If I’ve Been Injured and the Other Driver Has No Auto Insurance?
If you’re injured in an auto accident and the other driver is uninsured, and has little or no personal assets to pay you, you will not be able to receive liability compensation. This is why it’s so important to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) and personal injury protection (PIP) on your own auto insurance policy.
UM/UIM coverage kicks in where the at-fault driver’s liability coverage leaves off. This includes situations where the other driver has no insurance, or when they don’t have enough insurance to fully cover your damages.
PIP is a type of no-fault insurance coverage. It will help cover your medical expenses and lost income regardless of who caused the crash.
If you aren’t sure whether you have UM/UIM or PIP coverage, call your auto insurance provider and ask them. It is usually fairly cheap in comparison with liability coverage, and we strongly recommend that you purchase it as part of your policy.
Should I See a Doctor After a Car Accident?
If you notice any symptoms after your car accident that weren’t there before—even mild ones—you should seek immediate medical attention.
This is important not only for your health, but also your legal case. The insurance company will try to downplay injuries that aren’t well documented. So, it’s always a good idea to schedule a doctor’s visit and get follow-up care if you have any discomfort.
Sometimes, the symptoms of an injury don’t become severe until days or even weeks after the crash. Other times, people delay going to the doctor due to financial concerns, or because they expect to get better on their own.
But the longer you wait, the more likely the insurance company will try to deny the severity of your symptoms, and the harder it is to prove that your condition was directly caused by the crash.
I’ve Been in an Accident and the Other Driver Was Intoxicated. What Now?
In every car accident case, you must prove the level of harm that you suffered because of the accident, in addition to proving that the other driver was responsible.
If the other driver was intoxicated, it may be easier to prove that they were at fault for the crash. But you still must show that the accident caused you meaningful monetary damages or interruption to your life. You do not automatically receive compensation simply because the other driver was intoxicated.
That being said, you might be able to demand punitive damages in an intoxicated driving case. Also known as exemplary damages, these are damages that punish a wrongdoer for especially reckless or willfully negligent conduct. Punitive damages are awarded on top of damages meant to fairly compensate the victim for their financial losses, pain, and suffering.
Should You Call the Police If You’ve Been Involved in a Car Wreck?
The answer to that question is almost always yes. If there has been any damage to the vehicles involved, you should call the police. If there’s any injury claimed by any person involved in the crash then yes, you should call the police. If the wreck was not your fault, it’s essential that you have the police there because they are trained and required to document a rudimentary investigation of the crash and to list what they believe the contributing factors are that caused the crash based on that investigation. Those factors end up becoming vital evidence if it becomes a legal claim or court case. The police report will also document the date, time and location, any eye witnesses that the police are able to identify, a description of what each side says happened that led to the crash, any insurance information by each party to the vehicle accident, and a host of other factors that end up being important for an attorney who may later be handling a claim arising from that automobile collision.
What Makes Crosley Law Firm Different?
What makes us different than all the other law firms you see plastered on billboards and television? It comes down to the way we treat people.
It starts with personal attention to every detail. Every case in our law firm has a lawyer assigned to it, and we take extra pride in giving personal attention and customer service to every client.
We’re talented courtroom attorneys and we understand the law, but that’s only one part of being great lawyers. What people really remember most is how they were treated. Did their attorney return their phone calls and answer all their questions thoroughly, understandably, and compassionately? Was their attorney there when they needed them? Did their attorney care about more than just getting a settlement check, but also help them get the medical care they needed, negotiate hospital bills, deal with harassing phone calls, and more?
At Crosley Law, our most important pledge is that we will do everything we can to help you through difficult times.
RELATED RESOURCE: Crosley Law Philosophy
How Will Your Case Be Handled?
If you’re reaching out to a personal injury attorney, it goes without saying that you’re under a lot of stress. That’s why we try to make the entire process as easy and smooth as possible for our clients—a red carpet treatment.
Over the years we’ve developed a thorough and consistent methodology that we use in every case. We strive to get our clients the best result possible, while at the same time taking away the stresses that go with their legal claim—like paperwork, deadlines, negotiations, and harassing phone calls. If we’ve done our jobs right, at the end of the case, you should walk away happy and feeling like we took care of everything.
When Should I Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer? (After a Car Accident)
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident or another personal injury. There are things that a qualified attorney will do immediately to begin protecting their clients’ rights:
- Conducting an extensive investigation of the accident scene and damaged vehicles before the evidence disappears
- Handling communication with insurance adjusters (who often try to trick injury victims into making recorded statements and admitting fault)
- Protecting you against other insurance company tricks (such as signing a release or agreeing to a lowball settlement offer)
RELATED POST: When Should You Call a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
What Happens When You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A few things will happen soon after you hire a personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will:
- Begin investigating the case right away. (Some evidence can be permanently lost if not collected soon after the crash.)
- Obtain and review your medical records (both before and after the accident).
- Obtain and review your medical bills and other related expenses.
- Work with your creditors to stop harassing phone calls and attempts at collection.
Insurance companies will not hesitate to take advantage of injury victims, and evidence may become more difficult (or impossible) to gather as time goes on. So, the sooner you hire an attorney to protect you, the more likely your case will be successful.
You will not need to pay us before we get started. Our attorneys work on contingency, meaning we don’t get paid unless, and until, we win your case.
Do You Need an Attorney for Every Case?
You only need a lawyer if you have a serious or permanent injury or if there are complex issues in your case. If you have a claim that doesn’t involve a lot of money and controversy, it probably doesn’t make sense to incur the cost or time of hiring an attorney. However, if there is anything serious or permanent or life-changing about your injury then you absolutely need an attorney. People will say the insurance company is offering me X amount of dollars and I don’t even have an attorney yet. Should I hire an attorney? Why would I need one when they’re already offering me X? In my experience, the answer is that 100 percent of the time the offer ends up being much greater than X with a competent qualified attorney on board. And that’s why I think that any serious case essentially requires the assistance of a qualified attorney.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me With My Personal Injury Case?
Aside from being experienced investigators and litigators, there are many important things that an experienced personal injury attorney will do, especially early in a case, that most accident victims wouldn’t even consider. Without experienced legal representation, it’s unlikely that most accident victims will know how to preserve evidence, hire expert witnesses, calculate their case’s settlement value, or negotiate with the insurance companies.
For example, we once represented a client who had been injured due to defective tires that had de-treaded. To prove the defect, we needed the tire itself. Even though it was three weeks after the accident when the client hired us, we sent our investigator to the scene, and he found a large section of the tire 30 yards from the side of the highway. That evidence, combined with expert testimony, made the case.
The more complicated a case is, the more you will benefit from hiring an experienced lawyer.
What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
There are five main kinds of compensatory damages an injury victim can seek in a lawsuit. They include:
- Medical bills—current and those reasonably likely to occur in the future based on your injury
- Lost wages—current and future, as well as reduced future earning capacity
- Physical pain and mental anguish arising because of the injuries
- Physical impairment—in other words, an injury that changes the way you’re able to walk, move, or live your life
- Disfigurement injuries that change your appearance (like scars and burns)
You will notice that compensatory damages can be both economic (when they create a financial burden such as bills) and non-economic (when they cause physical and emotional pain).
In rare cases, injury victims may also be awarded punitive damages, also known as special damages. These are meant to punish egregious wrongdoing and are only awarded if the person who caused your injury showed reckless disregard or malice (for example, drunk driving or excessive speeding).
RELATED POST: 5 Damages That Car Accident Victims Miss Out On
I Don’t Have the Money to Hire a Lawyer. Will You Still Take My Case?
Yes! The only thing that matters is whether we can help you win your case—not how much money you have right now.
Crosley Law’s attorneys work on contingency, meaning we earn a percentage of your final settlement or jury award. You never have to pay out of pocket, you will only pay us at the end of the case, and if we don’t win your case you owe us nothing.
No matter who you are or what your financial situation might be, you should never worry that you won’t be able to afford a great personal injury attorney.
RELATED POST: Is it Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer (and Why)?
How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
The short answer is that your case is worth whatever a jury says it’s worth.
The longer answer is that settlement value of any case is based on the expected range of values that might be awarded if the case goes to trial. Some factors that must be considered include, but are certainly not limited to:
- The total value of all past and future medical expenses
- The total value of all past and future lost wages and reduced wage-earning capacity
- The victim’s subjective pain, suffering, anguish, and changes in the way that they live their life (like reduced mobility and cognitive difficulties)
- The strength of the evidence
- The skill of the attorney
- The defendant’s ability to pay (for example, the amount of available insurance coverage and other available assets)
There are countless factors that go into determining the value of a case, but here’s one last piece of advice: Your case is almost always worth more if you have an experienced attorney with a strong track record of success representing you.
RELATED CLIENT STORY: Getting Fair Compensation for Pain and Suffering After a TBI: Kaegan’s Story
What Is Fair Compensation for My Personal Injury Claim?
In a personal injury claim, the law instructs the jury to assign a value to the claim that provides “just and fair” compensation to the injury victim. But what does that really mean?
The short answer is that fair compensation is the amount of money it takes to make an injured person “whole”—in other words, to even out what has been taken away by the injury.
The lawyer’s job is to persuade and inform the jury about all the ways that the injury has changed the person’s life. This includes not only financial burdens like medical bills and lost wages, but also how the injury affects their daily activities and enjoyment of life.
The reality is that two people with very similar injuries may have very different reactions to the way those injuries affect their lives, and so fair compensation may be very different as well.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Texas Personal Injury Case?
A statute of limitations is a deadline for bringing a legal claim. Once this deadline passes, your claim will be denied regardless of the merits of your case.
In Texas, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit in a personal injury case is normally two years from the date of the injury. However, there are exceptions to this rule in some circumstances. For example, in certain claims against the government you might only have three or six months. And if the case involves a minor, the two-year time limit might not begin until they turn 18.
The most important advice we can give you is that you should always contact an attorney as soon as possible after an injury, regardless of the formal statute of limitations. There are two important reasons for this:
- If you have a shorter (or longer) deadline than usual, it’s important to know right away.
- Personal injury cases take time to investigate and prepare. The more time you can give your attorney before the deadline to file, the better their chances of building you the strongest possible case.
What Does It Mean to File Suit?
“File suit” is shorthand for “file a lawsuit.” Literally, it means that a person who wishes to recover compensation for their injuries (or the attorney representing them) submits paperwork to the court to begin formal legal proceedings against the negligent party (or parties).
Once a suit is filed, the process toward a final resolution of the legal claim—one way or another—is set in motion. The defendant is served with a copy of the lawsuit and given a deadline to respond. Both sides review and share evidence, build their cases, and can continue to negotiate up until the trial begins.
Not all personal injury claims require the victim to file suit. Often, our lawyers can negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company without needing to sue them—and not all lawsuits go to trial. But filing suit is a necessary step in situations where the defendant will not voluntarily agree to a fair deal and you need to get the legal system involved to get just compensation.
RELATED POST: What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer With a Track Record of Success?
Insurance companies are big businesses motivated by profit, and they are motivated to settle personal injury cases as quickly and cheaply as possible.
To do this, they collect data on how specific lawyers and law firms handle certain cases. They know which lawyers settle cases cheaply, which lawyers are willing to take cases to trial, and which lawyers are willing to dig deep and are more likely to uncover evidence that most lawyers miss.
In short, they know which lawyers are likely to demand a premium to settle and are more adept at winning large trial verdicts. Lawyers with a track record of proven success, therefore, tend to have more leverage in negotiations and get higher settlement offers on average.
RELATED POST: How Do I Know if an Attorney Is Right for My Case?
If I File a Lawsuit, Will Someone Spy on Me?
Yes, sometimes. This is what’s known as surveillance, and it is legal. Frequently, an insurance company on the other side of an injury claim may hire a private investigator to follow an injury plaintiff and record their activities. What they’re looking for is behavior that is inconsistent with the injuries that are claimed. I tell my clients when this issue comes up, just be natural, be yourself. If you are legitimate, truthful, and behaving normally, you’ve got nothing to fear if you are under surveillance or not.
I’m frequently able to use this surveillance against the other side. For example, I had a little old lady who lived alone and there was a private investigator doing surveillance on her. I introduced all the evidence of surveillance in the courtroom, and it showed her behaving consistent with her injuries in a way that was very truthful, and it underscored and corroborated her claims. It made the defendant trucking company in that case look even worse than they already looked. It ended up making her case into a record verdict for that county. Don’t worry about surveillance, as long as you are being truthful.
How Do I Prepare for a Deposition?
Depositions can be intimidating. Although they aren’t taken before a judge, your responses will be considered admissible evidence. That’s why it’s extremely important to be prepared.
You can expect to field questions about the incident, your injuries, your symptoms, and your personal and medical background. Take time to review accident reports, medical records, and other information to help refresh your memory. Innocent mistakes and moments of forgetfulness can sometimes be interpreted as a lack of credibility.
Your lawyer will also help you prepare for your deposition by going over important rules to follow, such as:
- Always tell the truth
- Always ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question
- Always ask to see documents that are being referenced
- Only answer the question that you have been asked
- Don’t guess or speculate
The Importance of Being Prepared
What Should I Expect If I’m Going to Have to Give a Deposition?
Can My Activity on Social Media Hurt My Lawsuit?
Yes, absolutely. What you post on social media can be used against you in a personal injury case. In fact, you can virtually guarantee that the opposing lawyer will be reviewing your social profiles for any posts that can be used to question your credibility.
We strongly urge all our clients to be extremely cautious about what they post on social media. Even if you set your profiles to private, you should still evaluate every post as if it could be used against you as evidence in a courtroom. Sometimes, even a seemingly innocent photo—for example, of you enjoying yourself at a party—can be used by a defendant to imply that you’re exaggerating your symptoms and bias the jury against you.
My Case Has Been Settled. So Now What?
That can be a tough question sometimes, because a lot of work remains to be done after the settlement is reached. Here are some examples. If there are any government benefits that were paid to the client that relate to the injuries that the settlement covers, then you’ve got to deal with government reimbursement plans, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or other government benefits. If there were health insurance payments made for medical expenses, then typically the health insurance company asserts a claim for reimbursement of those expenses. Sometimes there’s hospital liens. Sometimes there’s a workers’ compensation lien if there were comp benefits paid for an on-the-job injury. There’s lots of instances where there are other entities such as hospitals or health insurers are attempting to claw back portions of the settlement proceeds for themselves. It’s your lawyer’s job to fight to protect as much of the settlement as possible and preserve them for your own benefit.
The Other Driver Was Intoxicated, Am I Automatically Entitled to Damages?
In every case, you have to prove the level of harm that you suffered as a result of an accident or an injury or an event. So even though another driver may be intoxicated, you still have to prove how that intoxication crash resulted in harm to you. The fact that a driver may be intoxicated may make it easier to prove that the other driver was negligent; in other words, that the other driver failed to use ordinary care and failed to follow the rules of road that we expect all drivers to follow, but you still need to show what the harm is and how that harm has resulted in a money damage loss or interruption of your life. One other interesting thing to know about intoxication cases is that sometimes there are insurance exclusions that certain insurance policies won’t cover or will limit the amount of coverage for an intoxicated driver, so it helps to have a lawyer who is asking those questions familiar with those insurance policies. It also helps to have somebody who will look at all the available insurance coverages out there, including your own insurance coverage.
If the Insurance Adjuster Calls Asking for a Recorded Statement, Should I Talk to Them?
You’ve been in an accident and the insurance adjuster is calling you asking for a recorded statement, should you talk to them? That question comes up in almost every car wreck case. The answer is, if it is the other side’s insurance company there is no rule that says you have to talk to them. In fact, I would encourage you not to until you first talk to an attorney if you have an injury claim. The more serious your injury claim, the stricter that rule becomes. I would never allow one of my clients to talk to the other side’s insurance company without first getting advice from me in an injury claim. If it’s your own insurance adjuster than it is okay to talk to them about your injury claim. They’re there to help you. There are some exceptions to that, and the more serious your injury the more important it is that you promptly seek the advice of a competent lawyer.
Why Are Commercial Trampoline Parks So Dangerous?
Commercial trampoline parks often use a complex or connected system of multiple trampoline beds that create a different set of dangers than what you’re used to in your typical backyard trampoline. Also, trampoline parks often employ jump monitors who are still teenagers, or in their early 20s, and who may lack the experience or judgment necessary to deal with seriously injured customers. Finally, many of these commercial trampoline parks are disregarding basic trampoline safety rules, like only allowing one jumper at a time per trampoline bed. In fact, emergency room doctors who are now seeing a lot of high-impact injuries from commercial trampoline parks compare those injuries to those sustained in war or car crashes in terms of the severity of the injury. Meanwhile, the number of commercial trampoline parks is skyrocketing. A few years ago, there were only six trampoline parks across the nation. Now, there will be over 200 including dozens in Texas. Some states, like Arizona, Utah, California, Michigan, have all stepped up to address these safety issues, but trampoline parks in Texas remain completely unregulated.
Can I Still Get a Settlement if a Car Accident Aggravates a Pre-Existing Injury?
If a car accident makes a pre-existing injury worse, you are entitled to compensation for any new or newly aggravated symptoms that you can show were directly related to the accident. Insurers cannot use pre-existing conditions or a person’s susceptibility to injury (for example, due to frailty or an earlier surgery) as an excuse to deny a claim; this is called the “eggshell skull rule.”
That said, insurance companies often try to blame symptoms on pre-existing conditions, and without strong medical evidence it can be difficult to prove the severity of your symptoms before and after the crash. Working with an experienced attorney is strongly recommended.
RELATED POST: What Is the Eggshell Skull Rule? (crosleylaw.com)
How Are Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents?
There are several important ways that truck accidents are different from “ordinary” car accidents involving personal vehicles. A few of the biggest ones include:
- Liability. While fault for most car accidents rests with one driver or the other, liability in a trucking accident may be shared by a truck driver, the trucking company, manufacturers, maintenance companies, cargo loaders, and more.
- Insurance coverage. Commercial vehicle operators must carry much higher insurance coverage amounts than personal vehicle owners. This often means that injury victims can recover much higher settlements when a trucking company is involved.
- Complexity. Trucking cases are highly complex and require thorough investigation to uncover all the necessary sources of evidence and discover which rules and laws may have been violated. Plus, large trucking companies defend cases aggressively and may even hide evidence.
For these and other reasons, we strongly recommend you speak to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident with any commercial vehicle.
What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do?
After a car accident, the insurance company responsible for your claim will assign an insurance adjuster to the case. The adjuster’s job is to investigate the crash and your injuries, review your claim, and provide you with an initial settlement offer (if your claim isn’t denied).
While the insurance adjuster might seem helpful and friendly (getting medical records and police reports and talking to witnesses), it’s important to understand they are not on your side. As a representative of the insurance company, their job is to look for ways to avoid paying you full value for your claim. They may use many tactics, such as asking you to give a recorded statement, that are intended to trip you up and get you to inadvertently say something they can use against you.
We strongly encourage you to talk to a personal injury attorney before you speak with the insurance adjuster. Your attorney can advise you on how to proceed, or even handle negotiations on your behalf.
MORE INFORMATION: What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do?
Do you or a family member
need legal advice?
Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death.