Accidental injuries are an unfortunately common occurrence. While the situations they happen in may vary, the results are often the same. Victims are left to struggle with heavy medical bills while suffering lost wages, as their injuries prevent them from engaging in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed.
As experienced Texas personal injury attorneys, our goal is to help you get the compensation you are entitled to, either by negotiating an insurance settlement or through a personal injury lawsuit. We pledge to work tirelessly to investigate your accident and collect the evidence needed to show the other party is to blame.
Texas Personal Injury Claims
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that roughly 31 million people suffer personal injuries each year serious enough to require treatment in hospital emergency rooms. These types of injuries result in death for as many as 130,000 others. While these injuries are generally attributed as being accidental in nature, they are often the result of reckless and negligent actions on the part of others.
If you have suffered personal injuries as the result of someone else’s actions, you may be entitled to damages, which are a form of compensation. Damages you may be entitled to in a Texas personal injury claim include:
- Economic damages, which compensate you for costs such as medical expenses and lost wages.
- Non-economic damages, which compensate you for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and physical disfigurement caused by your injuries.
- Exemplary (or punitive) damages, which is an additional dollar amount awarded by the court, meant to punish the at fault party for conduct that was particularly reckless or negligent.
Personal injury claims include car, truck, or motorcycle accidents; pedestrian or bicycling injuries; slips and falls; being struck by or against an object; dog bites and attacks; product liability claims, an more.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Timeline
While every personal injury case has its own particular facts and nuances, we can help you to understand a general personal injury lawsuit timeline for claims that get filed in New Braunfels, Texas. Before you can file a lawsuit, however, you will need to take a few steps that should all be done as soon as possible after your injury:
- Seek medical attention. The first thing you will need to do in order to file a personal injury claim is to seek medical attention and have a record of your injuries. Depending on how you got hurt, this might mean that you need to visit a doctor’s office after you are involved in a traffic collision, or it might mean that you need to seek medical treatment after a slip and fall accident at a local business. Regardless of how you got hurt, you will need to have a physician examine you and provide a medical record of your injuries.
- Be aware of the statute of limitations. In order to be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, you will need to be sure that you file your claim within the statute of limitations. In Texas, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident and your injuries, or else you will lose the ability to do so. There are some limited exceptions to this, but you should seek to file a claim as soon as possible so that your attorney has time to build a case before your time is up.
- Seek legal counsel. To begin building your personal injury claim, you should work with a dedicated New Braunfels personal injury lawyer with experience handling settlement negotiations and courtroom trials.
Once you have taken the necessary steps to begin your lawsuit, the following represent some of the common steps in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Investigation of your injuries. Once you hire a lawyer, one of the first steps your attorney will take is to conduct a thorough investigation into your injuries and the accident that caused them. In this early investigation phase, your personal injury lawyer will review your medical records, as well as information about your treatment and the associated financial costs. In addition, your lawyer might look closely into the facts surrounding the accident to determine whether another party’s negligence caused your injuries. Once your lawyer establishes that you have a valid personal injury claim, your lawsuit will be filed. The investigation stage can take anywhere from weeks to months, depending upon the specific facts of your case.
- Serving the defendants. Once your claim has been filed, the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure requires that the defendant (or defendants, if more than one party may be liable) be served, or given notification of the claim against them.
- Once the defendants are served, they will have to respond within a short period of time. This is a stage in the personal injury lawsuit process that involves interviews with both parties, as well as witnesses, medical professionals, and other relevant people.
- Going to trial. After all information has been gathered, your case may proceed to trial. Depending on the number of witnesses and the complexity of the case, trials can take quite awhile. In some instances, defendants will want to settle. If a plaintiff decides to continue with a trial, eventually a jury will reach a verdict. If the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff, the jury will then award damages.
- Settlement. Either before going to trial or during trial, the parties can agree to a settlement. Settlement typically involves strong negotiations. One of the benefits of a settlement is that it can take a shorter time than seeing a trial to its conclusion.
What Factors Affect the Resolution of a Personal Injury Claim?
There are numerous factors that can influence your personal injury lawsuit timeline, including:
- Complexity of the case.
- Number of parties in the case.
- Intricacy of the discovery phase.
- Whether the case settles or goes through trial to a jury verdict.
These are just a few examples of factors that can affect the length of time necessary to resolve a personal injury claim. Your attorney can discuss the specific details of your case with you.
6 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Personal Injury Claim
While you may be legally entitled to compensation in the above types of accidents, the actions you take after you are injured could jeopardize your case. Common mistakes when filing a personal injury claim include the following:
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Regardless of how you sustained your injuries, it is important to remain on the scene long enough for security or law enforcement to be notified and to have a police report filed. You should make note of the time of day and the circumstances surrounding your injuries, the names of those involved, and any witnesses at the scene. Leaving without reporting the accident robs you of valuable evidence, and could jeopardize your rights to compensation in a personal injury claim.
- Not Keeping Track of Medical Records and Other Documents
It is also important to get medical attention as soon as possible, even if you initially think your injuries are minor. Many serious and potentially disabling conditions, such as head, back, and neck injuries, have symptoms that take hours or even days to appear. Keep track of your medical records and the names of your providers, in addition to any lost wages you suffered and additional costs you incurred.
- Exaggerating Your Injuries
When reporting your injuries to your doctor or to an insurance company afterward, be honest and avoid exaggerating your condition or the extent of damage you suffered. If you lie to an insurance company, you could be charged with insurance fraud. Under Section 35.01 of the Texas Penal Code, penalties for fraud include jail time and fines up to $10,000 or more.
- Not Meeting Time Limits for Filing a Claim
In civil court matters, there are time limits for filing a claim, referred to as a statute of limitations. In Texas personal injury claims, under Section 16.003 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury, with some narrow exceptions. If you fail to file your claim within that time limit, you will be forfeiting your rights to any current or future compensation.
- Making Statements to Insurance Companies
While people often think that insurance companies are on their side, nothing could be further from the truth. When dealing with these companies, it is important to realize that they are operating a business, and their bottom line is profits. This gives them a financial motive for denying or undervaluing claims, and any statements you make about the accident, your activities before or after, and your injuries could be used against you. Always speak to an experienced personal injury attorney before making any statements to the insurance company or signing any documents.
- Talking About Your Injuries on Social Media
While many of us enjoy keeping in touch with friends and posting on social media, it is important to realize it is one of the first places insurance companies go when investigating claims. Online posts, photos, and videos are increasingly being used as evidence to cast doubt about accidents, injuries, or even the claimant’s character in general. To protect your personal injury claim, your safest bet is to stop posting on your social media accounts until your case is resolved.
Contact a New Braunfels Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Case
If you or someone you care about is the victims of a personal injury, contact the Burch Law Firm right away. Attorney Troy D. Burch has strong roots in the community and has been providing professional legal representation with a personalized touch that locals and visitors can count on for more than a quarter century.
We serve New Braunfels and the surrounding South Central Texas area. Call or contact our office online today to request a free and confidential case consultation.