A personal injury is any type of physical injury that you suffer because of someone else's negligence. In the state of Texas, you have a right to file suit against someone whose negligence causes damages to you. Personal injury cases are governed by a Statute of Limitations, which varies depending on the type of case, but it limits the amount of time in which you can file a personal injury suit. Consult an attorney to determine the Statute of Limitations for your case, and do not wait too long or you may miss your window of opportunity.
Personal Injury FAQs
- What is a personal injury?
- I didn't think I was hurt, but now feel horrible. What do I do?
Medical symptoms don't always show up when an accident occurs. Especially in the case of an automobile accident, but also in other types of personal injury cases, medical symptoms often begin occurring in the days immediately following the accident. You should seek medical treatment as soon as you begin experiencing pain or other symptoms and consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to take the necessary steps to establish your case.
- When should I seek medical treatment?
You should seek medical treatment as soon as an accident occurs, if possible, or whenever the symptoms begin to appear. You should continue treatment until your doctor or other healthcare professional discharges you, and if you are still experiencing symptoms, you may need to seek a second opinion or consult with a specialist to ensure you are as recovered as possible.
- Who pays my medical bills?
Usually, the at-fault party’s insurance company will not pay your medical bills while you are still treating with a doctor. They will not want to pay until you have completed your medical treatment and are ready to resolve your claim. If you have health insurance, then your own health insurance company should pay your medical bills. There are some health insurance carriers who refuse to pay for the treatment if another party is responsible for your injuries. And to further compound the issue, if you have health insurance and they will pay, you still have to pay out of pocket for normal co-pays and deductibles. If you cannot afford those co-pays and deductibles or do not have health insurance, we may be able to help you get set up with a medical provider who will provide medical treatment with an agreement in place that you'll pay for that treatment when you reach a settlement on your personal injury case. Essentially, a deferment agreement.
- Do I still have a case if health insurance pays my medical bills?
Yes, you still have a case even if someone else pays your medical bills. Your medical bills are still used as one basis for determining the value of your case, regardless of whether you pay them or someone else does. However, if your health insurance does pay your medical bills, your insurance company may contact you to seek reimbursement for monies spent on your medical care.
- What do I need to file a personal injury case?
All you really need to file a personal injury case is an accident resulting from someone else's negligence that causes damages to you. Sit down with an experienced personal injury lawyer, provide the details of your accident, and get medical treatment until you're recovered from your injuries.
Through the course of your case, the attorney will need to obtain your police report, any photographs that exist relating to the accident, and copies of your medical records. If you can provide those documents to the attorney, it saves a lot of time spent waiting for correspondence to be returned. However, if you can't come up with those documents, the attorney can get them and move forward with your case.
- How can I pay a personal injury attorney?
You shouldn't have to worry about whether or not you can come up with the money up front to hire a personal injury attorney, so at the Kisselburgh Law Firm, we work on personal injury cases on a contingency basis. That means that if we win the case, we deduct our fees from the proceeds. If we don't win the case, we don't charge a fee. No recovery, no fee.
- Can I resolve the case without hiring a personal injury attorney?
You can, but your ultimate recovery will probably be a lot less than if you had an attorney. When you attempt to negotiate your case directly with the insurance company, you are working at a serious disadvantage. Insurance adjusters do this for a living each day and they are trained to pay you the least amount of money possible to settle your claim. By hiring an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer like us, you level the playing field by having a trained, experienced advocate on your side.
- How long does it take to resolve a personal injury case?
The length of time that it takes to resolve a personal injury case can vary greatly from case to case. In the case of a motor vehicle accident with clear liability and simple damages, the case might settle very quickly. However, in a complicated case with many at-fault parties and large damages or if your medical treatment is complicated and lengthy, it can take a while for all the parties to agree on liability and damages. At the Kisselburgh Law Firm, we know how to prepare these cases so the client has the best chance at a successful recovery.
- Will I have to spend a lot of time working on the case?
The good news about hiring a personal injury attorney is that you won't spend a lot of time working on your case. The attorney takes care of practically everything for you; all you have to do is show up for your medical appointments, keep the lawyer updated on your medical status, and forward any paperwork you receive regarding your accident to your attorney. Your personal injury attorney handles all the communication with the insurance companies, any necessary litigation and all of the record-keeping. Your lawyer will tell you if and when you need to take action on your case; otherwise, you can forget about it until it's resolved, and focus on living your life as normally as possible.
- How do I decide whether to sue or settle?
Your personal injury attorney can help you decide whether to settle a case out-of-court, or whether to take it to trial. In most cases, it makes sense to settle a case before trial, as you're at the mercy of a jury award in the event that a case does go to trial. Sometimes juries award more than you'd expect, but juries can also award a mere pittance, depending on the case.
If you can agree with the defendant on case value, settlement makes more sense for everyone. However, if you and the defendant simply can't agree on the case's value, or if the defendant doesn't feel that liability has been clearly established, it may be necessary to take a case to court to achieve a recovery.
The decision of whether to sue or settle is ultimately your decision. Your personal injury attorney can advise you strongly in the direction that makes the best sense.
- What is a structured settlement?
A structured settlement can take many forms, but it generally means that you receive only a portion of the settlement up front, and the rest may go into a trust account, investment products or other security vehicles. In some cases, you get a structured settlement in chunks, which you can then access at a later date; in other cases, a portion of the settlement may go into a trust account for another party, such as when parents sue on behalf of their children.
- What does it mean when I sign a release?
While releases contain different language depending on the specifics, a release generally means that you give up the right to seek any further recovery from the individual released, in exchange for the consideration outlined in the release.
For example, if you settle a personal injury case for $20,000, you'll have to sign a release against the defendant, agreeing not to take further action against the defendant and his/her insurance company in return for the defendant paying you $20,000.
It's important to NEVER sign a release unless your lawyer reviews it and advises you to sign; sometimes insurance companies mislead people into signing a release, and people then lose their rights to pursue personal injury cases against those companies.
Also beware of a newer tactic being used by insurance companies—getting injured parties to settle by an oral release early on. It is a tactic called swoop and settle. This is where the insurance adjuster calls you soon after the collision and offers to settle your claim for a small amount of money in exchange for an oral release. The major problem with this tactic is you usually don’t have an understanding of the extent of your injuries nor do most people understand it is a final release and they cannot seek any more money from that insurance company. Beware of these situations and consult with an experienced car wreck attorney before agreeing to settle your claim.