If you suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, you may qualify to file a personal injury claim against that person. A personal injury claim is typically an insurance claim filed against a party’s existing liability policy.
A personal injury claim may be filed against a person, company, or governmental entity.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Texas Personal Injury Claim?
It is not required that you have an attorney to file a personal injury claim. However, a personal injury attorney can guide you through the steps of your personal injury claim and manage your case on your behalf.
Having a personal injury attorney ensures the insurance company and its attorneys do not take advantage of you throughout the claim settlement process. Your attorney will also handle your case should litigation become necessary.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Texas is a Legal Process
Personal injury claims start by sending a demand letter to the insurance company. The demand letter outlines the circumstances of the accident and notifies the insurance company that you plan to file a lawsuit for monetary damages.
The demand letter further explains:
- How the insured is liable for the accident that caused your injuries;
- The amount you are requesting to resolve your case; and
- The deadline for payment of the requested amount.
A demand letter is usually the starting point for settlement talks.
How Do I Know What My Texas Personal Injury Claim is Worth?
Your personal injury attorney will total your damages and factor in any future accident-related needs when determining your case value. Your case is worth your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and much more.
Your attorney must be able to prove any damage amounts claimed and prove that the insured party was negligent to recover compensation on your behalf.
You Must Prove Negligence to Win a Texas Personal Injury Claim
Before winning compensation in your case, you must prove the other party was liable for your injuries. Your personal injury attorney will start building your case at your first meeting.
Your attorney must meet the legal standard for negligence to win your claim. This requires proving the following:
- The other party owed you a duty of care;
- The other party breached this duty;
- This breach directly caused your injuries; and
- As a result, you suffered damages.
Meeting the burden of proof and winning a personal injury claim takes time, preparation, and a thorough examination of case evidence.
Settling a Personal Injury Claim in Texas
Most provable personal injury claims settle. Your attorney will know when an acceptable settlement agreement is reached.
In return for payment, you will be expected to release the insurance company from any further liability claims.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Texas
If no settlement is forthcoming, your attorney may suggest you pursue compensation in court. At this point, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Your attorney will advise you in which district your lawsuit will be filed.
There are deadlines to file personal injury lawsuits in Texas. Generally, personal injury cases must be filed within two years of the date of injury.
Your lawsuit must meet all legal filing requirements and procedures, or the court may dismiss it.
Filing a Personal Injury Case in Texas Civil Court
Beginning a personal injury case in Texas civil court requires your attorney to file a petition with the court.
The petition must state:
- Why the court has the authority to hear the case;
- Who the parties are to the case;
- Why the defendant (other party) owes you compensation; and
- How much money the defendant owes you.
There are fees to file a petition in Texas civil court of approximately $200.
The Defendant’s Response
The defendant should file a timely response to your petition. The response should be one of the following:
- A request for additional information;
- A request to dismiss your case; or
- A lawsuit against you.
If the initial filings yield no settlement, the case will move into discovery.
Trial discovery is the process of sharing information between the parties. During discovery, each side can send formal requests for evidence to the other.
These requests may include:
- The names of eyewitnesses who will testify at trial;
- The names of expert witnesses who will testify at trial;
- Any of the party’s medical records or bills related to the accident;
- Any accident scene evidence for use at trial;
- Formal questionnaires for the party to fill out under oath; and
- Formal requests for depositions before a court reporter.
Often, cases end during or after the discovery stage. One or both sides will learn that the other party’s case is stronger or weaker than initially thought and be willing to negotiate.
Some judges require you to participate in mediation before trial. Mediation is a dispute resolution process where a neutral third party works with you and the other party to resolve your case.
Mediation is a confidential process, and anything said inside of mediation cannot be revealed in court. However, resolutions reached in mediation can be signed and presented to the court for formalization.
Trials are a lengthy and expensive process. Lawsuits that reach the trial stage may take months before a trial is scheduled.
There are several steps leading up to a trial date. If there is a jury, a jury must be selected.
Once the trial starts, there are:
- Opening statements by each side;
- Presentations of evidence through witnesses by each side;
- Closing arguments by each side;
- A jury verdict; and
- If there is a verdict for you, there is a damages award.
The trial itself can take weeks or months, depending on the size and complexity of your case. If you are successful, you may be awarded a variety of damages.
Damages may include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Your attorney can discuss damage types with you during a case consultation.
Contact an Experienced Dallas Personal Injury Attorney Today
Learn more about filing a personal injury claim or taking your case to court by contacting Mathias Raphael PLLC Accident & Injury Lawyers today! We want to maximize your recovery while pursuing justice for your injuries.
Mathias Raphael PLLC Accident & Injury Lawyers will not back down from a fight. We take the battle to insurance companies.
Do not wait to speak with an experienced Dallas personal injury attorney at Mathias Raphael PLLC Accident & Injury Lawyers. The sooner we get started on your case, the faster we can get you the compensation you deserve!