Almost every second of every day across America, someone is suffering some sort of personal injury. It does not matter if they are driving in a car or at the workplace; accidents can happen anywhere and tend to happen when we least expect them. A lot of the time they result from an action that is no fault of your own, and when this happens you have the legal right to seek restitution.
When statewide tort reform passed in 2003, filing a personal injury claim in Texas got more difficult. At Liggett Law Group, our passion for helping individuals injured by the negligence of others only increased. Now that personal injury claims face higher scrutiny and attorneys must worker harder to obtain a good result for their clients, other law firms are turning away injured individuals. We do no such thing.
Liggett Law Group works hard to represent the injured in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. Our law firm has the ability to handle a variety of personal injury cases, and we take our clients’ cases personally.
If you have been injured as the result of negligence by another person, company or organization; this page will help you understand what your rights are under the law and the steps in the personal injury claims process.
Personal Injury: Definition & Statistics
What is a personal injury? It is often described in legal terms as a negligent act by a person or business that causes injury to the body, mind, and/or emotions of another. In the legal system these are often called ‘tort’ cases.
Personal injuries can and do happen anytime and anywhere. Here are some statistical averages that were put together by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Accidents in the U.S. result in 31 million people a year being hurt severely enough to have to see a medical professional. As a direct result of these injuries, an estimated 162,000 of these victims will lose their lives.
Here are some breakdowns in the numbers for the most prevalent causes of personal injuries:
By far the number one cause is automobile accidents, which results in over 3 million injuries each year and 41,000 of these victims will succumb to their injuries; by comparison that is a far a bigger loss of life than America has suffered in the last two wars its fought.
Other leading causes of personal injuries are medical malpractice, which results in over 100,000 fatalities per year; construction accidents, which result in an average of 300,000 injuries and 1,000 fatalities a year; and truck accidents, which are responsible for over 60,000 injuries and 5,000 fatalities annually.
Many of the victims of these personal injury accidents were injured through no fault of their own. If another person or business acted negligently and that negligence caused your injuries, then you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim. As a victim, you may be entitled to be reimbursed for any medical expenses you have incurred, be compensated for lost time at work or future lost income, and to have your future financial situation taken care of if you have been injured or disabled so badly that you can no longer work.
If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by negligence, you may also be entitled to make a claim against the responsible party through a wrongful death claim.
Actions You Should Take As An Accident Victim
It is not easy to think clearly after an accident, especially if you have been so badly injured you require hospitalization; not to mention the mental stress and shock you will be experiencing with all that is going on around you. As soon as you are able to following the accident, here are some tips that may help win you a personal injury lawsuit if filing one becomes necessary.
- At the scene of the accident, write down any information you can get on people that witnessed the accident. Names, phone numbers, addresses and license plates are the best type of information to get.
- When you have a chance to clearly replay what happened in your mind, write down everything you can remember about the incident. It’s one time in your life you don’t want to rely on your memory to get things right.
- If you are able to collect evidence that might help you in a personal injury claim, document it and preserve it the best you can.
- Try to say as little as possible about the accident unless you are talking to police investigators or medical personnel at the scene.
- If you are approached by the at-fault party’s legal or insurance representatives, refer all their questions to your legal counsel. The best way to avoid hurting your claim for compensation is to say nothing at all before consulting your attorney.
How To Pursue A Claim
If you have been injured in an accident where another party is at fault and you have incurred expenses and financial losses because of that, then you are entitled to file a claim to get back what you have lost financially. This should be done as soon as possible after the incident to give you the best chance of having your legal claim honored.
Can you represent yourself in court? Yes, but it is highly advisable not to. You are less likely to win the claim if you represent yourself and if you do win, the compensation is usually less than if you had legal representation. There is no substitute for having an experienced personal injury lawyer handling your case.
At the very least, do yourself the favor of sitting down with a reputable personal injury lawyer and see what they have to say. At Liggett Law Group, these consultations are free and you will most likely be surprised at how complex this legal process is.
The at-fault party is most likely going to deny responsibility and surround themselves with experienced legal counsel. If an insurance company is part of the lawsuit, you can bet that their trained legal staff will work hard to deny your claim. Their job is to make sure victims like you get little or nothing from a claim, and they are very good at what they do. You should have an experienced, aggressive attorney representing your interests as well.
Claims Steps, From Initial Filing To Resolution
Here is a brief overview of the claims process. You may or may not have your individual case go from start to finish; often times these matters are settled out of court. It is actually rare that an injury claim sees the inside of a courtroom, which is why it is so important to build a strong case as early as possible.
1. Complaint or Petition
The very first step in filing a personal injury lawsuit is the filing of a complaint against the at-fault parties; they will then become defendants. You will state your case, name the defendants, briefly describe supporting facts and announce the restitution that you feel you are entitled to.
2. Summoning the Defendant(s)
This is the act of the court legally notifying the defendant(s) that they are being sued. It will include such things as your complaint, where the court the matter will be heard and on what date and how long they have to respond by before being found in default.
This one does exactly what it says; it is the defendant’s answer to the claim that you made against them. At this point, the defendants have a lot of options; they may grant your claim without a fight (highly unlikely), elect to file a counter-claim against you, or name an additional third party as a defendant, thus trying to absolve themselves of blame. Another party may join the suit at this time also in a cross claim.
4. Attempt at Settlement
If you have built a strong case against the defendants, then most likely they will try to reach a settlement before the matter goes to court. This may result in several offers going back and forth before a settlement is reached. Your attorney will be able to advise you on whether a settlement offer is reasonable and fair. If no settlement can be agreed upon, then the matter will proceed to trial.
5. Going to Trial
A trial will be the initial attempt to resolve your legal claim in court. It is usually done in phases that include jury selection, each party stating their side of the story and presenting proof and a verdict. Even if you win or lose here, the case may continue on.
6. Appeals Process
If either party is not happy with the verdict that was reached in the courtroom, then you or they have the right to legally appeal that verdict. If the higher court agrees to hear the appeal, then the whole process goes back to the settlement phase and continues on.
Types Of Personal Injuries That May Result In A Claim
We all are familiar with what a car accident can be like. They often result from such things as another person driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or not paying attention as they talk on the cell phone while driving.
This is by far the number one cause of personal injury accidents and the claims that result from them often include the driver and their insurance company in the lawsuit.
There are few things on the road that are bigger and more powerful than commercial trucks. If you are involved in a crash with one of these, the resulting injuries often can be severe or even fatal. Claims against at-fault drivers often point to the lack of legally mandated rest on a driver’s part, lack of experience and training, or driving too fast for the current road conditions.
Commercial vehicle and truck accidents most often include the at-fault driver, the trucking company and their insurance company as defendants.
Motorcycle accidents often happen as the result of excess speed on a rider’s part or from a driver of another vehicle not paying close enough attention.
These types of claims will most likely name the at-fault driver and their insurance companies as defendants.
Manufacturers bear a lot of responsibility when it comes to making safe products; if they are negligent in this area then it is only natural that people seek compensation for any injuries that result from this negligence.
Examples of product liability claims are a children’s stuffed animal toy that the eyes are coming off of easily and choking children or an automobile manufacturer that was experiencing repeat brake failures on a particular make and model.
Property owners and businesses are tasked with making the areas under their control safe and when they don’t, you have the right to take out a suit against them and their insurance companies. These range from such a simple thing as a business sign that was hung to low and people were getting head cuts from it or something as big as a chemical leak that affected many people in the surrounding areas.
Workplace accidents happen all too often in America. When they do, the company and their insurance companies need to be held accountable. A workplace accident is a double edged sword because they not only result in medical bills that need to be paid, but often also result in lost work time and the future ability work.
Examples of these types of accidents are company workers that are repeatedly removing asbestos insulation without the proper equipment and develop mesothelioma or a company whose storage racks did not meet certain weight requirements and the product fell and injured workers.
Dog and animal bites can be traumatic, especially for young victims. A dog or animal bite may result in long-term or permanent injury and can even be fatal.
When an accident is fatal, the family of the accident victim may file a wrongful death claim on their loved one’s behalf to recover funeral expenses, burial expenses, lost income, and other damages.
Choosing An Attorney
You are frustrated, stressed and going through painful and time consuming medical treatments as a result of your accident; you have decided it’s in your best interest to retain legal counsel and make a claim against the negligent party that injured you. But where do you start the process of finding a personal injury lawyer?
The first place to start is by choosing a lawyer with a record of success when it comes to litigating personal injury claims. You want to avoid lawyers that practice many different areas of law, but have done a “few” personal injury cases too. Your legal claim is much too important to you than to place it in the hands of someone that may not have enough experience with cases similar to yours.
You should check the reputation of any lawyer you are considering to represent you. It is also recommended that you don’t just choose a lawyer based on advertising and you take the time to sit down with them for a face to face consultation, too.
The Lubbock injury attorneys at Liggett Law Group have more than 20 years of combined legal experience in fighting for justice on behalf of accident victims and their families. We dedicate our time and personal attention to each and every client.
We also work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay us anything unless we obtain a favorable outcome for you. We believe that everyone deserves aggressive representation that will maximize your chances of successful outcome in your case.
How We Can Help In An Injury Claim
Here are the services that our attorneys provide along the way to bring your personal injury claim to a successful conclusion.
Generating and Filing the Paperwork
There is a lot more paperwork than you think when it comes to making a personal injury claim; we will handle this part of the process for you. It will include your court paperwork, the filing of your initial complaint, and any other documents required throughout the process.
It will be very hard to win your case without proof to back up your complaint; that is where a thorough accident investigation comes in to play. We will get legal statements from witnesses, review evidence, obtain hospital and police records, and consult a professional accident reconstruction specialist if necessary.
As was mentioned, many personal injury lawsuits never make it to court. We know what a fair settlement for your particular case is, based on our experience in accident claims, research into the amounts that similar court cases have resulted in paying (called precedent), and knowledge of how insurance companies value similar claims.
Resolving the claim in the settlement phase is most often the preferred option for clients, but getting a fair settlement sometimes requires multiple rounds of negotiations, which we will do on your behalf. You will always have a say in the settlement process and the resolution that we help negotiate.
If the settlement phase does not end the claim, then the next step is the courtroom trial. As experienced litigators, we are very familiar with the twists and turns an accident case can take when it reaches a courtroom. We will prepare the evidence to be presented on your behalf, summon witnesses, help prepare you for what you to expect if you have to take the witness stand, and present the strongest case possible to the judge and jury.
We’re Here For You
Personal injuries impact the lives of the person involved, their families, friends, and work associates. For Liggett Law Group, a client is a person, not a number. Our determination lasts every step of the way until our trial lawyers see that justice is done.
Day in and day out, our lawyers seek to bring justice to those harmed by the wrongdoing of others. Make sure that you hire a lawyer that will take your case personally and will fight to make sure that you are treated fairly in the legal system. Liggett Law Group approaches each client’s case with compassion and the determination needed to get the job done. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of others, we are here to passionately fight for you.