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Frequently Asked Questions

What is personal injury law?

When injuries are sustained by a victim due to negligence, tort law or civil law (personal Injury law) provides the basis for a claim for damages incurred by the injured party.

What is the definition of tort law?

Tort law is broken into three categories:
Intentional Tort - the Defendant knew, or should have known, injury could occur as a result of his or her actions or inactions.

Negligent Tort - the Defendant was unaware that an injury could occur as a result of his or her actions, and, at the same time, the Defendant was not acting in a safe manner.

Strict Liability Tort - a specific action caused the damages rather than the lack of care on the defendant's part.

What are the most common personal injury lawsuits?

The most common personal injury cases are car and truck accidents, slip and fall, and dog bites. Other injury cases can include wrongful death, construction accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, slander, damage to property and more. If you have been injured it is important to consult an attorney for your specific rights or actions.

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is a formal statement given under oath before a Court Reporter. Witnesses will answer questions given by attorneys from both sides of the case. The reporter then make a written transcript of everything said in the deposition. The transcript is then sworn to be accurate and signed.

How will I pay all my medical bills?

If you have been injured medical bills from physicians, hospitals, physical therapists, can be quiet costly. Those bills will generally be in your name and you are the primary responsible party for paying those bills. However, there are physicians that work on a "lien basis," meaning the physician will not expect to be paid until your case is finalized. At that point the at fault insurance carrier is responsible for reasonable compensation.

If I slip and fall at a business, is the owner of the business or other premises legally responsible for my injuries?

Typically, it is the duty of an owner to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of the premises and to warn a visitor of any dangerous conditions that are known. For example, if an owner, or his employees, know that there has been a spill within their establishment, then they must act reasonably to clean up the spill and to prevent visitors from walking through it.

It is the responsibility of your experienced personal injury attorney to gather the relevant facts and to know the applicable legal principles in order to determine if the owner can be held liable for the injuries caused in a fall. Frequently, it is a difficult process because most of the evidence and testimony must come from the owner and his employees.

What issues will I face in making a claim for my injuries sustained in an auto accident?

A claim for injuries sustained in an automobile accident is usually based upon carelessness or negligence. In the worst-case scenarios, it is based on an intentional or reckless act.

The two categories of issues that typically arise in a tort claim after a car accident are the following:

Liability - who is at fault and to what degree?

Damages - injuries or losses that were caused by the accident.

What is a brain injury?

A brain injury is any trauma to the brain, whether due to a blow to the head, lack of oxygen or other physical trauma.

Why are brain injuries considered to be so serious?

Brain injuries can impact a number of different bodily functions, from motor control and the ability to move, to communication abilities and even the ability to think. Brain injuries can have permanent effects on the victim's ability to resume normal life, and as such, they are considered to be extremely serious injuries.

Does anyone recover from a brain injury?

Recovery from a brain injury varies greatly. Depending upon the part of the brain affected by the injury, a person may suffer temporary loss of functions that will eventually respond to therapy. Others may suffer from injuries so severe that they cause permanent damage.

What impact can I expect my child's traumatic brain injury to have on my family?

Brain injuries can affect the entire family. If your child's injury requires intense therapy and/or round-the-clock care, the impact on you and other family members can be intense. It's important to seek assistance, not just from other family members, but also from support groups that can provide valuable resources. If your child's brain injury was caused by negligence, it's vital that you contact a brain injury attorney- the extent of care needed can be so extensive and any damages you receive can help pay for therapy and medical bills.

What type of damages can I expect to receive in a brain injury claim?

Damages will vary depending upon the circumstances of the brain injury, but typically you can file a claim for medical expenses, including future costs - especially important, since most brain injuries require long-term treatment. Other damages can include lost wages and lost earning ability, pain and suffering, and any other expenses related to the injury - such as counseling, nursing care, etc.

Are there certain types of accidents more likely to cause brain injuries?

While a brain injury could potentially happen as a result of any kind of injury, there are definitely scenarios that make the injury more likely. Accidents involving significant force and impact, such as car accidents or motorcycle accidents , playground accidents, sports accidents, and boating accidents can all lead to brain injuries. Medical malpractice can also cause brain injuries, during surgery or as a result of a traumatic delivery.

Can anyone sue for injuries caused in a car accident?

Yes, if you were seriously hurt in a car accident and the accident was someone else's fault - whether it was another driver, the city responsible for road maintenance, or the manufacturer of a defective vehicle - then you can file a lawsuit.

Is there a time limit during which I can file a lawsuit?

Yes. Lawsuits are governed by what is called a statute of limitations, which is the time period in which you may file a claim. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim due to a car accident is two years from the date of the auto accident. So speaking with a car accident attorney promptly is always in your best interest to avoid missing the opportunity to file a claim.

What is the compulsory financial responsibility law?

Texas has a law known as compulsory financial responsibility, which mandates that you have a minimum amount of insurance on your vehicle. You are required to have a minimum of $30,000 worth of coverage for each person operating the vehicle, and at least $60,000 worth of coverage total. Anyone caught without minimum insurance coverage can have their driver's license revoked.

What do you have to prove in order to win a car accident personal injury case in Texas?

You must establish the following basic principles in order to succeed in winning your case and receiving damages:

* The person you are suing (the defendant) had an obligation to act in a safe manner (in car accident cases, this means that the defendant was supposed to obey all safety rules and not engage in aggressive, dangerous driving behavior).
* The defendant failed to honor that obligation.
* The defendant's failure to honor that obligation resulted in your injuries.
* Your injuries are a direct result of the accident.
* Your injuries merit financial compensation, or damages.

What can I recover if I file for damages?

Depending on the extent of your injuries, the type of damages available in an automobile accident claim can include:

* Medical expenses you have already incurred, and future medical costs you expect to have;
* Lost wages and lost earning ability;
* Mental and emotional distress and other non-economic damages.

I was involved in an accident with a large truck, what should I do?

First, seek medical attention - even if you don't think you were hurt, some very serious accident-related injuries don't show up immediately, so it's important to get checked by a doctor. Second, write down everything you can remember about the truck accident as soon as possible - time, persons involved, the details of the collision, etc. The more time that passes, the easier it will be to forget key details which may be important to any legal action. Third, contact a truck accidents attorney before signing anything from an insurance carrier or the trucking company.

If I file a lawsuit, am I actually suing the truck driver?

Who you sue depends on the circumstances of your accident. If the truck driver who hit you was driving dangerously, you might file a claim against the driver - but if the driver was a known reckless driver or the trucking company knew the driver had a drinking problem and he was drunk behind the wheel, you might end up filing a claim against the trucking company. If the truck accident happened because the truck company failed to maintain the vehicle, you'd probably be suing the trucking company. If the accident was caused by lack of road signs or poorly maintained roads, you might be suing the city or municipality responsible.

If I am sure that the truck driver who hit my car was drunk or high on drugs, what can I do?

First, you should inform the police, because truck drivers are required to be drug and alcohol tested following a crash. Second, obtain contact information from any witnesses who could provide testimony about the driver's erratic behavior, driving, etc.

If I am seriously hurt in a trucking accident, how should I pay my bills?

If you have health insurance, you can use that to pay the immediate charges, such as ER visits, etc. You may be asked to reimburse your health insurance company later if you receive damages. Be sure to keep copies of all bills or statements you receive, so that you know for certain which charges are related to your accident. If you have to pay out of your own pocket, it's also important to keep records of all bills, so that you can use these as documentation for your legal claim - or to file with your own car insurance company.

I think it was pretty obvious in my accident that the truck driver was at fault, so why do I need an attorney - can't I just deal with the truck company's insurance carrier myself?

You can. However, trucking companies and their insurance carriers have a lot more experience dealing with these claims than you do - and they know how to convince you to accept a low settlement offer. An attorney who is also experienced in truck accident claims can represent your interests, not those of the trucking company, and make sure that the settlement you are offered is sufficient for your damages.

What kind of damages can I expect to receive in a wrongful death case?

Wrongful death claims can recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include loss of financial support, funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, loss of other household support or services that the deceased provided. Non-economic damages include loss of companionship, affection, and care.

Is the amount of damages automatically made public?

Not necessarily; either you or the party you are suing, or both, may request confidentiality. You should, however, speak with your attorney you before you sign any type of confidentiality agreement.

What is the statute of limitations in a wrongful death case?

In Texas, the statute of limitations varies depending upon the circumstances of the case. In many cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the time of death - but if medical malpractice was to blame, the statute of limitations may be as little as one year. If the liable party is a government entity, a government tort claim has to be filed first - and that must be filed within 180 days. If the victim was a minor or mentally handicapped person, the statute of limitations may be extended. Since the time period in which you can file a claim does vary so much, you are well-advised to contact a wrongful death attorney immediately.

Who can file a claim for wrongful death?

Texas law allows the following people to file a wrongful death claim: the spouse or domestic partner of the deceased, children, and children of pre-deceased children. Stepchildren or stepparents may also be eligible, and any minor who lived with the deceased for the past six months and was financially dependent upon the deceased may also file a claim.

Are there special rules for damages in a wrongful death case resulting from medical malpractice?

Yes; non-economic damages are capped at $250,000. There are also special laws about notifying the medical provider before initiating a claim, so it's important to seek representation from an attorney with experience handling wrongful death claims involving medical malpractice.

In what county do I file a claim?

Texas law mandates that a wrongful death claim must be filed in the location where the defendant lives - or in the county where the injury occurred. If the claim is being filed against a government entity, the claim may need to be filed in the county of that particular entity.

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