Common Personal Injury Legal Questions & Answers | The Sharp Firm
What is Personal Injury?
The term ‘personal injury’ is typically defined as an injury to one’s mind or body.
Personal injury law is an area of law that seeks to compensate the victims of personal injury and punish the offenders through monetary awards, known as compensatory and punitive damages. The goal of the Sharp Firm attorneys is to win compensation for the victims of personal injury. The Sharp Firm attorneys have significant litigation experience and are very familiar with the different court rules and systems in Austin, Texas, the surrounding areas, and the federal court system.
There are many types of personal injury lawsuits, including auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, assault, libel, slander, malpractice products liability, insurance disputes, elder abuse, brain injury, and catastrophic injury. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you regardless of which type of personal injury case you have.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
YES. If you have been injured in an accident or other event that someone else caused, you should always consult with an attorney. Here at The Sharp Firm we offer a free consultation, and will talk with you about the specifics of your situation. If we believe there is a legal case to be made, we can help you every step of the way. If not, we’ll let you know that too. You’ll always get our honest and upfront opinions on the matter, which is one of the biggest benefits of talking to an attorney.
Why Do I Need to Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney Right Away?
You need to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so all your rights are protected. There can be complicated legal issues and insurance questions, including whether uninsured motorist coverage is available, whether multiple policies of the uninsured motorist coverage can be stacked to provide additional coverage, whether underinsured motorist coverage is available, whether the defendant has excess insurance coverage or an umbrella policy.
There also may be other people who are responsible for the person who injured you such as the employer or principal of the person who injured you or it may not have been an injury as the result of a person, but because a defective product instead. An experienced personal injury attorney can explore all avenues of potential recovery. Acting quickly is also extremely important to preserve all the evidence in your case.
Why Shouldn’t I Cooperate with the Insurance Company?
You should never give a recorded statement to the claims adjuster for the insurance company without consulting first with a personal injury attorney. The claims adjuster works for the insurance company. Their job is to help their employer and the person or business who caused your injury. It is not to help you. They may try to get you to agree to misleading statements of how an accident occurs, which will be used against you if the case goes to trial.
Never sign any papers sent by the insurance company without first talking to your attorney. A release called a general release will prevent you from suing other people liable for your injuries, even though the insurance company will not compensate you for those additional claims.
Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit at any Time?
No. The time allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit is controlled by what is called the statute of limitations. Some status are as short as one year following the accident or event, although most are two years. There may be some exceptions, however, so you should consult with one of our attorneys to determine the options in your specific case. In addition, if you are injured by a government employee or entity, certain notice requirements have to be made, some within 30 days of the accident.
The Sharp Firm will help you determine what the applicable statute of limitations is for your case, but it is important to discuss your case with our attorneys as soon as possible after the personal injury occurs. If your case is filed after the statute of limitations has expired, it is very likely that the lawsuit will be dismissed, and you will have no recourse or method for monetary compensation, legal or otherwise.
How Does Personal Injury Law Compensate Victims?
When your personal injury attorneys prove your case at trial or settle your case, you are usually awarded compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim for the injuries he/she suffered in the accident.
To calculate compensatory damages, a monetary value is assigned to a victim’s physical harm and property loss as a result of the personal injury. This monetary value can be actual or estimated. Actual losses include medical bills, lost wages, repair bills or loss of fair market value for an automobile or other property that was harmed as a direct result of the personal injury, and lost wages or earned sick or vacation time. Additionally, there are non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, impairment, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. Some causes of action are allowed for damages to one’s reputation or business.
Indirect victims of the personal injury may also have a legal claim to compensatory damages. Spouses, for example, can often file suit to recoup monies lost due to loss of love and affection, consortium, and loss of the spouse’s contribution to the household. The Sharp Firm personal injury attorneys will help you determine the correct parties of your lawsuit and damages that they may pursue.
Do I have a Personal Injury Case?
Not all injuries result in a personal injury case. For those that do, every personal injury case is different. Whether or not you have a personal injury case depends upon the facts of your situation and usually only an attorney can tell you if you have a viable case. But keep in mind that because of the statute of limitations, time is of the essence.
If you have been injured, please contact one of our personal injury lawyers at the Sharp Firm to discuss your situation and your legal rights.
Who Can File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Once you retain one of our Austin personal injury attorneys, he or she will file the lawsuit on behalf you or your family member as the victim of the personal injury. If the victim is deceased or found to be mentally incompetent, the lawsuit can sometimes be brought by an heir, representative, family member or legal guardian. Others indirectly harmed by the personal injury may also have a cause of action. Our personal injury attorneys at The Sharp Firm will review your case to determine who is/are the proper party or parties to bring the lawsuit.
What Are the Stages of a Personal Injury Case?
Each personal injury case is going to be unique, but they all share some common stages. The following are the basic stages that you can expect to go through when pursuing a personal injury case:
- Meeting with an Attorney – You’ll start by retaining an attorney who will represent you throughout the case. This should always be the first step in the process.
- Filing Court Papers – Your attorney will file the necessary papers with the courts, and have the defendants served.
- Fact Finding & Discovery – Gathering together all of the facts relevant to the case is critical to its success.
- Motions – Some cases can be resolved through motions to the court. A defendant may put a motion to dismiss the case to the courts, for example.
- Settlement – The majority of personal injury cases are actually settled before going to court. Our attorneys can negotiate with insurance companies and other parties to get you a great settlement offer that can guarantee you great results.
- Trial – If no settlement is possible, the case will go to trial. In the trial the courts will listen to the arguments from both sides, and make a judgment.
- Collecting – Whether you won a trial or agreed to a settlement, the next step is to collect the money.
- Appeals – In some cases either the defendant or the plaintiff will disagree with the findings of the courts. When this is the case, it may be appealed to a higher court where this process will essentially start again.
What is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer is an attorney who represents clients who have experienced a personal injury and want to pursue damages through the courts. Some attorneys, such as those at The Sharp Firm, are focused primarily on personal injury cases.
What is a Contingent Fee Agreement?
A contingent fee agreement is simply an agreement that someone (in this case, your attorney) gets paid based on the outcome of the case. With personal injury cases, it is not uncommon for an attorney to work for free on the case, with the contingent being that they get a percentage of the settlement or judgement. This is a great option for both the attorney and the client because it helps ensure they are both fighting hard for the same goals. It also means the client won’t have to come up with the money to pay the attorney up front.
What Happens after an Accident with an Uninsured Driver?
If an uninsured driver causes an accident, they will face a variety of legal consequences. For the victim, it can be more difficult to get just compensation since the responsible party does not have an insurance company to sue. In some cases, the individual responsible for the accident can be sued directly, but they may not have sufficient assets to collect, which defeats the purpose. In other cases, you may have to make a claim on your own insurance under the Underinsured/Uninsured portion of your insurance. The best way to determine what to do if you’ve been in an accident with an uninsured driver is to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.
What Should I do if I’ve been hit by a Drunk Driver?
The first thing you need to do after being hit by a drunk driver is seek medical attention. Always put your health and safety first in all situations. Once you are able, or once a loved one is present, you will want to contact The Sharp Firm for a free consultation. The sooner we are able to talk with you, the better the information we can gather. This will help us to determine what the right legal course of action is in your specific case.
Why does Texas have Damage Caps?
Texas law has put damage caps in place to help prevent exorbitant judgments from being given. It is important to note, however, that these caps only apply to non-monetary damages. The exact cost of your medical expenses, for example, are not capped. Things like damages given for pain and suffering, however, will be capped.
What are the Most Common Kinds of Personal Injury/Accident Cases?
The most common types of personal injury or accident cases are motor vehicle accidents, defective product cases, and medical or dental malpractice cases.
What Kind of Documentation of my Injury is the most Important?
It depends upon the case. If it is an auto accident you would want the police report, names of witnesses, pictures of the vehicle from your smartphone, and medical records. .
What Should I Prepare to get the Most Benefit from My Free Initial Consultation?
Write out your exact memory of what happened before, during, and after the event that resulted in your injury. In addition, request copies of any related medical records and police records for your case.
How Much Will My Case Cost?
Each case is unique, and will have a different total cost. In most cases, we will come up with a fair percentage of the total settlement or judgement that will serve as payment. This helps to assure our clients that we are fighting as hard as possible to secure the maximum damages possible, and also makes it so our clients don’t have to come up with a payment up front.
What Should I Do if I’ve been hit by an 18 Wheeler?
As with any accident, you want to first seek medical attention. As soon as you are able, contact The Sharp Firm to discuss your situation. DO NOT speak with someone from the truck company or insurance agency without an attorney present.
What is a Hospital Lien?
A hospital lien is a right given to hospitals and emergency service providers that enables them to get the first monies recovered from a negligent third-party in a personal injury case. If you have a hospital lien against you for $100,000, for example, the hospital will get that payment from your settlement, with the remaining balance of the settlement going to you. It is important to note that in Texas many hospitals don’t take health insurance but file a lien trying to get more from the auto insurance company.