Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence or misconduct of another person or entity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the costs you have incurred. In cases involving catastrophic injury, medical bills, lost wages, and permanent disability can drastically increase these costs. At Craft Law Firm, a Houston personal injury attorney is ready to represent victims of serious, catastrophic injury. In fact, it’s all we do.
We believe each case is the most important event in each of our client’s lives. We understand that. We live it with the client, and we treat it accordingly.
We prepare each case for trial and are always courtroom-ready.
Call 713-225-0500 today for a free and confidential consultation with a Houston personal injury attorney. We will listen to your story and, if you choose us to represent you, we will begin building a strong case on your behalf.
What is a Personal Injury?
A personal injury occurs when an individual suffers harm in a preventable accident caused by another party’s negligence or carelessness, giving them the legal right to pursue compensation. Personal injury can arise from very many scenarios, including:
- Workplace injuries
- Defective products
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Commercial vehicle accident
- Construction Accidents
- Oil rig accidents
Everyone in our society is expected to be mindful of their actions to avoid causing harm to others. In order to be held responsible for actions that cause injury, the person who causes the injury must owe a duty of care to the victim. The law has defined circumstances under which we owe a duty of care to each other. In those circumstances, we are expected to be to each other the proverbial neighbor’s keeper. When a person does not act in accordance with their duty of care to those that the law says that they owe that duty to, they may be held responsible for any injury that their actions cause.
The actions of a person who causes injury to another person may attract criminal charges, and while the state may prosecute them for their criminal actions, they can still be held responsible for their actions through a lawsuit. The purpose of a personal injury lawsuit is to get compensation for your injuries rather than to punish the person responsible.
When you are injured in an accident, a Houston personal injury attorney can help you determine whether the person who caused the accident owed you a duty of care, and whether you have a good case against them.
How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury lawsuits are usually based on negligence. To be successful in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove the person whose actions caused your injury acted negligently. A negligence claim has five elements which the injured person must prove for their claim to be successful. They must prove:
- The responsible party owed them a duty of care: People have a duty to act (or not act) in a certain way under certain situations to avoid causing harm to others. For example, if you are a car driver, you owe a duty of care to other road users. You are to act in a way that does not put other road users in danger of harm.
- The duty of care was breached by the responsible party: Using the example of a car driver, drinking while intoxicated, driving recklessly, and excessive speeding, are actions that would be in breach of the duty of care to other road users.
- The breach of the duty caused injury: If while driving recklessly, the driver loses control of the car and knocks down a pedestrian who suffers a broken leg from the impact, then the breach of duty has caused an injury.
- The breach of the duty was the proximate cause of the injury: It is not enough to show that the breach of the duty caused the injury. It must be shown that the breach is the direct cause of the injury. In other words, the injury is the natural consequence of the breach. For instance, if a bus driver drives recklessly and rams his bus into a car and the car spins out of control and injures a pedestrian, the proximate cause of the pedestrian’s injuries is the bus driver’s reckless driving.
- The injury caused actual damages to the injured person: If, after colliding with the car for example, the pedestrian gets up and walks away without a scratch, then there is no actual damage. The injured person claiming compensation in a personal injury lawsuit must show actual damages which may be economic or non-economic.
All five of these elements must be proved as failure to do so can result in the lawsuit being dismissed and the responsible party avoiding any accountability for their negligence.
What Forms of Compensation Can An Injured Person Receive?
If successful in their claim, an injured person can receive monetary compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages cover tangible losses that are easily quantifiable through documentation such as bills and receipts. Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and property damages.
Non-economic damages are not concrete damages. They are based on subjective evaluations and may include pain, emotional anguish, loss or enjoyment of activities, or loss of joy in living. If an injured person is successful in their personal injury claim, there is no way to predict how much they will be awarded for non-economic damages. Some states limit the amount that you can be awarded for non-economic damages.
How Texas’s Negligence Law Can Impact Your Personal Injury Claim
Texas’s comparative negligence law allows personal injury victims to recover compensation even if they contributed to their accident. However, you will be assigned a percentage of fault that will reduce your compensation. Additionally, you must be no more than 50% to blame. For example, suppose you are awarded $100,000 but found 30% at fault for your injuries. In that case, you will receive 70% of your award or $70,000. On the other hand, if you are found 51% or more at fault for your injuries, you will not receive any compensation. This is known as the state’s 51% bar rule.
Time Limit to File an Injury Claim in Houston
Each state has a law referred to as the statute of limitations, which dictates the amount of time personal injury victims have to pursue a claim. Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code section 16.003., in most cases, the deadline is two years beginning on the date the accident occurred. However, it is usually in your best interests to begin the claims process relatively soon after an accident, but that does not mean that you should resolve your claim quickly. Instead, most attorneys would advise you to wait on settling your case until you recover or reach “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). That way, you will have a better understanding of your losses and the total value of your case.
However, the statute of limitations can vary depending on the type of personal injury case. For example, when it comes to minors or if your claim is against a Texas state or local government employee or agency, you must file a formal claim with the government unit within six months of the accident.
Exceptions to Texas’ Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Several scenarios may temporarily stop the clock and extend the amount of time you have to file a personal injury claim. These circumstances can include the following:
- If the injured person is a minor, or as described by Texas law — under a legal disability, the clock begins running once they turn 18.
- If the victim is not of sound mind, the time limit will begin once they become mentally competent.
- If the party who allegedly caused the injury leaves the State of Texas, the statute of limitations will begin once they return.
- In relation to medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations begins on the date the medical error occurred or could have been reasonably discovered or once treatment stops for an ongoing condition. However, the state also has a statute of repose, which means patients have a maximum of 10 years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit from when the incident of medical negligence occurred, no matter when they discover it or when treatment stops.
What If You Miss the Two Year Deadline?
Unless one of the limited exceptions applies to your case, there is generally no way around the statute of limitations. If you miss the deadline, your case will almost always be dismissed, and you will be barred from recovering compensation. The purpose of the statute of limitations is to ensure the timely filing of claims since, over time, evidence disappears, and it becomes more challenging to prove or defend against a lawsuit.
How Much Does a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
While attorneys in other practice areas can charge hefty hourly rates, most personal injury lawyers, including at Craft Law Firm, are different. We do not charge an upfront fee or make you pay for any case expenses out-of-pocket. Instead, your attorney will advance all costs related to the case, and their legal fees will depend on whether you are awarded compensation in a settlement or verdict. Most attorneys will deduct between 25 to 40 percent of your recovery, plus court costs. This arrangement, or what is known as a contingency fee agreement, makes it far easier for injured victims to retain skilled legal representation. If you do not receive any compensation, you will not owe your attorney any money for their services.
Will My Injury Case Go To Trial?
A very high percentage of personal injury cases settle before they reach the courtroom. Therefore, it is unlikely that your injury case will go to trial. However, whether it does will ultimately depend on the following factors:
If the Insurance Company Refuses to Settle
The primary reason personal injury cases go to trial is the failure to reach a settlement agreement. When an at-fault party’s insurance company disputes liability and/or refuses to settle for a fair amount, you and your attorney may choose to file a lawsuit to recover the compensation you deserve. Insurers are for-profit businesses, with their goal being to limit payouts even if the claim is valid. As a result, they will look for any evidence of fault against you to deny or reduce your claim. However, even if you must file a lawsuit, your case can still settle before trial as the insurance company may be more motivated to resolve your claim.
Damages are Extensive
If your injuries and financial losses are severe, and the amount of compensation you are seeking is high, the at-fault party’s insurer may choose to settle the matter in court. Additionally, if they believe they can win in court, they may refuse to pay your claim.
The At-Fault Party is Uninsured
Suppose the party who caused your injury does not carry liability insurance, so you cannot file a claim. In that case, your only options are to file a claim with your insurance company, depending on the type of accident and if you have coverage, or sue the at-fault party. However, if a party does not carry liability insurance, they may not have the financial means to pay for your injury.
How Can a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Help?
If you are involved in an accident that causes injury, most times, the responsible party will do everything possible to avoid liability or to limit how much they have to pay in compensation. If you are dealing with an insurance company, they may try to take advantage of you and have been known to use under-hand tactics to avoid full responsibility. Having a Houston injury lawyer by your side will show them that you mean business.
Proving that you have a valid claim is not always straightforward. Your personal injury lawyer understands the laws of your state and can tell you what evidence you need. If you are filing a lawsuit, your lawyer can advise you on your chances of success and help you prepare your case. Your lawyer understands the laws of your state. It is important that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. Those early days after your injury are critical to collecting and preserving evidence that you may need to file a lawsuit.
Craft Law Firm offers free consultations with a Houston personal injury attorney. If you have suffered an injury as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another person, give us a call at 713-225-0500 to speak with one of our experienced lawyers.
Craft Law Firm serves other areas of Texas. If you were involved in an accident in Waco, contact one of our Waco injury lawyers.