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Personal Injury Blog

I've Been Injured In An Accident. Now What?

Posted by Jimmy Sunosky | Mar 05, 2020 | 0 Comments

Houston Personal Injury Accident Attorneys

You're injured in an accident.  The accident was the fault of someone else and now you're dealing with the physical, emotional and financial hardships that often go along with an injury.  Do you know what to do? When someone else's negligence caused your injury, you can take action to get answers, hold individuals and corporations accountable, and seek compensation for your injuries and losses.  

However, many don't recognize their rights and what they can do.  They often fail to pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party simply because they're unsure of what to expect and what rights they may have.  Understanding the components of a personal injury case can go long way.

Not every case is the same, but the following are the common components of a Texas personal injury case:

Meet with an experienced personal injury attorney

Before starting your case, you should schedule an appointment with an attorney who routinely represents individuals injured by the negligence of others. Personal injury law is complex.

During your initial meeting, you and the attorney will speak about the specifics of your case, including how the accident occurred, who was involved in the accident, your injuries, your medical care and identification of any witnesses, among many other things.  The information you provide will help the attorney understand the nuances of your case and build a case against the at-fault party.  The most critical thing at this stage is to be candid and forthcoming with the attorney.  Do not withhold information or provide misinformation as this could impact your case.  The attorney needs to fully understand the true facts to explain your story and anticipate how the defense will respond.

Investigation

After hiring an attorney, your attorney will begin conducting a thorough investigation to determine who is legally liable for the damages you have suffered.  The attorney will also initiate contact with the at-fault party's insurance company and begin obtaining any police reports, interviewing witnesses, and gathering medical records and bills related to the medical care for your injuries.

Pre-suit Settlement Negotiations

Lawsuits can require a lot of time and money.  Depending on the specific facts of the case, obtaining a settlement before a filing a lawsuit may be available.  The insurance company for the at-fault party may be willing to engage in settlement discussions to avoid the costs and risks associated with a personal injury lawsuit.  Your attorney will explore the potential for an early settlement.  Oftentimes, there will be a lot of negotiating back and forth between your attorney and the insurance company with regard to the value of the claim.  Your attorney will fight for you to achieve a fair and full value settlement.

Filing a Lawsuit

In the event the at-fault party's insurance company fails to accept liability for your injury and pay a fair settlement, your attorney will likely proceed with filing the proper legal documents to initiate a lawsuit.  Your attorney will evaluate the appropriate venue for the lawsuit and identify all parties who should be held accountable for your injuries.  

Once the lawsuit has been filed in the appropriate court, the at-fault party will need to be served with the legal documents.  Once served, the at-fault party will have a certain time period in which to file an answer or risk being in default.

Please understand that filing a lawsuit doesn't mean you have forever waived the opportunity to settle your claim.  The parties are free to settle the case at any time during the lawsuit process.  Many times, filing a lawsuit is necessary to preserve your rights and allow additional time for ongoing settlement negotiations.  

Discovery

After the lawsuit is filed, and the other parties have answered, both sides will begin collecting evidence to begin putting their cases together.  The parties will “discover” information through detailed and comprehensive exchange of information, documents and deposition testimony.  

This component of a personal injury case is typically one of the longer parts of the legal process.  Written questions will be exchanged and pertinent documents will be requested from both sides to understand the accident and your damages.  Records pertaining to your medical treatment, income losses and other damages will be obtained.  Several witnesses, including yourself, will likely have to provide testimony at a deposition.  A deposition is where a person is questioned by attorneys under oath before a court reporter and likely a videographer.  Depositions are typically conducted in the offices of the attorneys, but may occur at the courthouse under certain circumstances.  In complex cases, depositions may be taken of dozens of witnesses, including investigating officers, eyewitnesses, and treating healthcare providers

Disputes sometimes arise between the parties during the discovery phase of a personal injury case.  Your attorney may need to attend several court hearings to resolve the particular legal issue or dispute before the presiding judge.  In some instances, your attendance may be necessary or warranted.

Mediation

After sufficient discovery has occurred, the typical personal injury case will proceed to mediation.  Texas courts typically require mediation, but the parties can agree to attend on their own.  Mediation is a non-binding legal proceeding that usually involves a neutral third party who has extensive legal experience and who is able to be impartial while hearing both sides of the case.  Mediators are typically former judges, but can include lawyers with special knowledge and experience in the particular area of law.  

Mediation typically lasts one day and presents an opportunity for the parties to present their cases in an effort to resolve it before trial.  Many cases settle at mediation, but some do not.  In complex cases, particularly involving several parties, multiple mediations may be necessary.

Trial

If a settlement cannot be reached, a trial may be necessary.  Many personal injury cases do not make it to this stage simply because of the expense and inherent risks.  Also, some attorneys simply try to avoid trial. Personal injury lawyers should view the courtroom as a forum to tell your unique story and let the decision maker—often a jury—evaluate the facts, determine fault and potentially award damages.  As such, it is critically important to learn as much as possible about your personal injury attorney or law firm: education, experience and reputation with peers and judges, and their willingness to go to trial.

Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can last a single day or exceed two weeks or more.  Your attendance is needed through the duration of the trial.  Several witnesses will testify and evidence will be presented to the jury.  The jury may award enough to compensate you for all your injuries and losses or nothing at all.  Trials have risks for everyone involved.  Thus, it is important for you to have candid conversations with your attorney about the potential for a favorable or adverse verdict.

Appeals

Even after the trial has ended, the losing party can request a new trial, seek a revised judgment from the court or appeal the verdict.  Appeals can extend a personal injury case for several years and result in a number of outcomes, including another trial, revised judgement or confirmation of the judgment received at the trial court.  

Contact Hernandez Redden Sunosky, LLP for help! Free Consultation.

If you've been injured in an accident, contact Hernandez Redden Sunosky, LLP for a free, no obligation consultation with our Houston Personal Injury Attorneys.  We'll evaluate your claim and help you understand which legal options may be available to help you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.

We work only on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no upfront fees for our services. You only have to pay us if we recover compensation for your case.

About the Author

Jimmy Sunosky

Jimmy Sunosky is an AV Preeminent rated lawyer and has been recognized as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters, a Top Lawyer by Houstonia Magazine and a Top Lawyer H by Texas Magazine. He is dedicated to helping accident victims and their families find justice and obtain financial compensation after suffering serious injuries or death. Before co-founding Hernandez Redden Sunosky, LLP, he worked as an insurance defense lawyer. He applies the knowledge and experience gained while working with insurance companies to his work as an advocate for the injured.

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