If you have been the victim of an accident, you need immediate medical care. If the accident was caused by negligence, you require legal representation. Delaying legal action only undermines the value and validity of a personal injury claim. Handling it without the help of a personal injury lawyer ignores your rights and the claim’s complexity.
Acting immediately and hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer at Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz, PC may entitle you to the maximum, not minimum compensation. You can secure justice in a personal injury claim that holds an inattentive driver or commercial property owner responsible. We are here to help you when you are hurt or mourning the loss of a loved one. Give us a call today to schedule a time to discuss your personal injury case.
What do I need to know about personal injury claims in Arlington, TX?
At Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz, PC, we handle the following types of personal injury cases:
Car Accidents: Drivers are often distracted by cell phones, construction areas as well as many other things which can cause accidents. These drivers must take responsibility for their actions. We can help you get the settlement you need to meet your medical bills, your property damage, and your emotional duress.
Semi-truck Accidents: Truck accidents may be caused by driver fatigue, equipment malfunctions, and excess cargo weight. Due to the size and weight of semi-trucks, they have limited choices to overcome obstacles that can result in serious accidents. Our attorneys can help you evaluate your situation and help you get the compensation you deserve to put your life back in order.
Boat Accidents: Boating accidents are a result of operator inattentiveness, inexperience, or impairment as well as excessive speed or equipment failure. We can ensure that your rights and needs are addressed and properly compensated.
Slip and Fall Accidents: These accidents occur on someone else’s property and the owner may be responsible for your injuries. Slip and Fall accidents are caused by dangerous conditions such as wet floors, uneven floors, poor lighting or narrow stairs. Our attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve when you are injured on someone else’s premises.
Medical Malpractice: Malpractice happens when you suffer due to a bad diagnosis, botched surgery, or other error made by doctors. We can help you recover from the damage caused by medical professionals.
Steps in a Personal Injury Case
Has another person’s negligence or intentional actions caused your injuries? Are you no longer able to work due to injury? Are medical bills beginning to pile up? Did the accident cause the death of a loved one, leaving you in mental anguish and responsible for the funeral expenses? You may begin to wonder how you will be able to pay for all of this. An even scarier thought: “who can I trust to fight for me and recover these costs on my behalf?”
You will want to consult with a personal injury lawyer to help you recover the damages you have incurred. There are many steps in this process, and you don’t have to go it alone. A personal injury lawyer will walk you through everything, but below are the basics and explanations of how it all works.
How much time do I have to file my personal injury claim?
Texas state law requires that you file a personal injury claim within two years of the incident date. The lawsuit must be filed in a Texas civil court where the incident happened or where the defendant currently resides. Of course, as with almost any law, there are some exceptions, and your attorney can look into the specific Texas statute to make sure you’re following the timeline.
You’ll want to keep in mind that this two-year rule doesn’t give you extra time to do all the pre-law-suit things that you or your attorney will need to do before filing the case. This means that you need to give yourself plenty of breathing room to take the pre-law-suit steps in case those don’t work out and you end up actually needing to file your claim in court. The goal is to avoid this and get you a settlement before court proceedings, but settlements do not always happen. It may be hard to imagine dealing with paperwork and a lawyer so quickly after an incident, but keeping this timeframe in mind will help you avoid stress and being prevented from seeking accountability down the line.
Consulting with an attorney
An initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer usually takes anywhere between 30-60 minutes, though some meetings may go longer. For this consultation, you will want to bring any documents that support your case — medical records, police reports, pictures, videos, text messages, etc. These supporting documents are reviewed by the attorney and their support staff and will help determine if the firm can represent you and what type of case you may have. Also, during the initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to tell your story of the accident and let them know what you are hoping to get out of this process.
It may be the least fun part, but one of the most important aspects of an initial consultation – which cannot be stressed enough – is the discussion on how the attorney will be paid. No lawyer wants anyone to be confused or surprised, and they are not there to trick you during this stage.
Typically, a personal injury lawyer will work on a contingency-based fee. This means the attorney will take a percentage of your settlement or award payout (usually between 25-40%). Contingency-based representation is typically best for the client because it provides necessary mental, physical, and financial peace during a very difficult time and avoids the need to keep track of periodic payments.
Investigating the details and gathering evidence
Remember those “pre-law-suit” steps we discussed earlier? These first steps are often the most important to make an impression on the other party and can have a huge impact on the direction your case will go. These steps include an initial investigation of your case, gathering evidence, and creating a demand package that will show the other side how serious you are and what you are looking to achieve.
It is always necessary for the attorney and their staff to first investigate the details of your case and gather evidence with the goal of settling your dispute outside of a courtroom. This will ultimately save everyone time and money and better guide your lawyer’s decisions.
During the investigation period, your attorney will follow up with people involved in the incident and speak to eyewitnesses. The attorney may also follow up with law enforcement, medical providers, and insurance companies to obtain any documents relevant to support your case.
The purpose of the investigation is to establish what, if any, percentage of fault each party has contributed during the incident. Once the attorney can establish a percentage of responsibility, it becomes clearer what the attorney can request in damages on your behalf.
Once the investigation period is complete, the attorney will use all relevant information to put together a demand package to send to the opposing party. On a legal note: in Texas, a plaintiff is eligible to recover damages only if your percentage of fault for the incident is below 51%. This is known as the “fault percentage.” If you can are over 50% at fault, settling your dispute outside of court may be in your best interest. This is because of the rule that being over half-responsible in the incident may prevent you from recovering anything at trial, once again making the demand package very important.
The Demand Letter
A demand letter is a tool used to reach out to the defendant and come to a settlement agreement before going to trial. Settlement agreements are binding contracts that end the claims process and any chance of going to trial. You should always check with your personal injury lawyer before signing a settlement agreement; this ensures that you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
What goes into a demand letter package? Generally:
- A summary of facts of the case and description of the accident
- Explanation of how the other party caused your injuries
- How the facts of your case support the legal cause of action for liability
- Description of your injuries and the medical treatment you received
- Statement of how your daily life has been impacted by the accident
- A detailed account of all medical expenses, including out of pocket cost
- All relevant documents that support your claim proving your damages
- A description or summary of the pain and suffering you are experiencing
- A demand for a specific dollar amount and/or any other requested actions
The demand letter is important because it alerts the at-fault party that you are willing to negotiate an equitable settlement without going to trial. Texas state law requires insurance companies to acknowledge a claim or demand letter within 15 days of receipt. This does not automatically mean your lawsuit will be settled in that time frame – it simply means they must alert you that they are aware of your letter.
The at-fault party can respond by accepting or denying your demand or making a counteroffer. Your attorney will review the response to your demand letter. The personal injury lawyer will then discuss your legal options moving forward; this may include going to trial, where you will have another chance to come to a settlement agreement.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the initial pre-law-suit stage did not result in a settlement, Texas law allows an injured party to file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the incident. The first step your personal injury lawyer will take is filing a summons and complaint against the at-fault party who, in most cases, has 21 days to respond. The complaint will include how the facts of your case lead to a legal cause of action. After filing your lawsuit in state trial court, also known as a district court in Texas, the discovery phase comes next.
The discovery process can be thought of as both parties gathering all the necessary information before going to trial. This may include speaking to witnesses, conducting depositions, and consulting experts who can testify on your behalf. The primary goal of the discovery process is to encourage once again a settlement agreement rather than going to trial. The discovery process can be extremely lengthy, taking months, if not years, before even going to trial. It is worth mentioning that your personal injury lawyer will continue to negotiate a settlement, if possible, during the time it takes to go to trial. There is always mediation if the discovery process does not lead to a settlement agreement.
If you cannot come to a settlement agreement after the discovery process, a judge may order what is called a mediation hearing. A mediator does not rule on your case, nor do they have the authority of a judge. A mediator acts as a neutral facilitator of communication between the parties to reach a settlement agreement. Mediation is usually informal and can be a cost and time-efficient alternative to trial. Mediation is primarily used to help each party clearly understand their practical and legal choices and hear each other out.
Going to Trial
If both parties still have not reached a settlement, your last option is to go to trial. The trial process for personal injury claims in a district court of Texas will usually look like this:
- Set the trial date: The judge assigned to your case will set a date for trial. This may change based on several reasons of the court or judge;
- Jury selection: this only occurs if one or both parties demand a jury trial which the presiding judge must grant;
- Opening statements: Both the Plaintiff and Defendant outline the facts or their case to the judge or jury if one had been selected;
- Present evidence: Both parties support their case by bringing evidence that proves their case. In many cases, this includes expert witness testimony, photos, videos, reports, and the like;
- Closing arguments: Plaintiff and Defendant have the opportunity to summarize their case. During this time, both sides argue why a judge or jury should rule in their favor;
- The verdict issued: A judge or jury announces their decision in favor of Plaintiff or Defendant;
- Damages award: If a judge or jury has ruled in favor of the plaintiff, damages (monetary compensation) will be awarded. These damages are to be paid by the defendant to the plaintiff as a court order.
Both the plaintiff and the defendant have the ability to appeal whatever the outcome of the court case is. Your attorney may or may not be able to help with this process as well, but they will surely let you know what to expect after the trial is over and how things might proceed moving forward. Suppose the court rules in favor of the plaintiff and awards a dollar amount in compensation. In that case, the defendant may choose to pay the judgment or hold off on making any payments and go for an appeal, once again delaying the time it will take to resolve the case. In Texas, appealing to a higher court must be done within 30 days of the judge or jury’s decision; the same goes for both the plaintiff and the defendant.
As you can see, getting to this stage is not the most ideal situation for either party. Finding an attorney who will work hard at the beginning stages and create a solid demand package is very important to get an injured party the resolution and closure they need.
Our personal injury lawyers here at Jackson Landrith & Kulesz have years of experience helping our clients with their personal injury claims. Contact us today for a consultation to understand how we can help you.
Why should I choose Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz, PC for my personal injury case?
We provide personalized and compassionate representation while dedicating our resources to complex personal injury claims. We start by conducting a thorough investigation of the events that led up to the accident and the accident site itself. We get to the facts regarding negligent actions or inactions with the help of experts. You can expect us to keep you informed as the case progresses and you can reach a member of our legal team almost any time. We want to help you get the settlement you deserve.
If you have been victimized by negligence that resulted in serious injury to you or the wrongful death of a beloved family member and primary wage earner, select an experienced attorney at Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz, PC that will advocate for you. Call our office to speak to one of our attorneys.