Personal Injury

The Claims Process

We will need to document your injuries, lost income and other damages. This means getting all of your medical records, even those before the wreck. We will need to get documents from your employer show how much you were making and how much time you missed from work. As long as you are still treating, we will need to wait and see how well and quickly you heal. The only deadline is the two year statute of limitations. If you are still treating beyond that time period, we will need to file the lawsuit to protect your claim.

Otherwise, we will collect all of these records, discuss with you what we think is realistic, get your approval then make an offer to the insurance company on your behalf. This offer may be made to the other driver's liability carrier, to your own uninsured motorist carrier or both, depending on the coverage and your injuries. Throughout this process it is important to remember who the boss is. You are. No lawyer should ever accept or reject an offer without their client's approval.

The Trial Process

Not every case will settle. If your case is one of the ones that heads to the courthouse this is what you can expect. Insurance companies have lots of lawyers – many have their own law firm. They know the statistics and are data driven in their decisions whether to settle or not. If there is little property damage from the wreck and soft tissue injuries, the odds are very good that the insurance company will not offer much to settle. They know juries are a bit cynical about injury cases. Any attorney who promises you something different isn't shooting straight with you.

A lawsuit is started with a petition filed by the plaintiff. In state court, it states very basic facts that, if proven, entitles the plaintiff to damages. These damages include medical expenses, loss of wage earning capacity, physical pain, mental anguish, disability and disfigurement. The petition is served on the other side (defendant) and they have about three weeks to file an answer (actually it's the Monday following the expiration of twenty days). After that, written information is exchanged (interrogatories, request for production of documents and requests for disclosure). Usually, both parties' depositions are taken after that. Often the case will go to mediation in an attempt to settle.

If the case does not settle after all of that, it goes to trial, usually in front of a jury. The jury is asked to decide the facts of the dispute, including who was at fault and how much the damages are. The jury isn't told about insurance. They are not even told whether there is insurance. Naturally, any case like this going to trial is an insurance dispute, but the insurance company is allowed to hide behind the person sued and pretend that poor person may have to write a check at the end of the case. That is the law in Texas. It is different in Louisiana and New Mexico. In those two states you can sue the insurance company directly.

Most cases settle. Still, it is important to have trial as an option and to have an attorney who knows how to try a case. Otherwise you have no choice but to take the last offer the insurance company wants to make.