Personal Injury FAQ
- How Long Do I Have To File My Personal Injury Case?
- How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
- Should I Try to Settle My Serious Injury Case Myself?
- How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
- Can I Change Injury Lawyers?
- How Do I Choose A Personal Injury Lawyer?
- How Will I Pay My Medical Bills?
- What If My Injuries Aren’t Serious?
- What If I Don’t Want To See A Doctor?
- What Is The Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases?
- What Happens During A Lawsuit In Texas?
For More Information
For more information about personal injury law, contact the lawyers at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. for a free initial consultation. From our offices in Houston, we serve clients in Harris County and throughout Texas. Call 713-221-6800 or toll free at 888-529-0018.
How Long Do I Have To File My Personal Injury Case?
Statute of Limitations
In general, the time period in which to file a lawsuit for personal injury damages in Texas is two years from the date of injury. Known as the “statute of limitations,” claims filed after this period of time will be forever barred unless the case falls within one of very few exceptions. Some exceptions to this absolute bar to filing a lawsuit include underage victims and situations where the victim was unable to discover the injury within two years.
Many people try to negotiate a settlement of their personal injury matter directly with the insurance company and believe that the two-year statute of limitations does not apply if they have already submitted the claim. This is not true. The two-year period means that the personal injury claimant must file a lawsuit within that time or their claim is lost . If a lawsuit is not filed then the claim is lost – even if you have been negotiating with the insurance company for two years. Furthermore, your uninsured/underinsured claim will be lost if the statue of limitations expires without a lawsuit being filed against the negligent party.
If you have a serious personal injury matter, it is important that you speak with an experienced injury lawyer today to determine the appropriate date for the statute of limitations.
How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
We often get this question from our clients in Houston because many people want to know if they will be able to recover enough money to cover their medical and other expenses. While there are many factors that go into evaluating the damages that can be recovered in an injury case, some of the general elements of damages in Texas may include:
- Prior medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Prior pain and suffering
- Future pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Prior lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of household services
- Loss of consortium
- Physical impairment
- Damages for wrongful death
- Punitive damages
In addition to establishing liability, a proper evaluation of each of these categories of potential damages must be undertaken by an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The damages available for wrongful death claims are similar. If you have a serious personal injury or wrongful death matter, you should consult a lawyer experienced handling such cases.
Should I Try to Settle My Serious Injury Case Myself?
No. Insurance adjusters are trained to save money for the insurance company. They will not pay you any money for your injuries unless it is less than what you are entitled to receive. Instead, if you are dealing with a car wreck you should seek the advice of car accident lawyer that is board certified in personal injury trial law. If the insurance company wants to interview you regarding your accident, please know that they are doing this to reduce the amount of compensation they will have to pay or defeat your claim completely.
In some cases insurance companies have led victims to believe that they are negotiating in good faith. If this negotiation goes beyond 2 years after the date of the accident, the statute of limitations will have passed destroying the victim’s ability to file a claim for their injuries.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Case Cost?
This is a very important question when deciding to hire a Houston personal injury lawyer. Most injury lawyers handle cases on a contingent (percentage) basis. This means that they will get paid a percentage of your settlement or judgment. If the case does not settle and there is no money damages award, the lawyer will not get paid and the client will owe them nothing. Moreover, it is common practice for personal injury lawyers to pay all of the case expenses and only get reimbursed when or if the personal injury matter settles. Again, if there is no money recovery, the lawyer bears the loss of the case expenses and the client owes nothing. This is important because it can easily cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in various expenses in the serious personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Clients often understand how the contingent percentage fee works but want to know what the standard percentages are. The rates can vary from firm to firm. However, somewhat standard rates are 1/3 if the case settles before suit, 40% if there is a settlement after suit is filed and through a trial and 45% if there is an appeal. These are the percentages the lawyer would receive in addition to the case expenses being reimbursed out of the client’s share.
By way of an example, if a client’s personal injury case settled for $2,000,000.00 after the suit is filed and there were $50,000.00 in expenses paid by the attorney, the client would receive $1,150,000.00 and the lawyer would receive a fee of $800,000.00 (40%) plus the $50,000.00 in reimbursable expenses.
For further information, contact Michael P. Fleming, an attorney in Houston with more than 27 years experience handling injury cases.
How Do I Choose A Personal Injury Firm?
When you or a family member has been the victim of a serious personal injury or wrongful death claim, you will need to find and evaluate the qualifications of potential personal injury lawyers to handle your case. This is a very important decision and often must be made in a hurry. Sometimes, folks are approached by strangers urging them to hire a lawyer they recommend. This is an illegal practice and you should never hire a lawyer that solicits your business in this way.
So, whether you have been recommended a lawyer by a friend or are evaluating the credentials of lawyers you have found on the internet, there are certain questions you can ask to make sure you hire the right attorney. See if the potential lawyer meets the following standards:
- Does the lawyer have many years handling personal injury cases?
- Is the lawyer Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization?
- Has the lawyer received the prestigious A/V Rating by Martindale – Hubbell?
- Is the lawyer an inductee in the American Board of Trial Advocates?
- Has the lawyer been recognized as a Super Lawyer for many years?
- Has the lawyer handled cases in the trial courts and the United States Supreme Court?
- Does the lawyer handle personal injury matters on a “no- win no-fee” contingent basis?
- Does the lawyer have good personal injury lawyer reviews & ratings?
This is not an exhaustive list of possible qualifications but basic guidelines to help you find the right lawyer for your personal injury matter.
How Will I Pay My Medical Bills?
Recovery from the at-fault party after a car accident or other personal injury often doesn’t occur until after you know the extent of your injuries. Getting to the doctor immediately following the accident is important. There may be many resources available to you to help with the costs of your doctor’s or other provider’s care. First, check your own automobile insurance policy to see if you elected to carry Personal Injury Protection – known as “PIP” – coverage. PIP coverage will reimburse you for medical expenses or lost wages if you have been injured in a car wreck regardless of who may have been at fault. Second, check your automobile insurance policy for medical payments- “Med Pay” coverage. PIP and Med Pay coverage may also extend any passengers in your vehicle.
You can also rely on your own health insurance coverage to defray your medical costs. Remember, if you do recover from the at-fault driver, you will likely have to reimburse your health insurance carrier for payments it made on your behalf. You probably won’t need to repay any PIP payments if you recover money from the at-fault driver. In any event, be sure to let your attorney know if you are using your own insurance to pay for your bills.
What If My Injuries Aren’t Serious?
Soft tissue injuries from a car accident or other injury case are those injuries that can’t be readily seen by an observer, and usually involve injury to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Many such injuries that result from automobile collision include injuries to meniscus (knee), cervical spine (neck), injuries to lumbar spine (low back), and rotator cuff (shoulder). Just because a person can’t actually see your injury doesn’t make your pain any less severe or the injury any less real.
Your doctor will likely perform one or a number of diagnostic tests to determine the extent of your injury. MRIs are typically used to determine injuries to cervical and lumbar spine. Use of MRIs can reveal presence of traumatic injuries such as cervical herniation or cervical radiculopathy. Disc herniation and radiculopathy are painful conditions and sufferers quite often report pain in the affected immediately following impact of an automobile collision or traumatic event.
Some sufferers of soft tissue injuries report symptoms of headaches following impact that do not decrease in frequency, duration, or level of pain. In those instances, your medical provider may want to perform additional testing to evaluate possibility of traumatic brain injury.
Trauma to the head, neck and spine, can result in severe pain in those areas that radiates to arms and legs. However, many collisions cause soft tissue injuries to upper and lower extremities, separate from those to the head, neck, or spine. Strains to arms or shoulders can occur when trying to steer away from impact resulting in rotator cuff tears or nerve impingement. In such cases, your medical provider will perform tests beyond MRI to your neck or back, such as arthroscopic exploration of the affected area, to further evaluate the extent of your injuries.
Whatever the extent of your injuries, the insurance adjuster will try to minimize your suffering by suggesting your pain is not real because it can’t be seen. Call Michael P. Fleming to discuss your options 713-221-6800. Located in downtown Houston Texas the lawyers at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. know how to handle these situations and will fight for the compensation you deserve.
Hurt But Don’t Want to See Doctor
I’m Hurt But Don’t Want to See Doctor. Should I wait?
No. If you are injured from a car accident or other personal injury, you should seek medical care immediately and follow your doctor’s advice. Often after an accident, injured people will try to put up with the pain and not seek the treatment they need. This is a grave mistake for two reasons. First, you might prolong your recovery and or make your injury worse. Furthermore, not going to the doctor is often used by insurance companies as an excuse to deny compensation. They will claim that you didn’t seek medical treatment because you weren’t really injured. Again, if you are hurt, see your doctor and follow your doctor’s advice as to treatment. Failure to seek prompt medical attention will negatively affect your personal injury lawsuit.