How Do You File a Personal Injury Insurance Claim in Houston?
If a person does something careless or reckless that causes injury to you, then you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against that party. To recover compensation, you will need to submit a formal demand for compensation with the at-fault party – or, rather, the party’s insurance company. Ultimately, you may need to file a lawsuit.
Prior to filing any personal injury claim, you will need to conduct an investigation. The goal of the investigation will be to gather evidence that firmly establishes the other party’s liability as well as the amount of damages which you should pursue. Because you may need to file a lawsuit, you should begin this investigation as soon as possible. This is because the statute of limitations in Texas requires you to file a lawsuit within two years after the date of your injury, or else your claim could be barred.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., our experienced Houston personal injury attorneys will know how to investigate your personal injury case, deal with the other party’s insurance company and fight for the compensation you are due. Our founding attorney, Michael P. Fleming, is among the small percentage of attorneys who are certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Here, we provide an overview of what goes into filing a personal injury insurance claim in Texas. To discuss the specific facts of your case and learn more about how we can help you to pursue just compensation, contact us today. Our initial consultations are always free.
How Do You Investigate a Personal Injury Claim?
As we stated above, a personal injury investigation serves two purposes: To determine liability and damages. To determine liability, your attorney at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., will obtain certain evidence. This evidence will depend on the type of case – for instance, whether it is a car accident or slip and fall. Types of evidence which we typically gather in personal injury cases include:
- Photos of the accident scene and/or camera footage
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- A physical inspection of the accident scene
- Physical evidence such as tools, equipment, clothes or vehicle parts
- Police or incident reports
- Animal control records
- Toxicology test results
- Cell phone records
- Event data recorder information (“black box data”)
- Documents such as inspection records.
We may also contact an accident reconstruction specialist that can analyze the accident that caused your injuries. All of this evidence can help us to determine who caused your accident and should be liable for paying compensation to you.
During the investigation, we will also collect evidence to establish damages or the losses which you have suffered as a result of your accident. This evidence may include:
- Medical records
- Invoices and receipts
- Pay stubs and W-2 forms
- Statements from family members and friends.
An investigation serves as the foundation of any personal injury case. Once the investigation is complete, the next step will be to present a formal demand for compensation to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
What Goes into a Demand Letter?
The demand letter that you submit to the at-fault party’s insurance company should show that, if necessary, you will be ready to take a solid case to trial. The demand should:
- Outline why the other party is liable
- Explain the nature and extent of your injuries
- Establish your economic damages, including medical bills, lost wages and other out-of-pocket expenses that you have incurred
- Describe your non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.
Today, demand letters can be highly sophisticated. They are actually demanding packages that include reports from experts, graphics, computer animation, and video. A highly professional demand package can go a long way towards securing a timely settlement of a claim.
What Happens After You Submit a Demand Letter?
After you submit your demand letter, the insurance company will compare your demand letter with the information it already has about your case. If the insurer accepts liability and agrees with the amount of damages that you have demanded, the insurer will offer to settle your case. If you accept the offer, you will then sign a release and, eventually, receive payment of your claim.
Typically, cases do not settle this easily. More often than not, an insurer will deny liability or challenge the amount of damages. As a result, the demand letter may actually start settlement negotiations. These negotiations may involve numerous meetings, phone calls and e-mails between your attorney from Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., and the insurance company.
If a settlement cannot be reached through this process, the case may have to go through mediation, which involves the use of a neutral third party who tries to bring the sides together. If mediation fails to produce a settlement agreement, then the case may ultimately require the filing of a lawsuit and going to trial.
Even if a case goes to trial, settlement negotiations may continue. In some cases, the parties reach a settlement after the jury returns a verdict.
Get Help from an Experienced Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
Throughout your case, your attorney from Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., will keep you informed about the progress of your investigation and any litigation that the attorney conducts on your behalf. Additionally, your attorney will advise you of any settlement offers that you receive. The attorney can help you to evaluate the offer and determine whether it provides just compensation and meets your objectives.
To learn more about how the personal injury insurance claims process works, and to discuss the specific facts of your case, contact us today at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. We can bring more than three decades of legal experience to your case and a record of providing professional and compassionate representation to personal injury victims and their families in Houston and throughout Texas. Call or reach us online today for a free consultation.
Michael P. Fleming, former Harris County Attorney, has been a practicing attorney in the Houston, Texas area for over 30 years. His background includes having previously served as the elected County Attorney for Harris County, Texas. Mr. Fleming was elected Harris County Attorney in 1996 and re-elected in 2000.