Being hurt in a Texas truck accident can be a devastating experience. Not just physically but emotionally and financially. The Texas Department of Transportation recorded that auto accidents caused severe injuries to 15,855 people in 2019 and an economic loss of $43,400,000,000 in the state in 2020. Therefore, when an accident occurs, it is only equitable that the victim does not bear the burden of getting their lives back on the track alone. Those at fault for the accident should bear the largest part of the responsibility.
Consequently, the Texas legal system provides for means of holding defaulting parties liable and getting appropriate compensation for injuries or damages suffered. However, to successfully secure a reasonable compensation, the victim must take certain steps. The more severe the situation, the less straightforward these steps may appear. Nonetheless, how these steps are handled can determine the success or otherwise of an accident lawsuit. As such, a victim may need the professional assistance of a Texas personal injury or fatal accident lawyer.
However, in many cases, people are wary of hiring an attorney. Their reason usually is that lawyers are too expensive and that they can secure a fair compensation without having to hire one. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. The injured party in an accident faces a challenging battle with several parties, including their insurance companies, who would usually have a team of lawyers. Below are important reasons and benefits of retaining a competent personal injury lawyer after being hurt in an accident in Texas.
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code governs personal injury cases in the state. The law provides several procedural and substantive rules to adhere to when pursuing an accident injury claim. Pursuing a claim without in-depth knowledge of the provision of the law can be frustrating. To mention a few, the person may fail to take note of time limits and procedural requirements or even make case-denting errors. For example, the Texas statute of limitations generally has a two-year time period for accident claims that counts from when the cause of action arises. After this period, a court may not be able to hear the case. Likewise, special rules apply to injury lawsuits against the government. The victim is required to file a formal claim with the governmental agency believed to have caused the injury or harm. Under the statute of limitations in Texas, the claim is to be filed within six months from the date the accident occurred and must include details of the accident and the harm or injury suffered as a result of the accident.
However, a Texas personal injury lawyer is trained in the substantive and procedural laws applicable to an accident injury claim and can help a victim navigate these processes conveniently. Some of the roles of a personal injury lawyer in this regard include ensuring that time limits are not exceeded, relevant paperwork is drafted, reviewed, and filed, and that the claim is instituted in the appropriate court.
With their vast knowledge in personal injury claims, a competent attorney can assess the victim’s case and chances of getting compensation and afterward guide them on the appropriate course of action. Likewise, several aspects of the claim, including communication with the at-fault party’s insurance companies, require some professional guidance. Most times, the companies reach out to the victim and try to obtain certain information to rely on to deny the victim’s claim or offer a low settlement.
An attorney's professional assistance may even be required as early as identifying the party to sue, as sometimes, multiple parties may be at fault, especially in fatal accident cases. For example, in a truck accident, parties like the truck driver, the employer, truck manufacturer, loading company, or truck part manufacturer may be liable individually or jointly for injuries to the victim. A competent personal injury attorney can help in clearly identifying the defaulting parties and their degree of contribution to the accident in order to effectively conduct the case in court and demand the appropriate compensation.
To get compensated for injuries suffered in a truck accident, whether through settlement or in court, there must be proper analysis and documentation of injuries and damages to be claimed. A personal injury lawyer can help to document and calculate these damages, which may include compensation for medical expenses, lost income, future losses, and emotional suffering. The attorney can also help in getting in touch with relevant experts that will evaluate and give expert testimony to substantiate the victim’s claim. Such experts that may be required include medical experts, mental health experts, and highway safety experts.
ettlement is an arrangement that involves parties in an accident case meeting to negotiate and agree on how much the victim should receive instead of going to court. A victim waives the right to institute an action in court by agreeing to receive a particular amount in settlement. The responsible party’s insurance company usually handles settlement negotiation. Negotiation with these companies can be complicated. They usually try to deny the victim’s claim or limit the settlement sum to a lower amount that may not compensate adequately for the victim’s injuries.
However, the knowledge and experience of personal injury lawyers enable them to negotiate a reasonable settlement on their client’s behalf. A competent truck accident lawyer who understands the legal process and how to deal with insurance companies can ensure that their client receives a fair settlement for their injury. The lawyer can also help assess the situation and determine whether instituting an action is more favorable than agreeing to the settlement sum.
Texas law allows victims intending to institute an action to represent themselves in court. However, conducting a case alone can be a daunting task. It involves several technical aspects such as gathering and analyzing evidence, canvassing arguments, reviewing and responding to the opponent’s arguments, and evaluating the required damages or compensation. A competent truck accident lawyer is trained to handle these aspects and ensure that victims get maximum compensation for their injuries.
According to Texas courts' annual statistics for 2019, only five percent of civil cases filed in district courts and county courts in the state involved self-represented litigants at the time of filing.
Several persons or institutions determine the fault in a Texas accident case, depending on the stage of the claim. That is either at the initial stage, during a settlement negotiation, or in court.
In the initial stage, after a road accident, police officers may determine fault by noting who is responsible for the accident in their professional judgment. But in many cases, their report does not contain this information. Most times, the police issue traffic citations, which may also help prove a party’s fault in a lawsuit. Nonetheless, though important, a police report is not a conclusive determinant of fault.
When the parties enter a settlement negotiation, the insurance adjuster determines the parties’ fault. They may accept that their client was negligent and pay the financial compensation the victim requests. Similarly, they may accept fault but offer a reduced compensation amount or deny fault and refuse the victim’s claim to damages. In which case, the victim may have to pursue the claim in court to recover appropriate compensation.
If the victim of a truck accident decides to institute a lawsuit, it is the court’s duty to determine the negligent party. To determine this, the court will consider if the at-fault party breached a duty of care owed to the victim and whether the breach of that duty caused the victim’s injuries.
It is important to note that a victim’s action after the accident can largely determine whether the responsible party's fault can be successfully proven. Acts like not going for medical treatment immediately, not keeping records or gathering evidence, admitting fault, or rushing into settlement discussions, can adversely affect a victim's case. This is because the at-fault parties and their insurance companies always try as much as possible to limit or deny compensation, even if it means placing the victim’s words or actions out of context or exaggerating the victim’s omission to discredit the claim. When this is the case, the most important thing is for the victims to know their rights, stand their ground, and try as much as possible to salvage the situation. Steps like reaching out to the police to amend the crash report, stalling the settlement negotiation, and hiring a personal injury lawyer can generally help the situation. The role of the personal injury lawyer in such an instance is to prevent parties involved, particularly the insurance companies, from making unnecessary inferences from the actions or omissions of the victim.
Texas residents can find qualified trucking accident lawyers in their area through a variety of methods, including
Informal Referral: Getting recommendations from family, friends, and coworkers who have had similar cases is one common way to find a personal injury attorney in Texas. In the same way, general practice lawyers can also direct clients to a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases. However, note that it is important to conduct additional research after receiving such recommendations to ensure that the attorney has the necessary qualifications and experience to handle the type of case.
State Bar Directory: the state bar is the body primarily in charge of regulating legal practice in Texas. The Bar provides a directory of its members around the state including their contact information, and license status. Concerned persons can search this directory for truck accident lawyers within their vicinity by using the find a lawyer feature on the bar’s website.
Other Professional Association and Lawyer Referral Services: besides the mandatory state bar, truck accident lawyers also join several professional associations. Membership in these associations gives credence to the lawyers as they usually involve some extra examination and experience requirements. Some of these associations either provide a directory of their members or run a lawyer referral service. Some common professional associations and lawyer referral services in Texas include Dallas Bar Associations, Tarrant County Bar Association, and Texas District and County Attorney Associations.
Online Research: Several lawyers and law firms maintain websites or online pages where they promote their services. The credentials, case history, and contact information of the lawyer are usually available on these websites. Interested parties can find these websites by conducting a simple search for keywords such as "personal injury attorney near me" or "truck accident lawyer near me".