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Texas Personal Injury Law: FAQ

What to expect in a personal injury trial in Texas.

Although most of us would prefer to avoid filing a lawsuit or going to court, it is sometimes necessary to pursue litigation to get full value for your claim. Lawsuits usually become necessary when there are disagreements with the other party's insurance company over who caused an accident or how serious the injuries are. You should be sure not to sign any documents without prior review by an attorney. You need to attend all scheduled doctor appointments in order to document your injuries. Accurate records should be kept of time you missed from work, medical bills, and property damage repairs. You can document your damages with photographs of your injuries or photos of property damage.

After a Lawsuit has Been Filed

Both parties will conduct discovery. Pretrial discovery usually takes about a full year during which time both parties investigate all aspects of the claim. This may include taking oral depositions, obtaining pertinent records, propounding interrogatories, and hiring expert witnesses to obtain more evidence about the claim. During this period of discovery and as the trial date approaches, the parties will exchange settlement offers/demands. A large majority of personal injury claims settle before trial. If you agree to accept a settlement, you will be required to sign an agreement stating you absolve the other party of all further liability in this case.

If the Case Goes to Trial

The trial can either be by jury, or a bench trial. A bench trial is a trial without a jury, and the judge decides the case.  A just consists of twelve people, and each side gets to ask the potential jurors questions before the twelve people are selected.  After the just is selected, each side starts with an opening statement outlining the case.  Then the plaintiff, or suing party, presents evidence.  The plaintiff’s attorney will call witnesses and ask questions, then the defendant’s attorney will get to ask the same witness questions, after the defense attorney asks questions, the plaintiff’s attorney may ask follow up questions.  Once the plaintiff’s attorney is done presenting witnesses, then the defense has the opportunity to call their own witnesses.  After both sides are done presenting evidence, both sides make closing statements.  After the closing statements the jury goes into a separate room to deliberate.  Jury deliberations can be as quick as a few hours or as long as several days.  When the jury reaches a decision, the jurors come back to court and read the verdict out loud.

How do I decide if I need to hire an attorney in Texas?

There are situations where an attorney is unnecessary, such as very small cases. Small claims court in Texas will handle claims up to $10,000. If your injury is a minor one that will not result in any incapacity, or substantial medical care, then you may want to settle it yourself in small claims court.

An attorney should be consulted if you have been seriously injured or are unsure as to the outcome of your injury. These cases can get quite complicated. In such cases, an attorney will have the legal expertise, time and resources to effectively handle your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to accurately analyze the value of your case and will be able to meet all of the rules, requirements and deadlines that have to be met. You will most likely have to deal with a professional insurance adjuster from an insurance company. The sole job of the adjuster is to try to settle the claim for as little as possible. Without knowledge of the complex insurance laws and policy provisions, a person could easily give away valuable rights and lose reasonable compensation. Also of note is the fact that statistics show insurance companies pay more than twice as much compensation when an attorney is involved in your claim.

Under Texas law, can I include medical bills in my injury claim?

Yes, you can recover medical costs of what was actually paid or incurred because of the injury.

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.

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