Frequently Asked Questions
View answers to frequently asked questions below. We also have a collection of free helpful information.
When should I hire an attorney?
An injured party or relative or close friend of an injured party should contact an attorney as soon after an accident as possible if you believe that another party may be at fault for the accident. This is necessary in order to counsel the injured party as to his rights and how to acquire adequate compensation for his injuries and any other damages, and to preserve any evidence and to investigate the case. You should keep in mind that the Statute of Limitation in Texas varies for certain types of accidents. For instance, in Texas, an auto accident involving a third party is generally governed by the 2-year Statute of Limitation. This means a lawsuit must be on file and the offending party served with the lawsuit no later than two years from the date of your accident or the case must have been completely resolved by that date. There are certain exceptions to this general rule that may shorten or lengthen the period depending on the facts. If you miss that 2 year deadline, your right to compensation may be forever lost. In some cases and in some states, the Statute of Limitation or Statute of Repose may be shorter and in some cases it is longer. There are certain Statutes of Repose which may also affect some claims such as injuries caused by older products. When in doubt, contact an attorney of your choosing as soon as possible. To speak with the personal injury lawyers at the Baumgartner Law Firm call 281-587-1111 or fill out the contact form.
How much is my case worth?
This is a very difficult question for a personal injury to answer without having all of the information available. Determining the worth of a personal injury claim depends upon a seriously you are injured, the specific facts of the case and the insurance limits that may be available. Every case has three elements that an experienced personal injury attorney analyzes to determine what they feel the true value of a claim may be.
Those areas are: 1. Liability 2. Damages 3. Insurance.
Determining the case’s value is something that is learned over many years of practice as an attorney handling personal injury claims. There is no golden formula to determine the value. Based on our many years experience with Texas personal injury cases, we may be able to estimate the range of the value of your case after we have reviewed all medical records and important evidence that may be admitted into the trial of the case.
Generally, some important factors include:
* Your doctor’s testimony regarding your injuries;
* The facts surrounding the accident- responsibility for the accident;
* Disability or inability to work;
* Whether or not punitive damages may be appropriate; and
* The type of case.
Other factors that may be relevant in determining the range of the value of a case include the amount of your medical expenses, the specific doctors who treated the victims and the claims history of the plaintiff.
To speak with a leading accident and injury attorney call 281-587-1111 for a no obligation consultation.
Can I handle the personal injury claim by myself?
The answer is possibly, but why would you want to? In general, the more serious the accident the more likely it is that you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you. For real serious injuries it is almost a necessity that an attorney help you in order to obtain the highest net amount possible. For other cases that involve very minor injury is possible that you may be able to handle the claim yourself.
There is a reason why the insurance company does not want you to hire an attorney and it is not because they’re looking out for your interests. Insurance companies do not want you to retain an attorney especially in very serious injury cases and cases with substantial liability insurance because they don’t want to pay would be fair justice in the case. Your first clue that you need a personal injury attorney is when you hear the words you don’t need an attorney for this or we accept responsibility.
Do I have a case?
This is the first question that many people ask after being injured in an accident. Getting hurt is not enough to have a case. The personal injury case is much like a stool, it must have three strong legs to stand. In a personal injury context those legs are, liability, damages and ability to pay. All three are necessary for a satisfactory civil result from an accident.
If you have questions regarding a personal injury claim we invite you to take advantage of our free consultation by calling us at (281) 587-1111.
Are truck accidents valued differently than a car to car wreck?
Truck accident claims are different from passenger car accidents for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that 18-wheelers are required to carry commercial insurance policies with large liability limits. Another reason is that Texas juries have not been very understanding when a professional trucker breaks the rules and endangers our community. At the Baumgartner Law Firm we are very proud of our track record in truck wreck cases. Please see our results page for some of our truck accident cases. Call 281-587-1111 to speak with a law firm with a track record of success!
How long will my case last?
Every case is different and involves different issues. As such, some cases are resolved in very little time depending on the parties, the events surrounding the accident, and the adjustors and/or attorneys involved. An exact timeframe cannot be given although once you contact an attorney, he or she will be able to tell you the process and procedures involved in making a claim against another party and the approximate amount of time it would take to litigate such a claim based on the information you give to the attorney and his investigation of the case.
What kind of expenses are involved?
The Baumgartner Firm operates on a contingency basis which means there is never an upfront fee. Once the case is evaluated and given merit by the firm, the client is asked to sign a retainer agreement, giving the attorney authority to pursue the matter against the at-fault parties on behalf of the client. In that document, the injured party agrees to pay the attorney a percentage of whatever recovery is made. In that document, the injured party also agrees to reimburse, from the settlement, any expenses the attorney may have incurred for things such as court filing fees, investigator, medical records, expert fees, reconstruction costs, etc. At no time is a client asked to pay these expenses up front. Also, if the case does not result in a settlement or verdict, no fee or reimbursement of expenses is require.
Call (281) 587-1111 to schedule a no obligation consultation on your case!
What are some tips for injury victims?
Call an experienced attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Do not delay as the longer you wait the harder you make it on the attorney.
Cooperate and be completely honest with your attorney and his staff. All conversations are confidential and subject to the attorney-client privilege and cannot be divulged to any outside party.
Do not speak with insurance adjustors or anyone else who might contact you without your attorney’s permission.
Follow your doctor’s instructions to help ensure a complete recovery and proper healing of your injuries.
Do not sign any documents without reading and understanding them. When in doubt consult an attorney.
To speak with attorney Greg Baumgartner call (281) 587-1111.
What are some DOs and DON'Ts after an accident?
DO seek prompt medical care for your injuries.
DO call an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
DO NOT admit fault or liability for causing the accident, even if you are not sure who caused the accident.
DO NOT speak with insurance adjustors from any company before contacting an experienced lawyer to learn of your rights.
DO take photographs of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved particularly when the damage to the vehicles is significant.
The driver who hit me didn't have insurance – what should I do?
If you are in an accident caused by a person who did not carry liability insurance at the time of the accident it can be incredibly difficult to try to collect from that person the damages to which you are entitled.
If you are in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you may have a claim under your own auto insurance policy if you carried uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If so, your own insurance company stands in the place of the uninsured driver and that makes you adverse to your own insurance company.
The best approach is to contact a personal injury attorney to represent you in your underinsured or uninsured motorist claim.
Call the Baumgartner Law Firm (281) 587-1111 for a Free Consultation.
Why is it important to hire an attorney early?
The more serious the damages the more important it is to hire an attorney as early as possible after an accident. Very serious injury claims or wrongful death cases an early investigation can be very beneficial to documenting the facts of the accident. Additionally, retaining an attorney will also keep you from making the mistake of giving a written or recorded statement to an adverse insurance adjuster or making a mistake on how you handle your claim. The insurance adjuster that is contacting you has gone to lengthy training to learn how to handle a claim to pay the least amount possible for his or her employer – the insurance company. Unless you are an attorney or experienced in claims handling processes, you are at a big disadvantage to an insurance adjuster.
What do I need to do to get a lawsuit started?
You should contact the Baumgartner firm as soon after an accident as possible to determine whether the case can be settled for full compensation prior to filing a lawsuit. If this is not possible, on cases we accept, the attorney will file the lawsuit on your behalf.
Can I get a lawsuit started for an injured family member?
Absolutely! If the injured party is a severely injured relative or a minor child or the child or close relative or someone severely injured or killed in an accident, the law allows certain relatives or guardians to proceed and litigate a matter on behalf of such an incapacitated person.
What are the signs of brain damage or traumatic brain injury?
Signs of brain injury are sometime difficult to recognize. Generally, some signs of mild brain injury or a concussion can be memory loss, loss of consciousness at the scene, dizziness, or headache. Inform your doctor whenever you have any symptoms you think may be related to a head injury. Communication with your medical providers is an important first step to getting your life back on track after an accident.
How is a claim valued?
All claims are different. However, the issues and injuries in some claims may be similar to prior cases and such a claim may be compared to previous claims that involve the same issues and same type of injuries and losses. Experienced personal injury attorneys learn the value range of cases by experience. See “How much is my case worth?” above for a more detailed answer. Call the Baumgartner Law Firm at 281-587-1111 to discuss your case.
Which relatives are allowed to sue for wrongful death?
The law establishes which persons may be entitled to compensation for loss or injury. It is always wise for any family member of a person who has been severely injured or killed in an accident to contact a wrongful death lawyer immediately after the accident to evaluate the matter and determine which family members may be entitled to compensation. In Texas, that is generally, the spouse, parents and children of the deceased. Call us at (281) 587-1111 to discuss a wrongful death claim on your behalf.
How is the value of a wrongful death case established?
It is impossible to place a monetary value on the life of a loved one. Nothing can be done to bring them back. The law allows for certain damages for the loss of a loved one in some cases. For a free consultation with a Houston wrongful death lawyer, call or contact us today and we will explain the legal recovery process in detail. (281) 587-1111.
Why should I hire an attorney?
To protect your rights and the rights of your family. Making a wrongful death or personal injury claim is complicated and requires knowledge of the law by an experienced personal injury attorney. The more serious your case, the more important your choice of attorney.
Should I try to settle a case myself?
Some cases can be handled without an attorney, those cases usually involve minor injury and complete and speedily recovery. With serious injuries the insurance company may say things early on like “we accept responsibility” and lead you to feel like they will be fair, but once the subject of money comes up, people quickly realize they need an attorney. Unfortunately, sometimes a long delay in getting an attorney on your side can do damage to your case.
Can I afford a good attorney?
Yes. As stated above, the Baumgartner Law Firm will handle your case based on a contingency fee arrangement which means the Baumgartner firm will pay all expenses in prosecuting your case and will be reimbursed out of any settlement or verdict collected. At that time, you will also pay out of the settlement a legal fee which will be an agreed-upon percentage when you first retain the law firm to handle your case. Call (281) 587-1111 to discuss your case.
Should I give the insurance company a tape recorded statement?
Cooperation with your insurance company is encouraged but we suggest you do not give any type of statement to an adverse insurance adjuster and never discuss your injuries or how the accident happened without first contacting an attorney. call (281) 587-1111 for a no obligation consultation.
Do I have a case if I was partly to blame?
You may very well have a case even if the accident was caused in part, by your actions. Please feel free to contact our law firm to evaluate the circumstances involved and make that determination.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Texas for personal injury?
Texas has a general statute of limitation for personal injury claims that can bar a claim not timely brought. The general statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident.
There are other issues that personal injury claimants should be aware of such as short notice provisions that must be met for certain governmental entities, and the Statute of Repose that it also may affect cases involving dangerous drugs or dangerous products.
Personal injury victims should not delay in contacting an attorney to help them and should never wait until the last-minute to contact an attorney. Many law firms will not accept a case that is close to the statute of limitations.
If you have questions about the statute of limitations or another personal injury question- call us at 281-587-1111.
What should I know before hiring an attorney?
You should know that the Baumgartner firm has a track record of success in fighting for maximum compensation on serious injury and wrongful death cases. You will also want to know which attorney will actually handle the day to day activity on your case. Many law firms hand you off to an associate with little experience to work your case.
What does Personal Injury Protection Insurance cover?
Texas personal injury protection (PIP) is coverage that must be offered by your automobile liability insurance company. Consumers can reject the coverage but they must do so in writing. We advise families to purchase personal injury protection if they can afford it because it provides extra protection in the way of medical bills, 80% of lost income and the value of household duties if you could not perform them – all up to the limits of your personal injury protection coverage. Usually personal injury protection comes in the amount of $2500 but can be written for much higher limits. Importantly, personal-injury protection is payable regardless of who is at fault and should cover those who are in your vehicle as well. There can easily be more than one personal injury protection policy that may apply in a given accident. If you have questions regarding a car accident or personal injury protection claim contact the Baumgartner Law Firm.
What should I look for when choosing an attorney?
Experience and success in handling serious injuries and wrongful death and the ability to obtain the highest compensation possible in personal injury and death cases. You will also want to make sure the attorney you choose has substantial experience with the exact type of case you have. Look to the results page for good evidence of the type cases the firm usually handles.
What is the difference between personal injury damages and punitive damages?
Almost everyone has heard about “punitive damages”, they are also called “exemplary damages” and are sparingly available in some personal injury litigation in Texas.
In Texas, personal injury damages, also known as “actual damages”, can include the following items:
1. Medical expenses that were paid or incurred as a result of the accident.
4. Physical pain and mental anguish.
5. Lost income
And in a typical personal injury trial, such as an automobile accident, the judge or the jury is usually asked to come up with a number for each of the areas of damages sustained that would reasonably compensate the innocent personal injury victim.
Recent changes to Texas law such as “tort reform” have had a dramatic effect on the justice available to many personal injury victims. And in fact, it is possible for a drunk driver to receive the benefit of a personal injury victim’s personal health insurance without having to compensate the person they hurt for the insurance premiums that the victim has paid.
That aside, putative damages or exemplary damages are similar to as punishment damages, designed to curtail similar conduct to protect our community.
Punitive damages are not available in every case and require a situation where the defendant has knowingly acted with an extreme disregard for the health and safety of the community when injuring the victim.
Examples would be a situation where a driver knew he or she was intoxicated and chose to drive home knowing drunken driving could lead to serious injury or death. There are other examples where companies ignore safety warnings and other actions or inactions where a person or company acted with malice.
Punitive damages are covered by statute in the state of Texas and the statute can be found at Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 41.
If you have questions regarding exemplary or punitive damages and would like to speak to an experienced punitive damage attorney call the Baumgartner Law Firm for no obligation consultation – 281 – 587 – 1111.
Do you have any advice on handling property damage claims?
One of the most frustrating things for most personal injury victims is dealing with the adverse adjuster. They are unaccustomed to the procedure and often are mistreated by the adverse adjuster. There are a few tips for handling your own property damage claim after car accident. * If the accident is clear as far as who is responsible for the crash, take your vehicle to the repair shop of your choice and let them deal directly with the adverse insurance company on necessary repairs.
* Always inspect carefully the repairs before you accept your vehicle and don’t be afraid to take the vehicle back if it is not repaired your satisfaction driven off from the repair shop. * On newer vehicles you may want to consider making a claim for diminished value as trying to sell a wrecked car will not bring the same amount as a car that has never been wrecked. You can get an estimate from the dealer that sold you the vehicle to provide to the insurance company. Expect a major fight on this issue. If the adverse insurance company is not prepared to accept responsibility for repairs of your vehicle or is trying to stick you with the portion of the repairs, consider making a claim with your own automobile insurance company under the collision coverage and asked that your insurance company collector deductible from the adverse party. While most people don’t want to go this route it is the preferred method to getting your car repaired or replaced quickly. On total loss claims be prepared to state your number on the value of your vehicle. You should have gone online and found comparable statistics for the fair market value of a vehicle like yours. Of course, expect the insurance company to lowball their offer based upon some criteria that may not make sense to you. If you have the backup data provided to the adjuster so you can provide a reasonable basis for the amount that you feel your car is valued out at the time of the wreck. Additionally, you should be entitled to tax file and license fees for the value of your vehicle.
Do you make house calls or hospital visits?
Yes. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may call us at (281) 587-1111 or toll free at 1-866-758-4LAW(4529) and we will meet with the injured party or surviving family at whichever location is most convenient for them.
What is loss of companionship and society?
With the biggest elements of damages in a wrongful death case is what is called loss of companionship and society, which means the human loss of your loved one.
The jury question indicates that this loss means the positive benefits flowing from the love, comfort, companionship and society that the plaintiff would have received from the decedent. For a spouse it is easy to see the damages suffered through loss of his or her husband or wife. For a child the love and affection of a parent to the child is unquestionable.
Economic damages or pecuniary loss is covered in a separate question in a Texas wrongful death lawsuit.
Will punitive damages be available in my wrongful death lawsuit?
Possibly, although through “tort reform” the ability to obtain exemplary damages also known as punitive damages has been limited by law. The types of cases where punitive damages are available usually involved very egregious conduct on the part of the defendants.
Baumgartner law firm has extensive experience in bringing punitive damages claims.
Why documenting the accident scene is so important
With drunk driving accidents and other car accidents documenting the scene while at the scene of the accident can help the story from changing later on by the defendant. Photographs or even video of the final resting positions of the vehicles, skid marks and damage to the vehicles can be extremely powerful evidence in explaining to the jury exactly what happened.
Many defendants end up changing their story after the accident. Documenting the scene can help prevent that.
What other information is important in a drunk driving accident case?
Depending on the severity of the injuries, where the defendant got drunk can be important evidence. The potential dram shop case may be available if a commercial provider of alcohol continued to serve the defendant once he or she was obviously intoxicated. Witnesses at the bar can also be critical help.
Will exemplary damages be available in a DWI case?
Possibly – many drunk driving car accident cases are ripe for submission of a punitive damage claim. Whether or not punitive damages are covered by insurance is another question.
How are products liability case is different?
Product liability cases involve making a claim or filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the product for making an unreasonably dangerous product or failing to warn of known dangers.
Product liability cases are also extremely expensive to pursue because of the legal requirements and necessity for expert testimony. Most attorneys require very large damages in order to consider a product liability case.
I've been injured by a defective product what should I do?
Of course, tending to your injury should always be your first and main concern. However, it is extremely important that you save the product in question. Preserving this product will enable a potential product liability case to move forward. Without the product, it is a very difficult to bring a product liability lawsuit.
Can I handle a product liability case without a lawyer?
Possibly – but highly unlikely, most product manufacturers are extremely defensive of their product in that they are not defending one case but thousands or even millions of potential cases in dealing with one specific case. Most product manufacturers fight tooth and nail to deny everything regardless of the evidence.
Often, people will notify manufacturer of a defect in the product that caused an injury and the manufacturer will want to take a statement from the victim. That statement is designed to make the victim look greedy and bad should a case later brought by an attorney.
What are some products that may be defective?
Almost any product can end up being unreasonably dangerous and defective. Some of the more common types of product liability claims involve products like:
* Cars and pickup trucks involving fuel fed fires from the gas tank.
* Construction equipment
* Rollover accidents
* Certain playground equipment
* Industrial and workplace machines
* Some safety equipment
How are truck accidents different?
Truck accidents usually involve much more serious injury and often wrongful death claims. Additionally, trucking companies and professional truck drivers are subject to specific rules that establish a standard of care is different from that of a typical automobile driver. It is imperative that the attorney you choose for a truck accident the experience and truck accident litigation.
Can all personal injury attorneys handle truck accident cases?
Yes, but that does not mean that you want to hire just any personal injury attorney to prosecute a truck accident claim. This is particularly true with a very serious injury or wrongful death. Most motor carriers are covered by a small number of insurance companies who keep records on the attorneys they deal with and those who know how to handle a truck accident claim from start to finish. Who you hire can have a big impact on your bottom line in the case.
Can I handle a product liability case without a lawyer?
As a practical matter, the minimum level of insurance that we see for semi trucks is a $1 million policy. Statutorily, some drunk drivers can carry a less than that but actually the vast majority of trucking companies have at least $1 million policy.
What is a quick response team for commercial vehicle wrecks?
Our law firm maintains a quick response team, which is a team that is put together to quickly investigate a very serious truck accident. The team includes accident reconstruction experts, attorneys and investigators. The trucking company and truck driver will have their own quick response team and victims of truck wreck should not be put at a disadvantage by hiring just anyone.
Are 18-wheeler accident cases valued differently from other cases?
While the elements of damages that are submitted to a jury for an 18 wheeler accident are the same for another type of personal injury case, the liability factors for an 18 wheeler wreck can enhance a recovery for a personal injury victim. The fact that the trucking company and the professional truck driver have to comply with safety regulations can make a big difference in the outcome of the case. 18- wheeler accident attorneys and insurance companies generally value commercial vehicle accidents differently than automobile accidents.
I was hit by a person without insurance coverage, what can I do?
Generally if you’re in an accident with someone who did not have insurance the first thing you do is look for insurance coverage to help you pay your medical bills and also your damages. If you have coverage under your own automobile policy for underinsured or uninsured motorist you may be able to look to that policy for help.
Often people are covered by insurance policies of which they are not aware. If you’re a passenger in someone else’s car you may be covered under their automobile policy for underinsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection.
How do I file a complaint against an insurance company in Texas?
To file a complaint against an insurance company in the state of Texas go to: http://www.tdi.texas.gov/index.html.