Personal injury refers to any physical or emotional harm caused to a person due to the negligence or intentional misconduct of another person or entity. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s actions, like a car accident or truck wreck, hiring a personal injury lawyer in Houston can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Attorney Greg Baumgartner discusses the role of a Houston personal injury lawyer and the benefits of hiring one.
Learning About You, Your Injuries, and the Accident
A Houston personal injury lawyer will first take the time to learn about you, your injuries, and the accident that caused them. This includes gathering information about the accident, such as police reports, witness statements, and medical records. The lawyer will also ask you questions about your injuries, medical treatment, and how they have affected your life.
During your meeting with a personal injury attorney, you can gauge if this person is the right attorney for your case. Ask yourself:
- Are they reputable?
- Are they experienced?
- Will I get the personal attention I deserve?
If the answers are positive, hire that attorney and let them handle your case while you recover from your injuries.
Once the personal injury lawyer understands the accident and your injuries, they will investigate the case. This may involve:
- Visiting the accident scene,
- Getting the crash report
- Interviewing witnesses, and
- Consulting with experts
- Obtaining your medical records
- Look for other evidence, such as video
- Download black box data
The lawyer will get and review all the evidence and use it to build a strong case on your behalf. Once your medical records are in hand, the personal injury lawyer will start negotiating with the adjusters.
Negotiating a Settlement with the Insurer
Many personal injury cases involve negotiating with insurance companies. The insurance company will try to settle the case for as little money as possible. However, a Houston personal injury lawyer will know how to negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you receive a fair settlement. The lawyer may take the case to court if the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate or is lowballing. The process of negotiation with the insurance company includes the following:
Sending a Notice of Representation
The first step in dealing with the adjuster and insurance company is to notify them of your representation. This letter directs the insurance company to deal with the attorney and not contact the client directly. The notice letter should cut off the demand of an adjuster that they must have a statement from you.
The Demand Letter
After your attorney has obtained all your medical bills and records, they will evaluate the damages and liability and devise an initial demand to settle your case. If a settlement can’t be achieved, the adjuster will negotiate or deny the claim from that number and the liability summary. At this stage, an experienced personal injury lawyer with file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Filing Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the case goes to court, your personal injury lawyer will represent you throughout the legal process. This includes filing the necessary paperwork, presenting evidence, and arguing your case before a judge and jury. Your lawyer will use their knowledge and experience to protect your rights and fight, so you receive the compensation you deserve. The injury lawsuit process includes the following:
Pretrial discovery is obtaining evidence from the defense about the case. The discovery process starts with initial disclosures required in Texas.
Parties to a personal injury case are required to “disclose” to the other side information and evidence as the first step in the litigation process. Your attorney will prepare and file the disclosures with the court and opposing counsel. Things that must be revealed to the opposing side include:
- Theory of liability or defenses
- Insurance coverage
- Economic damages
- Other kinds of damages sought.
After the initial disclosures are out, other forms of discovery can begin.
Interrogatories are written questions about you, the accident, and your injuries and damages. Your law firm will work with you to answer the questions, which is done under oath. Also, your lawyers will be asking essential questions of the defendants.
Requests for Production
These ask for documents and evidence from the other side to support or discover claims in your case so justice can be done. An experienced trial lawyer will prepare your requests to build your case.
Requests for Admissions
Requests for admissions in Texas are a way to “nail down” facts not in dispute to save time and money in the lawsuit discovery process.
Often, discovery disputes arise, and a party will ask the judge to rule on a party’s objections and compel discovery.
Your attorney can take depositions from the other side and any facts or expert witnesses. Likewise, the defendant can question you under oath. Personal injury lawyers meet with and prepare their clients for depositions. Usually, your deposition will occur at your attorney’s office.
Legal professionals will file motions with the court to obtain or limit discovery. Motions can also be used to determine the case’s outcome or limit evidence to be heard by the jury. Some common motions are:
- Motion to Compel discovery from the other side, who refuses to answer parts of your discovery.
- Motion for Protection asking the court to limit or prevent discovery for irrelevant or over-broad requests or protected matters.
- Motion in Limine asks the judge to limit the evidence in the case. It speeds up trials and keeps out irrelevant or highly prejudicial material.
- Motion for Summary Judgment asks the judge to make a ruling disposing of the case or some claims or defenses before the trial begins.
The party filing a motion must set the motion for a hearing with the court and comply with local notice rules to opposing counsel.
Harris County judges require parties to attend mediation before trial. The majority of personal injury cases are settled before a jury verdict. Many at mediation. Mediation is when a neutral attorney is agreed upon by the parties or appointed by the court. The attorney acts to settle the case between the parties.
The Personal Injury Trial
A personal injury trial can be as short as a day or two or can go on for months. The process has several stages, which are:
Picking a jury for your case involves asking a panel of potential jurors about their backgrounds, feelings, and beliefs. The process gives both sides time to ask questions to look for jurors who will be fair and impartial for the case. Each side gets to strike a set number of potential juries, and the judge typically strikes many on the objection of a party.
The opening statement summarizes the case told to the jury as soon as the jury is selected and seated for the trial. Openings will be based on what the attorney expects the evidence to show for their side of the case.
Case in chief
Final arguments come after the conclusion of the case in chief. Your attorney will summarize the evidence and ask the jury to award damages.
After the closing statements, the judge will read written jury instructions outlining the jury’s responsibilities and giving the jury specific questions to answer. Questions involve legal responsibility, damages, and defenses. The answers to those questions determine the outcome of your case.
Why Hire a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
You may wonder whether to hire a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured in an accident. While handling your claim is possible, it can be difficult, time-consuming, and lead to less-than-optimal compensation.
Here are a few reasons why hiring a top-rated personal injury attorney in Houston can be beneficial:
1. Experience and Knowledge
Personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and experience to navigate the legal system, negotiate with insurance companies, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. They understand the complexities of personal injury law and can use that knowledge to your advantage.
After an accident, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and emotional. A personal injury attorney can provide a level of objectivity that you may not be able to achieve on your own. They can help you make rational decisions, ensure that emotions don’t compromise your case, and evaluate what your case is worth.
Personal injury cases can require a lot of resources, including medical experts, investigators, and accident reconstruction specialists. A personal injury attorney has access to these resources and can use them to build a strong case on your behalf.
4. Contingency Fee Payment Structure
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if you win your case. This payment structure allows you to get the legal help you need without worrying about upfront costs.
5. Maximum Compensation
Ultimately, a personal injury attorney aims to get you the maximum compensation. The more money they get for you, the larger their fee. Studies have concluded injury victims receive substantially more money with a top personal injury lawyer.
Call Baumgartner Law Firm for Help with Your Personal Injury Case
A Houston personal injury lawyer plays a crucial role in helping personal injury victims obtain the compensation they deserve. From investigating the case and negotiating with insurance companies to filing a lawsuit and representing the client’s interests, a personal injury attorney is dedicated to advocating for your rights and best interests.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, seeking legal representation is the best way to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
Contact Greg Baumgartner, a top-rated personal injury attorney in the greater Houston area, today at Baumgartner Law Firm to learn more about your legal options and how he can help you.
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069
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