Getting injured can be frustrating, especially when you’re injured because of the negligent, reckless, or even deliberate actions of someone else. When this happens, you need a personal injury attorney to protect your rights and advocate for your best interests.
Each state has laws designed to protect people who suffer physical, emotional, and financial damages because of another person’s actions. Personal injury attorneys are well-versed in these laws and advocate for their clients before a judge or a jury. Read on to learn more about what personal injury lawyers do and what to expect when you hire a personal injury attorney.
What Types of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?
Personal injury lawyers handle a wide variety of tort claims, which can include everything from standard auto accident injuries to complicated medical malpractice claims. Some of the most common cases for which you might need a personal injury attorney include:
Illnesses caused by long-term chemical exposure, like mesothelioma and certain other industrial cancers;
Medical malpractice, including prescription drug error;
Claims that involve the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Because personal injury lawyers often have clients who are seriously injured or disabled, they’re usually more flexible than other types of attorneys when it comes to meeting clients in homes, public locations, or even hospitals.
How Are Personal Injury Attorneys Paid?
Because personal injury lawsuits can often last for months or even years, personal injury attorneys don’t charge by the hour. Doing so would significantly limit the number of people who could afford to seek legal help while also dealing with medical expenses, lost wages, and the other costs associated with injuries.
Instead, personal injury attorneys usually use an arrangement called a contingency fee agreement. Your attorney will agree to represent you in your personal injury lawsuit in exchange for a certain percentage of the total amount recovered. If you don’t settle or win your case, you usually won’t owe any legal fees.
What Should I Know About Texas Personal Injury Laws?
In Texas, personal injury lawsuits are governed by the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This series of laws sets forth important information about court procedures, statutes of limitations, and even some potential defenses to a negligence claim.
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases under Texas law is only two years from the date of the injury. If you don’t file a lawsuit against the responsible party (or parties) within two years, you may be barred from making an injury claim.
Medical malpractice cases can sometimes operate a little differently, since injured plaintiffs may not necessarily know they’ve been injured until months or even years after the medical procedure. In these situations, the statute of limitations clock won’t begin ticking until you discover (or should reasonably have discovered) the injury.
What Damages can I be Compensated for?
In order to recover damages from a defendant, you’ll need to establish, through a preponderance of the evidence, three elements:
The defendant owed you a duty of care;
The defendant breached this duty; and
The breach resulted in your injury.
So in an auto accident case, you can establish your entitlement to damages by showing that the defendant’s inattention, intoxication, or carelessness led them to collide with your vehicle, injuring you and damaging your car. In a medical malpractice case, you’ll show that your physician breached the standard duty of medical care and caused you physical harm.
Under Texas law, you can recover compensatory damages as well as punitive damages. Compensatory damages, as the name implies, compensate you for your actual losses. This may include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter future misconduct. Texas caps the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded at $200,000 or $750,000. (The amount of compensatory damages awarded will dictate which cap applies.)
If you’ve been injured and aren’t sure where to turn, contact The Dashner Law Firm today. Because the initial consultation with The Dashner Law Firm is always free, there’s no pressure for you to commit to a lawsuit or to do anything other than learn about your legal options.