Your El Paso Personal Injury Case: The Basics
If you have been injured in an accident in El Paso, it can be difficult to know what to do. At any moment you could be involved in a serious accident. Nothing in life prepares you for dealing effectively with the pain, stress, and outright shock. Next thing you know, you're at the Providence Memorial Hospital emergency room lying on a hospital bed. Whether you are injured at work, at someone else's house, as the result of a defective product, bitten by a dangerous dog, or even at the hands of a negligent doctor, knowing your rights is of the utmost importance.
Where should you begin? How should you get the right medical treatment? Here's some information to help guide you through the process of a personal injury case in El Paso County.
The Stages of a Texas Personal Injury Case
- You're injured because of someone else's negligence;
- Your lawyer files a complaint in the El Paso Courts and has it served upon the defendant;
- The defendant through his attorney may be required to file an answer;
- Both sides gather evidence;
- A pre-trial conference takes place between judge and the attorneys to discuss; possible settlement. You may also be able to hire a mediator and settle out of court;
- If there isn't a settlement, trial takes place and a verdict is rendered;
- Either party can appeal the decision to appellate courts.
Get to the Doctor
Always put your health first. This isn't a time to be macho or minimize your pain. If you are hurt, go the doctor. Pain is actually a means for your body to communicate to you that there is something wrong. Be completely honest with your physician and explain how the injury happened.
If possible and safe to do so, begin to collect evidence to help your case. Almost every cell phone has a camera. Don't be afraid to use it. Have pictures taken of the different stages of your physical injuries.
Speak to witnesses, keep a journal, and take photos. Witnesses can helpful even if they only heard the accident and did not see it. People often do not know the true extent of the information they have processed.
Were You Injured at Work?
If you are injured on the job, notify your employer, contact the Texas Department of Insurance, and you may want to consider talking to a qualified attorney. If you are no longer able to work, the income that you and your family depend upon can often be decreased or even eliminated. If the insurance company or workers compensation carrier disputes your claim or the seriousness of the case, you and your family may suffer financially, physically, and emotionally.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Don't delay. Texas recognizes a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, which means that lawsuits cannot be filed more than two years after the accident. There are a few rare exceptions to this, including if you are a minor or judged incompetent.
Texas Negligence Laws: How Much Does "Fault" Matter?
In order to win your case, you must prove the defendant was negligent or "at fault" for your injuries. There are a number of different ways to prove fault. It will depend on the particular circumstances of your case. Your lawyer may rely on evidence collected from the scene, expert testimony, witnesses' statements, or any combination of these things.
What If I'm Also Partially to Blame for the Accident?
Great question. Texas uses a modified comparative negligence rule. Don't let the name intimidate you. An El Paso personal injury claim follows the 51% fault rule. This means you are can be found up to 50% responsible for your injuries in your El Paso personal injury claim and still recover some compensation.
But, if more than half of the accident is your fault, you're probably out of luck and could be prevented from recovering anything.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Get for My Injuries?
The term for collecting money to compensate you for your injuries is called damages. The most common type is physical injuries, which include direct trauma to the body. A victim may be to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of life's pleasures, and scarring and disfigurement. Mental and emotional injuries are also part of that.
Punitive damages usually are sought only if the defendant was grossly reckless or intended to injure the plaintiff. These damages are awarded as punishment to make sure the defendant won't commit the act again.
If you aren't sure what to do, a trained legal professional may be able to help. Lawyers often take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. Basically, in such an arrangement you do not pay for the costs of a case or pay the lawyer his or her attorney fees if you lose the case. If you win, you pay the lawyer a percentage of the money you get. A settlement of your case is considered a "win" and your attorney will most likely be entitled to collect their fees.
If you or a family member has suffered a personal injury in El Paso due to someone else's negligence behavior, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses and suffering. Remember, it is best to act promptly!
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.