Personal Injury Case Overview: Infographic
Most people won’t ever need to know how an accident lawsuit works. But if you’re reading this, it’s likely you want to know more about the stages of a personal injury case.
The infographic and descriptions below provide a quick overview. These are the factors and steps involved in a personal injury case in Texas.
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Legal Process and Explanations for Plaintiffs: Personal Injury Lawsuits in Texas
- Treat your injuries. Early, consistent, and thorough treatment of your injuries by qualified professionals in the medical field contributes significantly for your personal injury case. Your medical recovery is pivotal. Many parts of your case only can begin after you’ve made as full a recovery as possible from the injury.
- Meet with a lawyer early on. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to decide whether or not to pursue a personal injury case. The case review usually is free. The lawyer will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and give you input. If you do hire an attorney, s/he and the legal staff will assist with much of the work that otherwise you would need to do. This assistance includes talking with insurance companies and medical providers on your behalf. The law firm you’ve chosen also can get started investigating your case.
- You’re an important source for making your case! Throughout all phases of your personal injury incident, take photographs and keep notes. Photograph the accident scene, your injuries, and everything else you even think might be important. Keep notes and shoot pics at appointments. Take photos your injury regularly. Make notes of specific ways your life has changed since the accident.
- Time limits apply. Ask your lawyer how long you have to decide whether to file a lawsuit. Each state has time limits – called the Statute of Limitations – on how long after an injury a lawsuit can be filed. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 16.003 sets the time limit at (usually) two years:
“Sec. 16.003. TWO-YEAR LIMITATIONS PERIOD. (a) Except as provided by Sections 16.010, 16.0031, and 16.0045, a person must bring suit for trespass for injury to the estate or to the property of another, conversion of personal property, taking or detaining the personal property of another, personal injury, forcible entry and detainer, and forcible detainer not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues.”
“(b) A person must bring suit not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues in an action for injury resulting in death. The cause of action accrues on the death of the injured person.
- Why negotiations take awhile. After the lawsuit is filed,
- The defendants are served. They have 30 days to respond. And they often ask for an initial grace period of 15 days.
- Then, the parties send one another written questions. Each party has 35 days to respond with their answers.
- The defense may want to complete their own medical examination of the injured person(s).
- Next up are oral depositions, during which the attorneys interview victims and witnesses. Depositions may or may not include hiring of expert witnesses.
- Negotiations, then Settlement. While the personal injury cases shown on TV almost always involve a trial, the vast majority of injury lawsuits achieve a financial settlement without going to trial. Settling without a trial can save both time and money, so in those cases it can be a preferred strategy.
- Negotiations, then… Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Sometimes a lawsuit settlement cannot be reached through negotiation. If the parties either do not want to go to trial or have consented in advance to ADR, then mediation and arbitration, as defined (below) in Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Section 154 can be used.
“Sec. 154.023. MEDIATION. (a) Mediation is a forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.”
“Sec. 154.027. ARBITRATION. (a) Nonbinding arbitration is a forum in which each party and counsel for the party present the position of the party before an impartial third party, who renders a specific award.
(b) If the parties stipulate in advance, the award is binding and is enforceable in the same manner as any contract obligation. If the parties do not stipulate in advance that the award is binding, the award is not binding and serves only as a basis for the parties’ further settlement negotiations.”
- Negotiation, then Trial: Litigation. In a percentage of personal injury lawsuits, a trial is required. The trial ends with a verdict and, sometimes, a financial award to be disbursed to the winning party as compensation for suffering and losses caused by the injury.