PERSONAL INJURY CASE TYPES
We represent people who have been hurt as a result of the carelessness of others and the violation of safety rules. The law places those kinds of injuries into different categories. You hear about auto collisions or premises defects, dog bites or other liability claims, but it’s really about the conduct of others and what they did or what instrumentality they used to cause harm to you. The bottom line is that society has rules that have to be followed to prevent injury and to protect us all from harm. When these rules are violated, then you have a right to be compensated for your harms and losses. That’s what we do. We only represent people: we don’t represent insurance companies, and we don’t represent corporations that are defendants in lawsuits.
WHAT ARE THE TOP MISCONCEPTIONS REGARDING THE PERSONAL INJURY PROCESS?
People have a true misunderstanding that the process is easy and simple. We are bombarded every day with the messages of the Good Hands people, the Good Neighbors and the lizard who is bending over backwards to help us when the reality is that the behavior of the insurance company, after something happens, is usually not very helpful. Keep in mind the business model of the liability insurance company is simple: pay as little as possible to resolve your claim and close your file. Adjusters are not rewarded for being “fair” or for caring. They are encouraged to resolve claims as cheaply as possible, which usually means settling fast before people realize the full impact their injuries are having on their lives.
With regard to perceptions or misperceptions about personal injury attorneys, I tell my clients the first time I meet them that if they are looking for a mahogany desk and fancy furniture, they will be severely disappointed. If you want somebody who is going to return your phone calls, then you will be happy with us.
That’s how our business is set up, and that’s what we aim to do: to communicate and keep in contact with our clients so they know what’s going on. I think a lot of people misunderstand the process of claims and litigation from the start. We have new potential clients coming in, saying, “I don’t want to file a lawsuit; I’m not one of those kinds of people.” The problem is that’s your only leverage you have when you are dealing with an insurance company. It’s the threat of a lawsuit. Insurance companies don’t settle claims because they are nice or because they care. They settle claims because it makes economic sense for them to do so. The risk of loss at the courthouse is the risk they are assessing; the cost of defending the lawsuit and the money that they spend on experts to defend the case are all factored into the insurance company’s evaluation.
Your happiness and caring about you have nothing to do with the process. If you hire a lawyer or a law firm that has a reputation for settling cases easily, chances are you are giving away your best leverage to hold the other side accountable for the full value of your loss.
IS FILING A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM A RELATIVELY EASY PROCESS OR NOT?
There is no typical case. Every case is different, every client is different, every wreck or incident is different, every defendant is different, and every insurance carrier is different. There is nothing routine about your injury or the impact that it’s had on your home life, your work life and your future. There is nothing routine about any case. The way we approach things at my office is the assumption that every new case we sign up is going to trial. It is only from that position of preparedness that we are able to get the full value of your case. If you or your lawyer assumes that the case will settle or sends them the message that you are here to settle, the insurance company will smell that, and you will never get top dollar for your case. While we hear about things being routine, there is always a complicating factor. Sometimes that complicating factor comes from the other side: the conduct of the defendant or the conduct of the insurance company. It’s really rare that anything is easy in the process.
DO MOST PERSONAL INJURY CASES SETTLE OR DO THEY GO TO TRIAL?
Just as a matter of pure statistics or math, most cases do settle. Why they settle is what matters. They settle for all kinds of different reasons, depending upon the circumstances. One of the main reasons cases settle is because of the lack of available proceeds to pay the loss. For example, if you are in a car collision and suffer tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical damages, and you are hit by a driver who only has a minimum limits insurance policy, in that case, it’s going to settle fairly quickly because they’ve only got a small amount available to pay on the claim.
The next factor that affects things is the cost of getting prepared for trial. Considering depositions, experts and mediation fees for all the parties involved, sometimes it makes economic sense to settle the case before spending all that money. The third big factor in whether cases settle before trial or not is, frankly, time. The insurance company and the corporate defendants live forever. They know that they have the financial ability to wait you out. If you are injured and missing time from work, your bills will start to pile up, and the stress of that or associated with that puts a lot of pressure on victims to settle cases earlier and for less than they deserve.
Another thing that happens is sometimes you get a lot of pressure from the judge or court to settle cases. Many judges will force parties to attend a mandatory mediation before allowing them to go to trial. Trials can be time-consuming, and judges are busy. They will put pressure on all the parties to settle the case so that the court’s time is not tied up in a trial. This works to the detriment of the injured person usually because the defendant is perfectly happy to hang onto their money as long as they can and wait you out. Those are some things that tend to pressure people into settling cases when it might not really be in their best interest to do so.
For more information on Personal Injury Claims In Texas, a Complimentary Strategy Session is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.