When you’re seriously injured in an accident, you may need to hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim, but exactly what does a personal injury lawyer do for you?
Most people know that if you are hurt in a car accident, personal injury law firms can help you recover compensation for your injuries. However, most personal injury lawyers can help with more than personal injuries received in vehicle accident cases.
The Austin-area personal injury attorneys at Funk & Associates represent injury victims in several practice areas that fall under Texas personal injury law. If another person or a company injured you, you can get help today by contacting our team for a free consultation.
What is Considered ‘Personal Injury’ in Austin, Texas?
Personal injury in Austin (and around the Lone Star State) refers to harm experienced by a person—not just physically but also emotionally, financially, or even to one’s reputation.
This harm usually results from car accidents or intentional wrongdoings by someone else, known as the defendant.
Personal injury is different from harm to belongings and focuses on how the incident affects the victim’s life (YOUR life) directly.
In legal terms, personal injury cases often arise from negligence, deliberate harm, or damage caused indirectly through risky activities or faulty products. Typically, personal injury cases involve physical injuries, emotional distress, and the suffering tied to losses due to the incident. In Austin, as in many places, victims have the right to seek compensation for these damages. They can either settle out of court or take the matter to court if the settlement offered is not satisfactory, following the laws and regulations of the state.
What is a Personal Injury Claim in Austin?
A personal injury claim in Austin is when an Austinite or resident of Travis County who has been hurt takes legal action to ask for money from the person or organization responsible for their injuries.
Think of it this way: You’re holding someone (the defendant) accountable for something they did wrong and asking for fair compensation to cover physical injuries, money loss, or emotional pain.
Usually, personal injury matters get resolved when the parties involved come to an agreement, often with the help of their insurance companies and lawyers. But when an agreement can’t be reached, the person who got hurt (the plaintiff) can go to court and file a lawsuit against the responsible party. However, they need to do this within two years, as per the Texas Statutes of Limitations.
Personal injury cases in Central Texas follow rules set by the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Actions That Might Lead To A Personal Injury Case
There are three main kinds of wrongful actions that might lead to personal injury:
- Intentional tort: This is when someone purposefully does something that causes harm, like hitting someone, spreading false information about them, trespassing, or attacking. In some cases, this can also lead to criminal charges.
- Negligence tort: This occurs when someone is careless and that carelessness causes harm, especially if they had a responsibility to be careful. Examples include accidents caused by drunk driving or mistakes made by medical professionals.
- Strict liability tort: Here, even if the person or entity didn’t directly cause the harm, they are held responsible. For example, if a product they made is faulty and causes an injury, or if their actions are extremely dangerous.
For each type of harm, the person making the claim (you, the plaintiff) must provide evidence showing certain things as required by the law. For example, in negligence cases, you need to show:
- That the person who caused the harm owed them a legal duty to be careful
- That this person didn’t meet that duty
- That this failure led to the injuries
- And that they suffered damages because of this.
Personal injury cases in Austin often lean in favor of the defendant, the one being accused. So, if you’re the one making the claim (the plaintiff), you need to make sure you have solid evidence for all these points!
What Can an Austin Personal Injury Lawyer Do For Me?
When there’s a disagreement or if the injuries have caused significant physical, emotional, and financial distress, it’s necessary to have a personal injury lawyer to stand up for your rights.
“Personal injury” occurs in many ways, each of which has its own legal approach:
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- “Slip and Fall” Accidents (Premises Liability)
- Brain Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Wrongful Death
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Dog Bites
A personal injury lawyer in Austin is your ally when you’re dealing with injuries and trying to get compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. They help in various ways:
- Figuring Out Who’s Responsible: They use their experience and tools to find out who should be held accountable for what you’ve been through.
- Giving Advice and Planning: They carefully look at your case, explain your options, and come up with smart plans to help you resolve things in the best way.
- Leveling the Field: They make sure things are fair, especially when the other side has a lawyer ready to fight your claim.
- Handling Paperwork: They assist in preparing and filing all the necessary documents and help you understand anything you receive from the other party’s insurance or lawyers.
- Guiding You Through the Process: From talking to the other side to potentially going to trial, they’re by your side, explaining everything and helping you make the right decisions.
- Negotiating for You: Using their negotiation skills and experience, they strive to get you the compensation you deserve.
- Providing a Clear Perspective: They use their knowledge of the legal system to help you see things clearly and make the right choices.
- Collecting Evidence: They work on gathering evidence to support your claims, sometimes bringing in experts or investigators for a stronger case.
- Spotting Weaknesses in the Defense: They look carefully at the other side’s arguments and evidence to find any inconsistencies or weaknesses.
- Ensuring Proper Procedures: They make sure all the steps in the legal process are done correctly and on time.
Think of a good personal injury lawyer as your partner, supporting you every step of the way.
Personal Injury Attorneys Can Create Complicated Strategies
A personal injury lawyer is like a guardian for people hurt in accidents, making sure their rights are upheld. If someone has caused you harm, you might have the right to be compensated.
It might seem straightforward, but it actually involves a lot of careful planning and action. Your lawyer needs to be proactive, foresee potential legal problems, and step in to protect you. This means they’re always busy, juggling various tasks and planning their moves strategically.
An Austin-area personal injury lawyer can guide you on the necessary steps to talk and negotiate with the responsible party. If their insurance company doesn’t agree to a fair settlement, your lawyer should be prepared to fight for you in court.
A Good Attorney Will Discuss the Accident with You and Advise You of Your Rights
Your version of the accident becomes like a map for your lawyer as they protect your legal rights. When they discuss your case with you, they’re really listening for details that need more explanation or investigation. They’ll ask you important questions about what happened – the accident itself, your injuries, the pain you’ve experienced, how you’re recovering, any lasting effects, insurance matters, and more.
For example, if you were hurt in a car accident at one of the many dangerous intersections in Austin, your lawyer will want to know about the lights, traffic signals, speed limits, or signs that might have played a part. If you slipped and fell, they need to understand everything about the situation—the lighting, the shoes you were wearing, anything that might have been in your way or contributed to you falling.
How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Establish a Successful Claim?
Getting ready for a settlement or trial involves carefully looking into the case and doing what’s known as discovery.
Your personal injury lawyer will thoroughly investigate your situation, which could mean hiring experts and collecting all the evidence related to your accident. Some lawyers do this investigation themselves, while others bring in specialized investigators to handle it.
An investigator’s role includes:
- Finding and Talking to Witnesses: They track down people who saw what happened and speak with them to gather their accounts.
- Collecting Evidence from the Scene: This includes taking pictures or videos of where the accident occurred, photos of the vehicles involved in the incident, and creating diagrams if possible.
- Gathering Reports: Investigators obtain official reports from the police or your employer that could be crucial to your case.
- Recording Site Conditions: They document any hazardous conditions or factors that might have contributed to the incident. If there aren’t any existing pictures or videos, they might even visit the site to capture evidence on the ground, like skid marks or vehicle parts that were left behind
Your Attorney Will Use This Evidence to Evaluate Your Personal Injury Claim
All these reports, photos and testimony, added up, provide crucial evidence for your personal injury attorney to carefully assess and determine fault. This helps to ensure you receive the rightful compensation, including your medical records and bills.
If you have any pre-existing health conditions like diabetes or immune system disorders that affect your healing process, your attorney may require additional medical records. These records will demonstrate that your recovery isn’t straightforward due to your existing health conditions. They can show that the injuries from the accident made your pre-existing condition worse or prolonged your healing process. Additionally, your personal injury attorney will prepare a set of written questions, called interrogatories, for the other party. They might also request depositions, where they can question the other party under oath.
A Tough Personal Injury Lawyer Will Negotiate Your Claim with Insurance Companies
If you’ve been in a car accident, both your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company will want to speak with you.
If you’ve had a slip or fall, or an injury at work, the general liability or workers’ compensation insurance companies will come knocking with a few questions. They will often request recorded statements.
Here’s how your personal injury attorney steps in:
- Managing Information Flow: They’ll decline requests from insurance carriers to make sure information doesn’t harm your claim.
- Assisting with Statements: If necessary, they’ll guide you or even supervise when you give your statement, making sure you avoid saying anything that could be detrimental.
- Engaging with Your Insurance Company: Your attorney will talk to the insurance company and advocate for the swift payment of your medical expenses and car repairs.
A dedicated injury lawyer ensures that insurance companies and other parties understand you’re legally represented. This stops them from reaching out to you directly. They make it clear that any future communication or inquiries should go through the law firm.
Typically, after an initial notice via phone or email, they’ll send a formal representation letter. This letter informs the other parties involved in the incident, like other drivers, employers, product manufacturers, and insurance companies, that they should communicate through the law firm regarding the incident.
This approach allows your personal injury attorney to stay on top of insurance communications, claim statuses, injury prognosis, medical treatment and costs, and other vital details essential for your case.
Your Attorney Will Review Insurance Policies and Subrogation Rights
Your personal injury lawyer will usually ask for a copy of your auto insurance policy. This helps them understand your insurance coverage and benefits and any clauses related to subrogation—when your insurance company steps in to recover the money they paid out on your behalf.
Here’s what your accident injury lawyer will specifically look into:
- Reviewing Your Auto Insurance: A good attorney will review aspects like Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, liability, medical payments, Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, and benefits provided by your health insurance.
- Understanding Subrogation Provisions: A diligent personal injury attorney will also examine subrogation clauses in your health and auto insurance. “Subrogation,” or “subro,” is the right your insurance company holds to request reimbursement from the at-fault party after they’ve paid a covered claim. This reimbursement often comes from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
- Protecting Your Insurance Company’s Interests: If you settle your claim or file a lawsuit for damages, your lawyer ensures your insurance company’s interests are also taken into account and protected.
Being well-versed in your insurance coverage and rights is crucial for your personal injury attorney to advocate effectively on your behalf.
Texas Personal Injury Cases In 2022 (An Overview)
Here are some interesting statistics from the Annual Statistical Report released by the Texas Judicial Branch:
- After reaching an all-time high in 2021, injury or damage cases involving a motor vehicle decreased by 16 percent in 2022.
- Prior to the pandemic, personal injury/damage cases involving a motor vehicle and debt cases had been the 2 categories of most significant growth. After 2021, injury or damage cases involving a motor vehicle fell by 16 percent in 2022 to the lowest level seen since 2017.
- Other injury or damage cases not involving a motor vehicle (malpractice, product liability, and other injury or damage) , however, increased by 10 percent in 2022. Injury or damage cases continue to follow a gradual upward trend after hitting an all-time low in 2017.
- Injury or damage cases accounted for 27 percent of the more than 186,000 civil cases filed in Texas in 2022. Seventy-five percent of injury or damage cases involved a motor vehicle, down from a record high of 80 percent in 2021.
How Do I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer in Austin?
As we’ve seen, Personal injury lawyers in Austin are legal experts who represent people (plaintiffs) and specialize in guiding and representing them in various cases. Some focus on medical malpractice and car accidents, while others specialize in cases involving defective products.
If you’re looking for a personal injury lawyer in Austin to handle your case, follow these steps to ensure you find the right fit:
- Research the Specific Lawyer: Don’t just research the law firm; make sure to dig into the background and experience of the lawyer who will be assigned to your case. Ensure the lawyer has experience relevant to your case, negotiating satisfactory settlements and winning damages for clients in similar situations. You can read about the Funk & Associates team.
- Look for Local Expertise: Find a lawyer from Central Texas who understands the Texas courts and has good relationships with judges, and local experts. This local knowledge can give you an advantage.
- Read Reviews and Consultations: Read client reviews to gauge the lawyer’s overall relationship with clients, especially regarding communication. Arrange consultations or interviews to understand their advice approach.
- Discuss Fees: Discuss the fee structure, especially if it’s a contingency fee (a percentage of damages). A contingency fee agreement means you pay no out of pocket costs. The disadvantage is that a personal injury law firm will tend to be selective regarding the cases they take, as all the risk is on them.
Why Should I Choose Funk & Associates to Represent Me in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
At Funk & Associates, we’ve been at the forefront of personal injury law, successfully tackling a wide range of significant cases.
Our team is known for their exceptional dedication and a caring approach, earning the respect and trust of both current and past clients.
We firmly believe that you shouldn’t bear the financial burden caused by someone else’s negligence—be it a reckless driver, negligent property owner, faulty product manufacturer, or an employer. This belief drives our mission: to pursue the highest possible compensation for personal injury victims through legal action.
Every personal injury claim is unique, and we understand that. You can rely on our team to passionately fight for your rights in your personal injury lawsuit, aiming for a settlement that truly represents your losses. Throughout the process, we’ll keep you informed about the progress of your claim, ensuring you’re part of every step toward a just resolution.
For a free consultation and case evaluation, call the Austin personal injury attorneys at 512-472-3865 or go directly to the “Do I Have A Personal Injury Case” form on our website.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.