The Importance of Preserving Evidence in Vehicle Accident Cases

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

If you or someone you love gets into a vehicle accident, it is critical to preserve evidence that can help the parties involved determine what happened and why. Take certain steps to protect, preserve and collect key evidence immediately after a car accident in Texas. This may be the only way you can prove liability and recover financial compensation for your collision.

Why Do You Need to Preserve Evidence During a Vehicle Accident Case?

Collecting and preserving evidence is important for your financial recovery after a vehicle accident in Texas. Texas uses a tort-based insurance system that holds the at-fault driver legally responsible for a victim’s damages. You will generally need evidence that establishes the other driver’s fault to qualify for insurance benefits.
Without clear and convincing evidence that the other driver owed you a duty of care, breached this duty and caused your car accident, you may be unable to convince the driver’s insurance company to pay for your losses. It will be up to you or your personal injury lawyer as a plaintiff in a car accident case in Texas to preserve evidence and present it to the insurance company. The burden of proving negligence rests with your side of the case.

Preserving Evidence From the Crash Scene Before Cleanup

The scene of a car accident can contain vital evidence of how and why the crash occurred. Before cleaning crews come and clear away the debris, do your best to either take photos yourself or have someone take photos for you. Photographs can preserve the crash scene as it looked immediately after your accident. Pictures and videos can capture images of a pothole that popped your tire, for example, before the city has the chance to repair the defect. If you cannot preserve evidence from the scene of the car accident immediately after the collision, return as soon as you can or have a lawyer return to the crash scene for you.

Gathering Statements From Eyewitnesses While Their Memories Are Still Fresh

Eyewitness statements are also important to gather from the scene of a car accident. You, a trusted friend or the police should collect contact information from all the eyewitnesses who saw the car accident occur. Write down their full names and contact phone numbers while still at the scene, if possible. Later, after you have obtained medical care for your injuries, reach out to eyewitnesses to collect their versions of what happened. Gather these statements as soon as possible to preserve details while their memories are still fresh and accurate.

Asking Companies to Preserve Key Information

Making phone calls to certain businesses and companies after a car accident may be necessary to ask them to preserve evidence that is relevant to your vehicle accident case. If you were injured in a truck accident, for example, contacting the truck company and asking them to preserve the truck’s black box could help you prove your case against the truck driver.
You may also want to reach out to businesses near the crash scene to request that they preserve any video surveillance footage that might have caught the accident on tape. Finally, contacting the other driver’s cell phone company could allow you to preserve phone records that prove the other driver was talking or texting while driving.

Need Help Preserving Evidence? Contact a Car Accident Attorney

Preserving evidence while it is still available can allow you to prove the other driver’s fault and recover fair compensation from his or her insurance company. If you need assistance preserving evidence after a car accident, contact an attorney to help you with this task. A car accident lawyer in Dallas will know exactly what steps to take and calls to make to preserve key evidence on your behalf. Your lawyer can take care of this for you while you focus on healing. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible for assistance preserving evidence for your legal claim.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 3:41 pm

What to Expect During Your First Meeting With a Personal Injury Attorney

Monday, December 28, 2020

If you have never had to pursue financial compensation for an injury before, you may not know what to expect from your first meeting with a personal injury attorney in Texas. While the initial consultation can seem daunting, it is an opportunity for a lawyer to answer your questions, usually at no cost to you and no obligation to hire the law firm. It also gives you the chance to find out if the personal injury lawyer is the right fit for your case. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for your first meeting.

Who Will Be Present at the Meeting?

Most initial consultations with personal injury attorneys are only between the potential client and the attorney. There may be a paralegal or assistant present to take notes, as well. Ask the lawyer you meet if he or she will be the person who will be handling your case. If not, ask to meet the lawyer who will be your legal representative.

What Is the Purpose of the Meeting?

The purpose of the first meeting with a personal injury attorney is for the lawyer to hear the basic facts and fully understand your case. This will allow the lawyer to know whether he or she can proceed with a legal cause of action on your behalf. The initial meeting will also explain the essential points of the legal process, as well as determine your role in the case. For example, your attorney may explain the importance of following your doctor’s treatment plan. Another goal for the initial meeting is for you and the attorney to meet each other and find out if you are the right fit.

What Should You Bring?

You can bring certain documents with you to your first meeting with a personal injury attorney to give him or her more information about your case. While this is voluntary and not mandatory, it can make it easier for the lawyer to understand whether you have grounds for a case. It can also make the legal process more efficient should the attorney choose to offer his or her services. Bring documents related to your accident and injury, such as photographs, medical records, copies of x-rays, pay stubs, a police report, eyewitness statements, an injury journal and your insurance plan.

How Long Will the Meeting Last?

The answer to this depends on you and your case. If you have a particularly complex case, it may take longer for the personal injury attorney to understand its elements and explain the relevant legal doctrines to you. The same is true if the accident gave you severe or life-changing injuries. If you have a straightforward case, however, the consultation may not last as long. In general, the average initial consultation takes around one hour.

What Questions Should You Ask?

The initial meeting with a personal injury lawyer is a fact-finding mission for both you and the lawyer. Come prepared with a list of questions to ask the lawyer about your case and your rights. These questions should include, “Do I have a case?” “How much is my case worth?,” “How many weeks will it take to finish my case?” and, “Do you think you will need to go to trial?” The information you collect during your meeting should allow you to understand the basic facts of your case and whether you have one.

What Should You Look for in Your Personal Injury Attorney?

You should also ask questions directly related to the lawyer and his or her experience. The point of these questions will be to judge whether the lawyer is the right fit for you and your specific personal injury claim. Ask about the lawyer’s experience in your practice area, as well as case results achieved. You should leave your meeting with a good feeling about the attorney if you plan on hiring him or her.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 11:13 am

What Are Common Defenses Used in Car Accidents?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Bringing a car accident claim in Texas does not guarantee your financial recovery. You will first need to prove the defendant’s liability before you can recover compensation. In turn, the defendant will have the opportunity to refute your claim and prove him or herself not responsible for your collision. Learning the most common defenses used in car accident cases can help you prepare your rebuttal.

Expired Statute of Limitations

A defendant may try to counteract a claim based on statutory rules or filing mistakes, such as an expired statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a deadline to file a civil claim. In Texas, the statute of limitations on most car accident cases is two years from the date of the accident or injury discovery. If you filed your claim after this deadline, the defendant will most likely use this as a defense to liability. The courts in Texas generally will not agree to hear a claim filed after the statute of limitations has passed.

Comparative Negligence

Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. Called proportionate responsibility in Texas, comparative negligence refers to the accident victim’s portion of responsibility for the wreck. In Texas, you cannot recover financial compensation for a car accident that you were more than 50% responsible for causing. If an investigation confirms your majority share of fault for causing the crash, the defendant will not owe you any compensation.
A defendant may use the proportionate responsibility defense to bar you from recovery or reduce his or her liability for your losses. Even with less than 50% of fault, this defense could reduce your financial recovery by an amount equivalent to your percentage of responsibility. If you were 20% responsible for the car accident, for example, the courts will deduct 20% from your recovery award.

Third-Party Liability

The defendant’s insurance company may try to avoid a payout by refuting fault for your accident altogether. It may do this by naming a third party that is to blame for your losses instead. For example, the other driver’s car insurance company may deny liability if an investigation finds that a defective vehicle part caused your crash, not its client, and that you should therefore bring your claim against the manufacturing company. In this scenario, you and your car accident attorney can bring an injury claim against the third party for compensation instead.

Pre-Existing Conditions

If you are filing a claim for injury-related damages, such as medical bills, you may encounter the pre-existing condition defense. An insurance company may use this defense if it finds a pre-existing injury or condition in your medical records that is relevant to the current injury claim. This is why it is important to submit only the relevant medical records to the insurance company rather than signing a blanket authorization form. Even if you have a pre-existing condition that impacts your claim, the insurance company cannot deny benefits for accident-related injuries or the exacerbation of your existing condition. You may need to prove, however, that your injuries are from the car accident and are not pre-existing.

Failure to Mitigate Losses

Another common defense used in car accident cases is the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate his or her losses. As a plaintiff in a car accident claim, it is your responsibility to take certain steps to mitigate your losses or prevent them from worsening. If you have an injury from the crash, for instance, you will need to go to the hospital immediately and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Failing to mitigate your losses could be a valid reason for an insurance company to deny your claim or reduce the benefits awarded. If you most likely could have reduced your losses but failed to do so, the insurance company most likely will not be responsible for their full value.
You may encounter one or more defenses during your Texas car accident case. Hire a lawyer to represent you for the best odds of a successful claim even with these common defenses.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 12:43 pm

What Is the Court Process for a Personal Injury Claim?

Monday, December 21, 2020

If you get injured in an accident in Texas, someone may owe you financial compensation for your losses. Retrieving payment for your medical bills and other expenses takes filing a personal injury claim. It is important to understand the court process for the typical personal injury case so you can prepare for what lies ahead. A lawyer can help you with your personal injury claim in Texas.

The Plaintiff (Usually) Hires an Attorney

You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you during your claim, especially if you have serious injuries or anticipate your case going to trial. Although the vast majority of personal injury claims settle, cases involving liability disputes or other complications may need to go to court. Hiring a personal injury lawyer at the beginning of your claim can ensure the full protection of your rights either way.

All Parties Involved Investigate the Case

The first step in resolving a personal injury claim is all the parties involved investigating the case. The plaintiff, the plaintiff’s attorney, the defendant and the defendant’s insurance company will all have the chance to investigate what happened. Investigations often involve reviewing available information and evidence from police reports, accident reports, medical records, eyewitnesses, photographs and video footage.

The Plaintiff Submits a Demand Letter

If a lawyer’s investigation finds that someone else caused your accident and injury due to negligence, your lawyer will help you file a demand letter. The demand letter initiates your insurance claim. It has a basic description of the accident, why you believe the defendant is liable and a list of the damages you are seeking as payment. It should also include a sentence threatening to take the case to trial if the insurance company does not handle it fairly.

The Plaintiff and Insurance Company Negotiate

Upon receiving your demand letter, the insurance company will conduct its own investigation if it has not already done so. The insurance company will either accept or deny your claim based on the facts discovered. If the insurance company accepts your claim, it will offer a settlement to resolve the issue. You and your lawyer can negotiate for a fair amount and end the case there, if desired. If you do not reach a settlement, your lawyer will help you take the case to court instead.

The Plaintiff’s Attorney Files a Lawsuit

Most personal injury cases do not need lawsuits, as they settle before reaching this stage. If your case does require a lawsuit, however, your lawyer will help you with the required court documents and filing paperwork. Your lawyer will need to submit the filing paperwork to the civil courts in the county where you live or the county where the accident occurred by the deadline. In Texas, you have two years from the date of your accident to bring a lawsuit against a defendant.

The Claim Goes to Trial

If your personal injury claim goes to trial, your lawyer can help you understand the basic court process in Texas. While every case is unique, all civil trials have essentially the same 10 steps. Your personal injury lawyer will represent you through all of the phases of your lawsuit, whether you reach a settlement during pretrial mediation or your case goes all the way to court.

  1. Pretrial negotiations
  2. Discovery phase
  3. Jury selection
  4. Opening statements
  5. Presentation of evidence
  6. Witness testimony
  7. Cross-examination of witnesses
  8. Closing statements
  9. Jury deliberation
  10. Verdict

During your trial, your side of the case and the defendant’s side will have the opportunity to present evidence to a panel of 12 jurors. The jury will review the evidence and decide whether you met the burden of proof to establish the defendant’s liability as more likely to be true than not true. If so, the jury will give you a judgment award to cover your losses. If not, the jury will not find the defendant liable. Your lawyer will then have the chance to file an appeal or a motion for a new trial, if desired. Work with a lawyer on every step of your personal injury case for the best odds of success.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 3:20 pm

Who Is Liable for a Car Accident Caused by Bad Road Conditions?

Friday, December 18, 2020

Many roads in Texas have defects that make them excessively dangerous for drivers, such as ruts or potholes. These bad road conditions can cause car accidents and related serious injuries. If you were in a car accident as a result of a dangerous road condition in Texas, you may be able to hold someone else responsible. While you may not have another driver to blame, you could file a claim against the city or state.

Who Is Responsible for Road Conditions?

Under the doctrine of premises liability law, a property owner is responsible for the care and maintenance of that property. If the property contains a road, this includes the upkeep of the roadway. A road owner’s duty of care includes taking reasonable steps to prevent auto accidents from dangerous road conditions. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances and what a prudent property owner would do in the same situation. The failure to properly maintain a road could result in many dangerous conditions.

  • Potholes
  • Cracks or ruts
  • Rubble or loose gravel
  • Uneven shoulders
  • Storm debris
  • Dangerous construction zones
  • Flooding
  • Ice or snow
  • Obscured road signs
  • Faded paint
  • Missing guardrails

The private property owner or the government could be liable for a car accident caused by bad road conditions in Texas. If you crashed on a private road or driveway, the owner of that road could be liable. If you crashed on a public road, the city or state government could be responsible instead. You could bring a case against the government for the failure to maintain a defect-free road or a dangerously designed roadway.

What Are the Elements Necessary to Bring a Claim?

To hold a property owner responsible for a car accident, you will need to understand the basic rules of premises liability. In general, a property owner has the legal task to regularly inspect his or her roads, repair visible or obvious defects, and warn drivers of nonobvious defects. If a property owner is negligent in fulfilling these responsibilities, he or she could be liable for a related car accident. It will be up to you or your car accident lawyer to prove the defendant’s fault for your collision. This will take four main elements.

  1. The defendant owed you a duty of care to maintain a safe roadway.
  2. The defendant failed to fulfill his or her duty of care.
  3. The defendant’s negligence caused or contributed to your car accident.
  4. You suffered compensable losses as a result of the accident.

If you crashed your car due to a bad road condition, the property owner or government could be responsible for your losses if you can prove these four elements using clear and convincing evidence. Evidence may take the form of photographs of the road defect, copies of previous complaints, your accident report, eyewitness statements and expert testimony. If your lawyer can prove these four elements, you can recover compensation for your losses from the at-fault party.

What Damages Are Available for a Crash Caused by Bad Road Conditions?

Understanding liability for a bad road condition is important to your future. Determining and proving liability will allow you to recover financial compensation for several past and future losses, meaning you will not have to pay them out of pocket. A successful personal injury claim against the government or another party could result in damages for several losses.

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional injuries
  • Loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages
  • Wrongful death damages

Find out if you have a claim against someone for a car accident caused by bad road conditions in Texas by consulting with an attorney. Some bad road conditions are no one’s fault, meaning you would need to file a claim with your own insurance company. Others, however, trace back to a property owner’s neglect or breach of duty of care. Consult with a lawyer for more information about your specific case and legal rights.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 1:14 pm

Can a Personal Injury Case Ever Be Reopened?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Most personal injury claimants anxiously await the ends of their cases. Some jump at the chance to settle as quickly as possible, without making sure the amount received adequately covers past and future losses. Settling quickly can be dangerous, however, as once a personal injury case settles, it is almost always impossible to reopen it.

Can You Renegotiate After Signing a Release Form?

At the conclusion of your personal injury case, before the defendant or insurance company will pay out a settlement, you will receive a liability release form to sign. This is a legally binding contract stating that you are giving up all further rights to sue the defendant for the same injury or accident in exchange for the amount agreed upon. This document is important for the defendant, as it protects him or her from future liability lawsuits. As the claimant, it is your duty to make sure you are satisfied with the settlement offered before you sign a release form.
Do not rush into signing a liability release form. If you regret signing later, you cannot take it back. Except in extremely rare circumstances, the courts will not allow you to reopen a personal injury case once you have signed the release form. You will be legally bound to the settlement agreement. While you may feel pressured to sign quickly, finish your case and receive a check, it is critical to take your time with negotiations. Double-check that you are recovering a fair amount for both past and future damages before signing.
If you do wish to renegotiate or reopen a settled case, you will need to prove to the Texas courts that you have a valid reason for doing so. You will need to make a motion to the court with a legal reason, such as fraud during your case, a clerical mistake or new evidence. Only if you or your lawyer can prove legal grounds for reopening a case will you be eligible to set aside a judgment and renegotiate for a different amount.

Can You Bring a New Claim Against Someone Else?

Another option for financial recovery may be a new personal injury claim against a different defendant. This will only be possible if someone other than the existing defendant played a part in causing your injury, such as the defendant’s employer, a product manufacturer or a property owner. An accident investigation can determine if more than one party is to blame for your injuries and losses.
If your accident case involves multiple responsible parties, signing a release form to settle with one party may affect your ability to recover further compensation from a different party. This will depend on the language of the settlement release form. Some releases prohibit you from pursuing additional claims related to the same accident – even if you wish to bring a claim against a different defendant. Others allow you to pursue further compensation as long as you do not list the paying party as a defendant.

What Should You Do to Ensure a Successful Outcome the First Time?

Do not risk settling for less than you deserve for an accident or injury in Texas. In most cases, you will not be able to renegotiate after signing a release form, even if you realize the defendant should have paid more for your losses. The best way to ensure a fair and full settlement the first time around is by hiring an attorney to negotiate for you.
An experienced Dallas personal injury attorney can help you accurately calculate both past and future losses. If you have a serious injury, your lawyer can estimate the future value of your medical expenses and other costs to make sure you do not settle for less than you need. If you do wish to reopen your case, a lawyer can help you file a motion with the courts. Work with a lawyer from the very beginning of your case for the most successful claim possible.

Posted by mockingbird at 3:16 pm

What Is a Medical Lien on a Personal Injury Case?

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A victim’s medical bills are one of the main types of damages in a personal injury case in Texas. It often surprises people to discover that hospitals and health insurance companies can stake a claim for part of the financial award received in a personal injury case. This claim is a medical lien, and it is used to repay health care centers for a victim’s medical debts. Learn how a medical lien may affect your personal injury case, as well as how to handle this issue.

About Medical Liens in Texas

A medical lien is a legal claim to someone else’s property or assets as a means to recover the costs of medical bills. If you get injured in an accident, your medical expenses can be significant. The average victim cannot pay out of pocket to cover medical bills upfront. In this situation, the hospital or health insurance company may front the costs of treatments and seek reimbursement later. This is a process called subrogation, which gives the hospital or insurance company the right to seek reimbursement from your settlement.
Not all hospitals and health care providers in Texas allow patients to use medical liens. Since liens are essentially a type of credit for a patient to pay for health care later, only certain providers are willing to take on this risk. A provider that does accept medical liens will need assurance that the patient will pay the hospital back. For this reason, most medical providers only accept liens if they think the patient has a strong case against a defendant.
If you need a medical lien to help you pay for health care costs after a serious accident in Texas, find a doctor willing to accept this payment arrangement. The doctor or hospital will give you a lien agreement to sign. This is a legally binding contract saying that a portion of any award won for your personal injury claim will go to the doctor according to the terms of the agreement. Typically, the agreement stipulates that the doctor must receive payment before the patient receives a penny. It is important to consult with a lawyer before signing a medical lien agreement.

How a Medical Lien Can Affect a Personal Injury Case

While a medical lien will not impact the basic personal injury claims process, it will affect how much you receive in financial compensation. With a medical lien in place, you will not own 100% of a settlement or judgment award given to you during a personal injury case in Texas. Instead, the owner of the lien will automatically receive a portion of your award. You will only get to keep what is left of the award after fulfilling the medical lien and paying off other debts, such as legal fees.
The strength of a medical lien against your claim will depend on the terms of the subrogation agreement. Medical liens are generally negotiable in Texas. However, most doctors are not interested in negotiating lien rights since they do not understand them and will need their lawyers to review them. The most effective way to negotiate with a doctor on a medical lien agreement is with assistance from an attorney.

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer to Negotiate a Medical Lien

A medical lien with the wrong terms could lead to a binding legal contract that hurts your rights and takes a large portion of the award you receive for your accident. Standard lien agreements favor the doctor, hospital or health insurance company, not the patient. Hiring a lawyer to review a medical lien agreement before you sign can make a significant impact on your future.
Your lawyer can benefit your case and protect your rights by working with the doctor to create lien terms that are fairer for you. Your lawyer may be able to discount your medical bills, for example, or work out an arrangement if you do not win your case. Hire a Dallas personal injury lawyer to help you with a medical lien in Texas for the best possible case outcome.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 1:45 pm