How Personal Injury Lawsuits Work in Texas
Get an attorney on your side who understands the system
When you’re hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you have recourse under Texas law. The person or company that caused your injury (and their insurance company) should pay for your damages: medical expenses, lost income, and other losses due to the accident. Often, however, it’s necessary to file a lawsuit to get the insurance company to pay up.
A personal injury lawsuit may be resolved fairly quickly, or it may take months or even years to complete. The only way to know what to expect is to talk to an attorney about your situation. Don’t go through this complex and challenging process on your own. With an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side, you can move through the process and put yourself in a stronger position to get the compensation you need and deserve. Schedule your free consultation with Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. today.
How long does it take to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Under Texas law, you typically have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit—but you’ll want to start the process as soon as possible to avoid missing important legal deadlines (statute of limitations). If you don’t file by this deadline, you lose your opportunity to pursue compensation for your injuries. While the actual filing of your lawsuit in the appropriate court doesn’t take much time, the steps leading up to that are important and should be done thoroughly. That’s one of the reasons you need a lawyer to keep your case moving forward.
The first step in the process is to talk to an attorney
Legally, you’re not required to have an attorney to file a lawsuit, but practically speaking, it’s always in your interest to talk to a lawyer. Personal injury law is complex, and there are strict deadlines and legal requirements that must be met at each stage in the process to move your case forward. This isn’t something you want to do on your own, especially since the insurance company has lawyers defending its interests. You need your own advocate to level the playing field.
During your free consultation, we’ll discuss the accident and the extent of your injuries and review any documentation you bring. Our conversation is fully confidential and there is no obligation to hire, just answers about your legal rights and options. If you decide to move forward, we’ll sign a contingency fee agreement, which means there is no cost unless we win your case – either through a negotiated settlement with the insurance company or a successful outcome at trial.
Then, we will investigate your claim to prove liability and damages
There are two key elements of a successful personal injury lawsuit. The first is liability; that is, legal responsibility for the accident. We need to prove that your injuries were the result of someone else’s negligence; that is, they owed you a legal duty of care, and their action or inaction breached that duty of care and caused you to be hurt. For example, in a premises liability lawsuit, we have to prove that the owner of the property knew or should have known about dangerous conditions on the premises and failed to address those conditions.
The second element is damages; that is, actual financial losses that you suffered as a result of the accident. Your personal injury lawsuit may include compensation for:
- Medical bills, medication, medical devices, procedures such as surgery, and future medical expenses.
- Past and future lost wages if the injury affected your ability to work.
- Replacement services like home maintenance and yard work if you’re unable to perform those services because of your injuries.
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
- Repair or replacement of any damaged property.
Depending on the circumstances, the insurance company and its lawyers may dispute both liability and damages. Your attorney’s job is to gather evidence that supports your claim and weave that evidence together to build the strongest possible case.
Your attorney will file the lawsuit in the proper court
Filing a lawsuit includes a formal complaint explaining what happened and what you want the court to do (i.e., award damages), as well as a summons against the at-fault party. Your attorney will file the paperwork in the Texas court that has jurisdiction over your case. If you were injured in Fort Worth, this normally means filing in Tarrant County, although there are exceptions.
Next is the discovery process
Discovery is the formal process of exchanging facts, documentation, and information between the attorneys for both sides. The idea is that there should be no surprises at trial – each side understands the evidence in the case and the arguments that the other side is likely to use.
Most cases will then go to mediation
Most civil cases in Texas are required to go through mediation before proceeding to trial. A trained mediator will meet with the two parties and their attorneys to attempt to facilitate a settlement. Ultimately, however, it’s up to you and the insurance company whether you can reach an agreement at this stage. The mediator cannot order a resolution as a judge or jury can.
If there is still no settlement, the case proceeds to trial
It’s worth noting that most personal injury lawsuits don’t get this far. A settlement can be reached at any stage in the process – indeed, a settlement can even be reached during the trial at any point before the verdict is delivered. If a settlement is reached, the insurance company will agree to pay you a certain amount of money and you will sign a release saying that the case has been settled and is final – meaning you can’t go back for more.
However, if a settlement cannot be reached, then your case will be heard by a judge and jury. Both sides will present their evidence and the jury will deliberate to determine who is at fault and how much money, if any, should be paid.
This can be a long process since it happens on the court’s timetable. Hearing dates can be scheduled and rescheduled. Your attorney’s job is to keep the process moving forward to the greatest extent possible and to make sure you’re prepared for the long haul.
Schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney
Again, you have rights under Texas law. Your attorney’s job is to protect those rights throughout the process, no matter how long it takes. With the right lawyer on your side, you can rest assured that your claim is moving forward while you focus on what really matters – your recovery.
We have the experience and resources to help you move your case forward, and we have a strong track record in personal injury lawsuits in Tarrant County and throughout the DFW area. If you’ve been injured in an accident, get an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. Contact us today to discuss your legal options with attorney Coby Wooten.