There are many steps that your attorney will guide you through before (if ever) you go to court. In personal injury cases of all types, the attorneys on both sides will talk formally as well as informally. In formal talks called mediation sessions, all parties will join a mediator to present their sides and the mediator will attempt to negotiate a settlement between the parties. If an insurance company is involved, a representative may be present as well. The mediator will meet with all parties jointly, but will also meet with the parties separately in an effort to come to a settlement agreeable to all involved.
If mediation does not turn into a settlement, the case may proceed to court where a jury will decide the case. Because this is always a possibility, it is important to have an attorney that is confident, prepared, and experienced enough to represent you as strongly in a mediation as in a courtroom.
Every claim is subject to its own statute of limitations. The statute of limitations places a limit on the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, and from claim to claim. The purpose of such limitations is to ensure that claims are brought when evidence is fresh. You are much more likely to end up with a favorable outcome if your injuries are recent and observable.
In most cases, the statute of limitations will begin to run at the time a person suffers an injury. But sometimes it is not reasonable for a person to have discovered that an injury has occurred. In these cases, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the injury should reasonably have been discovered.
The bottom line is that it is best to call an attorney to discuss your situation as soon as the situation arises. Whether it is a car accident or a drug injury, only an experienced attorney can assess your situation and help you file in a timely manner.
How much you will be able to recover for your personal injury claim is dependent on many factors. In general, necessary medical expenses, a percentage of your lost wages, and property damage will be recoverable. Additionally you may recover for pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and your spouse may be entitled to loss of consortium and/or loss of services as well. Impairment, which is defined as loss of enjoyment of life (such as confinement to a wheelchair), may be recoverable as well.
Each case will be different, and an attorney will have to evaluate your particular situation to give you an accurate estimation. The following are examples of factors that will contribute to your particular recovery:
- The extent of your injuries: Obviously the more serious your injuries, the more will be required to compensate you. It is imperative that you keep all medical records of what treatments you have received since your accident in order to help your attorney recover what you deserve. Whether or not you had pre-existing conditions will also be a consideration. If the injury you have suffered requires extended care, the party at fault will be responsible for this as well.
- The proportion of blame the parties share: In some cases, one party is clearly and fully at fault. In other cases, the fault might be shared and the proportion will have to be determined by the evidence. In Texas, if the injured party was over 50% responsible for the injuries sustained, recovery will be barred.
- Your particular situation: Even the same injuries affect different people in different ways. Your age and general health will affect how long it takes for you to recover, which in turn will affect how long you will be unable to work. These factors will affect how much you will receive in lost wages and medical expenses.
The defendant’s insurance coverage: If the amount you are attempting to recover exceeds the defendant’s insurance policy limits, you will have to recover it from the responsible party personally. The skill and experience of your attorney will obviously affect this amount as well.