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What is Personal Injury in Corpus Christi, Texas?

Personal Injury

In Corpus Christi, personal Injury is when one suffers physical or emotional harm due to another's recklessness. In a legal context, personal injury means the victim has grounds to file a lawsuit blaming someone else’s negligence for the injury that was caused. Personal injury differs from standard injury in the sense that the damages suffered were caused specifically by another’s negligence, as opposed to your own negligence. Furthermore, personal injury differs from bodily injury in that it includes damages caused to someone’s emotional, mental, and financial wellbeing in addition to physical. The most typical personal injury claims are made from vehicle-involved accidents but can also include other accidents such as slipping and falling. 

Considering that a personal injury claim is based on the fact that the injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, the person injured is not to blame. However, there are accidents in which both or multiple parties involved were negligent, which resulted in the injury. In certain states, even if the injured party is 1% at fault, then a personal injury lawsuit against the other party cannot be claimed. However, in Corpus Christi, a personal injury can be claimed if the injured party is no more than 50% responsible for the accident. Essentially, another party must be mostly responsible for the negligence causing the accident in order for the injured party to qualify for filing a personal injury lawsuit. 

What is a Personal Injury Claim in Corpus Christi?

One qualifies to file a personal injury claim in Corpus Christi if someone else is at least 51% at fault in an accident that has caused physical or psychological harm. Car accidents are the leading cause of injuries in personal injury claims in Texas. In the 2019 records for Texas, there were 12,907 serious injury crashes resulting in 15,855 people sustaining serious injury. Injured parties have two years to file a personal injury claim, according to the statute of limitations in Corpus Christi for personal injuries. 

When having suffered an injury at the expense of someone else, then the injured party must submit the claim and make a statement to the insurance company of the party that was at fault. However, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer to submit the claim on one's behalf as insurance companies may deny or undervalue claims in an effort to not lose money. While the Texas Insurance Code prevents insurance companies from engaging in bad faith practices, it is possible that they deny claims to personal injury. A personal injury lawyer is experienced at making statements about the injury that are harder to deny or undervalue. 
Once a complaint has been filed, either a settlement is reached in which the responsible party pays for the injuries caused, or the case is heard in court, where evidence and accountability is reviewed in order to reach a verdict. If the case goes to court, then the defendant, the party responsible for the injury, either denies liability completely or admits liability, and the trial focuses only on damages.

In Corpus Christi, under Texas law, one may be entitled to the following damages resulting from a personal injury incident:

  • Economic damages - financial losses suffered, including hospital expenses, lost wages, and property damage
  • Non-economic damages - compensation for pain and suffering, physical harm, and mental and emotional trauma
  • Exemplary or punitive damages - punishment for the responsible party for acting recklessly or negligently.

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer in Corpus Christi?

Parties who have suffered personal injury and want to hire a lawyer must hire a personal injury lawyer specifically. Personal injury lawyers can defend cases regardless of the type of injury or what caused the injury. A lawyer specific to injury type is not needed. Personal injury lawyers are fully educated about how to fight and win personal injury claims. However, beyond just hiring a personal injury lawyer, one should research lawyers that have defended plaintiffs, the person who was harmed during the accident. Hiring a lawyer that typically has defended insurance companies might be biased. However, finding a lawyer that mostly represents plaintiffs, but has prior experience arguing for the other side would be the perfect asset. 

The best practice for finding a lawyer is to ask friends or acquaintances who have been represented by a personal injury lawyer and who have won their cases or had good settlements. Additionally, asking lawyers that one has worked with in the past for a referral for a good personal injury lawyer could be helpful. Meeting with a lawyer in person before committing to one is good practice in choosing a lawyer that is a good fit. Consultations should usually be free for personal injury lawyers as the majority of personal injury claims can be made using a “no win no fee” agreement. This means that there are no upfront costs, and the claimant only pays the lawyer a percentage of the settlement if the claim is successful.

When meeting with a lawyer, it is important to provide all the necessary documents to support the case, such as police report, medical bills, wage loss information, a breakdown of all damages, correspondence with the insurance company, and any evidence of the accident such as photos or witnesses. This way, the lawyer can be best informed when explaining how best they can represent the claimant. Additionally, here are some questions one can ask the lawyer to ensure choosing a qualified personal injury lawyer:

  • How long has the lawyer been in practice?
  • Roughly how much of the lawyer’s practice is in personal injury?
  • Does the lawyer usually represent plaintiffs or defendants?
  • Has the lawyer worked with the insurance company that is involved in the case?

What does a Personal Injury Lawyer do in Corpus Christi?

Although personal injury claims can be filed without a lawyer, there are many things a personal injury lawyer in Corpus Christi can do to help. Other than helping win the case, a lawyer also assists in the healing process by doing the hard work so that the claimant can focus on getting better. 

A personal injury lawyer will investigate the accident by visiting the scene of the accident, gathering important evidence the injured party may not have noticed, talking to witnesses, and interacting with the police and insurance companies on the claimant’s behalf. The lawyer then builds a case based on all the evidence and negotiates with the insurance company to ensure they aren’t undercutting the compensation owed.

A common strategy that personal injury lawyers use to win cases is a basic but important one: investigating the scene of the accident. Often clients can leave out information that they don’t deem important, but a personal injury lawyer knows what details to look for to gather evidence. 

Another common strategy used by personal injury lawyers is to employ experts. Involving experts may cost money upfront, but they make a world of a difference as experts in medicine, injuries, physics, or property valuation can corroborate damages and harm caused. 

The third most common technique that personal injury lawyers use to win cases is the threat of litigation. During negotiations, insurance companies can try to deny or undercut damages to decrease settlement fees. However, insurance companies always want to avoid going to court as this can be much more costly. They would much rather settle a lawsuit outside of court, therefore, personal injury lawyers can use the threat of going to court in order to persuade the defendant party to settle for the Claimant’s attorney’s proposal as justified compensation.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

In general, if one was injured, whether physically or otherwise, due to someone else’s negligence, then a lawyer should be hired to file a personal injury claim. However, a lawyer is not necessary if the accident was the injured party’s fault, the claimant wasn’t really hurt, or the losses are minimal and the injured party doesn’t want to be paid for them. Additionally, if one is savvy with insurance and can navigate the claim without professional assistance or the claimant has plenty of free time to pursue the claim personally, then a lawyer is not necessary. This last option can require a lot of research and time, but with the right resources, the claimant can defend themselves.

Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer in the following types of personal injury accidents:

  •     Car Accidents - any vehicle accident in which the injured party was not at fault for
  •     Truck Accidents - accidents involving commercial trucks
  •     Motorcycle Accidents - accidents involving motorcycles
  •     Slip and Fall Accidents - if one slipped and fell inside a business establishment. Examples of this include a wet spot indoors that had inadequate wet floor cautions signs
  •     Brain Injuries - any accident which resulted in serious head trauma
  •     Spinal Cord Injuries - any accident which resulted in serious spinal cord damage
  •     Wrongful Death - often involving an accident in medical negligence or malpractice
  •     Pedestrian Accidents - harm is done to a pedestrian
  •     Bicycle Accidents - being involved in an accident while riding a bicycle.

Other types of accidents that qualify as personal injury in Corpus Christi:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Work-related accidents and illnesses (including being exposed to toxic chemicals)
  • Medical malpractice
  • Transport (bus, train, taxi, etc.)
  • Industrial diseases (occupational hazard)
  • Accidents and illnesses that occur while traveling
  • Crime and abuse
  • Faulty products.

How Much to Ask for in a Personal Injury Settlement in Corpus Christi?

The types of compensation that the claimant can qualify for in Corpus Christi personal injury cases include the costs of medical bills (including medication and surgeries), property loss (such as car damage), wage loss (wages lost due to not being able to go to work), and emotional and psychological damage caused. Personal injury settlements work by summing up the losses in three main areas: physical suffering, mental anguish, and financial hardships. The payout will be higher if one has suffered fatal injuries, severe injuries requiring years of treatment, permanent or incurable disabilities, and diminished quality of life. 

The average personal injury settlement is about $53,000, but the amount varies greatly depending on each case. Physical injuries and losses are easier to calculate as there is hard evidence of losses. However, emotional and psychological injury compensation can be more difficult to calculate. These sums are calculated by the use of evidence including, medical records, expert testimony, daily notes (pain levels, anxiety, depression), personal testimony, testimony from friends and family, and photo video evidence. 

Two methods are used to calculate emotional distress compensation. The first is the multiplier method which calculates the current and future financial costs of injuries by multiplying this amount by a number between 1.5 and 5. The multiplier depends on the evidence proving the severity of emotional distress. The second method is the per diem method which applies a daily compensation rate to emotional distress. Again, more evidence provided proving how the damage has impacted the life of the injured party could result in getting paid for years to decades of emotional distress.

How Long does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

The average personal injury case will last about a year from the date of filing the claim. In a best-case scenario, it can last as little as six months, and in the worst case, it can last two to three years. Each personal injury case is different and varies in time, but some factors that can affect the time length include the length of medical treatment, insurance claim delays, the defendant denying liability, and substantial compensation involved resulting in the liable party not being able to pay. In general, a case will vary depending on the complexity of the accident, such as the extent of the injuries and the number of parties involved. 

A common defense strategy used by lawyers for insurance companies or the defendant includes delaying trials in order to make the plaintiff impatient for a settlement. This defense strategy can affect the length of the lawsuit, however, an experienced personal injury lawyer can speed up this process through court orders.