Injuries can have long-lasting impacts on your life, even if you recover fully. The short-term implications of an injury are massive. You may miss out on work or lose your job outright. Medical bills can cripple your finances, making it harder to provide for yourself and your family. Persistent pain or physical disability can take years to resolve. If you’ve been injured, you need the fair compensation you’re entitled to. An injury lawyer in Houston, TX can help.
What Does an Injury Settlement Usually Cover in Texas?
When a plaintiff is awarded an injury settlement by a Houston, TX court, they can expect to receive full compensation for their economic damages. They may also be given an additional amount to account for noneconomic damages. These two kinds of damages put together will equal the total value of your settlement in most cases. Collectively, they’re known as “compensatory damages” since they compensate you for your injury.
What is the difference between economic and non-economic damages? Consider what each one covers according to the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Economic damages include any damages related to direct expenses or lost income that resulted directly from the injury. For example, your medical expenses will make up the bulk of your economic damages. All the money you had to pay to get treatment for your injury from the moment you first called for an ambulance can be included. However, that’s not all your settlement can cover. You can also get compensation for lost wages and other expenses.
For instance, if you were injured in a car accident and were unable to work for a time, those lost wages can be added to your list of economic damages. Likewise, the money you spent to restore your car could also be included. There is no hard cap on economic damages, but you will have to provide proof of your expenses, so save every receipt.
Noneconomic damages are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering.” This is because the goal of noneconomic damages is to provide an additional award that acts as a form of relief from the emotional stress and physical pain you have endured since your injury. However, there are no hard rules for calculating noneconomic damages.
This is where a lawyer can be very helpful. After a car accident or a slip-and-fall at a business, insurance companies will usually reach out to offer an injury settlement. However, they rarely include much in the way of noneconomic damages. They hope that by offering to cover your economic damages, especially your medical bills, that they can convince you to sign and thereby pay out as little as possible. Lawyers know this and can fight for more.
4 Steps to Obtain an Injury Settlement in Houston, TX
If you’ve been injured through no fault of your own, you are entitled to receive compensation for both your injuries and your pain and suffering. Nevertheless, checks in your name won’t materialize in the mailbox without action on your part. There are four key steps to securing the biggest settlement possible and getting what is rightfully yours.
1. Speak to an Injury Lawyer
The first and most important step is to talk to a local lawyer with experience in personal injury cases. Without a lawyer, it will be much more difficult for you to get any kind of settlement offer. Furthermore, those offers will be far lower than what you deserve. This is because the lawyers on the other end know that most people cannot navigate the court system on their own, and so they’re unlikely to win a case by themselves.
You will need to explain your entire situation to your lawyer, starting from the events leading up to the injury. Describe how the injury happened in as much detail as you can. If you’ve already been offered a settlement, present it to your lawyer too so that it can be reviewed. Answer any questions that your lawyer asks truthfully. Leaving out important details or giving incorrect information could result in problems later if the defendant can prove your statements false.
2. Document Your Damages
The Texas Civil Code specifically notes that evidence must be “clear and convincing” in order to win your case. Furthermore, economic damages will not be awarded without some proof. Therefore, you have to document your damages thoroughly. The earlier you start this process, the easier it will be. While you can quickly get another copy of your medical bills, you may not be able to print another parking receipt. Keep all receipts and bills related to your injury.
When it comes to non-economic damages, there are ways to document those as well. Images or videos of the aftermath of your injury could prove very powerful in persuading a jury in court. Testimony from experts or those close to you could also support your claims for noneconomic damages. Your lawyer will advise you on what documents will best support your claim.
3. Present Your Claim
Once your lawyer has evaluated the situation and examined your documents, they will proceed to draft a lawsuit. When the lawsuit is filed with a local court, the defendant will be notified and the court will set a date for a hearing. By filing a lawsuit, the defendant knows that you are serious about getting compensation for your injury. The defendant’s legal team will examine the claims made in the lawsuit and most likely make a settlement offer.
Your lawyer will review any offers with you and give you the option to accept or decline. Depending on the evidence you have and how strong your claim is, you may be able to fight for more compensation.
4. Negotiate a Settlement
Many times, going back and forth on a settlement leads to a much better outcome. The first offer is rarely the best, and your lawyer knows this. Your lawyer will proceed to negotiate for more compensation if you aren’t satisfied with the first offer.
After rounds of negotiation, your lawyer may advise you to accept the offer and withdraw the lawsuit. Nevertheless, you always have the right to pursue the issue further.
What Happens If the Settlement Isn’t Enough?
If you feel that your settlement offer, even after negotiations, isn’t enough considering the gravity of your injuries, the next step is to attend the court hearing. In the hearing, a judge will review your lawsuit and hear your attempted negotiations. The court may offer you one last opportunity to accept the settlement offer, or they may even propose an adjustment to it in an attempt to satisfy you without taking the case to trial.
If you decide to go to trial, the court will finish the hearing by setting a date for the trial. Bear in mind that this could take several months, during which you will not receive any immediate compensation.
Getting a Settlement in a Trial
In a trial, your lawyer will attempt to persuade the jury that you deserve the full extent of the damages you’ve claimed in your lawsuit. Defendants, meanwhile, will look to discredit your case, perhaps by trying to place blame on your person for the injury. In the end, the jury will decide whether you should be awarded damages or not.
The key to getting the best settlement possible is to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC to schedule a free consultation with one of our legal experts and start building your case today.