Accidents that lead to physical injury or property damage could qualify for an accident injury lawsuit. When someone else’s negligence leads to financial damages, you’re entitled to sue that person or organization in order to recover the money you’ve lost from the accident. This applies to car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, and even things like medical malpractice. However, to have the best chance of success, you’ll need to work with accident injury lawyers in Houston, TX.
What Types of Damages Can Be Awarded in an Accident Injury Case?
Types of Damages in Houston, TX
Houston, TX adheres to the Texas State Civil Practice and Remedies Code, which is a set of rules regarding civil lawsuits. The Civil Code outlines the requirements for a lawsuit and defines the concept of damages. Damages, legally speaking, represent the “damage” inflicted upon you because of the negligent actions of another person. There are several types of damages that you can sue for in an accident lawsuit. Most lawsuits will include economic and noneconomic damages.
However, there are also exemplary damages that could add more to your final award. In addition, it may be possible to claim future damages. Consider how each form of damages works and what you need to do in order to get the most compensation possible from your lawsuit.
Economic damages are the foundation of any civil lawsuit. Without clear economic damages, you generally cannot file a lawsuit in a Texas civil court. These are damages we can measure and add up. For example, medical bills after a car accident are a common source of economic damages. Property damage likewise counts. You can also factor in other expenses like legal fees or insurance payments made after an accident. Make a folder with all of your receipts and bills.
Many people underestimate their economic damages because they assume that they can only count expenses. However, you can also add lost income if your injury made it impossible to go to work. Even if you took vacation days or sick days to avoid losing income, the value of those benefits can be added to your claim. Bring pay stubs or proof of your regular working income if you’re an independent contractor to help document and justify these claims.
Noneconomic damages are colloquially referred to as “pain and suffering” because that is precisely what they intend to compensate you for. You cannot quantify noneconomic damages, but you do deserve compensation for your pain and suffering as well as the inconvenience caused by the accident in the first place. However, deciding how much to demand in noneconomic damages can be a challenge if you don’t know how personal injury cases work.
It’s in your best interest to discuss this matter with experienced accident injury lawyers. Lawyers have seen dozens of similar cases and have an idea of how much you can recover in noneconomic damages. Lawyers usually can recommend a reasonable amount that is likely to be awarded. Don’t be misled by news stories highlighting multi-million dollar lawsuits; cases like these are often settled for far less, and insisting on such large amounts only slow down negotiations.
Compensatory damages is simply a catch-all term for both economic and noneconomic damages. You may see the sum of those two categories referred to as compensatory damages in your lawsuit.
Some people make the mistake of waiting too long to file a lawsuit because they’re worried that they will miss out on compensation. You don’t have to wait for expenses to pile up before you file a lawsuit. If your injury causes long-term expenses, like expensive medical treatments, prescriptions, rehabilitation or therapy, you can add those projected expenses to your lawsuit.
Similarly, if you know you will be unable to work for an extended period of time, those future lost wages can also be added. As time passes, you should still document these expenses and lost wages. Demonstrating that your future damages were accurately claimed can make it easier to recover those damages in your lawsuit.
The final form of damages that may be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit are exemplary damages. These are meant to “make an example” of the person that caused the accident, hence the name. Although you may claim exemplary damages in your lawsuit, they are held to a higher standard compared to other kinds of damages. A jury must unanimously agree that you deserve to receive these damages, and they must also agree on the amount.
In addition, you can only receive exemplary damages if you can prove that the other person acted with malice or gross negligence. Gross negligence is a higher standard than ordinary negligence. Gross negligence shows blatant disregard for the safety of others. Driving drunk, for instance, may be considered gross negligence, while texting while driving may only be seen as ordinary negligence.
How Accident Injury Lawyers May Help You Recover Damages
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you have the right to seek legal counsel and file a lawsuit to attempt to recover your damages. However, to do so, you will need the help of an accident injury lawyer. Accident injury lawyers are familiar with the legal system and know how to add up your various damages to get you the best award possible in a case.
You should not attempt to represent yourself in court, as the defendant you name in your lawsuit will likely retain their own lawyer, putting you at a disadvantage. With a lawyer at your side, you increase your odds of success. Consider how a lawyer will help you through the legal process.
Preparing Your Lawsuit
It’s vital that your lawsuit have accurate information about your injury and damages. When you first meet with a lawyer, bring as many documents as you can to prove your damages. Your lawyer may ask you to send other documents later. Even little items like hospital parking fees can add up very quickly, and your lawyer will likely encourage you to add as many expenses as possible to the lawsuit.
When the lawsuit is ready, your lawyer will file it with the appropriate Houston, TX court. The defendant will be notified by one of the court’s process servers. After that, your lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement out of court. It is always advisable to settle out of court, as this both guarantees some form of compensation and speeds up the process considerably.
Negotiating a Settlement
As with any negotiation, the first offer you receive is likely to be lower than what you need to make you whole. If you’ve already received a settlement offer, bring it with you when you first speak to a lawyer. Receiving an offer early is a good sign that there is more than can be negotiated for. In any case, your lawyer will present more evidence to support your claim and press the defendant to offer a better settlement.
After a few rounds of negotiations, you may receive a settlement that you consider acceptable. If so, your lawyer can finalize the deal. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC to speak to a lawyer and start your legal action. The sooner you act, the more likely you are to succeed.