When you file a personal injury claim, there’s usually a lot hanging in the balance. You may have medical bills piling up and, if you’re unable to work, no way of paying them or looking after your family. Winning your case- whether it be at the negotiation table or at trial, is critically important, so how do you ensure a successful claim?
The answer often depends on what type of accident you experienced. While some strategies are universal, others are incident-specific. In this blog, we explain how to win a personal injury lawsuit, which includes working with a San Antonio personal injury lawyer who knows what evidence you need to get the compensation you deserve.
How Does a Texas Personal Injury Lawsuit Work?
Once you receive medical confirmation of your injuries, you’ll want to approach a personal injury lawyer with experience in the type of accident you suffered, whether it be a truck crash, a dog attack, or a slip and fall. Your lawyer will review the evidence on hand, investigate further, and help you assign a value to all your damages. They will also ensure that your claim is filed within two years, which is the deadline assigned by the Texas statute of limitations.
When you’re ready to pursue compensation, you and your attorney will take the following steps to prepare and present your claim:
- Analyze Evidence: Strong evidence is critical to a successful case. It can vary widely depending on the case, but often includes accident reports, medical records, witness statements, and inspection reports.
- Send a Demand Letter: Your Austin personal injury attorney will send a formal letter that outlines why the defendant is responsible for your injuries, states the amount of compensation you are seeking, and provides a deadline for payment. At this stage, negotiations usually begin. If a settlement can’t be reached, your attorney will file your claim in court.
- File a Complaint in Court: If the defendant and/or their insurer fails or refuses to make a fair settlement offer, your attorney will file a formal complaint in the appropriate court. The defendant then has 21 days to respond unless they are a federal employee or government entity, in which case the deadline is 60 days.
It is important to note that relatively few personal injury claims proceed to trial. Even after a claim has been filed in court, cases can and usually do settle. Should a trial be necessary, your personal injury lawyer will present your evidence, which may include expert witness testimony and exhibits in addition to medical records and accident reports. The goal will be to secure a verdict that meets your current and future financial needs.
How to Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit in TX
Regardless of whether your case settles or goes to trial, you’ll need to ensure that you have the right evidence for your claim type. The sections below outline the documents, images, and other information you’ll need for common accident claims.
When you’ve been in a car accident, it’s essential to collect as much evidence at the scene as possible. Although the police will arrive and make a report, you can strengthen your case by:
- Taking photos and videos of the accident scene, including the vehicles, tire marks and debris on the road, and anything that may have contributed to the crash, such as a malfunctioning traffic light.
- Get the names and contact information of all witnesses.
- Get the other driver’s name and insurance information. Be civil, but do not admit fault or accuse the other person.
- Obtain a copy of the police accident report
If you are too injured to gather these pieces of evidence, ask a bystander for help. Your car accident attorney will also conduct a thorough investigation and hire experts who will help you uncover what you need.
With a truck accident, you’ll want to take most of the same steps as you would with a car accident, although you should get the name of the trucking company if it isn’t readily apparent. Once your lawyer reviews the accident scene evidence, they can investigate to determine whose negligence caused the crash. Depending on the circumstances, the liable parties may include:
- The driver (if they were impaired or distracted)
- The trucking company, especially if it compelled the driver to follow an unrealistic schedule
- The cargo handling company
- The truck manufacturer
- The mechanics who worked on the truck
- The government agency responsible for maintaining roads and highways
You’ll want to work with a personal injury lawyer who’s familiar with accidents involving big rigs and other commercial trucks. Not only are investigations more complex, but federal laws are often involved, making a truck crash claim more challenging than one involving passenger vehicles.
Slip and Fall Injury
Slip and fall claims in Texas fall under the category of premises liability. A property owner has a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of guests and visitors. To win a slip and fall case, you must prove that the owner of the property where you fell was negligent and that their negligence caused you harm.
If you slip in a puddle of unmopped water or any other hazard, try to document it immediately. Take a photo of the spill and anything else that may have contributed to the accident, such as poor lighting or uneven flooring. If there were witnesses who saw you fall, ask for their contact information so your personal injury lawyer can get a statement from them later. If you fell in a store or other public place, you should also alert a manager or employee so that an incident report can be created.
With slip and fall cases, you’ll need evidence that the property owner had or should have had notice of the dangerous condition. For example, if you slipped in a spilled beverage that’s partly dried, it’s clearly been there awhile and should have been attended to. In some cases, a third party like an employee or other customer may know long the dangerous condition existed and will state it on record.
In Texas, the owner of a vicious dog can be held strictly liable if it harms someone. To prove the dog is vicious, you can gather evidence of prior attacks from neighbors, the local letter carrier (who often reports aggressive dogs to their postmaster), the city or county animal control department, and even the police, who may have a record of prior complaints against a dog owner.
A negligent owner can be held liable even if they are unaware that their dog is vicious. A number of actions can be considered negligent handling, such as walking the dog without a leash, leaving the gate open, or letting the dog roam free.
The Texas wrongful death laws state that a person may be liable for damages if they cause a family member’s death, usually due to negligence (although other actions or omissions can form the basis of a wrongful death claim). To prevail in a wrongful death claim based on negligence, you’ll need to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to your family member and breached it, resulting in their death. In turn, that death caused your family to suffer economic and noneconomic damages.
Duty of care depends on the circumstances. Motorists, for instance, have a duty of care to obey traffic laws and avoid causing traffic accidents. The same is true of property owners who owe a duty of care to guests and invitees and doctors who owe a duty of care to their patients. An experienced wrongful death attorney understands the differences and the evidence needed to prove each of the elements of your case.
Take the First Step – Get a Free Consultation From an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
When you’ve been injured and wondering how to win a personal injury lawsuit, the steps outlined in this blog can help you collect the evidence needed to deter insurers from downplaying or denying your claim. Working with a reputable Texas personal injury law firm will ensure that this evidence is presented in a thorough and persuasive manner.
At the Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS, our personal injury attorneys are skilled investigators who know how to assemble the facts surrounding your accident and use that information to create a strong case. Although every case is unique, we are proud to say that we’ve won multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts for past clients and will apply similar levels of diligence and dedication to your claim. You only pay us if we win, so to schedule your free consultation, call our law office today.