This is the next article in our series discussing Fort Worth, Texas personal injury cases in which the victim suffers a serious brain injury. Our previous post discussed the possibility of facing a bifurcated trial. Particularly in cases involving severe and permanent damages to the victim, defense attorneys sometimes request bifurcation. Doing so will prevent the jury from hearing any information about the injuries or damages suffered by the victim until after they decide whether the defendant is liable for the accident. Depending upon the facts of the case, this can be harmful to the plaintiff’s case and may lead to a much longer trial process. In this article, we will discuss the need to hire counsel who will take your case through the litigation process if a settlement cannot be reached.
Many personal injury cases are settled outside of court. When the victim’s medical prognosis and damages calculations are available before the expiration of the statute of limitations, a lawsuit may never even be filed. Because this is fairly common, some law firms limit their representation of clients to the settlement negotiation phase. Unfortunately, if settlement talks are unsuccessful, these firms are unwilling to continue to trial. Settlement-only firms refer their unsettled cases to other law firms to handle the litigation. This can have negative ramifications on a victim’s case. Not only will changing attorneys mid-stream be disruptive, but the new firm may also be limited in its ability to provide adequate representation. For example, if the first law firm failed to preserve important evidence or failed to identify potential defendants after a cursory investigation it may be too late for the new firm to rectify these issues.
As discussed previously in this series, catastrophic brain injury cases often involve time-consuming medical reviews to determine the victim’s prognosis and long-term or permanent impacts of the injury. Commonly in these cases, the information is not available before the two-year statute of limitations expires. As a result, the plaintiff’s lawyer will need to file a lawsuit to preserve the ability to litigate the matter and be prepared to begin the trial process, even during ongoing settlement negotiations. A settlement-only firm may not be willing to initiate litigation, which could create the risk of forfeiting one’s legal rights. Furthermore, a law firm that will represent their client throughout the process may be less likely to encourage a hasty settlement agreement. We do not mean to suggest that other firms would make recommendations against the interest of their clients. It is important to understand, however, that a firm driven by settlement results only may be motivated to avoid litigation and present a conflict of interest. Retaining a firm that will represent your legal rights throughout the entire process will prevent such a possibility.
When selecting a personal injury attorney, we recommend inquiring about a law firm’s financial resources and willingness to litigate the case if necessary. We also suggest that you retain a firm in which the attorneys are Board Certified in Personal Injury Law and which employs its own investigator. These recommendations are important whether you are injured in Fort Worth, Dallas, or elsewhere in Texas.