Understanding the Stages of a Texas Personal Injury Case
This is the next post in our series on the personal injury process in Texas. Our last post discussed the need to retain an attorney for dealing with insurance adjusters and adverse parties. In this article, we will give an overview of the different stages in a personal injury case.
Navigating through a personal injury case in Texas can be a difficult time both emotionally and financially. Many cases do not resolve quickly and it is important to hire an attorney that is in your case for the long haul and will not settle for a quick and cheap amount. When frustration and financial pressure set in, it is important to understand the stages of your case and the work your counsel is doing to keep your case on the right track. Being patient and allowing the stages of your case to play out is key to a fair recovery.
Most Texas personal injury cases go through five important stages:
1. Treatment Stage
2. Summary Stage
3. Negotiation Stage
4. Litigation Stage
5. Disbursement Stage
In some cases, the litigation stage may be avoided. However, your lawyer’s primary goal is to obtain a favorable resolution for you. If this means that a lawsuit needs to be filed due to inadequate settlement offers from the responsible party, then the litigation stage will run its course. It is important to hire someone who is well equipped to represent your best interests through all stages of the case and is not afraid to take your case into litigation. While key decisions in each case are left up to the client, it is important that you trust your personal injury lawyer’s advice and recommendations throughout the process. It is important for you to fully understand the process in order to remain patient and positive through what we know is a difficult time. Below we will briefly discuss each of the five stages you can expect in your case.
A Texas personal injury case consists of five important stages
The first thing we will tell you as a client is that getting you back to 100% health is the top priority. During this stage, you are seeing your doctor and/or medical provider on a regular basis. The time that this stage takes will vary depending on your injuries. It is important to remain patient and adhere to the treatment plans your doctors prescribe. During this stage, you will want to keep record of all expenses related to the accident including bills, prescriptions, artificial appliances, wheelchairs, hospital bills, etc. In the event an emergency arises that prevents you from attending scheduled doctor appointments, cancel the appointments in a timely manner. At the time of cancellation, try to reschedule at your earliest convenience. Remember that your case can be drastically affected by what your doctors write in your file. If you miss appointments or cancel appointments at the last minute, comments may be placed in your file that can have a negative impact on the outcome and value of a case. It is important to keep these things in mind throughout the treatment stage of your case.
Once your treatment has concluded, records and bills are acquired from your doctors and medical providers. In addition, we will obtain documentation of your lost wage information, incidental expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses. When all of the above information is obtained, a settlement packet is submitted to the insurance company or responsible party along with a demand letter. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the insurance company will not settle the case until after the injured party has completed all of the treatment and after it is provided a copy of all of the medical records/bills and lost wage information related to the case. Our mission during this stage is to collect all of the necessary information and present it to the defendant in a way that will tell the story of your case.
This is the stage where the attorney begins negotiations with the insurance company or responsible party. The insurance company usually makes an offer of settlement. Your lawyer will then discuss the offer with you. You have the option to accept or decline the offer. Counsel will then counteroffer and the process continues until an acceptable offer is made. Your attorney will advise you as to whether or not he feels the offer is reasonable. Again, the ultimate decision for acceptance is left with you. When the offer is accepted, the case is settled. From here, we go into the final stage. Negotiations can take place at any time, but generally occur after you have completed your treatment and after we have obtained your medical records and bills or throughout the litigation stage of certain cases. If the insurance company accepts the demand, the case is settled. From there, your case goes into the Disbursement Stage. If the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer, your case will enter the Litigation Stage.
This is the phase of your case where a lawsuit is filed. If a lawsuit is filed, we will meet with you to provide additional information on what you can expect. Often times a lawsuit is necessary in order to obtain a favorable resolution for you. Lawsuits take time and it is important to maintain patience throughout the litigation. Our attorneys have many years of experience in the courtroom and understand how to fight for you using the court system. We believe that a jury presented with a strong case and with clear facts will be able to render a fair verdict for you. Presenting a strong case is clearly a team effort, so we will need your help. We will stay in contact with you throughout the process to make sure that you understand what is going on in your case.
This is the final stage. When a case is settled a check is often issued to the injured party and the attorney. You will be contacted to come into the attorney’s office for signing of the checks and the release of all claims. At that time, all checks will be written to pay medical bills, liens, and the attorney. When you have received your check, the case and your file will be closed.
Texas injury victims should pick an attorney with the resources to fully protect their rights
In cases involving catastrophic injury, it is crucial to hire an attorney with the resources to take your case the distance. In large-scale cases, the other side will often make quick settlement offers to avoid the necessity of litigation. Unfortunately, some attorneys will advise you to accept these offers in order to keep their expenses low. When selecting a personal injury attorney it is important that you select a firm which handles major injury cases and in which the lawyers have substantial experience. You should also determine whether the attorneys are board certified and whether the firm employs a full time investigator. Finally, you should determine whether the firm is large enough to advance court costs and whether the office can devote multiple attorneys to your case. This is true whether you were injured in counties including Tarrant, Dallas, Johnson, and Wise as well as Fort Worth, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Watauga, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Arlington, Keller, Grand Prairie, and Dallas.