Billboards are everywhere in Texas, advertising personal injury law firms that can help injured accident victims win money for their injuries. You probably never think about them, unless they are particularly eye-catching, or unless you find yourself injured following an accident.
Now, you may not consider yourself to be particularly litigious. Maybe the very idea of a lawsuit makes you feel “icky” or nervous, but maybe friends or family have suggested that you contacted an attorney because of your situation, just to see whether or not you have a case. (Sidenote: it’s important to know that contacting an attorney doesn’t mean that you will end up filing a lawsuit at all; there are other ways that lawyers help injured accident victims, including by communicating with the insurance company on their behalf). Maybe you stumbled upon this blog because you’re trying to determine for yourself if that’s true before you take the big step of contacting an attorney. After all, maybe your injuries aren’t that serious, right? Do you really need to get an attorney involved?
We’d say, that depends!
Let’s consider a few key factors.
First – were you hurt in an accident? And was the accident someone else’s fault?
If you answered “yes” to both of those questions, that’s an indicator that you may have a case. That’s because personal injury law revolves around five essential elements of any accident (auto accidents, falls, and others): duty of care, breach of duty, causation, damages, and collectability.
Duty of care – Legally, people are required to act towards others with the same caution and prudence that a reasonable person in their circumstances would act with. This basically means that people can’t be careless and put others at risk without consequences. For example, drivers on the road have to follow traffic laws and pay attention to the road; property owners of public places have to make sure that their premises are properly maintained and aren’t full of dangerous hazards. In order for you to have a case, there has to be a party on the other end of the situation that owed you this duty of care.
Breach of duty – The second element that has to be able to be established is that the party on the other end of the situation breached that duty of care. This may be the most difficult to prove (much evidence is required), and the other party may fight back against this claim. You have to show that the other party acted negligently (carelessly, recklessly, etc.) towards you and put you at risk. For example, if a driver was speeding, or a mall didn’t fix their escalator they knew was broken, that’s breach of duty.
Causation – This is the would-be crux of your case; you have to be able to show a direct link between the at-fault party’s negligence and your injuries, or in other words, that they put you at risk and you were harmed as a result. A driver who was speeding hit you or forced you to swerve, which led to you crashing and ending up with a herniated disc and some cuts that required stitches. You fell on the defective escalator, which led to you breaking several bones and getting a concussion.
Know that in the state of Texas, liability (fault) is assigned as a percentage – this is known as a modified comparative fault rule. If you were partially at fault for the accident (like, if you were in a car crash and the other person was speeding and hit you, but you were texting and didn’t see them in time to avoid them) then you may still have a case, but only if you are less than 50% to blame.
Damages – If your injuries didn’t cost you anything, then you definitely don’t have a case, because there is nothing to make a claim or sue for! You have to show that your injuries resulted in damages to have a case. Medical bills and lost wages are perhaps the two most common types of damages that injured accident victims seek, but there are also other types of intangible damages, like the pain caused by your injuries, that there is a “cost” for.
Collectability – You can have all of these elements going for you, but if the at-fault party doesn’t have the ability to pay the damages, you might not have a case because they can’t give you compensation. (However, always consider that if the at-fault party had insurance, their insurance company may be liable for your injuries as well, and they definitely have collectability!)
Common types of personal injury cases in Texas
Maybe reading that was a little too much legal information – here are some of the most common types of Texas personal injury cases. Reading about these may make it simpler to determine whether or not your situation sounds like any of these, and if you may have a case!
Auto accidents – if you were injured in a collision involving a car, truck, scooter, motorcycle, bicycle, or other vehicle, or if you were a pedestrian, and the other driver/party caused the crash, you may have a case.
Slip and fall accidents – if you were injured on someone else’s property because of a hazard they knew about or should have known about and did nothing to remedy (essentially, because of unsafe conditions), you may have a case.
Medical malpractice – if a healthcare professional made a mistake, and that mistake harmed you, you may have a case.
The only way to really tell if you have a case
The information in this blog was hopefully helpful, but it’s generic. The only way to know for sure if you have a case or not is to take the plunge and contact a personal injury attorney! This may feel like a drastic step, but remember that your injuries may prove to be more expensive in the long run than you realize – sometimes tens of thousands of dollars or more. Some injuries never fully heal, requiring medical treatment down the road. The cost of your insurance deductibles and medical bills shouldn’t be ignored, and the other party may be responsible for paying those costs! It’s worth it to just request a consultation. Most personal injury firms offer them for free at no obligation, so you can just see what the attorney thinks before moving forward!
At Harper Law Firm, our Texas personal injury team is committed to obtaining justice for hard-working Texans who have been injured due to negligence. We have successfully obtained millions of dollars for our clients because we’re great at what we do; you can trust us not because of billboards and commercials, but because of our skill and reputation. If we determine that you do have a case, you don’t have to pay us any legal fees until we win! Call today to schedule your free consultation and learn what we can tell you about your options.