“A personal injury claim always involves numerous questions asked by the injured person,” stated personal injury attorney Jennifer LeMaster of LeMaster & Ahmed PLLC in The Woodlands, a suburb of metro Houston. “It is part of the job as the plaintiff’s attorney and answering these questions as completely as possible will create a level of comfort for the injured person. There are always questions that are less important than the main issues in the case but all questions should be answered with patience. However, the most common questions involve the attorney’s fee, the time to resolve a case, and the potential settlement value.”
Perhaps the most common personal injury cases, and personal injury cases denied or underpaid in Texas, involve personal injury claims as a result of car and truck accidents. In these cases, there are numerous examples in which personal injury settlement offers are far below what is considered fair by the injured party.
How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Get Paid In Texas?
Most personal injury lawyers in Texas work on a “contingency fee” basis. That means the lawyer is only getting paid if they are successful and win the case. A standard contingency fee is usually 33 1/3% of the settlement amount for pre-litigation cases but the fee can range from 25% to 45% depending on the circumstances and litigation phase of the case. The lawyer usually pays for all out-of-pocket expenses upfront. These expenses are usually reimbured to the lawyer from the settlement proceeds after the case is won and paid by the defendant. If there is no settlement or verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the plaintiff generally does not owe the lawyer any fees or expenses as is the very nature of a “contingent” fee agreement.
Common Expenses In Personal Injury Lawsuits
Court related filing, serving, transcript fees
Expert witness fees
Medical records fees
Trial exhibit fees
How Long Does A Personal Injury Claim Take To Settle?
“There is no average time period for a settlement in a personal injury case,” commented Ms. LeMaster, “because every personal injury lawsuit is different with different defendants and different facts. The first option is to settle with the defendant out-of-court or ‘pre-litigation’. This is entirely dependent on the willingness of the defendant and his or her insurer to make a fair offer. If this option fails then the next option is to sue the defendant in court. A simple personal injury case can usually take one to two years before the trial begins and is largely dependent upon the court’s trial schedule. In a simple case, the trial usually lasts a week or two. Complex personal injury cases can easily require more than two years to go to trial.”
Factors That Determine Complexity Of Personal Injury Cases
Multiple defendants or liable parties
Multiple peripheral parties (law enforcement, regulatory officials, etc)
Number and availability of witnesses
Severity of the injuries
Treatment duration for injuries
How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
Many personal injury settlements are paid by the insurance companies of the liable party. These insurance companies usually place their liability or losses in two categories, special damages and general damages. Special damages are associated with economic damages which are usually easy to measure or calculate.
Special Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Associated Expenses Related to Medical Needs (drugs, transportation, etc)
Replacement of Lost Assets
General damages are more difficult to measure because they cover “pain and suffering”. And extreme “pain and suffering” will result in higher settlements for the injured party. Some of the most common general damages are listed below.
General Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Physical pain, temporary
Physical pain, chronic, permanent
Physical injury, temporary
Physical injury, permanent (paralysis, amputation, scarring)
Emotional distress / anguish
Extreme emotional distress / anguish
Inability to focus or work
“Anyone who has been injured by the recklessness or negligence of another driver, person or company should be fairly compensated for all damages incurred. Unfortunately for the injured party, the system is designed to deny payments or to offer only a fraction of what a jury would consider a fair personal injury settlement. This system leaves plaintiffs less than whole and left with uncertainty about their current and future needs. That is why Texas needs personal injury attorneys to help plaintiffs navigate the system,” stated Ms. LeMaster.
LeMaster & Ahmed, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, encourages anyone who has been injured to fight back. They deserve a fair and equitable settlement for their injuries, their pain and suffering, their physical rehabilitation, their loss of income, and the impact their injuries will have for the rest of their lives.