Personal Injury - General Overview
The term "personal injury", in its narrow sense, refers to an injury suffered by a person. More often, it is used in the context of lawsuits which arise when a person is injured by either the negligent or intentional actions of another person. Legal responsibility (called "liability") involves the determination that someone was negligent or acted intentionally to cause harm or injury. Some of the most common causes of personal injury for which a person or company may be liable include automobile accidents, job injuries, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, defective products and slip-and-falls.
The aims of personal injury actions are to obtain a finding of liability against the party whose action caused the injury and an award for money damages to the injured party.
Liability for personal injury
In order to recover damages for your injuries, you must establish that the other party was legally responsible for the injuries you sustained. Liability can generally be based on intentional tort or negligence.
An intentional tort is conduct which was intentional and which the defendant knew would likely cause harm to you.
Negligence is the concept of liability for reckless or careless conduct. A defendant can be held liable for the results of careless actions or inactions when it is determined that your injury should have been foreseen and that the conduct was, in fact, the cause of your injury.
The goal of personal injury lawsuits is to obtain a finding of liability against the party whose actions, or inactions, caused your injury, and to obtain a verdict for damages which will compensate you for the damages you sustained.
Some of the elements of damages for which you can receive compensation include past and future lost wages, past and future medical expenses, past and future physical pain, mental anguish, disability and disfigurement. Damages may also be awarded to your spouse for loss of consortium (that is, to compensate your spouse for the loss of your services or companionship).
Punitive or exemplary damages can also be awarded when the defendant's conduct was malicious or grossly negligent. If the judge or jury finds that the party liable for your injuries should be punished by an amount over and above your actual damages, then punitive damages can be awarded in order to deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
In Texas, you must prove your case by "a preponderance of the evidence". If all elements of the cause of action cannot be proven to this standard, then your case fails. In addition to defending the case just on the basis that you cannot prove all elements of your case by a preponderance of the evidence, the defendant may assert and attempt to prove several affirmative defenses. Examples of possible affirmative defenses are comparative negligence and statute of limitations. "Comparative negligence" means that the plaintiff's own conduct caused or was at least partially responsible for the injuries. The "statute of limitations" is the law which sets forth a time period in which a lawsuit must be initiated. If you do not file properly and timely, you will be legally barred from pursuing your legal action. It is, therefore, critical that you consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so that your rights can be protected.
When an injured person dies as a result of the fault of another, the deceased's surviving relatives (as allowed by law) can bring a suit for that death. The Texas Wrongful Death Act governs all actions for wrongful death. Money damages that are recoverable include (1) loss of maintenance, support, services, advice and counsel; (2) loss of companionship; and (3) mental anguish. The bases for computing damages to the survivors are generally the decedent's life expectancy and work life expectancy. In addition, life expectancy of the beneficiaries and, if applicable, the remaining period of minority of any beneficiary, must be considered.
The defendant has the right to assert any defenses in a wrongful death action which could have been asserted against the decedent had he or she not died.
The death of a loved one is a tragic event, and can be devastating for family members. Confronting the reality of death and the additional stress in pursuing a legal claim can be overwhelming. Neal Cannon is an experienced personal injury attorney who can help guide surviving family members through the complex legal maze with skill, understanding and compassion.
When a catastrophe such as the death of a loved one is caused by someone else, you need the experience of Neal Cannon on your side.
How Much is Your Claim for Injuries Worth?
It is impossible for any lawyer to tell you how much your claim is worth; and there is no guarantee that any recovery can be made in most cases. However, there are some broad generalizations on which value can be determined. Obviously, any settlement is based to a large extent on what a jury might reasonably be expected to award for medical care and alleged expenses, lost wages, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.
Generally, the following factors will contribute to larger potential damage recoveries:
- the more severe and painful your injury,
- the more invasive and long-lasting your medical treatment,
- the more obvious that the medical evidence is of your injury,
- the longer the recovery period, the more serious and visible is any permanent effect of your injury, and
- the more wages that are lost.
Steps You Can Take Now
There are several steps you can take to increase your chances of recovery in personal injury cases.
- Get names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses and persons who may have any information concerning your injury claim.
- Preserve evidence by collecting physical evidence and taking photographs.
- Make notes of conversations you have with people involved in the accident.
- Do not give any written or oral statements to the opposing party's insurance adjuster.
- Keep a diary of your injury, your condition, your time off from work, how you are feeling, and what you can and cannot do on a day-by-day basis.
- Notify anyone you think might be responsible for your injury of your intention to file a claim, especially if a government agency or entity is involved.
- Call an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately.
I am a highly skilled personal injury lawyer with a preference for legal cases involving serious injuries. I have practiced law in Houston, Texas, for over 30 years, and during those years, I have successfully represented many injured persons, achieving outstanding results and client satisfaction.
Injuries and death can cause difficult and troubling times. My staff and I will handle all aspects of your claim, including dealing with the opposing parties, the insurance companies, witnesses, experts and attorneys. I will work towards reaching a settlement that fairly compensates you. When a settlement is not possible, I will aggressively prosecute and try your case to conclusion. I am a skilled and experienced trial attorney, and I have effectively represented many clients to obtain substantial recoveries in personal injury cases.
If you, a friend or a loved one have been injured, call me immediately so that my highly-trained legal staff and I can work with you to obtain the best possible results in your case.