Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury
Turn to an experienced attorney to help you get back up
The accident that caused your injury may have been over fast, but the consequences can last for months or years. Even as you're recovering from your injuries, you're faced with a complex legal and insurance battle. That's why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to take care of your legal needs while you focus on getting better.
We know you're confused and overwhelmed. That's why Chad Jones Law, P.C. has prepared this brief guide to answer your questions about personal injury law.
- What is "negligence" and how is it relevant to my injury?
- How much is my case worth?
- Do I need to involve a lawyer? I don't really want to sue.
- How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer?
- What if the person responsible was a friend or family member?
- I'm from out of state, but my injury happened in Texas. Can you help?
- How can I get my medical bills paid?
- What if I have health insurance or paid time off?
- How long will my case take to resolve?
We hope the information on this page will give you an idea of how to proceed with your case. Every case is unique, though, and we'd be happy to meet with you to discuss the specifics of your claim. Call 1-800-64-JONES to schedule a free consultation.
Negligence is the legal concept at the core of personal injury claims. Essentially, to claim damages (financial compensation) for your injury, you need to prove that another person or company owed you a duty of care and caused you to be injured by breaching that duty. For instance, motorists have a duty to drive safely and avoid collisions, and property owners have a duty to maintain safe premises.
Some personal injury cases involve the concept of comparative negligence, which essentially means that more than one person, possibly including the injured person, was responsible for the injury. Each person or entity involved is held proportionately responsible for the compensatory award depending on their percentage of fault.
You can still recover compensation for your injuries as long as you were less than 51% at fault (this is known as the 51% bar rule), but your compensation will be reduced proportionally to your share of the fault. For instance, if a jury awards you $100,000 in damages but finds that you were 20 percent responsible for your injury, your award would be reduced to $80,000.
That depends on the facts of your case. The majority of damages awarded in a personal injury case are called compensatory damages, which are intended to make you whole again after the accident. Common types of compensatory damages include:
- Medical bills: The cost of reasonable medical care needed to recover from your injuries.
- Lost wages: Time away from work while you were recovering from your injuries.
- Lost earning potential: If you are permanently disabled or need to work a "light duty" position, you can be compensated for those lost future earnings.
- Replacement services: The cost of services such as childcare, cleaning and maintenance that you are no longer able to perform due to the accident.
- Pain and suffering: This is a subjective amount compensating you for your physical and emotional suffering due to the accident. If your injury results in chronic pain or serious emotional trauma, this award can be quite large.
- Non-economic losses: Depending on your injury, you may be entitled to compensation for lost quality of life, loss of consortium (that is, companionship with a spouse or family member) or other losses that are real but not attached to a specific dollar amount.
In some cases, you may also be awarded exemplary damages (sometimes known as "punitive damages"), which are intended to punish the negligent party for particularly reckless or intentional acts.
Note that most compensatory damages awarded in personal injury cases are tax-exempt. The government views those funds as making you whole again - much like a debt being repaid - rather than taxable "income." If your award includes both tax-exempt and non-exempt funds, as with cases involving exemplary damages, your attorney will ask the court to itemize the award for tax purposes.
Believe it or not, the sooner you involve a lawyer, the less likely it is that you'll have to sue. The majority of cases settle out of court, and the sooner we can get to work on your case, the more likely it is that we'll be able to negotiate a fair settlement. When you contact a personal injury lawyer after an accident, you're not being litigious or trying to collect your winnings from "life's lottery." You're just asking to be made whole again after sustaining losses that weren't your fault.
Generally speaking, nothing. We take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if and when you win. Our law firm will advance all costs related to your case, so you pay nothing out of pocket. When we negotiate a settlement or win a verdict in your favor, our fee is a percentage of your recovery. If we don't win, we don't get paid.
We understand that the idea of taking legal action against a loved one can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, this happens all the time. You may have been hurt in an accident as a passenger in a relative's car, or you may have been bitten by a neighbor's dog.
The reality is that when you file a personal injury claim, you're not trying to take your friend's money. You're just asking their insurance company to provide the coverage that your friend has already paid for. In most cases, we can deal with the insurance company without directly involving your loved one at all. That way, you can get the compensation you need to move forward without damaging your relationships.
Absolutely. With offices in College Station and Waco, we work with out-of-state clients routinely, including students at Texas A&M and Baylor University. We're familiar with the legal complexities surrounding these cases and know how to work toward a positive outcome. Depending on the circumstances, we may need to work with a local attorney in your home state; if that's the case, we'll split our fee with the other law firm so you won't end up paying more.
Ultimately, the person responsible for your injury should also be responsible for paying your medical bills. However, their liability insurance won't pay until you've completed your medical treatment, and your healthcare provider will want to be paid up front. How does that work?
You should be able to use your health insurance to cover treatment for the time being while we work on resolving your legal case. However, if you don't have health insurance, or if your insurance won't cover all of the procedures you need, we'll speak to your medical providers about an attorney's lien. This is an arrangement where a healthcare provider agrees to provide treatment at no up-front cost; they will be paid once we recover on your behalf.
Even if you have other avenues to get your accident-related costs paid, you are still entitled to file a personal injury claim. That is, even if your health insurance pays your medical bills, you can still claim compensation for medical bills from the negligent party's insurance. Their insurance company will then reimburse your health insurance company in a process called subrogation, which may help keep your premiums down.
Likewise, even if you use sick time at your job, you are still entitled to compensation for lost wages, and you may be able to use that compensation to "buy back" the sick time from your employer if desired. Remember, also, that personal injury claims can include damages not covered by health insurance or sick time, such as pain and suffering and replacement services.
That depends on the case. In general, we'll start negotiating with the insurance company after you've completed your medical treatment, and it usually takes between three and nine months to reach a settlement. If your case goes to trial, it will likely take one to two years to actually go before a judge and jury, although we will continue to negotiate and can reach a settlement during that time. The vast majority of claims do settle out of court, but we're always prepared to take a case to trial if that's what's needed to get the compensation you need.