If you have been in a car accident or suffered some other injury, such as a slip and fall, where another person or entity bears at least some of the responsibility for your accident, you may be tempted to handle it yourself and forego retaining a personal injury attorney.
Clients who have suffered injuries need an attorney in most cases because it can be enormously difficult to quantify the dollar value of a case for a non-attorney. Especially when there are multiple parties involved with varying degrees of liability, consumers are far more likely to settle for a low-ball offer than if they were represented by a qualified Texas personal injury attorney. Attorneys can assess and evaluate your case and its value according to comparable cases in your jurisdiction. If the insurance company offers only a paltry sum and your case is worth much more, they have the litigation skills required to take it to trial for a judge or jury to determine its merits.
These type of damages make up the bulk of a personal injury settlement or judgment. In an attempt to make the injured party “whole” after the accident or injury, they include:
Lost income. If you missed two weeks of work and are paid hourly wages, this should be relatively easy to calculate. But for salespersons working on commission, consultants or proprietors of a home-based businesses, accurately determining lost wages is more difficult. Additionally, the potential loss of earning capacity for injuries that fail to resolve to the point where resuming your regular job duties is impossible is another important consideration.
Medical bills. Again, on the surface this appears easy to figure out. Just add up all the doctor’s visits, ambulance ride, physical therapy, Ace bandages and crutches . . . no problem. But while some injuries appear to resolve initially, problems can develop later from that specific injury. Personal injury attorneys have knowledge of the types of injuries that may require future medical treatment and can include a dollar value for same in the damage claim.
Pain and suffering. These damages can be especially hard for a layman to calculate, especially if there are psychological components, e.g., fear of driving after being involved in a wreck.
Property damage. Can you seek only the value of what you lost, or can you request the replacement value? A personal injury attorney will know which amount to pursue.
Loss of consortium. Married claimants may not realize that their spouses might be entitled to a claim for loss of consortium if they can no longer be intimate due to the injury.
Some cases may be eligible for punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were especially atrocious or reckless. These damages go above and beyond compensatory damages and seek to penalize the defendant with a hefty fine. An unrepresented consumer may not realize that his or her case qualifies for these type of damages.
When in doubt, consult R. E. Lopez and Associates for advice before settling your case.