Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury
Dealing with a personal injury case can be a very overwhelming experience considering the many different factors and situations that can lead to an injury or death. At the time of a negligent accident when nothing seems to be making sense, we know you’ll want answers to your questions.
The J. Gonzalez Injury Attorneys have provided you and your loved ones with all of the answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) victims of negligence have. This guide is designed to keep you fully informed and will be updated frequently to ensure that no question goes unanswered.
Q: What is a personal injury lawsuit?
A: A personal injury lawsuit is a legal dispute that occurs when an individual suffers harm as the result of an accident or injury caused by another negligent, reckless, or malicious party. The person who caused the harm may be legally responsible for damages suffered by the victim.
Q: How does personal injury law work?
A: A personal injury case begins when an individual–known as the plaintiff–files a civil complaint against another individual, business, corporation, or government agency–the defendant. It must first be established that the defendant had a legal “duty of care” towards the plaintiff. It must then be shown that the defendant failed to uphold this duty of care towards the plaintiff. Then, it must generally be determined that the defendant could have foreseen the incident and acted to prevent or avoid it. Because of how complicated personal injury law can be, it is in your best interest to work closely with a personal injury lawyer.
Q: What is bodily injury liability insurance?
A: Bodily injury liability is a form of insurance that helps an individual pay for another’s injuries if they have been found responsible for an accident.
Q: What is the difference between PIP (Personal Injury Protection) and bodily injury liability insurance?
A: Personal injury protection is an extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and other damages. While bodily injury liability insurance covers the other party involved in an accident, PIP protects YOU if you have been hurt in an accident, regardless if you are at fault.
Q: How do you explain pain and suffering?
A: Individuals may be able to obtain compensation for these two types of pain and suffering:
- Physical pain and suffering: This relates to the physical pain a plaintiff endures as a result of the personal injury they suffered. It also accounts for the negative effects related to the accident that the victim may continue to endure in the future.
Mental pain and suffering: Mental pain and suffering accounts for the emotional injuries suffered by a victim including mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, depression, anxiety, and other such negative emotions.
Q: Should I accept the first offer of compensation?
A: Unless you have spoken with an experienced personal injury attorney beforehand–or have one on the call with you–you should NEVER accept an offer from an insurance company or from any other party involved in your accident.
Q: What happens if you lose a personal injury claim?
A: If you lose your personal injury lawsuit, then you will NOT be awarded any compensation for damages you have incurred, and you may be responsible for costs related to the lawsuit. However, you will generally have the opportunity to appeal your case. Please be aware that the appeals process is not quick and can draw out the process for another year or longer.
Q: How much should I ask for a Personal Injury Settlement?
A: You need to first gather documentation related to the expenses and losses you have suffered as a result of your personal injury. You will also need to take into account future expenses and non-economic damages. The best way to determine how much you should ask for in your personal injury statement is to work closely with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Q: How much compensation can you get for bodily injury?
A: There is not a specific total awarded to each individual of a personal injury claim. However, you can figure out the general value of your claim by adding up costs and expenses related to your injuries, such as medical bills, treatment bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and loss of income. Most bodily injury claims are paid out by insurance companies, but you should be aware that there are limits of coverage, which is the maximum amount the insurer will payout.
Q: How much money can you sue for pain and suffering?
A: Determining the value of your pain and suffering can be difficult because it is not tied to an actual amount such as a medical bill. In Texas, the multiplier method is used to determine the value of pain and suffering. An insurance company will add up all your economic damages and multiply that sum by a scale between 1.5 to 5.
Q: Does PIP pay for pain and suffering?
A: Personal injury protection auto insurance pays for certain extra damages including medical services, death damages including funeral and burial costs, as well as lost wages if you have had to miss work as the result of your car accident.
Q: Is personal injury protection worth it?
A: PIP coverage may be worth considering as it can help you pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses not covered by your traditional car insurance.
Q: What is the minimum PIP payment?
A: The minimum coverage required to be “offered” in Texas is $2,500. However, it is recommended that you get as much coverage as possible.
Q: How long does it take to receive an offer of compensation?
A: Texas statutes state that an insurer must notify a claimant of acceptance or rejection of a claim within 15 days after the insurer receives all items and forms requested. However, in a personal injury claim, it can take a substantial amount of time to receive an offer of compensation. While you can settle quickly, this generally means that you receive less money.
Q: How often do personal injury claims go to court?
A: More than 95% of all personal injury lawsuits are settled privately. There is, however, a slim chance that a claim can go to trial if the plaintiff and defendant cannot reach a settlement.
Q: How do insurance companies determine pain and suffering?
A: There are no strict rules for putting a value on pain and suffering, but an insurance company may consider:
- Adding up all your economic damages and multiplying that sum by a scale between 1.5 to 5.
- A “per diem” approach where a certain amount is assigned for every day following the day of the accident.
Insurance companies are not required to use these methods and generally use a computer program to determine the settlement amount for a pain and suffering claim.
Q: How do you prove negligence in personal injury cases?
A: In order to prove negligence in a personal injury claim, there are four legal elements that must be determined:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim, meaning they were obligated to avoid injuring someone or putting them in a path of danger.
- There was a breach of duty, and the plaintiff created or allowed a dangerous situation to happen.
- The at-fault party’s breach of duty directly caused your injury.
- The plaintiff suffered measurable damages and losses as a result of the personal injury.
Q: How can I prove my pain and suffering?
A: Your personal injury lawyer will work closely with you to obtain evidence of your pain and suffering, including:
- Medical bills
- Medical records
- Medical prognosis
- Expert testimony
- Pictures and notes of your injuries
- Psychiatric records
- Evidence of how your injuries have negatively affected your life
Q: Can I make a personal injury claim myself?
A: You can indeed represent yourself in a personal injury claim after an accident. However, because of how complicated a personal injury claim can become, it is in your best interest to seek guidance from an experienced Rio Grande Valley personal injury attorney.