A Guide to Finding the Right Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston
Finding the right personal injury lawyer will make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Choosing a lawyer with extensive experience in successfully handling personal injury cases is essential. Personal injury attorneys in Houston assist you in understanding your legal rights and options and advise you on the best course of action for your case.
Houston is a large city with a high population and traffic density, which means that there are many potential sources of personal injury accidents. If you get injured in an accident, it is best to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side to guide you through the legal process. This article will provide a step-by-step guide to finding the right personal injury lawyer in Houston to handle your case.
Understanding Personal Injury Law in Houston
Personal injury law is relevant in a large and populous city like Houston. Car accidents, workplace accidents, slip and falls, defective products, medical malpractice, and other personal injuries are all too common.
In a personal injury case, as a general rule the injured person must prove that the other party was negligent, or in a case involving a defective product, that the product was in a defective condition and unreasonably dangerous.
- Negligence means that the other party failed to use reasonable care in the circumstances which then caused the injury.
- For strict liability in a defective product case, one must prove that the product was in a defective condition and unreasonably dangerous, and that the defective condition was a producing cause of the injury.
Legal requirements and statute of limitations
Finding a personal injury lawyer is important to help navigate the legal requirements and understand the statute of limitations. There are certain elements that a plaintiff must show to prove a claim for damages based on negligence. These are:
- That the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The plaintiff’s injuries and harm were proximately caused as a result.
- The plaintiff suffered damages.
The statute of limitations is the deadline for either filing a proper lawsuit or settling the claim. In the state of Texas, the general rule for a claim based on negligence is that the claim must either be settled or a proper lawsuit must be filed no later than 2 years from the date of the negligence, and if that is not done, the claimant will forever lose his or her right to make the claim. There are exceptions to this rule which is why it is so important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine the statute of limitations for each particular case and its unique facts.
Special rules and procedures apply if the injury was caused by a governmental entity such as the state, a county, a city, or one of its employees.. In such cases, the government will likely have sovereign immunity which protects it from the claim or limits the claim. In Texas, there is a statute named the Texas Tort Claims Act that outlines immunity and exceptions to immunity.
You must file a claim within the time limit of the statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, the court will dismiss the case, and you will forever lose your right to compensation.
Assessing Your Personal Injury Case
Determining if you have a valid personal injury claim
You may have a viable personal injury claim if you get injured because of someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing.
A valid claim may exist if the at-fault person or company had a legal duty to act with a reasonable level of care and not cause harm to you. They must have failed to meet their duty of care towards you. And as a result of that failure, you must have suffered an injury or some type of damage.
Evaluating the extent of your injuries and damages
The extent of your injuries affects the amount of damages you can claim. To evaluate the extent of injuries and damages, you need to consider several factors, such as:
- The nature and severity of your injuries: The more serious and permanent your injuries are, the more compensation you deserve. For example, if you suffered an amputation or traumatic brain injury, you will have a higher claim than if you suffer a soft tissue injury such as a sprain. An examination by a medical expert will be an important factor in determining the extent of your injuries and how they affect your mental and physical health.
- The cost of your medical treatment and future care: This is the amount of your medical bills, in the past and future, due to your injuries. It includes past and future hospitalization costs, surgery, medication, rehabilitation, home modifications, and other necessary care.
- The loss of your income and earning capacity: It goes without saying that the more income you lose, the more compensation you should be able to claim. This includes past and future losses of wages, salary, bonuses, commissions, tips, benefits, and any other form of income. You can claim the loss of earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from working as you were before.
- The pain and suffering, and mental anguish: The pain and suffering you experience due to your injuries has compensation. This includes physical pain and discomfort, emotional distress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and potentially more.
- Physical impairment: This is a category of damages related to a person’s limited physical ability because of an injury. Physical impairment can be partial, say 10-20%, or total.
Gathering necessary documentation for your case
Evaluating injuries and damages in a personal injury case in Houston is not an exact science. It depends on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. Evidence to support a claim for damages includes various types of documents.
Some necessary documents you must have are:
- Medical records, bills, and receipts prove the medical care and cost of your medical treatment. Medical examinations and medical care will be evidence of the nature and severity of your injuries.
- Pay stubs, tax returns, and employment records prove your loss of income. Expert testimony can be provided to prove the loss of your future earning capacity.
- Videos, diaries, letters, journals, and personal statements can be essential in supporting a claim for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. This will provide evidence of how your injuries have affected your life.
Researching Personal Injury Lawyers in Houston
It is important to find a lawyer with experience in successfully handling personal injury cases for several reasons:
- Understanding your rights: An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you understand your legal rights and options. They can explain the relevant laws and procedures that apply to your case and advise you on the best course of action to take.
- Knowledge of the process: They know the evidence needed to prove your claim and help you avoid making mistakes that can harm your case.
- Experience with cases: Their experience in personal injury cases is essential in developing the case, handling the claim before and during litigation, negotiating a favorable settlement, and when necessary taking your case to trial.
- Getting full compensation: A good personal injury lawyer will help you maximize your recovery and obtain your deserved compensation.
Finding a lawyer with experience in personal injury cases in Houston will make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
Getting help from a law firm with years of demonstrated experience
At The Callahan Law Firm, our personal injury trial attorneys have well over 25 years of experience successfully representing injured people and their families. We provide the respect, undivided attention, and compassion you deserve during this challenging time.
Contact us today for a FREE initial case review, and remember, you won’t pay a dime unless a financial recovery is made in your case.
Let us handle the details while you focus on your health and trying to get back to where you were before the injury. We’re available to talk whenever and however is most convenient for you.
Utilizing online resources and directories to find potential lawyers
This is a convenient and effective way to start your search for a personal injury lawyer in Houston.
Some benefits of this are:
- Accessing a large number of lawyers and law firms in your area and filtering them as you like.
- You can contact and talk to lawyers and law firms directly through their websites, phone numbers, email addresses, or online forms.
- Comparing different lawyers and firms based on their profiles, awards, testimonials, and case results.
Seeking recommendations from trusted sources
Another way to find potential lawyers for your personal injury case is through the recommendations of friends, family, co-workers, and other professionals.
Some benefits of this are:
- You get personal and honest feedback from people who have had first-hand experience with the lawyers or law firms they recommend. They can tell you how satisfied they were, the lawyer’s communication style, fees, and results.
- You can get referrals from people who have similar legal issues as you. They will tell you how the lawyers handled their cases.
- Other professionals or lawyers can tell you about the reputation, skills, and expertise of the law firms they recommend.
Narrowing Down Your Options
With the research done, you now have to narrow down your options. When evaluating potential lawyers, there are several factors that you should consider.
Is the lawyer licensed and in good standing with the bar? Is the lawyer Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization? What is the lawyer’s experience in successfully handling injury claims?
You can examine their website to assess their expertise in your specific type of personal injury case. Also, you can get referrals from trusted people or other lawyers.
The website will contain client testimonials and reviews. You should look carefully at them. These are of great help in assessing a lawyer’s competence.
Consultations and Interviews
With your list, you can now move on to the stage of setting up consultations with the selected lawyers. This is an important step in finding the right legal representation for your case.
Here are some tips on how to do it effectively:
Define who is setting it.
Depending on the structure and size of the law practice, you can consult with the intake specialist, the legal assistant, or the lawyer directly. You must know who you are meeting with and how to contact them.
Prepare questions for the consultation.
Some questions you could ask during the consultation are:
- Does the lawyer specialize in your type of case?
- How many similar cases has the lawyer handled?
- What are their fees, and how do they calculate them?
- What are the possible risks and benefits of pursuing your case?
- What is the lawyer’s preferred communication style, and how often will they update you?
- Who else will work on your case, and what are their qualifications?
- What are the next steps, and how long does the process take?
Don’t delay or postpone the initial consultation, as you may lose the opportunity to work with the lawyer you want. And equally if not more important, evidence can disappear or be more difficult to obtain as time passes which is why it is so important to have a legal team begin work on your case as soon as possible. Try to have this initial consultation as soon as possible after you have done your research.
Understanding Fees and Payment Structures
Understanding the different fee arrangements commonly used by personal injury attorneys means you can make an informed decision when it comes to hiring one. These are:
Contingency fee arrangement
This type of fee arrangement allows people to hire highly qualified lawyers and law firms to pursue their claims without paying any upfront costs or hourly rates. Instead, the law firm and attorney will be paid a percentage of the amount recovered in the case. If the case is unsuccessful – if a financial recovery is not made, you do not have to pay anything.
Hourly rate arrangement
The lawyer charges a fixed amount per hour for their services, regardless of the case’s outcome. You will pay a retainer fee upfront and receive periodic invoices for the hours worked. The hourly rate depends on the lawyer’s experience, skill, and reputation.
Flat fee arrangement
The lawyer charges you a fixed amount for handling the entire case or a part of it. This could be filing a complaint or drafting a settlement agreement. You can pay this fee upfront or in installments.
This arrangement is a mix of the different fee structures. The lawyer will charge an hourly rate for some parts of the case and a flat fee for others.
Additional costs and expenses that you should expect
Regardless of the fee structure, there are other expenses that you should be aware of when making your decision, such as:
Medical related case expenses
These are fees for getting medical reports, records, and bills.
These are for the filing and serving of court documents including the lawsuit.
Expert witness fees
If your case involves hiring experts to give evidence, the experts will charge fees for their time and service. These could be medical experts, accident reconstruction experts, safety experts, vocational rehabilitation experts, economists or other professionals.
Other third-party costs
These are costs for services such as court reporter, travel expenses, fees for an interpreter, and photocopying charges.
While it may seem complicated, finding an experienced and professional personal injury lawyer can help ensure that you receive fair compensation.
Making Your Decision
The search to find the right personal injury lawyer for you and your case can feel exhausting. But doing so will make a difference in your experience and case outcome. Here are some tips you can consider when comparing lawyers:
Experience and expertise
You want a lawyer who is experienced in handling personal injury claims and lawsuits for injured people and their families, has handled similar cases and has a good track record of success.
Communication and compatibility
Your lawyer must listen to you, understand your goals, and explain your options clearly. They should also be easy to work with and responsive.
Trust your instincts
This can be helpful when choosing a lawyer, but it should not be the only factor. When comparing different lawyers, you should try to balance your gut feeling with rational analysis and evidence.
Finalizing your choice and moving forward
Once you have selected the right attorney, here are some things you should do to move forward:
Notify the selected attorney
Contact the chosen attorney and let them know you want to hire them for your case. You should also confirm the fee arrangement and the scope of work that they will perform for you. Make sure they review with you the retainer agreement outlining your relationship’s terms and conditions.
Sign the retainer agreement
Once you understand the retainer agreement and your questions have been answered to your satisfaction, sign the agreement and make sure you are provided a copy.
Provide any information and documents
Provide all the material your lawyer needs to start working on your case. Update them on any changes in your situation or medical condition. Follow their instructions, keep in touch with the lawyer, let them know if your address or phone number changes, and be responsive when they reach out to you.
Finding the Right Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston
Finding the right personal injury lawyer for your case is important because that lawyer and law firm will be critical in making sure that you get the justice you deserve. The right personal injury lawyer will also help reduce your stress and hassle by handling the details of your legal case so that you do not have to. You can therefore focus on your well-being and trying to get your life back on track.
To get the personal injury lawyer who is best for you, use online resources, seek recommendations from trusted sources when available, and trust your gut.
Making mistakes could cost you. Follow these simple steps outlined in this guide to find a trusted, experienced, and reputable personal injury attorney in Houston that is right for you and your case.
Q: Can I ask my lawyer how much my case is worth?
A: You can, but they cannot give you an exact amount. They may be able to provide an estimated range of values based on their experience and knowledge of similar cases.
Q: How long do most personal injury cases take to settle?
A: There is no definitive answer. Depending on the facts of the case and other factors, it could take a couple of months upwards to several years.
Q: How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer?
A: The cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer depends on the fee arrangement you agree on with your lawyer. The most common fee arrangement is a contingency fee, where the lawyer is paid a percentage of the financial recovery that is made in your case.
Michael S Callahan is an attorney and founder of The Callahan Law Firm. He focuses his practice on representing individuals and families in personal injury cases involving motor vehicle and truck accidents, workplace accidents and defective products. With over 25 years of experience, he is dedicated to fighting on behalf of people whose lives have been forever altered by the negligence and carelessness of corporations and individuals. Originally trained as a mechanical engineer, Michael has been practicing law and fighting for justice for those who need it most since 1994. He is board-certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a member of various esteemed legal associations. Outside of work, Michael enjoys spending quality time with his family, outdoor activities, and continually striving to improve as a trial lawyer and human being.