Typically, when you’ve been in an incident where you suffered an injury (e.g., car accident, slip, and fall, etc.), it’s relatively easy to figure out if you’ve got a personal injury claim on your hands. You simply need to prove that you’re the victim and another party was at fault. But if you’re situated in Dallas, TX, the process can be a bit more taxing and less rewarding. This is mainly because the state of Texas follows a complex legal doctrine.
What Is The Legal Doctrine In Dallas, TX?
A legal doctrine is a set of rules that are followed in the case of conflict between two or more parties. It mainly influences the judgment given by the jury or the judge and often decides whether an individual can seek compensation or not.
There are several types of legal doctrine. Depending on the state you’re in, the legal doctrine may vary:
- Contributory negligence: This negligence doctrine states that the plaintiff (you) cannot receive any compensation of any kind, even if you’re 1% at fault for the incident. People often consider this doctrine too harsh for the plaintiff.
- Comparative negligence: The comparative negligence doctrine states that the plaintiff will always receive compensation if they win, but it may get reduced depending on how much of the incident is their fault. For example, if the court has decided that the compensation is USD$100,000, and you were 30% at fault, you’ll only receive USD$70,000. Similarly, even if the plaintiff is mostly at fault, they’ll still receive compensation if they win the case, although it would be significantly reduced.
There are other versions of the comparative doctrine, such as modified comparative negligence, which is Texas’ legal doctrine. It’s a similar doctrine, except if you’re at least 50% at fault for the incident, you won’t be receiving any compensation. In these cases, it’s best to seek a personal injury attorney Dallas, TX.
However, that’s not to say you won’t be eligible to file a personal injury claim. As long as you meet the basic requirements, you should be able to start the process.
Basic Requirements For Filing A Personal Injury Claim
Aside from the legal doctrine mentioned above, there will always be three basic requirements that would make you eligible to file a personal injury claim. This includes the following:
- The other party was careless or negligent in any way. For example, if you’re involved in a car accident with a truck driver, they must’ve ignored a sign of some sort or violated a traffic rule. In the case of slip and fall, the owner of the establishment is aware of the hazard but neglected it, which resulted in your accident.
- The other party’s negligence has caused an accident, which left you with a personal injury. In the previous example, if you sustained a broken arm or a concussion, you’ll be legally viable to file a claim. The personal injury doesn’t have to be visible either. It can be headaches, constant pain, or even mental trauma.
- The injury must have also resulted in damages. If the injury required medical attention, for example, then it must’ve resulted in medical bills or lost wages.
If you meet these three requirements, then it’s safe to say that you’re legally viable to file a personal injury claim. But remember, there are always exceptions.
When Should You Not File A Personal Injury Claim In Dallas, TX?
Even after meeting the three requirements mentioned above, that doesn’t mean you should always file a claim. This is because of the following rules:
- Assumption of Risk
The assumption of risk states that if you’re aware of the risk and dangers of an activity, then you’ll be responsible for any damage you sustain from the said activity. For example, if you’re running blindfolded inside a hotel and slips because of spilled water and sustains an injury as a result, you can’t blame the owner, even if it’s partly their fault.
- Statute of Limitations
The term ‘statute of limitations’ has become a lot more ubiquitous lately, so you’ve probably heard of it at least once. Basically, the statute of limitations is the time limit wherein a plaintiff is eligible to file a claim. Each state has varying time limits, and in Dallas, TX, the statute of limitations for personal injury is two years.
If you filed the injury after these two years, for who knows why, you can expect that your case would be dismissed immediately. But as always, there are exceptions.
For example, you may have discovered your injury a bit later than usual, and this would naturally extend the statute of limitations. If you’re a minor, this rule may also go in your favor since the statute of limitations doesn’t start until you turn 18. Speaking of minors, you might also face difficulties when the at-fault party is a minor.
- Minor At-Fault Party
You’re legally viable to sue minors if they’re at fault for an accident that caused your injury, given that you’ve fulfilled the three requirements. However, it’s rarely worth the time, especially since they’re most likely broke and cannot pay for the compensation.
But if you must, then remember that instead of suing the person directly involved in the accident, which is the minor, it would be better if you also include their parents. Of course, the parents aren’t legally responsible for paying for their children’s mistakes, but you’ll have a higher chance of getting the compensation that way, so it’s still worth a try.
If your case belongs to either one of these scenarios, then your chances of receiving compensation are slim. If not, then good for you, but you also have to take into account the time and effort you’ll have to put into settling a personal injury claim.
How Long Does It Take To Settle A Personal Injury Claim?
Settling a personal injury claim isn’t easy. Before filing a personal injury claim, you have to ask yourself, ‘Are you prepared to put in the time and effort the process requires?’ Take note that it would take at least six months and can go for as long as two years. Not to mention the case may also drag out because of certain circumstances, such as when:
- You haven’t fully recovered
The best time to file your personal injury claim is when you’ve already fully recovered since your medical records would already be ready. However, if you haven’t fully recovered, both parties would have to wait before deciding on the amount of compensation, which will inevitably extend the timeline of the personal injury claim.
- Liability is difficult to prove
Naturally, if the defendant insists on feigning ignorance of their negligence, the claim would take longer. But that’s not the only factor that can make a claim go for longer than it should have. For example, if there were no witnesses or concrete evidence, then no one can tell for sure if you were really the victim. In these cases, it’s best to simply wait for the other party to give in, which is sure to take a long while.
- It involves a lot of money
Even if you’ve won your case and it was decided that you’ll receive compensation, both parties would have to agree on the amount of compensation. Unfortunately, if it involves a lot of money, the defendant would most likely prolong the process in hopes that you’ll eventually give in for a much lower amount. This is why having a legal representative is always a good idea. Not only can they speed up the process, but they can also tell if the deal offered by the defendant is in your favor or not. In this case, it’s not.
Of course, there are several ways to speed up the personal injury claim. For instance, you can simply settle for a lower amount than what you originally proposed. You can also hire legal experts to help you out. Since the former is hugely against your favor, the latter is often the more preferred option for individuals that are currently involved in a personal injury claim.
Tips To Prevent Nulling Your Personal Injury Claim
If you’ve gathered concrete evidence, convinced the jury, and disproved the defendant’s claims, all within a short period of time, you’re probably thinking you can do whatever you want now as you wait for the other party’s judgment. This is where you’re mistaken.
Even with favor stacked against the defendant, they can still crawl their way out of paying you compensation using your mistakes. If you don’t want that to happen, you may want to follow these tips:
- Steer away from social media
While celebrating your ‘inevitable’ win in social media is nice, it’s advisable to steer away from these platforms as it may show that you’re not as hurt as you make yourself out to be. This can damage your claim and may prolong the process.
- Do not sign a medical release
Insurance adjusters will most likely ask you to sign a medical release wherein you’re allowing them access to your medical records. While it’s sometimes a good idea, it’s generally not advisable, especially since they can dig up some information that would work against your favor. For example, if they find a pre-existing injury, they can choke up your current injury as a mere continuation of your pre-existing injury.
- Make sure you get medical attention
One of the scenarios where you’re not eligible to file a claim is the assumption of risk where you’re aware of the dangers of what you’re doing. If you don’t seek medical attention and suffer from further injury, then that would be on you.
At this point, you most likely know more than what an average person knows about personal injury cases. But even if you’re 100% confident you’ll receive compensation if you ever file for a personal injury claim, there’s no point if you don’t have the other party’s contact information in the first place. That’s why, aside from learning about personal injury claims, it’s also essential to act immediately after the incident.