Personal Injury FAQs
Most people have important questions on their mind before hiring an attorney. Below are general answers to some of the most common questions we get. Answers may vary depending on your specific case and should be discussed with your attorney at your initial meeting.
1. What can I expect if I hire The Daws Law Firm?
We are an team of experienced attorneys and paralegals driven to help clients in their time of need. We employee people with high character, knowledge, and compassion so we can give the best service possible. We stand on values of hard-work, honesty, and integrity. We also pride ourselves on being approachable so that our clients can always feel comfortable picking up the phone. Our results, reputation, and client-referrals speak to our dedication of care and service given to each case. Big or small, we have successfully resolved cases both in and out of trial. We take pride in doing our best job – not just going through the motions. We know that if you give us a chance you will see the difference The Daws Law Firm can make for you.
2. What should I consider when deciding which law firm to hire?
The importance of choosing the best attorney for your case cannot be overstated. Like a marriage, if you pick the wrong partner you may be in for a long, regretful journey with a bad ending. We think the following factors should be considered before hiring an attorney:
- Your comfort level and relationship formed with the attorney
- Experience handling similar cases
- Past results obtained
- Ability to explain what to expect
- Quality and frequency of client communication
- Ability to answer your questions
- Resources available to spend money for your benefit
- Available support staff
- Reviews and feedback from past clients
- Reputation of the firm in the legal community
- Ability to go to trial should your case need to
3. I’ve been injured by someone else. What now?
It is easiest to think about it in two parts – the medical part and the legal part.
Medically, you need to focus on your recovery and returning to normal life, which usually includes the following:
- Initial emergency room assessment and treatment
- Identifying your injuries
- Forming a treatment plan with necessary medical providers, such as doctors, therapists, chiropractors, imaging, and specialists
- Following through on your treatment plan
- Completing your treatment when you are either back to normal or as close to normal as you can get
Legally, an attorney focuses on the following so that you can focus on your recovery:
- Counseling with you and answering your questions
- Gathering and assessing facts
- Preserving evidence
- Determining who the at-fault parties are
- Finding out available insurance policies and making claims
- Helping the client follow through on their medical plan as needed
- Gathering medical records and bills to substantiate your injury
- Gathering lost wage information
- Reviewing your case with you at the conclusion of your medical treatment to determine what your losses are
- Determining how much money it will take to fully compensate you
- Negotiating with the insurance company
- Filing and working a lawsuit if necessary
4. I don’t have money to pay for the needed medical treatment. What can be done?
Paying for medical treatment doesn’t have to be a burden on you. After all, you did not cause the accident. Even for people who have health insurance, the average person’s individual deductible is between $4,000 – $5,000. Unexpectedly paying this deductible is often either not possible or would put you in a financial bind. Therefore, whether you have health insurance or not, to help you get needed medical treatment without bearing the financial burden of it we can send a letter to your medical providers telling them that we represent you and expect the responsible party to cover the bill. We ask them to not bill you until after your case resolves. Many medical providers will understand your predicament and do this for you.
5. Does a lawsuit have to be filed?
Most of the time not. We resolve around two-thirds of our cases without ever having to file a lawsuit because we are able to work the case up well enough that the insurance company agrees to pay full compensation. We typically file lawsuits in three situations – failed negotiations, tragic injuries, and to preserve evidence.
Failed Negotiations. Filing a lawsuit is appropriate when the insurance company is being unreasonable and will not pay you fair compensation. We do not even talk with the insurance company about compensation until after you have had an opportunity to pursue a full physical recovery with your medical providers. We do this because you only get one chance at compensation, and we want to make sure you are fully compensated. After you have finished your medical treatment, we gather all of your medical records and bills and send a very thorough demand letter to the insurance adjuster that outlines who is at fault, your injuries, a chronology of your medical treatment, whether you made a full or partial physical recovery, your lost wages, etc. We also provide the adjuster with everything he or she will need to value your case (pictures, witness statements, medical records and bills, accident reports, etc.). If after providing your demand package to the insurance company they will still not pay full compensation, we recommend filing a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit will make the insurance company start spending money by paying a defense attorney, which will often cause them to revalue your case.
Tragic Injuries. Filing a lawsuit after a tragic injury is often appropriate to put the insurance company on notice of the seriousness of the case. Injuries come in all shapes and sizes. Most of the time, it takes time to tell how serious and lasting an injury will be. Because a person has up to two years to file a lawsuit, we find it most beneficial to the client to take a wait-and-see approach on their injuries and medical treatment, gather all supporting evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company to a final resolution. This strategy is often most advantageous to the client as opposed to racking up a lot of unnecessary case expenses and attorney’s fees on a case that could have been avoided. However, for cases involving death or clearly tragic injuries, filing a lawsuit immediately might be appropriate.
Preserving Evidence. Filing lawsuits is also appropriate when there is a concern that evidence will not be preserved. For instance, in an 18-wheeler case, it may be appropriate to file a temporary restraining order on the 18-wheeler to be able to download its onboard computer before that data is lost.
6. What can an injured person receive monetary compensation for?
In Texas, injury victims receive compensation for different damage categories, including but not limited to past and future:
- Medical Bills
- Physical Pain
- Mental Anguish
- Physical Incapacity
- Lost Wages
- Loss of Relationship
- Wrongful Death
- Court Costs
- Interest on the Judgment
7. How will we prove what my losses are?
Records are critical for proving losses in most injury cases. Most of the evidence used to prove your losses consist of your medical records, medical bills, and statements of lost earnings from your employer. Because medical records are so key, it is very important that your medical provider correctly documents your injuries and progress and that you are consistent in following your doctor’s treatment plan.
8. Can I receive compensation when before the accident I was already hurting in the same area but afterwards I hurt even more?
Yes. These are called aggravation injuries. In Texas, you can recover both for injuries initially caused by an accident and for underlying conditions that are aggravated by an accident. For example, if before an accident you had low back paid that was a 2/10 on the pain scale and after the accident it went to a 6/10, you would be entitled to recover for the aggravation of your back pain and any decreased physical abilities the aggravation may have caused.
9. What happens if a lawsuit gets filed?
If a lawsuit gets filed the attorney will do all of the heavy lifting while keeping you updated about the progress of your case. With attorney assistance, the client typically helps the most with answering discovery, attending their deposition, and going to mediation. Below is the typical roadmap for most personal injury cases:
- Filing the lawsuit
- Serving the defendant
- Exchanging written information and documents
- Obtaining medical and billing records
- Deposing important fact witnesses
- Deposing expert witnesses
- Having mediation
- Preparing for trial
10. If a lawsuit is filed, what are the chances that there will actually be a trial?
Statistically very low. Although we always prepare our cases as if they will be tried, statistics show that only between 1-2% of filed cases actually result in a trial. Most cases resolve through settlement after both sides have a chance to better develop the facts through exchanging discovery and taking depositions.
11. How do my attorneys get paid, and who pays for the case expenses?
Attorney’s Fees. We don’t get paid unless there is a recovery. This is called a contingency fee, because our fee and recovery of cases expenses is contingent on there being a monetary recovery. For fairness to the client, our contingency fee varies depending on what stage the case is in at the time it resolves. We have one rate for cases that resolve when no lawsuit needs to be filed, one rate for cases where a lawsuit is filed, and one rate if an appeal is filed and we work the appeal. Most injury attorneys charge similar rates.
Case Expenses. We pay all case expenses related to your case. Case expenses are out-of-pocket expenses necessary to work-up your case. Typical expenses include money paid to others to get the accident report, your records and bills, filing fees, process server fees, court reporter costs for depositions, etc. Expenses vary depending on the nature of the case, and they can range from a few hundred dollars to over a hundred thousand dollars. We only spend money on expenses necessary to further your case. If there is no recovery, you are not responsible for those costs, and we do not send you a bill. That is part of the risk we take. An itemized list of case expenses is kept on every case. If there is a recovery, case expenses are reimbursed to us from the recovery.
12. How do I know if someone is responsible for my injury?
When it is not obvious who is responsible, we can help you determine who is by investigating the facts and people involved. Once we have done so, we will compare their actions to what the law says is negligent or reckless conduct. Sometimes more than one person or company may be at-fault. For instance, in medical malpractice cases, there may be multiple health care providers and institutions who are at-fault. A careful review of the records by an expert in that particular field is often needed to determine who all is at-fault. The same applies to cases involving trucking accidents, construction accidents, and product liability.
13. What is a deposition?
A deposition is where a person is put under oath and asked questions by attorneys about the accident and resulting injuries. It is recorded by a court report, put into a transcript, and it can be used later at trial should that person say something different than they testified to in their deposition. You would only need to take a deposition if a lawsuit is filed, and it would take place at your attorney’s office. Most depositions last between 1-2 hours. Depositions are an important step in your case because they allow an opportunity for the defense attorney to do an evaluation of how you will present at trial. Depositions are often the last step before mediation. We prepare our clients before their deposition to know what to expect so that can be as familiar and confident about the process and questions likely to be asked as possible.
14. Why are medical records important?
Medical records are extremely important. They provide proof of what your injuries were, are, and will be in the future. They state your complained of symptoms, how you did during physical examination, and even provide objective data necessary to prove-up the extent of your injuries. If something is not recorded in the medical records, its almost like it never existed. That is how important your records are. Of course, a record cannot be made if the client does not go to their appointments. Therefore, we recommend that clients be consistent with following their treatment plan as prescribed by their doctors.
Medical records provide 2 types of important evidence:
- Subjective Evidence. Subjective evidence is something someone says that cannot necessarily be corroborated. For instance, if you told someone that you had a headache or that your neck hurt, those things cannot be proven. We just have to take your word for it. Your medical records will have your subjective complaints (i.e., the things you tell the doctor that are wrong with you) at every office visit. A person should make sure they are being fully honest and descriptive about their injuries in order to make sure that their medical records are the most accurate reflection of what their injuries are.
- Objective Evidence. Objective evidence is something that can be proven, meaning you don’t just have to take someone’s word for it. What a person tells a doctor is wrong with them can be strengthened or proven with the use objective evidence that is consistent with those subjective complaints. For example, a doctor performing a physical examination can feel and document muscle spasms in your neck that is consistent with reported neck pain. An MRI image can show a herniated disc or straightening of the spine at the level consistent with a person’s complaint of neck pain. Objective evidence in medical records can therefore be very important.
15. If I win my case at trial and the other side appeals it, will you work my appeal?
We work our own appeals. We have a track-record of successfully defending verdicts that defendants have appealed.
16. Does The Daws Law Firm work its own cases or farm them out to other firms?
Unlike some firms who sign up a case just to send it down the road to be worked by another attorney who you will likely never meet, we work our own cases. You will personally know and deal with our attorneys and an assigned paralegal over your case. Having continuity of legal care and reliable communication is helpful not only to obtaining a good result but also in helping the process be as stress-free as possible for you.
17. How long will my case take to resolve?
The length of a case depends on many factors. Factors that tend to lengthen the resolution time include tough liability facts, complexity of issues, need for continued medical care, and the seriousness of the injuries. A case where no lawsuit is filed typically takes around 6-8 months to resolve. A case where a lawsuit needs to be filed typically takes about 1.5 years.
18. Does The Daws Law Firm try its own cases? Law Firm try its own cases?
Yes. We have experienced trial attorneys who have obtained multiple multi-million-dollar verdicts at trial. We believe that our pre-trial preparation and hard work coupled with a genuine presentation of the evidence is the best approach for a favorable verdict.
19. How much is my case worth?
Every case is different. Factors likely to have a significant impact on the total monetary recovery include but are not limited to:
- Preserving and establishing key evidence
- Seriousness and duration of your injuries
- Total medical bills
- Total lost wages
- Past and future physical pain and mental anguish experienced
- Physical incapacities
- Credibility of the Client
- Credibility and Persuasiveness of your Attorney
- Willingness to bring your case to trial
20. Should I hire a local attorney?
Yes. Hiring a local attorney is very important for many reasons, including developing a personal relationship and having quality communication. Most people want to have a personal relationship with their attorney. Without a personal relationship, it can be hard to develop meaningful trust. With a local attorney, you have the option to come in and talk about your case face-to-face and continue building that relationship of trust by discussing your case and situation. Not only does a local presence help with trust, but it also helps to facilitate good communication with you. Instead of being just another case at some high-volume lawsuit mill and waiting for someone to return your call, you are likely to have better communication if you have the option of actually coming to the office.
21. How quickly should I hire an attorney?
How quickly you should hire an attorney depends on whether you need an attorney at all. If you do need an attorney, it is most beneficial to get an attorney involved as early as possible. Early representation will allow you and the attorney to preserve evidence, answer questions, and create a roadmap going forward. For example, often times after an accident an insurance adjuster will call the victim as soon as possible to get a recorded statement. During that call, the adjuster asks seemingly innocent questions about the victim’s injuries that could be understood multiple ways. Even when the injured person answers them honestly those answers often times get twisted by a defense attorney later down the road. Early representation can help you stay out of these kinds of pitfalls and provide positive direction towards recovery.
22. What kind of communication should I expect with my attorney?
Legal battles are tough enough as it is without having to fight for an update from your own attorney. Poor communication is the most frequent complaint made against attorneys, and it’s a shame. Because communication is so important, we strive to be proactive in our communication with clients. For instance, for clients who are still undergoing medical treatment we typically call them every two weeks to check on their progress and give them updates. This not only allows us to stay updated on your medical treatment and recovery, but it also provides an opportunity for you to get questions answered. Your ability to effectively communicate with your legal representatives should be a very important consideration before hiring an attorney.