What Does Your San Antonio Personal Injury Attorney Do on Your Case?
Preparation for a lawsuit begins before the initial filing of pleadings. Personal injury litigation includes several complex stages.In general, personal injury litigation occurs in the following phases:
- Pre-litigation research: Your attorney helps gather background information, evaluate your case, and conduct preliminary legal research.
- Filing a complaint: Lawsuits officially start with the filing of a complaint or a legal document stating your legal claims, the facts that support your claim, and what type of relief you seek.
- Discovery: During the discovery process, both parties trade information, interview witnesses, and hold depositions. Your attorney seeks to obtain physical evidence, eyewitness testimony, and depose key witnesses in a personal injury case. Your attorney will also help identify medical experts, engineers, scientists, or other individuals to help establish how you were injured or the extent of your injury.
- Pre-trial motions: Throughout the pre-trial stage, attorneys make motions or requests for the court to act or force someone to act, as needed. Specific motions can include a motion to compel the other party to turn over damaging evidence or a motion to dismiss the lawsuit if the plaintiff fails to file properly or if their claims are frivolous or unsupported by the evidence. Your attorney can help draft, interpret, and respond to motions, which play a vital role in determining your case’s outcome.
- Trial: In Texas, following discovery, parties can request a trial to bring their personal injury lawsuit before a judge or jury. At a trial, both parties present facts and evidence to support their case and its accompanying claims and defenses. The judge or jury will render a verdict that determines the case’s outcome based on what they find.
- Appeals: Plaintiffs and defendants may seek to appeal a case as a matter of law. In other words, your attorney can help render an unfavorable outcome moot but only as it relates to an error of law.
- Settlement: Settlement can happen at any point before or during litigation. Settlements are legally binding contracts between two parties in a lawsuit to resolve the issues. Settlements often involve financial compensation and other requirements (e.g., a public apology or non-disclosure agreement).
Common Personal Injuries in San Antonio
- Car accidents: The most prevalent and well-known type of personal injury suit involves car accidents. Most traffic accidents occur at an intersection where motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians must cross paths. In many cases, intersections consist of complex and confusing maneuvers. A person who negligently causes a car accident might be liable for resulting damages, including property damage and personal injuries. Schedule a free consultation with our San Antonio car accident lawyers to learn more.
- Truck accidents: Truck accidents are distinct from car accidents. While car accidents can be catastrophic, accidents involving trucks have a higher likelihood of causing serious injuries and extensive property damage. Trucks can sometimes weigh thirty times more than a car, and the destruction they cause is catastrophic. One study found that approximately 16 percent of truck accident deaths were truck drivers, while sixty-seven percent occupied other vehicles. Because of the heightened risk, federal, state, and local governments have enacted special regulations relating to trucks. Violations of these regulations by truck drivers, truck companies, truck manufacturers, and truck maintenance and repair companies can lead to liability.
- Traffic accident hotspots in San Antonio: San Antonio has several hotspots, including certain intersections where collisions are more likely to occur. According to one report, traffic accidents historically happen at higher frequencies at the following intersections: Loop 1604 and Interstate 10; Northwest Loop 410 and Interstate 10; U.S. 281 and Interstate 35; West Loop 1604 North and Highway 16; Northeast Loop 410 and Interstate 35; North Loop 1604 East and Interstate 35; Alamo Ranch Parkway and Westwood Loop; Northeast Loop 410 and Walzem Road; Northwest Loop 410 and Wurzbach Road; and Northwest Loop 410 and San Pedro Avenue.
- Premises liability: A premises liability lawsuit aims to hold a property owner responsible for an injury arising on that person’s property. A property owner must take “reasonable” care to maintain a safe environment. When the property owner fails to do so, they might be liable for damages under premises liability laws. Commonly, premises liability lawsuits include property owners who fail to cure a defect in a building they own, who misuse property for something it cannot handle, or for otherwise maintaining dangerous conditions.
- Slip and falls: Slips and falls are a common subset of premises liability claims. Usually, successful slip and fall cases involve dangerous conditions created by a property owner’s failure to construct or maintain a facility properly. For example, if a property owner fails to mark off or dry a wet floor, the property owner might be liable for injuries sustained when someone slips and falls on the floor.
- Burn injuries, head injuries, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries: Common injuries that people file suit over include burn injuries, head injuries, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
- Wrongful death: A family member or estate can file suit on behalf of a decedent (deceased person) in a wrongful death case. Wrongful death lawsuits include compensation for incurred damages, such as loss of support, funeral expenses, medical expenses, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium.
A San Antonio Personal Injury Primer: Negligence
Tort law is an area of civil law that deals with harms recoverable through monetary damages. In a tort case, the defendant harms the plaintiff, and now the plaintiff seeks to hold the defendant liable for the harm done.
Intentional torts, such as assault and battery, include an act that someone carries out with the intent to harm you. More commonly, personal injury attorneys handle negligence cases. Negligence is a subset of tort law. Some consider negligent law “the law of accidents.”
Attorneys generally divide negligence into four or five elements.
In San Antonio, the plaintiff must prove each of these five elements to bring a suit successfully:
- Duty: People have a general duty to take “reasonable” or “ordinary” care under the circumstances concerning their activities and instruments. Broadly, most people and businesses owe a duty to everyone else, with some exceptions (e.g., trespass).
- Breach: For breach, a court asks whether the defendant breached a duty of care. In general, the plaintiff must identify a specific act or omission that exposed the plaintiff to an “unreasonable risk” that is “reasonably foreseeable” and “reasonably preventable.”
- Actual harm: The plaintiff must prove that she suffered legally cognizable harm. If someone is physically injured, then harm almost always exists.
- Causation: Sometimes referred to as but-for causation, courts require evidence that the plaintiff’s injury would not have resulted but for the defendant’s actions. For example, in a rear-end collision, courts will often find that “but for” the negligent driver’s actions, the accident would not have happened, and the injuries would thereby not have followed.
- Scope: Whether a plaintiff’s injuries fall within the scope of liability depends on whether the harm was a type of harm the negligence was likely to cause based on the accident’s circumstances.
San Antonio Personal Injury FAQs
Here are answers to questions we commonly receive:
What cases do your San Antonio personal injury attorneys handle?
Personal injury attorneys handle a variety of cases in which an individual suffers injury. Each injury and its related circumstances might differ, but the legal requirements to recover for a personal injury are often the same. Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys handle cases involving personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, premises liability, burns, head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, slip and falls, and wrongful deaths.
What do I do after a personal accident in San Antonio?
If a reckless or negligent driver injures you in an accident, you should first seek medical attention. Above all else, you need to ensure that you receive proper medical care to resolve any issues before becoming more serious.
In cases in which you do not seek immediate medical care after an accident, you should document the accident as thoroughly as possible. You can take photos and videos, jot down names and contact information of witnesses, and contact the police to file a report. Do not admit fault or make any deals with the other party. Also, do not exchange anything other than information, such as cash.
Do I have a San Antonio personal injury case?
You should consult an attorney to determine if you have a case. Often, evaluating a claim on your own is difficult. As a layman, you will likely spend an excessive amount of time conducting legal research and surveying complex case law that’s challenging to interpret correctly on your own. Personal injury attorneys know the relevant law and where to find information on your case’s specific facts.
Your attorney can also compare your case to previous cases to determine the likelihood of success for recovering compensation, how much you might recover, and whether you should proceed with a claim.
At Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys, we offer a free consultation to determine whether you have a viable case. We can provide a general evaluation of your case and advise you on your next steps.
When should I file my San Antonio personal injury case?
When an injured party should file their case varies. It may be more strategic to file a lawsuit earlier than later, but this is not always the case. Most importantly, you must ensure that you file your claim before the statute of limitations expires. If you wait too long, you waive your ability to bring a lawsuit and recover compensation for your incurred damages. In Texas, you typically need to file a personal injury claim within two years from the accident date.
Contact an attorney to evaluate your case and determine whether you can still file a claim. Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys handle personal injury cases often and aim to help compensate victims within the allowable time. A U.S. Army medic veteran who pays careful attention to his clients’ needs and deadlines related to their case owns our law firm.
What types of financial compensation can a San Antonio personal injury lawyer help me recover?
Personal injury attorneys can help secure the following types of financial compensation to cover your damages:
- Compensation for actual expenses, including medical expenses; future medical expenses, such as surgeries, follow-up appointments, and medication; and property damage or replacement of lost property;
- Compensation for lost wages, including future lost wages and loss of earning potential;
- Compensation for pain and suffering, including physical and emotional suffering;
- Compensation for loss of a body party or other disfigurement (e.g., scarring);
- Compensation for loss of companionship or consortium;
- Compensation for wrongful death; and
- Monetary punitive damages in some circumstances.
How much will I recover from my San Antonio personal injury suit?
It’s difficult to predict precisely how much compensation you can or will receive for your injuries. Personal injury cases are often unique, requiring a case-by-case examination to determine proper compensation. The best way to get an accurate estimation of how much you might potentially recover is to contact an attorney.
At Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys, we offer a free consultation to help evaluate your case. Our attorneys have concluded many personal injury lawsuits and can help determine your likelihood of success and what that success might involve. We can decide what types of damages you can reasonably recover and answer any other questions you might have about the viability of your claims.
How long does a San Antonio personal injury lawsuit take?
The length of time a case takes will vary depending on many factors, including:
- The type of injury;
- The amount of evidence you need to gather;
- The size of the court’s docket;
- The judge’s preference on which cases he or she will hear first;
- The strength of a plaintiff’s claim; and
- Whether the parties prefer to settle.
In many cases, parties can agree to settle relatively quickly. In other cases, the parties may prolong the lawsuit (e.g., the plaintiff might want to litigate the case to receive maximum financial compensation, or the defendant might believe they’re not at fault). Often, cases that settle early in the litigation stage occur within a few months. In other instances, though, cases may take years to litigate fully.
Will my San Antonio personal injury case settle?
Whether your case settles depends on many different factors. Most importantly, both the defendant and plaintiff must agree on a settlement amount and its terms. There are many reasons why parties might want to settle. Often, trials are uncertain, while a settlement guarantees a satisfactory result for all. Parties might wish to settle a case to avoid an unreasonably low or high payout.
What if I am injured while at work in San Antonio?
Workers’ compensation becomes the exclusive mechanism for recovering from an injury while at work in most situations. A successful workers’ compensation suit will cover any medical bills, a portion of your lost wages, vocational rehabilitation assistance if needed, or a lump sum for specific injuries. Arguably, workers’ compensation suits are easier to win; however, the trade-off is that there are fewer opportunities to recover for all incurred damages.
If someone else’s actions caused your injury while at work, you might have a personal injury claim directly against that person. For example, in O’Gee v. Dobbs House, a plaintiff sued Dobbs House, a supplier, for failing to secure a buffet cart in an airplane. Even though the plaintiff, a flight attendant, was injured while working for United Airlines, she brought a negligence claim against the third-party supplier for negligently placing the buffet cart.
What if a San Antonio personal injury happens at a government entity or a government employee injures me?
Several complex and complicated statutory and common laws (i.e., laws created through judges’ past case decisions) determine whether a government might be accountable for its negligence. For example, the Federal Tort Claims Act provides liability in some circumstances when a federal employee acts negligently. The Federal Tort Claims Act essentially waived the federal government’s sovereign immunity, which would otherwise bar all lawsuits, for some claims.
Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys can help evaluate whether your lawsuit against a government will likely succeed. If a negligent or reckless government employee injured you in San Antonio, you can contact us today for a free consultation about your legal case.
What if I contributed to my San Antonio personal injury accident?
States take different approaches to determine whether you can recover compensation if you contribute to an accident. Texas uses the modified comparative fault model. Comparative negligence divides the blame for an accident by assigning a proportionate share of responsibility, but how fault is determined is based on your specific case.
If you or multiple individuals contributed to an accident, you should contact an attorney for an evaluation of your case. If you suffered an injury in the San Antonio area, you should reach out to Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys today for a free consultation.
Do I need a San Antonio personal injury attorney?
Yes, especially when substantial injuries involve more facts and complex laws. Additionally, if the at-fault party seeks to contest liability or you are suing for a large amount, you should hire an attorney to advocate on your behalf.
Not only are personal injury attorneys knowledgeable about personal injury laws, they’re professionals trained to handle these types of confrontations. Personal injury attorneys specialize in seeking compensation for their clients. If a negligent or reckless driver injures you in an accident, you should reach out to an attorney to potentially increase your chances of bringing a successful lawsuit.
At Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys, we have helped many victims recover from past injuries. We offer a free consultation to ask questions about your case, answer your questions, and provide our advice on your case’s viability.
What do I need to prove to win my San Antonio personal injury case and recover damages?
The plaintiff bears the burden to prove “by a preponderance of evidence” that the defendant is legally liable for their injury. It must be more likely than not that the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. This high standard often requires a substantial amount of corroborating evidence. Your attorney will seek to collect a wide range of evidence, such as medical records, expert testimony (e.g., from a medical doctor), video or photographic evidence, eyewitness testimony, and written or oral communications.
How do I pay for my attorney in San Antonio personal injury cases?
Personal injury attorneys can create individualized payment options. Personal injury attorneys will often offer to take a case at no initial charge and instead receive a percentage of any settlement or judgment obtained. This payment arrangement is called a contingency fee agreement. Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys use this fee schedule. Speak with one of our attorneys today to determine how charges might apply specifically to your case.
Call Our San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyers Today
Were you injured by a negligent person, company, or government entity in San Antonio? If so, please give Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys a call today at 210-646-9100 or write to us through our confidential contact page. We’ll start with a free consultation and case evaluation to help you determine your best path forward. If we feel you have a good legal claim and you decide we’re the best San Antonio personal injury law firm for you, we’ll start investigating your case right away and work to secure for you the best settlement or judgment allowed by the law. We look forward to hearing from you!