1When is the right time to contact an attorney?
It is important that you do your research before you contact just any attorney when an incident occurs. However, when it comes to potential criminal accusations, it is best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible (i.e. as soon as you are questioned, arrested, or put in handcuffs).
In addition, if you have suffered from bodily harm after being involved in an accident—whether that’s a car accident, a child who was injured in a pool, or even concerns that a home you are living in has dangerous levels of mold—it is important to discuss your options with an attorney right away instead of assuming that your insurance company will take care of everything and everyone.
2What should I look for in an attorney?
Experience is a must. Frequently, attorneys who have more experience are able to solve issues that arise more efficiently. Arguably, they are also more familiar with the local courts and judges because they’ve been practicing law longer.
3How much compensation can I obtain by bringing a case?
The exact amount is difficult to determine, as it is often based upon a combination of factors, including any associated medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, any fault you share in the damages, and insurance policies involved, as well as how the jury feels about all of these factors.
4What will bringing a case cost me?
The Law Offices of Colby Lewis, works on a contingency basis. This means that Attorney Lewis is are not paid until you receive compensation.
5What is the timeline for my case getting resolved?
Every personal injury lawsuit is unique; some can take months, others years.
6Are there time limits on filing a case?
Yes, there are time limits (i.e. a statute of limitations) on filing a personal injury lawsuit, depending upon the type of lawsuit being filed.
7What is medical negligence? What damages are available?
Medical negligence occurs when a doctor or healthcare professional fails to exercise a reasonable standard of care (based upon their specific field), resulting in injury to an individual.
8What is 'negligence'?
Negligence has a definition under Texas law: it is the failure to exercise the ordinary care expected of a reasonable prudent person acting under the same or similar circumstances. Like all tort claims, there are elements of a negligence claim that an injured person must prove to recover their damages from whoever injured them.
9What is 'punitive damage'?
The purpose of punitive damages (also known as exemplary damages) is not to compensate the injured party it is to punish the person who caused the injury. The burden of proof on the injured person to prove punitive damages is higher than the burden to recover non-punitive damages. Whether punitive damages may be sought in a particular case depends on the facts. Additionally, many insurance policies specifically exclude from coverage punitive damages, though there may be strategic reasons to seek punitive damages even if they are not insured.
10What is an automobile insurance 'policy limit'?
Insurance coverage is not endless. Insurance policies have a limit to the amount of coverage they provide. Chapter 601 of the Texas Transportation Code, also known as the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act, requires that all drivers carry at least the minimum coverage required to comply with state law. This is what is known as a “minimum limits policy.” When injuries are serious and medical bills are high, the amount of available coverage is often a major issue for an injured person.
11What type of Texas automobile insurance do I have?
You may use the term “full coverage” when referring to automobile insurance, but chances are that term does not mean what you think it does. There are many types of automobile insurance that could apply to a motor vehicle accident injury claim, including uninsured motorist (UM), underinsured motorist (UIM), Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Medical Payments coverage (Medpay), collision coverage, comprehensive coverage and liability coverage.
12Should I let an insurance company record my statement?
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident that was not your fault and you are making a claim against the responsible party’s insurance policy, the chances are very good that the third party’s insurance company will request your recorded statement. Sometimes the insurance company will press injured people hard to give a statement, or will say they cannot take any action to get your claim resolved unless you give a statement.
Make no mistake: an insurance company wants to take your recorded statement for their own benefit, not yours. Once you have given a statement you are stuck with it, and if the insurance company can use your statement to avoid paying some or all of your claim, they will.
13What if the person causing an accident has no insurance?
Texas has a serious problem with uninsured motorists. Texas Department of Public Safety estimates for the number of uninsured drivers on Houston roads, for example, puts the number at around 30%. If your vehicle has been damaged or you have been injured by another driver who appears to be uninsured, it is important to make sure that there truly is no insurance coverage applicable to the at-fault driver.
If you have to rely on your own uninsured motorist (UM) coverage to pay your claim, UM claims come with their own special set of rules.
14How do I handle a dog bite or animal attack claim?
If you have been the victim of a dog bite or you were injured because an owner failed to maintain proper control their animal, whether the owner is legally liable for your damages depends heavily on the specific facts of your case. If it is a dog bite injury the owner’s liability may be determined by the breed of dog (this is known as the abnormally dangerous breed rule).
15How are commercial vehicles covered for accidents?
Commercial vehicles are almost always covered under insurance policies that carry much higher coverage limits than personal automobiles. Most commercial vehicles are covered by a $1,000,000 liability policy. Because there is more coverage on commercial vehicles, the insurance companies that write these policies have extra incentive to immediately begin investigating commercial vehicle accidents. If the injuries are serious and there is a lot of coverage, the insurance company will be looking for reasons to deny or devalue the injured person’s claim.
16What is a 'non-subscriber work injury'?
Texas law has been structured to encourage employers to carry workers compensation insurance, so if an employee is injured on the job, the employee’s medical bills and lost wages are covered. Not all employers choose to carry this coverage however; employers who opt-out of the Texas workers compensation scheme are called “non-subscribers.”
Except under very limited circumstances (wrongful death of an employee due to an employer’s gross negligence), if an employee is hurt on the job and the employer carries workers comp insurance, the employee is barred from suing the employer for negligence. This is called the “comp bar.” If, however, an employer is a non-subscriber to workers comp, not only can the employee sue the employer, but the employer is very limited in the defenses they have to the lawsuit.
17What if my accident involves a company vehicle?
Many Texans do a great deal of driving while performing their duties for an employer, often while driving a company vehicle. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident while in a company car, truck or van, you still have a claim against the driver who caused the accident and injured you. Furthermore, you may have coverage on your personal automobile policy that provides coverage for your injuries.
18What is 'contingency fee representation'?
Contingent fee representation gives people access to high quality legal representation without having to pay any up-front attorney’s fees or expenses. Under a contingency fee arrangement, the client and the attorney effectively become partners in the case, both dependent on a successful outcome if either is to be compensated: the client for their injuries, the attorney for working on the case. Under a typical contingent fee arrangement for a personal injury case, if the client does not get a recovery, the client does not owe the attorney anything.
19Are drunk driving accident claims just like other claims?
Drunk driving automobile accident claims have a higher settlement value because juries have little to no sympathy for drunk drivers who hurt other motorists. That is particularly true if the drunk driver is a repeat offender and has been charged with more than one DWI offense. Insurance companies aren’t stupid: they know drunk driving accidents are worth more money, so insurance adjusters frequently try to talk injured people out of getting legal representation, and try to talk them into accepting smaller settlements very soon after a car accident occurs.
Don’t allow an insurance company to dupe you into settling your drunk driving accident claim for substantially less than it is worth. Colby is experienced in representing injured clients against drunk drivers and their insurance companies, and will fight to receive the most favorable results for clients hurt by drunk drivers.
20Can I recover medical bills paid by my health insurance?
People are often unsure what they can recover through a personal injury claim when their bills have been paid by private health insurance. Texas law on this issue, which you will find in Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Sec. 41.0105 (often referred to as “paid versus incurred”), allows an injured person to recover the combined total of any amount they pay out of pocket, any amount paid by private health insurance and any balances still owed. Amounts that are written-off by medical providers as contractual discounts cannot be recovered or put in evidence at trial.
21What should I know when selecting a personal injury attorney?
Retaining an attorney to represent you for a personal injury matter is an important decision. You should not hire the first attorney you come across.
22Do motorcycle accident claims have unique issues?
Along with pedal cyclists and pedestrians, motorcycle riders are the most vulnerable road users. With distracted driving at what feels like and all-time high, Texas’ busy highways and roadways can be a dangerous place for motorbike operators. Insurance companies are often very quick to blame a motorcyclist for a collision with another vehicle, as motorcycles are often perceived as too fast, too dangerous or both.
23What is 'Underinsured Motorist coverage'?
Underinsured Motorist coverage, usually abbreviated as UIM, applies when a person is injured by a third party, the third party has insurance, but the third party’s insurance coverage is not sufficient to adequately compensate the injured person. UIM coverage is not on every policy and must be selected by the policyholder. UIM claims also require that certain steps be taken during the handling of the third party claim.
24What proof is required for a Fall Injury Claim?
Over my years of practicing personal injury law I have spoken to hundreds, if not thousands of people who have suffered fall injuries. One common theme emerges: people’s hunches about Texas law on fall injuries rarely matches up with what the law actually requires an injured person to prove. It is absolutely not the law in Texas that simply because you were injured on someone’s property, the property owner is automatically responsible for the injury.
Slip-and-fall claims, trip-and-fall claims and premises liability claims generally are difficult claims to prove and very fact-dependent. Before giving a statement to a business, claims department, risk management department or insurance company you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.
25What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage?
A claim for Personal Injury Protection (or “PIP”) benefits is used to reimburse an injured person for medical bills and/or lost wages because of an automobile accident. Not all automobile insurance policies have PIP coverage, it is something that must be offered by the insurer and selected by the insured when the insurance policy was purchased. The minimum PIP coverage on a Texas automobile insurance policy is $2,500, though some policies offer $5,000 or $10,000 of PIP coverage.
Unlike a claim made under the automobile insurance policy of the at-fault third party, a PIP claim can be paid within a matter of weeks of an accident. Also, PIP coverage is available under a much broader range of accident circumstances than people realize.
26What am I owed for a totaled vehicle?
When the cost to repair a vehicle is at or above what the vehicle is worth, it is considered a 'totaled vehicle,' a 'total loss,' or simply 'totaled.' When an insurance company tells you that your vehicle is totaled, that means that they will write you a check for your car and they will keep your car, essentially buying it from you at fair market value. Websites such as Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), National Auto Dealers Association (NADA, www.nada.com ), or Edmunds (www.edmunds.com) are great resources for determining fair market value of a vehicle. You can use these tools to determine whether the offer from the insurance company is fair.
You may also wonder whether you can make the insurance company pay to repair the car instead of totaling it (buying it from you). Under Texas law, a vehicle's owner cannot make the insurer pay for repair of a vehicle that is determined a total loss.