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FAQ’s

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Commonly Asked Questions

 
There are many questions that we get from those that are seeking an attorney. Suffering at the hands of someone else is a disorienting and stressful experience. Lots of questions come up. Questions like do I qualify for a claim? How do I file various paperwork? How do I afford the mounting bills or provide for my family?
 
At Kirkpatrick Law, we are here to walk you through the process. We understand this is a difficult time. To help ease your mind, we have complied some of our most often asked questions. These answers are general in nature. To get a free case consultation and more specific answers, give us a call today for fill out our contact form.
Do I Have A Claim?
In considering if you have a personal injury claim you must consider three things. – Have you suffered a serious injury? – Has that injury been costly? – Was the injury caused by someone else?
 
If you answered “yes” to all three questions, then we recommend you pursue and injury claim. If you suffered costly injuries due to someone else’s negligence, then you have the right to compensation.
What Do I Do After An Accident?

If you have been in an accident, first seek medical treatment. You are priority number one. Make sure you are ok, before doing any of the following.

    • Take photos of the accident scene and your injuries
    • Write down the names and phone numbers of witnesses

Take detailed notes about what happened, the injuries you sustained, where the accident took place, and other relevant information

  • Visit a doctor and follow instructions for follow up treatment
  • Speak to a lawyer

 

How Much Can I Recover?
Every case is different. Without knowing the full details of your case. However in most cases the payment you deserve should cover your current and future medical bills. Additionally, you lost of income from not working due to your injuries and property damage should be covered. You should also demand compensation for your pain and suffering.
 
To fully understand your possible recovery, talk with a personal injury lawyer today. After knowing the facts, they can help you determine fair compensation for your damages.
Who Pays For My Medical Bills?
Personal injury law is built on a fundamental truth: if someone causes you harm, they are responsible for paying your medical bills. Compensation could come from the at-fault party directly, their company, or their insurer—it doesn’t matter. As long as they’re responsible for the accident, someone on their side has to pay your medical costs.
What Is Negligence?

Negligence is a general disregard for the safety of others. Often it is reffered to as carelessness or recklessness. If a driver gets behind the wheel after drinking too much, they are negligent. If a business owner fails to ensure the safety of their property and someone is injured as a result, their negligence caused that injury.

How Is Fault Determined?

Who is at fault in a case can be tricky. Sometimes the at fault party is obvious. These are cases where the fault it directly placed on the other party, such as an impaired driver.

In other cases, it may not be so simple. There may need to be an investigation to determine fault. This is why hiring a skilled personal injury attorney is key.

What If I Am Partially At Fault?

In most personal injury cases, you will not be kept from recovering financial compensation even if you or your loved one was partially at fault. A person becomes partially at fault when their injuries were sustained as a result of negligence on behalf of another party, but not entirely. If you think that just because you were partially responsible for your injuries that you are not liable to compensation, you may be. Talk with a Personal Injury Attorney today to learn about your options.

Is There A Deadline To File A Lawsuit?

To pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you have to adhere to a strict statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to bring legal action against someone else. Texas law allows two years for most personal injury cases. That means you only have two years from the date of the accident or injury to pursue compensation.

What Should I Expect From A Lawsuit?

Step 1- Complaint:  Plaintiff files suit against Defendant.

The Complaint:Litigation begins when the plaintiff files a complaint with the court and formally delivers a copy to the defendant. The complaint describes what the defendant did (or failed to do) that caused harm to the plaintiff and the legal basis for holding the defendant responsible for that harm.
The Answer: The defendant is given a specific amount of time to file an answer to the complaint. The answer provides the defendant’s side of the dispute. The defendant may also file counter-claims against the plaintiff, alleging that the plaintiff has harmed the defendant and should be held liable for that harm. Sometimes, the plaintiff responds to the defendant’s answer or counter-claims by filing a reply. In some instances, in lieu of an answer or reply, a party may request that the other party clarify or correct deficiencies in its factual allegations or legal theories or may ask the court to dismiss part or all of the suit. This may lead to amended complaints or amended answers. Once the parties have completed the complaint, answer, and any reply, the issues for resolution by the court have been defined.

Step 2-  Discovery

 Discovery is usually the longest part of the case. It begins soon after a lawsuit is filed and often does not stop until shortly before trial. During discovery, the parties ask each other and third parties for information about the facts and issues of the case.

Written Discovery:  Information is gathered formally through written questions (known as “interrogatories”), requests for copies of documents, and requests for admission (which ask a party to admit or deny statements of fact).

Depositions: Another key method of obtaining information is to conduct depositions, in which witnesses are questioned under oath by the parties’ attorneys and the witnesses’ answers are recorded by a court reporter. Depositions are used to learn more about the facts of a case and about what the different witnesses contend happened. Depositions also may be used at trial to show inconsistencies in a witness’s story or to question the witness’s credibility. The recorded testimony from a deposition sometimes may also be used at trial in place of a witness who is not able to attend the trial in person.

 

Step 3- Alternatives to litigation

This can save time and expense, but they may not result in a final resolution of the dispute.

Settlement: It is generally wise at the outset of any litigation proceeding to review the potential for an out-of-court settlement. Indeed, most matters settle before reaching the trial stage. Settlement can be discussed by any party at any time during litigation and is often a cost-effective alternative to trial. Usually the court does not require the parties to discuss or attempt settlement.

Mediation: It is common to involve a neutral third party, known as a “mediator.” The mediator’s job is to assist the parties’ settlement efforts. The parties select the mediator, who meets privately with each party to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case. The mediator helps the parties identify the risks of the case and encourages them to consider how those risks can affect their goals. The mediator does not have the power to force the parties to agree on a settlement. If no settlement is agreed on, then the case will advance to trail.

 

Step 4- Trial

Immediately before trial, each party provides to the judge a document, called a “brief,” that outlines the arguments and evidence to be used at trial. Some trials, known as “bench trials,” do not involve a jury and are decided by the judge alone. Other trials are jury trials. In a jury trial, both parties question potential jurors during a selection process known as “voir dire.” Once the trial begins, each party presents its outline of the case in an opening statement. Then, the parties present evidence. Each party may call witnesses or introduce documents and exhibits in support of its arguments. After each witness is called and questioned, the opposing party has an opportunity to cross-examine the witness. The plaintiff presents evidence first, then the defendant. Sometimes, the plaintiff is allowed to present additional evidence, called rebuttal evidence, after the defendant has finished presenting its case. Once all the evidence has been presented, the parties give their closing arguments. After closing arguments, the court instructs the jury on the law to be applied to the evidence. The jury then deliberates and reaches a decision or verdict.

 

TIMING: THE DURATION OF A LAWSUIT DEPENDS ON THE ISSUES OF THE CASE, THE AMOUNT OF DISCOVERY TO BE CONDUCTED, AND COURT SCHEDULING AND AVAILABILITY. THE PARTIES, GUIDED BY THE RULES OF COURT, DECIDE THE TIMING OF DISCOVERY. TEXAS LAW DETERMINES DISCOVERY SCHEDULES AND TRIAL DATES ARE SET BY THE COURT.

 

A positive result in litigation is nearly always the product of teamwork. By using a team approach, clients and legal counsel can adopt the litigation strategy that best suits the clients’ risk tolerance and overall business objectives. Clients contribute by providing business expertise and knowledge of the facts. Legal counsel, meanwhile, provide expertise on the legal issues, the trial process, the client’s options for resolution, and the potential risks and rewards of each option.