Louisiana and Texas both offer victims of severe accidents the opportunity to pursue compensation for their losses via a civil claim. When you file a civil claim - either on your own behalf or on behalf of your children - you're not obligated to take your case to court. There are circumstances in which you can negotiate for a settlement without ever having to go before a judge. This method of securing support after a severe accident tends to take less time than a traditional trial and allows you more immediate control over your right to financial support.
If you can negotiate for a personal injury settlement, though, why do you need a knowledgeable trial lawyer? Even if you want to focus on negotiations, attorneys with trial experience can benefit your case in several different ways. For starters, these attorneys can help you fight for the maximum possible compensation associated with your accident. Defendants going up against an attorney with experience in the courtroom may also be more reluctant to pursue a traditional trial if they know that attorney can stand their ground. In other words, practiced trial lawyers can make your negotiations simpler and fight for you in court.
Experienced Trial Lawyers Help You Establish an Initial Claim
Whether you want to pursue independent negotiations or are considering going to trial after a personal injury accident, it's in your best interest to file a personal injury claim elaborating on your losses. Personal injury claims give you the power to bring your case to a judge's attention and subsequently present your argument for compensation to an attending body. That said, your claim, otherwise referred to as a complaint, needs to be comprehensive if you want it to move past a county clerk's desk.
Specifically, your personal injury claim should elaborate on:
- The duty of care owed to you by the party allegedly liable for your accident
- The manner in which the named party violated that duty of care
- Evidence of a violated duty of care
- Evidence indicating that the aforementioned party's negligence resulted in your physical and/or emotional losses
- A calculation of those losses' economic value
To move your claim forward, you need to bring this information to a county clerk's attention within the time allowed by the personal injury statute of limitations applicable within your state. In Louisiana, Louisiana Civil Code §3492 caps your actionable time at a single year. Comparatively, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §16.003 allows you to take up to two years to bring your claim to the attention of a Texas civil court. If you're not able to get your complaint in by the applicable deadline, however, there's a chance that the attending civil court may throw it out without considering the included facts.
The good news is that an experienced attorney can help you bring together the information needed to build your complaint long before your deadline comes knocking. More than that, trial lawyers can help you:
Prove Another Party's Negligence in Your Initial Complaint
Imagine you've recently been in a car accident. You might think it's straightforward to claim that another driver's negligence resulted in your losses. In reality, you have to bring forward evidence that proves a driver was negligent behind the wheel and that said negligence resulted in your accident. Instead of doing this on your own, though, you can collaborate with a trial attorney to begin your investigation.
Specifically, you can work with a legal professional with a reputation for success to return to the scene of your accident and gather data that may prove relevant to your fight for compensation. For example, you can bring forward:
- Bystander testimony regarding the nature of your accident
- Physical debris elaborating on the damage done in your accident
- Video and/or photo footage of the accident as it occurred
- Medical expenses and/or insurance statements indicating how expensive the accident was
When you have all of this information on hand, you can more readily compile it into a coherent claim. In turn, you can explain to a judge how your accident took place, how negligence contributed to your losses, and why your state's law entitles you to compensation as supplied by a liable party.
Moreover, this process can help hold the right party responsible for your losses. Look back to the car accident example. While it may appear that one driver contributed to your losses, in reality, the evidence may indicate that several parties bear the blame for your losses. An investigation can help you divide this fault between the applicable parties and thus bring each party that contributed to your accident forward in court. You can then divide responsibility for your compensation between these parties and their insurance providers.
Calculate the Maximum Compensation Associated With Your Case
Before you can submit your accident claim to a county clerk, both you and an attorney familiar with your situation need to estimate the total value of the losses you suffered In your accident. Specifically, you need to find the sum of your non-economic and economic losses. You can then present this loss as your total desired compensation in both negotiations and a trial, if applicable.
It's most often easiest to calculate the economic value of your most recent accident. To do this, both you and a trial attorney should include the sum of your:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Care needed to restore your previous quality of life
- Wages lost in recovery
- Lost opportunities for employment
With an economic sum in hand, you can modify your estimate using state-approved multipliers. These multipliers represent your non-economic losses, which may not generate a dollar value after your accident but can have a marked impact on your post-accident quality of life. Attorneys skilled in deposition can bring the applicable multipliers forward and help you determine which non-economic losses apply to your case. These can include:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- PTSD and/or additional developing mental health conditions
Transition From Investigation to Discovery
If you'd prefer to negotiate with a liable party for compensation instead of taking the offending party to court, you and your attorney can engage in an investigation. This process enables you to return to the scene of your accident and gather the evidence you need to establish liability as well as the total value of your accident. You need to trigger an investigation if you want to bring a complaint to the attention of a judge.
That said, there's some significant crossover between investigation and discovery. Discovery is the process of gathering the information needed to establish an argument when one party takes another before a judge in civil court. The difference, however, between investigation and discovery is that during an investigation, you may disclose what information you gather regarding your case with the defendant at your leisure. The process of discovery requires you to share what you know with the defense and their representatives before you go before a judge so that no parties may be surprised by last-minute evidence.
Trial lawyers with winning reputations can distinguish between investigation and discovery, not to mention the roles each plays in your fight for justice. If you've undertaken an investigation only to find that the defendant with whom you're contending refuses to acknowledge your right to compensation, you need to trust an attorney to effectively transition you from an investigation into discovery. This transition can be made all the easier when your attorney has experience in the courtroom.
Negotiate With an Experienced Trial Attorney On Your Side
You can choose to enter settlement negotiations with an allegedly-liable party before or after you file a civil claim with your local court system. Negotiations allow you to directly communicate with the party you believe to be liable for your losses. During these conversations, you can use the evidence you gathered during your investigation to elaborate on your case's value and argue for your right to compensation from the liable party.
You need not make these arguments without support. Just as the defendant can call on a representative to stand with them throughout these information proceedings, so too can you request that an experienced trial attorney help you make your case. If the defendant proves combative or unwilling to communicate with you, an attorney may have better luck facilitating your upcoming negotiations.
Similarly, experienced attorneys can ensure that you go into your settlement negotiations prepared. You can work with a representative to bring together the data you need to prove responsibility for your accident and elaborate on the compensation you believe you may be owed. While you can request recesses to discuss settlement offers and other case-relevant information, an attorney with a reputation for success in court can help you avoid getting blindsided by a defendant.
Challenge Insufficient Offers and Uncooperative Defendants in Court
Not all defendants are going to try and wriggle out of negotiations once they begin. Rather, some may use other methods to try and avoid awarding you the compensation you deserve after an accident.
In many cases, the defense's insurance provider will send in an adjuster to calculate their own estimate of your accident's total value. These assessments often come in far beneath the estimate that an experienced trial lawyer may generate on your behalf. You, fortunately, are not obligated to accept a lowball offer.
Instead, a practiced attorney can challenge a lowball offer and present evidence of your case's total estimated value. While you may not be arguing before a judge, an attorney who understands how to craft an argument for a jury can effectively argue for your right to financial support in out-of-court negotiations.
Moreover, talented attorneys understand insurance providers' underhanded techniques. Attorneys with glowing testimonies can work to ensure that you're not taken in by a provider that prioritizes its bottom line over your well-being.
Finally, you can trust a practiced attorney to remove you from negotiations that appear to have stalled. An attorney who understands the courtroom can transition you out of negotiations and into a trial. What's more, you can count on a knowledgeable attorney to tell you when it appears that negotiations have stalled. Attorneys who've spent time in the courtroom know how to communicate with their clients and can keep you in the loop as your circumstances change. This way, you can stay on top of your case's developments and contribute your opinion to the proceedings.
Avoid Legal Fines With a Reputable Lawyer's Help
No matter how well-prepared you are prior to civil negotiations or trials, there is a chance that the defendant may successfully challenge your request for compensation. If you don't work with an attorney who can challenge the counter-arguments that the defense throws your way, you may find yourself contending with a mountain of accident-related expenses even after your civil trial.
It's with that in mind that it's important for you to connect with an attorney who's been in court before. You need a representative who isn't going to back down in front of a judge and who knows how to respond to the way the defense might twist the evidence you present. What's more, you need an attorney who understands how to meet the burden of proof inherent in your case and who can appeal a court's decision if the jury doesn't rule in your favor.
Whether you're fighting for your own right to compensation after an accident or advocating on behalf of a loved one, an experienced attorney can prevent your time in court from becoming financially stressful. You can discuss the nature of a comprehensive defense and any concerns you may have about your accident-related expenses during a consultation with the legal representatives in your area.
Conclusion: Why You Need an Experienced Trial Lawyer
When you make a point to collaborate with an experienced trial lawyer, you make it easier for yourself and your loved ones to secure the financial support you deserve after a dangerous accident. Civil trial lawyers can negotiate with liable parties and advocate for your right to compensation.
Because these legal representatives are familiar with how civil trials work, though, they can transition your case into a courtroom setting should the need arise. That threat may make liable parties more willing to negotiate a settlement instead of demanding that you take your case before a judge. It's always in your best interest to ask about an attorney's trial experience before you agree to work with them. That's why Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers encourages you to meet with our attorneys for a free initial case consultation.
During early conversations with our team, you can discuss the nature of your case and learn more about the services we've provided to plaintiffs who have been in situations similar to yours. To get a case consultation on the books, contact Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers online or by calling our office. Let's connect you with a reputable trial lawyer ASAP.