How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

 

 

 

      GENERAL INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR PERSONAL INJURY

 

If you or a member of your family has suffered a personal injury or wrongful death through someone else's negligence, the worst thing you could do is choose a personal injury trial lawyer blindly.  Your case, your settlement, and possibly your entire future may rest on your selection.  There are differences among trial lawyers and differences among law firms.  Ask the right questions.  And make an informed decision.

 

                    ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

 

When choosing an attorney for your case, inform yourself on the attorney standing in the profession.  You should ask your prospective attorney if they have ever been disbarred, suspended or reprimanded by the State Bar for disciplinary violations. 

 

Contacting a prospective client by telephone or in person are prohibited by the State Bar's Rules.  You may report violations by calling 1‑800‑932‑1900 (toll free call).  When choosing an attorney, do not employ an attorney who has started his relationship with you by committing an ethical violation.

 

                   ATTORNEY'S QUALIFICATIONS

 

Saying one specializes in personal injury law is one thing.  Being Board Certified is entirely different.  Achieving Board Certification means an attorney has achieved special recognition by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for substantial experience and specialized training in his chosen field ‑ just as JAMES V. MAZUCA has.  To you it means your case will receive expert attention.  If your attorney is not certified, ask him why.  And keep in mind one important thing.  It does not cost you any more to have the best working on your case.  I will personally handle your case or advise you if it will be handled by someone else.  In many large firms, your case may be handled by a young associate who is not certified or experienced even though the main partners may be.

 

              WHAT WILL THE LEGAL SERVICES COST?

 

Since you have entered into a Contingent Fee Agreement, we will only be paid if we are able to obtain monies for you by either a settlement or upon collecting a judgment or award on your behalf.  There is no charge for the initial consultation.

 

                           OUR GOAL

 

Your injuries are serious, and we are very concerned that you receive the best medical care and treatment available to restore you to the best possible health under the circumstances.

 

We refer to that situation as being "medically stationary," that is, when no further medical treatment can improve your physical condition. Your health care provider, must of course,  make this determination for you.

 

 


Until you have recovered, or at least until your condition will not worsen any further and your doctor can identify your physical injuries, we are very reluctant to settle or conclude a case for one very simple reason:  we will not know how much your medical bills and costs are until you are medically stationary.

 

We also will not know what your permanent or residual problems are.  Without knowing the extent of your damages, we cannot place a dollar value on your case.

 

You understand, of course, that we cannot guarantee any expected outcome or conclusion of your legal matter due to the many complicated factors which are beyond our control.  Accordingly, we cannot guarantee a favorable outcome in any personal injury claim or lawsuit.

 

We will, however, within the bounds of legal ethics, provide reasonable and competent services to represent and protect your legal interests.  We will do our best to maximize your recovery since that will also increase our fee.

 

In the event your matter requires negotiation or involves litigation, if the fee agreement so provides, we will negotiate with the opposing party on your behalf in order to settle or resolve your dispute.  We will not conclude or settle your matter without your approval.

 

In order for us to represent you competently, please do not communicate with any of the parties, witnesses or attorneys in the case without our involvement.  In addition, keep a daily diary of doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, exams performed, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and other inconveniences you may sustain.

 

                    HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?

 

Each case is different and we make no promises or guarantees as to how long the procedure may take.  We believe in thorough and thoughtful planning in each phase of developing your case, and that takes time.  The date you become medically stationary is a very important factor.  Also, if the opposing party does not agree with our settlement offers, we may then proceed to arbitration or trial; litigation may take 1‑2 years to resolve.  Of course, the sooner we can resolve the matter for you successfully, we will.

 

 

            HOW IS THE VALUE OF MY CASE DETERMINED?

 

Each case is individual and unique.  A factor in settling a P.I. case is the amount of property damage.  If there is very little property damage, this makes the settlement more difficult.  If there is a prior or subsequent injury, this also complicates matters.  Failure to find an abnormal result on a test, makes proving the injury more difficult.  Because of these matters, determining the amount of a fair settlement is complicated.  We will always do our best to maximize your recovery.

 

 


4.   A large factor in determining the value of your case is the amount of medical bills and lost wages incurred.  Therefore, it is extremely important that we are aware of all of these expenses.

 

5.   Tell the doctor and the nurse every part of your body that hurts you so that it is written into your records.  Generally speaking, the more areas injured the greater your recovery.  When the doctor or nurse ask you "How are you doing?" they want to know each and every part of your body that hurts you.  If your injury extends beyond one particular area, it is important to tell the doctor and the nurse.  For example, if your back is injured and the pain runs down your leg(s) or your neck is injured and the pain runs down your arm(s), tell the doctor.

 

6.   You may resolve the damage to your vehicle and obtaining a rental car on your own with the insurance company, if you desire.  My fee does not cover resolving the property damage or collecting on your own insurance unless the insurance company fails to pay timely.    Please take several pictures of the damage to your car and your person.  Please send us a copy of the property damage estimate. Try to obtain the highest possible estimate.

 

7.   For your protection, obtain an estimate of the property damage of your vehicle.  This will give you something to compare when the insurance company makes an offer.  If your car is a total loss, the insurance company will usually only provide for a rental car until they pay the value of your vehicle.  The value is usually determined by what is called the blue book and local prices.  If you vehicle is to be repaired, the insurance company will only pay for a rental car until your vehicle is fixed.

 

 8.  Please submit all your medical bills to your medical insurance carrier for payment if your policy covers these kind of expenses.  Try to use your medical insurance whenever possible. 

You may also have other policies that may assist you.  For example, you may have disability insurance.  These policies may pay if you are unable to work and may pay some of your bills (car, home, etc.).

 

                        PROPERTY DAMAGE

 

You may resolve the damage to your vehicle and obtaining a rental car on your own with the insurance company, if you desire.  My fee does not cover resolving the property damage or collecting on your own insurance unless the insurance company fails to pay timely.    Please take several pictures of the damage to your car and your person.  Please send us a copy of the property damage estimate. Try to obtain the highest possible estimate.

 

For your protection, obtain an estimate of the property damage of your vehicle.  This will give you something to compare when the insurance company makes an offer.  If your car is a total loss, the insurance company will usually only provide for a rental car until they pay the value of your vehicle.  The value is usually determined by what is called the blue book and local prices.  If you vehicle is to be repaired, the insurance company will only pay for a rental car until your vehicle is fixed.


                           WARNINGS

 

Please be advised that the insurance company may send someone to photograph you doing something inconsistent with your condition.  So please be aware and follow your doctor's instructions at all times.

 

Be advised that the insurance company's goal is to pay you the least amount of money possible.  The less money they pay you, the more money they make for themselves.  The insurance company and the adjuster is your enemy and not your friend.   The goal of an attorney is to make as much money for you as possible.  The more money he makes for you, the more he makes for  himself.

 

 

                IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT INSURANCE

 

Insurance policies are standardized in Texas.  That means that all companies use the same policies and language.  An insurance policy from Allstate Insurance is the same as one from State Farm Insurance and all other companies.  One can purchase different kinds and different amounts but the policies are the same.  A Texas Personal Auto Policy is divided into parts.  Part A deals with Liability coverage, Part B1 deals with Medical Payments, Part B2 deals with Personal Injury Protection, Part C deals with Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, Part D deals with Property Damage to automobile, Part E deals with Duties and Part F deals with General Provisions.

 

If you or your family has Texas liability insurance and you purchased the following particular coverages, or you are a passenger in a vehicle which the owner has the following coverages, you are eligible for these benefits.

 

A.   Personal Injury Protection (P.I.P.) is insurance that covers you.  A claim under this coverage does not increase your rates like a claim under liability coverage.  P.I.P. pays your medical expenses and 80% of your lost wages up the amount of the coverage (usually $2,500.00).  To obtain these benefits you need to submit to the insurance company (1) a completed P.I.P. application, (2) the medical bills and (3) medical records.  It normally takes about two to three weeks to receive your money after you have submitted the necessary items (although the insurance company has twenty days to approve or deny payment).  We will submit these for you and we do not charge you for this service unless the insurance company denies coverage. 

 

B.   Uninsured Motorist Coverage is insurance that pays you (if you purchased this coverage, or the above particulars apply) for injuries to yourself and/or your vehicle if you are damaged by someone with no insurance.  The amount available depends on how much you purchase.  See your policy.  If you have questions, ask your agent.  Please note that you almost always have a deductible on property damage (to your vehicle) under Uninsured Motorist Coverage.

 

 


C.   Underinsured Motorist Coverage is insurance that pays (if you purchased this coverage, it is obtained with Uninsured Motorist Coverage) if the person who injured you doesn't have enough coverage to pay for your damages.  For example, the person who injured you has $20,000.00 insurance and your damages are $40,000.00.  If you have Underinsured Coverage you can receive $20,00.00 from the defendant and $20,000.00 from your insurance company. 

 

D.   Medical payment is like P.I.P.  It only pays your medical expenses up to the policy amount.  See your policy.

 

 

    WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A LEGAL QUESTION ON A DIFFERENT

                 MATTER THAN THE PENDING CASE?

 

A phone call to our office staff will direct you to the  person who can best answer your question.  Remember, no questions as to your rights, duties or obligations should go unanswered because you did not know to whom to speak.  For example, our office handles many types of lawsuits, real estate, family matters (divorce, adoption, child support, etc.), wills, probate, criminal case, bankruptcy, social security matters and other areas of the law.  Call our office and get legal advice on these matters and we will provide you with a quotation on our fees.  Margaret M. Vera will be the attorney handling these matters.

 

                          CONCLUSION

 

We hope we have answered some basic questions about our office and your case.  We appreciate your suggestions, questions, and thoughts, because our goal is to meet and solve your legal needs as efficiently as possible.  We value your satisfaction and confidence.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us.  Our telephone is answered 24 hours a day and weekend and evening appointments are available.  Thank you for giving us this opportunity to serve you.

                     LAW OFFICES OF JAMES V. MAZUCA