Archives for March 2012

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Compensation

What is my personal injury or wrongful death claim worth?

This is the question asked by those with personal injuries or a wrongful death claim resulting from wrongful conduct, whether from negligence in a car accident or truck wreck, injury in the oilfield, or as a result of a defective product, etc..  It is the question that the Defendant, Insurance Adjuster and Defense Lawyer must consider in determining whether to settle a personal injury claim.

The answer to the question is that the claim is worth whatever the trier of fact (judge, jury or arbitrator) may ultimately decide after considering the elements of damages available in a particular claim – if their decision is allowed to stand after any available appeals are exhausted. Accordingly, documentation of personal injury damages is extremely important.

Every client is different.  Every claim is different.  Every judge and jury is different and every lawyer presenting the case is different.  Without a crystal ball, there is no certain answer.

Often, it is the uncertainty and the desire to control the outcome that leads to the settlement of cases.

Personal Injury Damages

You must understand what types of personal injury damages are available for your case (known by lawyers as the elements of damages).  Looking at the questions that will ultimately be decided by the trier of fact (judge or jury) is a great way to start understand what you may or may not be entitled to receive. In Texas, we have the Pattern Jury Charges, which are a good resource to see what the trier of fact will decide.

Generally, these are the elements to be considered in a Texas personal injury case:

Damages to Injured Person

  • Physical pain and mental anguish sustained in the past.
  • Physical pain and mental anguish that, in reasonable probability,
    will be sustained in the future.
  • Loss of earning capacity sustained in the past.
  • Loss of earning capacity that, in reasonable probability, will be
    sustained in the future.
  • Disfigurement sustained in the past.
  • Disfigurement that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in
    the future.
  • Physical impairment sustained in the past.
  • Physical impairment that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained
    in the future.
  • Medical care expenses incurred in the past.
  • Medical care expenses that, in reasonable probability, will be incurred
    in the future.

Damages to the Spouse of an Injured Person

  • Loss of household services sustained in the past.
  • Loss of household services that, in reasonable probability, [Spouse of Injured Person] will sustain in the future.
  • Loss of consortium in the past.
  • Loss of consortium that, in reasonable probability, [Spouse of Injured Person] will sustain in the future.

Survival and Wrongful Death Damages

In Texas, the estate of a deceased or heirs may be able to recover compensation for the deceased under the Survival Statute.

Survival Damages

  • Pain and mental anguish.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

In addition, there is a Wrongful Death Statute that allows the spouse, children and parents of someone killed by a wrongful act to recover compensation for the loss of a loved one.

Wrongful Death Damages

  • Pecuniary loss sustained in the past.
  • Pecuniary loss that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the
    future.
  • Loss of companionship and society sustained in the past.
  • Loss of companionship and society that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future.
  • Mental anguish sustained in the past.
  • Mental anguish that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future
  • Loss of inheritance.

Exemplary Damages

In certain cases exemplary damages may be awarded as a penalty or by way of punishment but not for compensatory purposes. Exemplary damages include punitive damages.

There is much law on what and when personal injury and wrongful death compensation is available. This post is simply to give you are general idea of what types of damages may be available.  For further information on this topic, please  refer to the article by Stephen M. Horner. Assessing Economic Damages in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation: The State of Texas. Journal of Forensic Economics 20 (1), 2007, pp. 49-71.

If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident, please do not hesitate to give Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Documenting Personal Injury Damages

Documenting your personal injury damages after an accident causing personal injuries or death is extremely important.  Juries come into the courtroom conditioned by cries for tort reform and claims of jackpot justice.  For jurors to understand your damages, especially your personal injuries such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, they must see them to appreciate them.

Even though most cases settle, a fair settlement is based upon what the jury may find as the dollar amount of damages.  It is easy to calculate past medical expenses, future medical expenses, past lost earnings, future loss of earning capacity and property damages.  Pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment are more difficult to prove and often depend on how well these damages are documented.

Photographs and video are excellent ways to document personal injury damages.  With cell phones that take photos and videos, there are many opportunities to make a record of the accident scene, property damage, bruises, lacerations, stitches,  hospital stays, trips to the doctor, difficulty in doing simple things such as getting dressed or grooming.  Bruises fade, stitches and casts are removed and thankfully, people get better.

Photographs or videos?  It depends on the situation, but both are usually the best answer.  Digital photos and videos  are easy to share, and the videos can be edited to make the trial presentation flow.

Obviously, seeking medical care is the first priority!  When possible you should always photograph and video your injuries and damage to the vehicles.  If you are documenting the accident scene, do it safely.  Do not get in the roadway and cause another accident!

Consider having someone video you doing the simple activities that are difficult because of your injuries.

If the accident involves a death, consider documenting the funeral.  You should also gather photographs of your lost loved one doing the things they enjoyed and spending time with the family.

Finally, as creepy as it seems, be aware that the Defendant may attempt to video or photograph you doing things that you say you cannot do.  If there is a vehicle with dark windows sitting across the street, you may be being watched!

If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident, please do not hesitate to give Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Electrocution Attorney

Experienced Electrocution Attorney

Chris Jones has handled electrocution and electrical contact cases on both the Plaintiff and Defense sides of the docket. Using the experience learned defending the utility, we now represent the victims of electrocutions and electrical burns against Electric Utilities.

We recently successfully represented the family of a young man who was electrocuted on an oil rig, and another family of a man who was electrocuted while trimming trees.  We also recently represented a young  man who lost his arm when he contacted a distribution line that was hanging too low.

Early in hisdanger electricity career, Chris defended an electric utility against a case involving a young man who was electrocuted in his front yard while checking on his dog. The dog was whining in the rain. As it turned out, the dog was chained to a metal spike driven into the ground. Unfortunately, the spike was contacting live electrical wiring that once fed an electric light, and when the gentleman grabbed the chain, making all of the links come together, he and the dog were electrocuted. The case went to trial and resulted in a defense verdict, probably because the wiring was on the customer side of the meter, and the gentleman likely knew there was wiring in his front yard before he drove the stake into the ground. Chris also defended the utility in a trial where a utility distribution line fell on a residential service drop causing high voltage to blast through a home.

We know how to handle electrocution cases.  They are not easy cases and you need an attorney experienced in these cases.

One thing is for sure, and everyone asked in depositions agrees, electricity is dangerous! Not all electrical contracts are deadly, but electrical burns are painful and devastating injuries.  It needs to be treated with respect and the electric codes and electrical safety standards must be followed. The IEEE publishes the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). The NESC sets forth standards for the practical safeguarding of persons during the installation, operation, or maintenance of electric supply and communication lines and associated equipment. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes the National Electrical Code (NEC). The purpose of the NEC is ” the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity.” The NESC basically applies to electric supply (power) and communications utilities and is used primarily by utility engineers and utility lineman. The NEC covers wiring in buildings and is primarily used by engineers and electricians. At times, the NEC and NESC overlap. Safe work practices and compliance with OSHA regulations and use of safe equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions can reduce the risks of electricity. There are also electrical devices that may help reduce risks. The use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in the home and workplace should always be considered. Use a qualified electrician for electrical work. The discovery of electricity completely changed civilization. We use it every day. Even so, we need to respect it and do everything we can to make sure its only effects are beneficial, and not harmful or deadly.

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with cases involving electrocution and electrical contact accidents, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of an electrical contact and need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

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