It’s more than just a saying around here, but what does it really mean? It simply means this…
“We will work as hard as we can for as long as necessary to account for and recovery every single dollar you are owed. Period.”
Someone is responsible for what happened to you. They were careless and you got hurt, or your child got hurt, or maybe you suffered the tragic loss of a loved one. In personal injury and wrongful death situations, Texas laws are in place to enable the injured, and the grieving, to hold those who caused the harm fully accountable. These laws, if appropriately used and effectively applied, entitle you to dollar damages for all your losses…not just some of your losses, but all of them. We know these laws, but more importantly, we know how to set them in motion to obtain what is rightfully yours. We are motivated every day in all cases to leave no dollar behind for our clients when it comes to their settlements and jury verdicts.
There are specific recoverable damages separate and unique to the injury victim. There are also certain damages that extend to, and are specifically recoverable by, certain members of the injured person’s family. In other words, depending on the circumstances, certain members of your family can seek compensation for their separate damages caused by your injury. Further, when a loved one is tragically lost through the carelessness of someone else, there are specified damages available to entitled beneficiaries under the Texas Wrongful Death Act.
We are very familiar with all personal injury and wrongful death damages available in Texas. And from experience, we know the best and most persuasive ways to prove them to insurance companies and to a jury in a courtroom.
Take a moment to review below…
Your Damages for Your Injury
If you have been injured, there are several different damage elements you are entitled to be compensated for that are unique to you and that only you can assert a claim for. They fall into two broad categories: economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are what they sound like, financial dollar damages you can either easily capture or calculate. Noneconomic damages are not something you can calculate per se, but rather, are intangible in nature the value of which is largely dependent on what someone thinks and feels they are worth. That “someone” in personal injury cases is ultimately the jury.
Economic damages include:
- Medical Bills (past and future). These damagers are straightforward and relatively easy to prove. They are in writing (or can be reduced to written form) on billing statements. Medical bills must be proven to be “reasonable” for the medical service provided and “necessary” for the treatment of the injury. Medical bills can include, but are not limited to, bills for an ambulance, hospitalizations, doctor’s office visits, consultations, surgeries, therapies, treatments, counseling, and prescriptions.
- Loss of Past and Future Earning Capacity (lost wages). Under certain circumstances, these are relatively easy to establish and prove, but not always. If you lost time from work because of your injury, you are certainly entitled to recovery for that damage which is most often easy to calculate and prove. But, what if after you “recovered” and returned to work, you couldn’t do what you use to do or could only work in a position that pays less? And, what if that’s the situation for the rest of your life? This happens frequently, by the way. The human body does not always fully heal from an injury. When that occurs, it’s called a “loss of earning capacity” and this loss can sometimes be challenging to calculate and prove. A good personal injury lawyer knows how to determine loss of earning capacity and what evidence will be needed.
Noneconomic damages include:
- Pain and Suffering (past and future). This is compensation for the painful ordeal you have been forced to endure and may be forced to endure for the remainder of your life. While extremely subjective in nature, the value of this element of damage has reasonable limitations based on the evidence in the case. Some jurors are disinclined to respect this damage because, since they can’t experience your pain, they tend to doubt it’s real or as bad as you say it is. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to overcome this prejudice and present your case in a way as to remove any doubt about the pain you’ve suffered.
- Mental Anguish (past and future). This is another element of damage that some tend to doubt as real or see as somehow less legitimate. To be recoverable, Texas law states the mental anguish must have caused “a substantial disruption in his/her daily routine or a high degree of mental pain.” An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to work with this definition.
- Physical Impairment (past and future). This damage element recognizes all kinds of diminished physical abilities. This damage encompasses all non-work things a person formally did that the injury now prevents them from doing or limits them in doing. With serious injuries, there may be countless ways your life is affected. There might be big things like the inability to take a walk with your wife, play catch with your son, or attend parties and other functions that require you to be on your feet for extended periods of time. Or, there could be smaller but still important things like not being able to drive for extended periods, fly in an airplane or enjoy a hobby like you used to. With catastrophic injuries paralysis, brain damage, or amputation may be involved that affects all aspects of physical functioning. A person may be blinded or lost other sensory perceptions. Conditions that produce chronic pain can severely limit a person’s ability to do almost everything. It is under this element of damage you can seek compensation for all physical limitations the injury produced.
- Disfigurement (past and future). This damage element recognizes how your physical appearance may have changed because of the injury. This damage can include such things as amputations, scars from burns and lacerations, and facial discolorations. Before and after photography can be a profoundly effective way to prove this type of damage.
Your Spouse’s Damages for Your Injury
There are certain damages a spouse can be compensated for even though he/she was not physically injured. These damages can be significant losses when the injured spouse has sustained a serious or catastrophic injury.
- Loss of Consortium (past and future). This type of damage is derived from the value that we all get from social interactions with certain legally recognized close relationships, like between spouses. Consortium means “the mutual right of the husband and wife to that affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, sexual relations, emotional support, love, and felicity necessary to a successful marriage.” We can all imagine injuries that can be extremely difficult on a marriage, if not completely destructive. Texas law recognizes the uninjured spouse can have significant damages and deserves to be compensated for those losses.
- Value of the Loss of Household Services (past and future). This is an element of damage that belongs to the injured person’s spouse by virtue of your injury limitations that affect him/her. This includes such things as cooking, cleaning, car maintenance and repairs, household repairs, lawncare, etc. If the injured spouse could previously do these things and now cannot, that’s considered a loss with an economic value to the non-injured spouse. Texas law recognizes this loss as a legitimate damage and something recoverable in an injury claim.
Your Child’s Damages for Your Injury
Sometimes an injury to a parent can have a significant effect on a parent-child relationship. Texas law recognizes this and allows a child to bring a loss of parental consortium claim under certain limited circumstances.
- Parental Loss of Consortium (past and future). Because a child is not of majority age, the child’s claim must be asserted by a parent or legal guardian. For the claim to be successful, the child must first prove the parent had a “serious, permanent, and disabling injury” and was then adversely affected by it. Parental loss of consortium means “the positive benefits flowing from parental love, affection, protection, emotional support, services, companionship, care, and society.”
Damages for the Loss of a Family Member (Wrongful Death Claims)
Wrongful death claims are brought in Texas under the Wrongful Death Act. This is a law passed by the Texas legislature that allows only certain family members to bring a claim for losses when a family member dies from someone’s negligence. If you fall under one of these categories, you are considered a “statutory beneficiary” and can bring a claim. The recognized claimants are:
- Parents of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Spouse of the deceased
There are several types of damages a recognized claimant can recover in Texas when a family member has died. These damages include:
- Financial Losses (called “pecuniary losses). This means the loss of dollar contributions, or things of specific dollar value, the deceased would have provided over his/her lifetime had they lived. Lost wages/earnings the deceased would have provided is a good example. If you lost your spouse, you are also entitled to seek recovery for the loss of spousal services, such as the value of cooking, shopping for groceries, repairs around the house, etc. A parent can also recover for the loss of child services the deceased child may have contributed to the family household.
- Loss of Companionship and Society. This is a broad category of damage and meant to be. It is defined as the loss of the “positive benefits flowing from the love, comfort, companionship and society you would, in reasonable probability, have experienced if the deceased had lived.” The extent of this loss varies, as you might imagine, depending to a large extent how close of a relationship the deceased and claimant had.
- Mental Anguish. This means the “emotional pain, torment, and suffering you experienced in the death of your love one.”
- Loss of Inheritance. This means the loss of the added value of assets in your loved one’s estate that he/she would have left had they lived.
Damages for the Estate (Wrongful Death Claims)
The Estate of the deceased has certain damages recognized under Texas law that only the Estate can claim and seek recovery for. They can be both economic and noneconomic damages. They are funeral expenses and any injury-related medical bills that were incurred from the time of the accident until death. If the deceased experienced conscious pain and suffering from the time of the accident until death, that too is an element of damage owned by the Estate and only the Estate can seek compensation for that damage.
Punitive damages are damages awarded to victims if the harm was caused by particularly bad behavior. Because of the definitions Texas courts follow and the rigorous proof requirements involved, punitive damages are difficult to obtain. For a jury to even consider awarding punitive damages, they must first find the responsible party(ies) acted with “gross negligence” which is a much higher threshold than mere “negligence” and is much more difficult to prove.
In Texas, gross negligence means “more than momentary thoughtlessness, inadvertence, or error of judgement. It means such an entire want of care as to establish that the act or omission in question was the result of actual conscious indifference to the rights, welfare, or safety of others.” When this definition is broken down, it requires that you (the injured person or grieving family member) prove that at the time of the accident someone else in the same situation would have known that what they were doing involved an extreme degree of risk given the potential harm (objective test), and even though knowing the risk, chose to proceed anyway with their conduct (subjective test). That’s always a difficult thing to prove no matter how bad the conduct may appear to be.
And, to make it even more challenging, Texas law requires the proof threshold for gross negligence be by “clear and convincing evidence.” Clear and convincing evidence means “the measure or degree of proof that produces a firm belief of conviction of the truth of the allegations sought to be established.”
Calculating Your Damages
Through experience, we know how to gather the necessary proof of all your losses and calculate your dollar damages. We don’t rest until that’s done for all our clients. Once gathered, that evidence needs to be presented in a compelling and persuasive manner. That’s the art of both settlement presentation and trial presentation, and we are very skilled at that art. Further, there are many damages and losses of a subjective nature and therefore difficult to calculate. As to these, a personal injury trial lawyer needs to be imaginative and creative to make sure an insurance company in settlement conference, or a jury courtroom, fully understands the pain and mental anguish you’ve endured and the functional losses your injury has produced. We have over 3 decades of experience in using animations and medical illustrations to bring alive and make fully real our clients’ injuries, damages, and losses. We can do that for your injuries damages too. Give us a call at 214-742-2223 to discuss your case and receive a free case assessment. It would be our privilege to represent you.