Being injured is a stressful time in a person’s life, regardless of the cause. Depending on the severity of the injury, you are likely dealing with medical bills, lost wages due to not being able to work and/or trying to find consistent help with child care as your mobility has been impaired — among other stressors. If that injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, then being injured can be even more frustrating. Now you have a mounting pile of medical bills that you did not have before — all because someone decided to check their phone, change the song, became distracted or otherwise make a negligent decision. While infuriating, take heart in knowing that you have legal rights in order to seek full compensation for your damages.
The Houston personal injury attorneys of Stevenson & Murray are seasoned litigators and advocates for personal injury victims. We consider serious personal injury cases but specialize in cases involving wrongful death, maritime and admiralty law, trucking accidents, large commercial fires, talc claims, and commercial and industrial accidents. From the moment we prepare a claim, through trial to the last appeal, we are passionately committed to making a life-changing difference for each and every client we represent.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were “30.8 million emergency department visits for unintentional injuries” in 2015 alone; more than 146,000 of those people suffered a wrongful death. The reasons for these deaths are many and varied. However, the one fact that remains true across all cases is that if a person was wrongfully injured as a result of such an accident, he or she may have the right to pursue legal action.
The following are some of the most common cases that we have litigated involving personal injury:
Car Crashes — Accidents involving motor vehicles are one of the most commonly reported instances of personal injury. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, “Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year,” while “an additional 2.35 million are injured and disabled.” The most commonly reported cause of car accidents is driver negligence. Driver negligence can be attributed to many things including texting or talking while driving or changing the radio station.
Trucking Accidents — Did you know that the average semi-truck weighs roughly 80,000 pounds (40 tons)? This reason alone makes them some of the most dangerous — and deadly — motor vehicles on the road. These types of accidents usually occur due to the negligence of a trucking company, truck driver error, improperly loaded cargo and other similar forms of negligence resulting in injury.
Motorcycle Accidents — Motorcyclists are more exposed to danger than passenger car occupants. They have less safety equipment and accident deterrents available to them. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are often victims in accidents due to the negligence of other drivers. It is important for all drivers to always pay close attention to their surroundings, put away distractions and remember to share the road in order to prevent motorcycle accidents.
Defective Fan, Heaters & Air Conditioners — A company is responsible for going through all the proper procedures when releasing a product. When that product turns out to be defective — due to inefficient testing or poor manufacturing, for example — and causes someone an injury, then the manufacturers of the defective product can be held liable in a personal injury claim. Consumers have a right to be warned of dangers known to the manufacturer.
Helicopter & Airplane Accidents — When you step onto an aircraft, you are trusting that all proper routine maintenance has been performed on the aircraft. You are further trusting that the pilot is experienced and will make informed decisions with everyone’s safety in mind. For example, if there is looming inclement weather that could pose an issue, you are trusting that pilot to make the best decision regarding whether to travel or not. If an accident occurs due to pilot error or a malfunction, then you or your family members (in the event of wrongful death) have the right to pursue legal action.
Land-Based Rigs — All types of people work in the oil industry. Those who work in these environments are already exposed to potentially risky situations on a daily basis. If you have been injured due to another worker’s error or another company’s negligent business practices while at work, then you deserve rightful compensation.
Wrongful Death — In the most tragic of circumstances, a person is so grievously injured in an accident that they suffer a wrongful death. If the accident was the result of an individual or company’s negligence, then the surviving family members have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim in order to seek recovery for damages caused by a loved one’s passing.
The experienced Houston personal injury attorneys at our firm all have the knowledge and background to successfully litigate your personal injury case. Regardless of the circumstances, we believe that everyone deserves a fair chance to pursue their case. We will fight for your rights to receive full compensation for your personal injury.
If you have been injured because someone else was negligent, then it is highly recommended that you seek professional legal representation. Filing a personal injury claim is difficult and involved. Negotiations with insurance companies can be frustrating. Adjusters working for these companies have the sole job of protecting the company. Therefore, it is their job to ensure that the company pays out as little money as possible to claimants.
The initial offer you receive from the insurance company will most likely be insultingly low or inadequate — nowhere near enough to compensate for the extensive damages and any continuing medical treatment you may need.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to take over these stressful negotiations with insurance companies, ensuring that you receive a number closer to what you deserve while protecting your rights. No matter how simple or complex your case, any one of the Houston personal injury attorneys from Stevenson & Murray is available to assist.
Whether you are just starting or have yet to start your personal injury claim, one of our local Houston personal injury attorneys can help you with the process. All of them have extensive litigation experience regarding many types of personal injury cases. They know what it takes to win clients a favorable outcome. We have a history of successfully litigating personal injury cases, resulting in our clients seeing millions of dollars in restitution.
At our Texas personal injury firm, we believe that the client is important. For this reason, we work with a team of trusted experts as well as other attorneys in order to ensure that we build the best and strongest case for each client. If you are thinking about pursuing legal action regarding a personal injury, then contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. During this meeting, you will be able to meet with a personal injury attorney to discuss all the details of your case and receive sound legal counsel as to what steps to take next. Call us today to see how we can help you.
The terms assault and battery are often erroneously used interchangeably. An assault can be defined as the threat to use unlawful force to inflict bodily injury upon another. The threat, which must be believed to be imminent, must cause reasonable apprehension in the plaintiff. Therefore, where the defendant has threatened some use of force, creating an apprehension in the plaintiff, an assault has occurred. The focus, for the purpose of determining whether a particular act is an assault, must be upon the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s reaction.
If the defendant threatens to use force against the plaintiff, but clearly states that the use of force will not be imminent, and will instead occur at some point in the future, then the plaintiff is unlikely to prevail on a claim of assault. If the threat is imminent, and the defendant appears capable and intent on carrying it out, the plaintiff will likely succeed in proving an assault occurred.
Battery is the intentional and unpermitted contact with another. Battery, for practical purposes, is the end product of an assault. A plaintiff in an assault claim does not need to prove an actual injury, as long as the plaintiff proves unlawful and unpermitted contact with his or her person or property. For example, plaintiffs have successfully proven a battery where the defendant grabbed onto the plaintiff’s coat. In addition, it is not necessary for the contact to be with an object in the possession of the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s body. An unpermitted contact with the property of the plaintiff, located within the plaintiff’s proximity, may also constitute a battery.
In general, the answer to this question is yes. An owner of a dog, or any animal for that matter, may be held liable for injuries the animal inflicts on others. However, the ease with which a plaintiff can win a “dog-bite” lawsuit differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction depending on the legal theory of recovery available in the plaintiff’s location. Some jurisdictions require the plaintiff to show that the animal owner knew, or should have known, that the animal was inclined to attack or bite. In other jurisdictions, the plaintiff may only need to show negligence on the part of the owner to recover money for his injuries. If a wild animal, such as a lion, bear or monkey, injures the plaintiff, the animal’s owner may be held accountable under a theory of strict liability for plaintiff’s injuries regardless of the plaintiff’s conduct.
Some states have “dog-bite” statutes designed to address these matters. Additionally, some municipalities may also have their own statutes which address the responsibility of pet owners to answer for the actions of their pets. If the plaintiff is an adult, the owner of an animal may offer as a defense to the plaintiff’s claim that the injured party provoked the animal. Where the plaintiff has been given clear warning that an animal should not be approached, petted or talked to, and still proceeds with that action, the owner may be able to avoid responsibility if the animal thereafter attacks the plaintiff. This defense is not available, however, if the plaintiff is a child.
Once the plaintiff has established that the animal owner is liable for his injuries, the plaintiff must also prove the amount of his or her damages. The plaintiff should introduce evidence of how much it has cost to treat the injury, such as doctor and hospital bills. In addition, the plaintiff may be able to recover lost wages if the injury kept the plaintiff out of work. The plaintiff is entitled to compensation for any permanent disability caused by the injury, as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
Defamation includes both slander and libel. Generally, slander occurs when the reputation or good name of someone is damaged as a result of false statements that are made orally. Libel, on the other hand, occurs when false statements regarding another are put in writing.
Whether a particular statement, oral or written, constitutes defamation in the nature of slander or libel will depend on the particular circumstances and the identity of the parties. To prevail in a defamation lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant made a false and defamatory statement about the plaintiff that was communicated to a third party. Thus, a false and objectionable statement sent in an e-mail to the plaintiff’s co-worker may be libelous. The plaintiff can usually succeed by showing the communication was either intentional or negligent. Finally, it is also possible for the plaintiff to bring a libel suit where the plaintiff repeats the allegedly defamatory statement. This is called self-publication. Self-publication can occur, for example, when an individual applies for a job and has to tell the prospective employer about something the previous employer said that was false.
Before beginning a libel or slander lawsuit, the plaintiff must determine whether or not the objectionable statement is true. No matter how damaging, insensitive, rude or inappropriate a statement may be, the plaintiff will lose if the statement is true.
The “public” plaintiff has additional hurdles to overcome to recover for libel or slander. An example of a public figure is a politician. Along with establishing all of the regular elements of the tort, a plaintiff who is a public figure must also show that the defendant knew the false statement was false, or at least acted with reckless disregard as to its truthfulness. Newspapers may escape liability for libel when they merely report false statements as long as the paper had no particular reason to doubt the statement at the time it was printed.
Finally, the plaintiff often has to prove economic harm to recover in a defamation suit. Therefore, the plaintiff may need to be able to demonstrate a loss of business as a result of the defamation to establish a right to the recovery of money. However, some types of statements are so damaging that the plaintiff does not have to prove any economic loss. These statements tend to be those that accuse the plaintiff of sexual impropriety or criminal conduct.
Yes. The average member of the public is entitled to privacy protections, although the strength of those protections will vary depending on the particular factual circumstances.
Generally, there are four different actions that an injured plaintiff can allege to recover for an unlawful invasion of his privacy. The first concerns the unlawful appropriation of another’s image. The plaintiff could make this claim, for example, if the defendant, uses plaintiff’s picture in a commercial or advertisement without permission.
The second type of wrongful invasion of privacy is in the nature of intrusion. If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant intruded into his or her solitude, seclusion or private life in a manner that would be considered highly offensive to a reasonable person, the plaintiff is entitled to recover damages from the defendant. The issue of what actions are considered highly offensive greatly depends on the factual circumstances under examination.
The third type of a privacy claim is the public disclosure of private facts. This cause of action requires facts that have no link to a legitimate public concern be disseminated by the defendant, resulting in embarrassment, humiliation or offense to the plaintiff. Whether the public has a legitimate concern in otherwise private facts about the plaintiff is always dependent upon the particular circumstances.
The fourth type of privacy right is the right to be free from being placed in a false light in the public eye. This cause of action is very similar to a defamation action. In short, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant made a communication about the plaintiff, it is untrue, and it was made to the public. The main difference between this cause of action and defamation is that for the invasion of privacy tort, the communication need not be defamatory, it need only be false and highly offensive to a reasonable person.
An owner of a property has the duty to protect members of the public from an injury that may occur on the property. The injured person may be able to recover money for those injuries if he or she can prove that the property owner failed to meet that duty. The hurdle plaintiffs’ face is that the nature and extent of the property owner’s duty will vary depending upon the facts of the situation and the jurisdiction in question.
Some states focus on the status of the injured visitor to the property. These states divide the potential status into three separate categories: invitee, licensee, and trespasser. An invitee is someone who has been invited onto the land because that person will confer some advantage to the property owner, such as a store patron. An owner of a property is required to exercise reasonable care for the safety of the invitee. A licensee is someone who enters the land for his or her own purpose, and is present at the consent, but not the invitation, of the owner. The owner’s duty to a licensee is only to warn of hidden dangers. Finally, a trespasser is an individual who enters onto the property without the knowledge or consent of the owner and who remains there without any right or permission. Trespassers have difficulty suing property owners because property owners’ duty towards trespassers is not to place traps and hazards on their property. In some cases, the owner must also warn trespassers of the hazards if they are unlikely to be discovered by the trespasser and could cause serious injury or death.
Other states focus on the condition of the property and the activities of both the visitor and owner, rather than considering only the status of the visitor. In these states, a uniform standard that requires the owner of the property to exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of invitees and licensees is generally applied. The plaintiff must prove that the duty of care has not been met, through an examination of the circumstances surrounding the entry on the property, the use to which the property is put, the foreseeability of the plaintiff’s injury, and the reasonableness of placing a warning or repairing the condition. Obviously, whether reasonable care has been rendered, greatly depends on the particular circumstances.
The property owner’s duty of care toward children is greater than the duty owed to adults. Even if the children are trespassers or engage in dangerous behavior, the property owner must still take precautions to prevent foreseeable harm to children. The classic example of a property owner’s greater duty of care to children arises in the context of backyard swimming pools. Owners must fence, gate, and lock their pools in a manner that keeps children out and if they fail to do so, they will be found liable for injuries to children, even if the children were trespassers that were warned to stay off the property.
Generally speaking, an owner of a property may not use deadly force to defend the property. Society values human life and bodily integrity much more than property. Therefore, the life, health, and safety of an individual, even an intruder, is considered to be more valuable than the China or stereo, which that individual is trying to steal.
An owner is not prohibited, however, from invoking self-help methods in defending property from another. An owner of a property is entitled to use reasonable force to prevent someone, or something, from entering his or her property, or to remove something from his or her property. What, under normal circumstances, may constitute a battery, assault or other intentional tort, will not be considered unlawful in situations where it is performed as a reasonable use of self-help in defense of property. However, the use of force calculated to do great bodily harm, or cause death, is not permitted.
There is one narrow limitation upon the use of deadly force, where it is allowed. Where an intruder threatens personal safety, as well as a threat to property, or where the intruder is committing a forcible felony, deadly force may be appropriate.
Most individuals who are injured at work are prohibited from filing ordinary personal injury lawsuits against their employers. Instead, injured workers are generally required to file a claim under the state’s workers compensation procedure. An injured railroad worker must bring a claim for benefits under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) for compensation for his injuries. FELA is similar to many state workers’ compensation systems with the exception that a railroad employee must be able to prove some level of employer negligence to make a recovery. In comparison, most state systems are based upon no-fault theories of recovery where neither the negligence of the employer or the employee is examined.
Laws, rules, and regulations require a railroad to furnish a reasonably safe workplace for the benefit and protection of its employees. In keeping with this requirement, a railroad has a duty to inspect and discover defects that may result in injury. In some circumstances, this may include the duty to uncover defects that should be obvious to a railroad employee. A railroad also has a duty to warn its employees of any hazardous or unsafe conditions of which it is aware, or should be aware. A railroad is also required to take other steps to ensure the safety of its workers, including providing adequate training and supervision, appropriate tools and safe equipment and enforcing only reasonable work quotas.
A slip and fall action is a type of personal injury lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who has been injured by a slip and fall, usually on the defendant’s property. The plaintiff in slip and fall cases must usually show that the owner of the property had notice or knowledge of the condition, and failed to clean it up and rectify it within a reasonable amount of time. Additionally, if the plaintiff has knowingly encountered a hazard, then he or she may have trouble holding the defendant liable.
Your situation must meet certain criteria before you can file a personal injury lawsuit. You must be able to demonstrate the other party or parties caused your damages due to negligence or reckless behavior. In addition, you must also be within the statute of limitations in Texas.
Once you are beyond the statute of limitations, which is generally two years from the date of the injury or death, you may not be able to file a lawsuit for damages. However, there are situations where you can toll the statute of limitations. These are instances where it is possible to extend the statute of limitations for filing a case.
Our Houston personal injury attorneys can help you determine if you are beyond the statute of limitations. We can also review your situation and help you determine if you have a strong case to pursue compensation for your injury.
Personal injury attorneys, including us, take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not owe us fees unless we recover a successful verdict or settlement. Instead of paying us fees up front, we would take a percentage of the compensation to cover the costs of litigation and other expenses that were necessary to win your case.
Personal injury attorneys also offer free consultations, including us. You do not have to worry about paying us a fee for an initial consultation. We can help you determine whether your situation would merit filing a claim or lawsuit.
You should make sure the personal injury attorney handling your case has experience. Not just experience practicing law, but experience that is relevant to your case. For instance, if your injuries occurred during a car accident, then you should look into hiring an attorney with experience handling car accident cases.
You should also consider that while most personal injury cases settle, some go to trial. Be sure to consider an attorney that has trial experience. Chances are, if an attorney has trial experience, he or she also has experience negotiating injury settlements.
In addition, you should make sure your attorney is and has been in good standing with the state bar association. The State Bar of Texas can help you pull attorney disciplinary records online.
There are steps you can take after an accident to strengthen a potential claim. Always seek medical attention after a serious injury. In fact, some types of serious injuries may not even cause symptoms. If you were in an accident, consider going to the hospital or doctor. By seeking medical attention, you are also establishing a record of your injuries. This can help bolster a potential claim against the at-fault party.
For some types of accidents, it may help to take photos of the accident scene. However, taking photos may not always be an option. You may also be able to write down notes about what happened. If there were witnesses to the accident, try to grab their contact information.
You should contact a personal injury attorney soon after your accident. Evidence may be altered or destroyed soon after an accident occurs. A personal injury attorney can help protect evidence.
Many personal injury claims settle before going to trial. How long your case takes to settle, if it settles, depends on the circumstances. Each case is different. The evidence involved with your case, your injury and the defendant’s willingness to settle may affect the length of your case.
Unfortunately, there is no way to know exactly how long cases take to settle. Some cases may take months to settle while others take years. What is most important is that you obtain the compensation you and your family need to repair the damage done to your lives.
A personal injury settlement may cover your economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages may include expenses such as medical bills or the cost of undergoing rehabilitation. The same is true of a jury verdict. With a settlement, you negotiate the amount of compensation with the defendant’s insurance company. On the other hand, with a jury verdict, a jury decides on the amount of compensation you receive.
It depends. How much compensation you can recover depends on the damages caused by your injuries and possibly other factors. Each case is different. However, many personal injury law firms work with medical experts and other professionals to determine the amount of compensation their clients should receive as well as the other party’s degree of fault.
No. Most states that recognize a wrongful death cause of action limit the number of potential plaintiffs. Some states limit this group to the deceased’s primary beneficiaries, defined as the surviving spouse and the deceased’s children. Other states allow the parents of the deceased individual to bring a wrongful death claim. In addition to these individuals, some states recognize the rights of any dependent, whether closely related or not, to bring a wrongful death claim provided the person depended on the deceased for economic support.
Some states require any recovery gained in a wrongful death action to be divided amongst the deceased’s heirs at law or to be distributed to the deceased’s heirs at law as it would be in any normal probate proceeding. In these situations, distant relatives may receive some “trickle down” of damages, even though they were not financially dependent upon the deceased during his life. In addition, if more than one plaintiff is entitled to recover, all plaintiffs will share in the award. The manner in which the award is divided can be confusing and will depend on the laws in the particular jurisdiction where the matter is brought.
Personal injury actions require, by their very nature, that someone is injured. The requisite injury can either by physical or, in some cases, emotional. The general goal of personal injury actions is to place the blame for the injury on the party who caused it and to require them to compensate the injured person for the losses sustained.
Not every injured plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for the injury he or she has sustained. Besides an injury, the plaintiff must establish, through evidence, that the defendant is legally liable for his or her injuries. This requires proof of causation both in terms of actual, factual causation and legal causation. Whether legal causation is established depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular matter in question. The defendant can be held liable as a result of either the actions he or she took or the actions he or she had a duty and failed to take.
Some personal injury actions revolve around intentional conduct, which means that if an individual intentionally harms another, or knows that the conduct he or she is engaged in has a substantial likelihood of harm, he or she may be liable for the resulting harm. Other personal injury actions are based on negligence. Under a negligence theory, an individual is liable for the injuries caused by his or her own actions, or inaction. Still, other types of personal injury actions are based on strict liability, a no-fault system where liability may attach regardless of the fault of the various parties, including the plaintiff.
In some situations, the defendant’s conduct, while questionable, does not rise to a level that entitles the plaintiff to a recovery. For example, if a plaintiff knowingly and willfully chooses to encounter a known hazard, the law holds that he or she has “assumed the risk of injury” and therefore the defendant is not liable. Plaintiffs are denied recovery in other cases if their subjective belief about a situation does not match an objective “reasonable person” standard.
Personal injury law can involve many different types of claims, theories, and principles. Some of the more common types of personal injury actions include:
Animal bites can result in the animal owner’s liability to the person who is bitten or who is injured while trying to avoid a bite.
Assault and battery are two intentional torts that involve improper contact with another, without permission or consent or the threat of such contact.
Aviation accidents often result in serious injury or death.
Defamation and privacy are two separate areas that concern the rights of individuals to have their names and reputations protected, and also to have their privacy preserved.
Motor vehicle accidents raise numerous questions as to the liability of one participant to another and also raise interesting questions regarding who should be responsible for covering the losses.
Premises liability concerns the responsibilities of owners of property to safeguard others from dangerous conditions or hazards on their property and to prevent others from being injured while on their property.
Property damage causes of action concern the rights of owners of property to protect their property from damage, theft or intrusion.
Railroad accidents may result in personal injury or death and may subject the railroad to liability.
Slip and fall cases relate closely to the duty of an owner or possessor of land to maintain their property in a safe manner for the benefit of others lawfully entering upon the land.
Wrongful death actions may be brought by the dependents or beneficiaries of a deceased individual against the party whose action or inaction caused the death of their loved one.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.