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How to Find the Right Personal Injury Attorney in Austin, TX

How to Find the Right Personal Injury Attorney in Austin, TX

There are a glut of attorneys in the U.S. In fact, lawyers are the 25th most common profession in the country. There are over 108,000 active attorneys in Texas alone. 

With this many lawyers around, it can be hard to know how to find the right one for your case. This article discusses how to find the right personal injury lawyer in Austin. Read on for key tips that can help you in your search for legal representation

1. Searching the Internet 

Searching the internet for an Austin personal injury lawyer

The internet is the most common method for finding a lawyer. Over 90% of consumers use a search engine when looking for legal services. Google, of course, is the most popular search engine.

You can begin your search for a lawyer on Google. You can search for keyword terms like “personal injury lawyer near me” or “Austin personal injury lawyer.” This search will provide you with a list of lawyers and law firms in your area.

A Google search should be the beginning — not the end — of your search. You can’t automatically assume that law firms that appear on the first page of Google are the best firms to handle your injury case. They may just have the biggest marketing budgets or the most search-engine-friendly websites. 

Therefore, you should always conduct further research on the attorneys you find on Google or other search engines.

2. Legal Directories

Legal directories provide an excellent way to do more in-depth research on a particular personal injury lawyer. Directories provide useful information about an attorney, including their contact information, years of experience, practice areas, awards, and disciplinary history, among other things. Many directories also provide a rating for the attorney based on peer reviews and/or information in their profile. 

We’ll go over the most popular legal directories below.

Avvo

Avvo is perhaps the most well-known legal directory and attorney rating service. Avvo creates a profile for every licensed lawyer it can identify — which includes 97% of attorneys in the U.S.

The platform rates lawyers on a scale of 1.0 – 10.0 based on the information lawyers include in their profiles and information from state bar organizations. Ideally, you’d want to hire someone who has an Avvo Rating of 10, such as Joshua Fogelman, a personal injury lawyer in Austin.

Avvo also has a spot for “customer reviews,” where former clients can rate their experience with a lawyer out of five stars. Avvo allows you to get a comprehensive look at the quality of an attorney’s legal services.

Justia

Justia has a large directory of lawyer profiles. Like Avvo, the platform uses a 1.0 – 10.0 rating system for attorneys. However, a lawyer’s rating is based solely on peer reviews from other attorneys who have worked with the lawyer. Justia provides specific 1.0 – 5.0 ratings for an attorney’s legal knowledge, legal analysis, communication skills, and ethics/professionalism.

Justia provides you with a glimpse of what the legal community thinks about a lawyer.

Findlaw

Findlaw has one of the largest online lawyer directories on the internet. FindLaw does not have its own rating system. Rather, an attorney’s Findlaw rating is based on the average of all the attorney’s client reviews on their profile. Clients can rate a lawyer from one to five stars. 

Findlaw offers a good opportunity to find out what former clients have to say about their experience with a lawyer.

3. Online Reviews

As noted above, many online legal directories provide a terrific source of client reviews. However, Google is the gold standard for attorney reviews — and will be the place you’ll likely find the most client reviews and ratings for a lawyer or law firm. 

You can typically find an attorney’s Google reviews on their Google Business Profile listing. This listing should come up with you search the attorney or firm name on Google. You can also type the name or the term “personal injury lawyer” into Google Maps to see the results with reviews.

Online reviews - personal injury lawyer in Austin

Take time to read the reviews of a lawyer you’re considering hiring. Read the good reviews and the bad reviews. Take note of how the attorney responds to negative reviews. Are they professional and empathetic, or are they petty and aggressive? This information can give you insight into what the lawyer would be like to work with. 

4. Texas State Bar 

State Bar of Texas

The State Bar of Texas website can be a valuable asset in your search for an attorney. The bar operates an attorney referral service for individuals looking for legal services. This service will refer you to a lawyer in your geographic area that best matches your legal needs. 

The Bar also has a directory of all active and inactive attorneys in Texas. This directory will tell you the lawyer’s contact info, date of licensure, and disciplinary history, among other things. 

5. Prepare for Your Consultation With an Injury Lawyer

Prepare for Your Consultation With an Injury Lawyer

Identifying a lawyer is only the first step in finding the best legal professional for your case. Your initial consultation will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. So, be sure to make the most of it.

Prepare a list of questions for your injury attorney to help you determine if they’ll be a good fit for your case. At a minimum, you should ask about:

  • Their years of experience
  • Their history of handlings cases like yours
  • Whether they exclusively practice personal injury law
  • Whether they have trial experience
  • Whether they’ll hire experts to help with your case
  • Their fee structure
  • Their estimation of the value of your claim

Preparing a list of questions can help you stay on task during your consultation. It can also help you remember all the things you want to discuss in the meeting. 

You should walk away from your consultation with a pretty good idea of the attorney’s personality and whether they are they right lawyer for your case. You should feel free to have multiple initial consultations to make sure you get the right legal representation. After all, it can take a few tries to find the best personal injury lawyer in Austin, TX.

Am I at Fault if I Was in a Rear-End Car Crash in California?

Am I at Fault if I Was in a Rear-End Car Crash in California?

In many cases, the rear driver in a rear-end car crash is at fault, but not always. The lead driver could be at fault or share liability for the cause of a rear-end collision. 

Fault for a rear-end accident is not automatic. You must review all facts and circumstances to determine which driver caused the accident. 

Why Is Liability Important in a Rear-End Accident Case?

Fault determines who is responsible for paying damages after a car accident. Liability can be established by proving which driver’s negligence caused the car wreck. 

An injured victim could pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver for damages such as:

  • The cost of medical treatment 
  • Loss of income
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Future lost wages and decreases in earning potential
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments
  • Cost of long-term nursing care 
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Decrease in quality of living
  • Personal care and assistance with household chores

In addition to compensatory damages, a person could receive punitive damages (exemplary damages) for a rear-end accident if they can prove the other driver acted with malice, fraud, or oppression. Punitive damages are rarely awarded, however.

How Do You Prove Fault for a Rear-End Accident in California?

Fault for a rear-end crash is determined by negligence. To hold a driver liable for damages, you must prove the elements of negligence:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care
  • The driver breached the duty of care through their acts or omissions
  • The breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of the rear-end accident
  • You sustained damages because of the breach of duty

All drivers have a duty to use reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle, including following California traffic laws. Drivers must control their speed and movement of the vehicle, and they must keep a lookout for other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other obstacles.

Many rear-end accidents are caused by the rear driver failing to maintain a safe distance or failing to keep a proper lookout. Numerous factors could contribute to the cause of the accident, including:

Proving liability requires you to prove that the rear driver caused the crash. Evidence could include video of the collision, eyewitness testimony, vehicle damage, physical evidence, statements by the drivers, and evidence from expert witnesses

California Vehicle Code §21703 states a driver shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is prudent and reasonable. 

There is no law stating a specific safe following distance. Therefore, drivers have the duty of judging the following distance needed to be able to stop if the car in front of them suddenly slows or stops. 

Typically, it is presumed that the rear driver is at fault unless evidence proves the lead driver was negligent. The driver in the rear failed to keep a safe distance and a proper lookout.

Can the Lead Driver in a Rear-end Crash Be at Fault?

Yes, in some circumstances, the lead driver could be responsible for causing the crash. Negligent conduct that could result in liability for the lead driver includes:

  • Backing up on the road
  • Pulling out in front of another vehicle
  • Intentionally trying to be rear-ended
  • Suddenly braking without cause
  • Drunk driving
  • Driving without operating brake lights

The lead driver also has a duty to use reasonable care when driving. If the lead driver fails to use reasonable care, they could be liable for damages.

In some cases, the lead driver could be partially to blame. California’s contributory negligence laws state that an injured party’s compensation for damages is reduced by the party’s percentage of fault.

Therefore, if a jury finds the lead driver in a rear-end crash was 50% at fault for the cause of the crash, the lead driver would only receive one-half of their damages. For example, if the jury awarded the lead driver $200,000 in damages, the amount received would be $100,000.

Who Is at Fault for a Chain Reaction Rear-End Crash?

Rear-end accidents might involve several vehicles. A rear-end crash begins a chain reaction with each vehicle colliding with the vehicle in front of it. Liability for a multi-vehicle rear-end accident can be challenging to determine.

Multiple drivers could share liability for the car accident. As a result, an accident reconstructionist and other experts may be required to sort out fault.

What Should I Do if I Am Involved in a Rear-end Crash in California?

You should report the accident to the police by calling 911 and not admit fault at the accident scene. As soon as possible, seek medical attention for your injuries and consider seeking legal advice from a Los Angeles car accident lawyer. 

The insurance company may try to shift blame to the other driver to avoid paying a claim. You might need an experienced accident attorney to investigate the crash to gather evidence proving you did not cause the accident.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim arises from tort law. A tort is an omission or act that causes harm or injury to a person. The claim is a civil action seeking compensation for injuries and damages caused by another party.

Personal injury cases are based on claims of negligence, strict liability, or intentional wrongdoing. Examples of situations that can give rise to a personal injury claim include, but are not limited to:

Wrongful death claims fall under personal injury claims. A wrongful death occurs when an accident or injury causes the death of a person. For example, a person dies from the injuries they sustain in a car crash.

Legal Elements of a Personal Injury Claim 

Some product liability claims, dog bites, and activities involving abnormally dangerous activities are based on strict liability. You do not need to prove the party intended to harm you or was negligent. You only need to prove the other party was responsible for causing your injury. 

However, most personal injury claims are based on negligence. You must prove the legal elements of negligence to recover compensation for damages. You must have evidence proving each of the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:

Duty of Care

A legal duty of care in tort law requires a person to take steps to protect others from injury. 

For example, property owners have a duty of care to protect invitees from dangerous conditions on the property. Motorists have a duty of care to follow traffic laws to avoid accidents. Doctors owe a duty of care to their patients to provide medical care that meets the accepted standard of care.

Generally, everyone has a duty to act with a reasonable level of care to avoid harming or injuring another person.

Breach of Duty

A person breaches their duty of care when their conduct falls short of the reasonable person standard. The jury determines what level of care a reasonably prudent person would have used in similar situations. If the defendant failed to meet that level of care, the jury might find the defendant was negligent. 

Causation 

The breach of duty must have been the direct and proximate cause of the person’s injury. 

For example, a driver ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The driver’s breach of duty (failure to obey traffic laws) was the direct cause of the pedestrian’s injuries. Had it not been for the driver running the red light, the pedestrian would not have been injured.

Generally, a person is not held liable unless they could reasonably foresee that their actions could place another person in harm (proximate cause).

Damages 

The victim must suffer damages to recover compensation for a personal injury claim. The person could prove that the other party was negligent in breaching their duty of care. However, if the breach of duty did not cause any damages, the at-fault party is not required to pay any money to the victim. 

What Damages Can You Receive for a Personal Injury Claim?

Damages in a personal injury claim can include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic damages are the financial losses incurred by the victim. Examples include:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Past and future medical bills
  • Household chores and personal care
  • Past and future lost wages and benefits
  • In-home and long-term nursing care
  • Diminished earning potential

Non-economic damages are the intangible losses the person experienced because of the accident and injuries. Examples include:

  • Physical pain and suffering caused by injuries
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Emotional suffering and mental anguish
  • Diminished quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive damages are not compensatory in nature, even though the injured party receives the damages. Instead, these damages “punish” the at-fault party for acting with malice, fraud, or oppression. Punitive damages are only awarded in a small number of personal injury cases. 

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

The California statute of limitations provides the deadlines for filing lawsuits. Allowing the statute of limitations to expire means you lose the right to pursue a legal action to recover compensation for damages. 

The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of personal injury case. Most personal injury cases in California have a two-year statute of limitations. However, claims against government agencies must be filed within six months of the injury date. 

Because exceptions and special circumstances could accelerate or pause the statute of limitations, it is always best to seek legal advice as soon as possible after an accident or other personal injury.