Frequently Asked Questions
A Plaintiff who was injured as a result of some negligent conduct on the part of a Defendant is entitled to recover compensation for such injury from that Defendant. A Plaintiff is entitled to a verdict if the jury finds:
- That a Defendant was negligent; and
- That such negligence was a proximate cause of injury to the Plaintiff.
Texas law defines “negligence” as:
“Failure to use ordinary care, that is, failing to do that which a person of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances or doing that which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances.”
Put another way, Negligence is the doing of something which a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the failure to do something which a reasonably prudent person would do, under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence. The person whose conduct we set up as a standard is not the extraordinarily cautious individual, nor the exceptionally skillful one, but a person of reasonable and ordinary prudence.
One test that is helpful in determining whether or not a person was negligent is to ask and answer the question whether or not, if a person of ordinary prudence had been in the same situation and possessed the same knowledge, he or she would have foreseen or anticipated that someone might have been injured by or as a result of his or her action or inaction. If the answer to that question is “yes”, and if the action or inaction reasonably could have been avoided, then not to avoid it would be negligence.
The amount of caution required of a person in the exercise of ordinary care depends upon the conditions that are apparent or that should be apparent to a reasonably prudent person under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence.
More simply, the amount of caution required of a person depends upon the circumstances and conditions of the activity.
A minor is not held to the same standard of conduct as an adult. He/she is only required to exercise the degree of care which ordinarily is exercised by minors of like maturity, intelligence and capacity under similar circumstances. It is for the jury to determine whether the conduct of the Plaintiff was such as might reasonably have been expected of a minor of her maturity, intelligence and capacity, acting under similar circumstances.
Comparative negligence is negligence on the part of the Plaintiff which, combining with the negligence of a Defendant, contributes as a cause in bringing about the injury. Comparative negligence, if any, on the part of the Plaintiff does not bar a recovery against the Defendant, but the total amount of damages to which the Plaintiff would otherwise be entitled shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the Plaintiff.
The law defines cause in its own particular way. A cause of injury, damage, loss or harm is something that is a substantial factor in bringing about an injury, damage, loss or harm.
There may be more than one cause of an injury.
When the negligent conduct of two or more persons, negligent acts and/ or a defective product contribute concurrently as causes of an injury, the conduct of each is a cause of the injury regardless of the extent to which each cause contributes to the injury.
A cause is concurrent if it was operative at the moment of injury and acted with another cause to produce the injury. It is not a defense that the wrongful act of a person not joined as a party was also a cause of the injury.
If the Defendant’s insurance company agrees to pay what Kimberly and you believe your case is worth, and you wish to settle for that amount, then your case will not go to court. This is what happens in most situations. Though, some cases do require a formal trial proceeding. In either situation, hiring a law firm with experience in handling personal injury cases is critical.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to settle your case is yours, but Kimberly will advise you as to her professional opinion.
Some cases can be completed in a few months. Others might take years. If the case can be resolved without filing a lawsuit, it typically takes less time. On the other hand, if litigation is necessary, each court differs in the amount of time it takes to bring a case to trial.
Keep in mind that because litigation tends to be agonizingly slow, Kimberly tries to make every effort to push the case to a conclusion as quickly as possible. We don't get paid until you do, so we pursue your case aggressively with every tactic known in order to obtain fair compensation in a timely manner.
This answer is based on over 20 years of dealing with insurance companies. Our experience is that not only will the insurance company treat you unfairly, but they will be busy gathering evidence to minimize the settlement for your claim. Furthermore, they will insist that you sign medical authorizations, give statements and provide documentation that could seriously damage your claim later when you have no choice but to hire an attorney. Regardless of what they say or the promises they make, the burden of dealing with them on your own just isn’t worth it. There have been numerous occasions in which Kimberly has told a client that they could have settled for more if Stovall & Associates had been involved in their case from day one.
It’s a simple fact -- insurance companies train adjusters to find ways of settling claims for the least amount possible. When a policyholder injures another person, an adjuster must honor the terms of coverage, minimizing the amount of money the company pays out. In many cases, sometimes within 2 hours of your accident, an adjuster will call or personally meet with you to try to settle the matter before you have an opportunity to hire an experienced trial attorney. In many of the cases we have seen, claims adjusters have told our clients that the amount the insurance company is offering is the best they can hope for, and the best way for them to avoid costly and sometimes time consuming litigation. This is usually a lie! Don’t fall for their “advice” and deceptive tactics.
All of that said, if you have tried unsuccessfully to handle the claim on your own, we will be happy to step in at any stage and try to resolve the claim for you. Understand that what you have done prior to our representation may ultimately affect the outcome.
Kimberly is familiar with how insurance companies operate. She will immediately put them on notice that we represent you and this will send a clear signal to them that they cannot take advantage of you. Our notice of representation will also stop all of their attempts to gain information from you, requests for statements and requests that you sign documents that could hurt your case later. If contacted by anyone concerning your accident, all you will need to say is “Please contact my attorney, Kimberly Stovall.” We will handle the rest.
Yes. It’s very common for people to say things at the time of an incident that they later realize were inaccurate. Sometimes, a witness may misstate what you said about how the incident took place. You might have a hard time explaining that you now remember things differently than you did at the time of the incident, but if you consult with an attorney, he or she will have experience in handling such a situation, and can help find support for your side of the story.
If any attorney tries to answer this question without first being able to analyze all of the evidence, including the extent of your medical, lost wages, permanent impairment, negligence of all defendants, and other factors, RUN, DON’T WALK!
The truth is, no attorney can answer this question until he or she has all of the facts. Each case is different and must be evaluated separately. Kimberly will spend a great deal of time and effort in evaluating your case, however, you should know that there is never any guarantee of a recovery or outcome.
Kimberly will not charge you anything for an initial consultation on a personal injury case. If she takes your case, she will usually take it on a contingency fee basis. That means that you don’t have to pay anything up front and Stovall & Associates only gets paid once your case is won or settled.
Every case requires funding for development of the evidence and to prepare the case for trial. In most cases, Stovall & Associates will advance the funds necessary to cover the expenses. We ask our client to reimburse us for the case expenses if and when there is a recovery in the case. If we are unable to make a recovery, you owe us nothing for our services or expenses.
We determine whether or not to take a case based on what we believe to be the likelihood of success. Unfortunately, and especially with the new “tort reform” measures, we cannot afford to represent everyone who asks for and needs our help. If we believe that we can be of service to you, we will take the case. However, if we are unable to help you, we often know of other lawyers who can, and we will refer you to them.
If you have been seriously injured or are unsure of the outcome of your injury, then an experienced personal injury attorney, such as Kimberly, should always be consulted before you give any statements or sign any papers of any kind (including property damage checks and releases) as soon as possible after your injury.