Our approach to lawyering and client satisfaction is driven by our core values. They inform you what you can expect from us.
YOU HAVE OUR RESPECT
We want to hear your story. In fact, who you are is a key part of our strategy. Like most of our clients, we come from humble beginnings. If this is your first time suing someone, we understand that you will likely have some very basic questions. Like all lawyers, we can get carried away and use words that don’t make sense. Please don’t hesitate to ask for a better explanation of something we aren’t making clear.
We promise that we will never discriminate on the basis of age, education, race, gender, sexuality, language, nationality or citizenship. The doors of the courthouse are open for all.
OUR GOALS ARE YOUR GOALS
Part of the Small Firm Advantage is that we can take the time to personalize a strategy built around your specific goals. To some clients, the most important thing is getting through tragedy and getting on with their life. For others, it is recovering the most compensation possible, no matter how long it takes. Because we’re small, we don’t have a cookie-cutter approach and promise to work with you to uncover and meet your goals.
WE WILL LEVEL WITH YOU
Transparency is a big part of our core values. We promise to communicate clearly and use our experience to help you understand what you can expect. This also means that we take the time to fully inform you about how your goals compare to our experience in pursuing claims like yours. We try not to overpromise and will never sell you an unreachable goal just to get you to sign with us.
WE WILL KEEP YOU INFORMED
Communication is key. We promise to communicate in a timely manner with all of our clients. We use technology to track and communicate quickly with our clients via phone, text or email and it is our goal to respond to all client communication within 24 hours.
What We Expect from You
KEEP US INFORMED
One of the most important things you can do to help your case is keeping us informed. We need to know all the facts as they happen. Please keep us informed about all communication you receive and your medical treatment as well as your contact information. Although it may seem elementary, many clients fail to let us know when their phone number or address change. If we can’t get a hold of you, your case comes to a screeching halt.
LEVEL WITH US
We need you to be honest with us every step of the way. We need you to make an honest assessment of what success looks like to you so that we can provide you with the best client experience possible. We need you to be honest with us about what happened, your injuries, and your medical treatment. Additionally, lawsuits often require that you provide information about your past medical treatment, job history, and criminal history among other information. We understand that this information may be sensitive and will do our best to respect your wishes to keep it private. Please know that whatever you say to us is protected by the attorney-client privilege and we cannot release private information without your consent. In order to evaluate what information can remain private and what must be released, we need to know the whole truth, even if it might be embarrassing. We understand your hesitation and are always on your side.
NO FEE UNLESS YOU WIN
The math is simple. You pay nothing upfront and if you don’t recover, our fee is $0.
A Few Words About Lawsuits
WHAT IS A “CIVIL” LAWSUIT?
There are two types of lawsuits: civil and criminal.
When someone is charged with a crime, the lawsuit is brought by the government and either prosecuted by state or federal authorities on behalf of its citizens.
Some crimes such as driving while intoxicated and sexual assault may have separate civil and criminal lawsuits.
The other types of lawsuits, and the ones our firm handles, are civil lawsuits. There are many types of civil lawsuits ranging from business disputes, divorces, and personal injury lawsuits among many others. Our firm handles personal injury lawsuits. The main goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to compensate injury victims for the harm they have suffered. This more often than not means money for medical bills, money lost from not working, and other considerations like pain and suffering. Basically, what we are trying to accomplish is to make the injured person whole, or simply put, to get them back to where they were before the injury.
If a wrongdoer’s conduct is really bad, it may allow for money to be awarded to punish a bad actor.
3 Things You Need for a Personal Injury Lawsuit
To sustain a personal injury lawsuit has three basic elements: liability, damages, and collectability.
Liability is commonly referred to as fault or blame. In order to win or even maintain a personal injury lawsuit in San Antonio someone else must be at least 51% at fault for your injuries. Some examples of liability are driving drunk, running a stop sign, leaving water on the floor, and not fencing your dog.
Damages refer to some kind of loss or injury. If you aren’t hurt or haven’t suffered some kind of loss, then your case will not hold up in court. Some common types of damages include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and physical impairment.
Collectability is present when a Defendant has the ability to pay a judgment against them. A judgment is an order from the court saying that a Defendant owes the injured person a certain amount of money to make up for the harm they have caused. Sometimes, an injured person will not be able to recover the money owed to them because the Defendant in the case does not have enough money or property to pay the judgment or does not have insurance that covers the judgment.
When a lawyer says a case is “not viable” it usually means that one of these elements is missing. For example, in a car wreck, both parties may be equally at fault or there is no evidence that either party is more at fault for the crash. An example of a case that misses the Damages element is a slip and fall case, where a patron at a restaurant slips on a wet floor but isn’t hurt in the fall.
The most unfair element that can make a lawsuit unviable is collectability. When someone is injured there has to be a source of money to satisfy the judgment. Usually, this comes in the form of an insurance policy. Though auto insurance is required under Texas law and many mortgages require that a homeowner have insurance, not everyone is covered. Furthermore, some insurance policies have specific exclusions that may prevent an injured victim from seeing a recovery. When insurance is not available to cover a judgment, we look to see if a company or individual has any money or property that could satisfy the judgment. Unfortunately, most Americans do not have reachable assets that could be used to pay off a judgment.
If one or more of these items cannot be proven, it will be very hard to win or even file a lawsuit for your injuries. We promise to give you as much information as possible to help you determine whether you have a case. We promise to investigate every avenue of recovery to ensure that you are fairly compensated. Call us today for a free consultation.
Stages of a Personal Injury Lawsuit in San Antonio
1. SOMEONE IS INJURED
A personal injury claim like the ones we handle starts with a person being injured through no fault of their own.
2. MEDICAL TREATMENT
It is important for your health and your lawsuit that you seek medical attention right away. The longer you wait to seek medical care, the more time it will take to heal and get you back to where you were before the injury. If you are unable to find a doctor that will see you or are worried about large out-of-pocket expenses, call us and we may be able to help find a doctor who will agree to hold your bills until after your lawsuit is over.
3. HIRING A LAWYER
It is usually after a person has seen to their immediate medical needs that they begin to think about hiring a lawyer.
4. CLAIM IS INVESTIGATED
The lawyer and the client work together to gather evidence about what happened, the client’s injuries, and whether or not a judgment will be collectible.
5. LAWSUIT IS FILED AND ANSWERED
At this stage, a document known as a Petition is filed in Texas courts. Once a petition is filed, a Defendant must be served in person. This is usually done by a process server who looks for the Defendant and hands them the document. Once a Defendant has been served, they have about 30 days to respond. Usually, they contact their insurance company who is contractually obligated to provide them with a lawyer to represent them.
This is the most lengthy part of a lawsuit. The discovery process can take months or years, depending on the complexity of the case. Discovery can include answering written questions, providing documents, sitting through depositions and hiring experts, among other time-consuming and expensive events.
Once both sides feel they have gathered enough evidence to fairly evaluate a case, they can agree at any time to go to mediation. Mediation is a structured process where a third party assists in resolving a dispute through negotiations. Texas courts require that people negotiate prior to trial to see if they can resolve their disputes. Even if an agreement can’t be reached, a mediation is an important step in evaluating your case and preparing for trial.
Trial is the next step in the litigation process and the one most people are familiar with. Trials can last days or weeks, depending on the complexity of the case. A court determines when a case goes to trial and a busy courthouse can sometimes delay a person’s day in court. A trial usually results in a judgment against the Defendant or a finding that the Defendant was not at fault in the case.
9. APPEAL, IF NECESSARY
Once the trial has ended, each party has a small amount of time to challenge the results of the trial based on some perceived error that occurred during the trial. When large money is awarded to an injured person and an insurance company or corporation is forced to pay, there is a good chance that the Defendant will appeal a judgment in a last-ditch attempt to avoid paying.
Let’s Talk Money
WHAT CAN I BE COMPENSATED FOR?
In a personal injury case when we talk about “compensation” we are usually referring to money you receive to make up for losing something like your health or a paycheck from work. The things you ask a jury to compensate you for are called your “damages.” In a personal injury lawsuit in Texas you can ask a jury to compensate you for the following damages if something or someone else was the cause:
Medical Expenses – money for medical bills for treatment you have had in the past as well as treatment you are likely to need in the future. Examples of medical expenses are hospital bills, chiropractor bills, and money to buy equipment like crutches or wheelchairs.
Physical Pain and Suffering – money for pain and suffering you went through in the past and the pain and suffering you are likely to have in the future.
Mental Anguish – money for a high level of distress or mental pain in the past and in the future.
Lost Wages – money you lost due to time taken off of work to heal.
Lost Earning Capacity – the amount of money you will lose because you can no longer do the job you previously had and have to take a lower paying job. For example, if a plumber injures himself so severely that he can no longer twist a wrench, he may have to look for a lower paying job like a warehouse clerk.
Physical Impairment – money for losing the ability to do something, like run or climb stairs.
Disfigurement – money for any scarring or other injuries that affect your personal appearance.
WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH IN SAN ANTONIO?
Determining the value of a case is difficult. It can depend on a number of things like the severity of your injuries, the nastiness of a defendant’s conduct, or even the place where the courthouse is located. No lawyer can (or should) ever guarantee a dollar amount to their clients. If a case has to go to trial a jury may choose to give an award much lower or higher than what a lawyer and his or her client thinks is reasonable. We do our best to level with you and let you know what you can reasonably expect as compensation in your case, but we can’t really guarantee you a favorable outcome. When we become partners in your lawsuit, we both risk a certain amount of time and money.
Let us be clear from the beginning. The medical bills you get as a result of treatment for injuries related to an accident are your responsibility. If you are unable to pay them or can’t afford to front the out-of-pocket expenses, we may be able to work with doctors who will agree to take their payment at the end of a lawsuit, instead of at the end of treatment. We are experienced personal injury attorneys who often help our clients get medical treatment when money is tight and we take pride in being able to offer this service to our clients. However, we never assume payment of any of your bills.
One way to value a case is by the amount of medical bills incurred by the client. Unfortunately, this leads some firms to push their clients to undergo prolonged or unneeded medical treatment. But, when a jury goes to make their award, they get to determine whether the treatment was necessary. If they think you ran up the bills to get a higher award, they could leave you holding the bag.
In addition, high medical bills will certainly affect what you take home in a settlement. What lawyers sometimes don’t make clear to their clients is that the lawyer, more often than not, takes their fee first. Then after the lawyer gets paid, the doctors are paid next, leaving whatever is left to the client as compensation for their pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages. In this scenario, doctors and lawyers win by driving up medical costs, but the client is often left with little recovery beyond their medical treatment, some of which might have been unnecessary in the first place.
At Lopez Law Firm we will never ask you to undergo the risk, pain, and inconvenience of unnecessary medical treatment in order to drive up the value of your injury claim. The choice to undergo medical treatment is always a decision for clients to make in consultation with their doctor. We give clients all the facts necessary to help them make a decision in a way that helps them the most and optimizes their compensation and recovery.
We want to take another opportunity to be absolutely clear with our clients. Law firms front the money on case expenses and take a huge risk of losing that money if something goes south in your case. But, law firms are typically paid back from the money you receive in a judgment or settlement. The money law firms spend is yours, not theirs.
Because large law firms have deep pockets, they often approach litigation with a one-size-fits-all, shotgun approach to case expenses. Their financial resources allow them to throw tons of money at every case in the same way. This may seem beneficial. But, while some firms flaunt their ability to outspend opponents, they fail to make clear that the money they spend belongs to their clients and not to them. They rack up huge expenses on videos, expensive graphics, and highly-paid experts then pass on the bills to their clients without evaluating whether or not the case warrants the expense or not. In the end, those expenses come out of your verdict or settlement.
At Lopez Law Firm the Small Firm Advantage means each client and each case is evaluated individually and we never use a one-size-fits-all approach. We keenly evaluate the potential recovery in each case and game plan with an eye toward a fast, cost-effective resolution. Some cases require large expenses and the assistance of the best experts in the field. However, many cases are able to be resolved at more reasonable costs which have less impact on our client’s bottom line. We take pride in our ability to make an accurate cost-benefit analysis in each and every case to maximize our client’s net recovery. We can only do this because we are a small firm, not a machine that gets fed the same way for every client.