COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENTS IN TEXAS
If you’ve been hurt and you’re thinking of filing a lawsuit, you probably have a lot of questions about what happens when you do. The best way to get answers is to sit down with a qualified attorney so you can talk one-on-one about issues specific to your case. However, we know you want answers now, so we’ve put together answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about personal injury settlements in Texas. Let’s get right to it.
HOW ARE TEXAS PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENTS CALCULATED?
That’s a tricky question. We measure distance in miles and inches. Volume can be quantified in ounces and milliliters. Medical tests measure amounts of infection or toxic substances. But you can’t really measure the amount of mental and physical pain a victim goes through in each case.
Still, we can look at each type of personal injury and see averages. Personal injury settlements typically cover financial losses from what happened and may provide financial compensation for pain and suffering. In Texas, parties calculate personal injury settlements by looking at medical bills, lost income and damages suffered. The more serious the injury and lengthy the recovery time, typically the higher the settlement amount.
HOW ARE PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENTS PAID OUT?
The defendant doesn’t just hand over a stack of cash once you reach an agreement. Usually, distributing settlement proceeds is a process. Sometimes there are multiple checks.
For example, an insurance company might provide one check for your medical provider, one for your health insurance company and one made out to you and your attorney. If you work with Monsour Law Firm, we don’t make money unless you get a settlement, so the defendant might make out their check to both of us. Texas requires us to keep a separate trust account for depositing funds made out both to us and to our clients. Once the check clears that account, we can write checks for your portion and to any other third party that receives money from the settlement. Basically, once we receive a check, you’ll have your part in just a few business days.
ARE PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENTS PUBLIC RECORD?
That depends on where you reach your agreement. When parties agree on personal injury settlements out of court, the details remain private. If you have to go to court and a judge and jury decide your case, all the details do become part of public record.
ARE PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENTS TAXABLE IN TEXAS?
The answer to that question got complicated recently with changes under the Trump Tax Law. Damages awarded for physical injuries are tax-free. So if a car hits you and you break your leg, you don’t have to pay taxes on any money you receive connected to that fracture. However, damages for emotional distress are taxable. If you claim your broken leg gave you insomnia and that led to headaches and stomach aches and you receive compensation for that, you might have to pay taxes on the portion connected to emotional distress.
ARE PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENTS MARITAL PROPERTY?
Texas is a community property state. That means the state views everything you and your spouse own as community property. If you get a divorce, you’ll have to split it equally. If you want to keep your entire settlement, you’ll need “clear and convincing evidence” that it’s separate property. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just that generally personal injury settlements are community property in a Texas divorce.
CAN PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENTS BE GARNISHED?
In Texas, the Attorney General Child Support Division can place liens on your settlement if you owe back child support. The lien attaches to proceeds you might receive, but only to the net amount after attorneys fees, expenses and medical bills.
WHERE TO ASK YOUR OTHER PERSONAL INJURY QUESTIONS
Monsour Law Firm exists to help victims get what they deserve. If you received an injury, we’re here to answer your questions and help you get justice. Schedule a free consultation today.