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Personal Injury Laws In Texas

Personal Injury Laws In Texas

A personal injury refers to bodily harm or damage to a person’s emotions or reputation caused by another party’s negligence or malicious intention. Tort laws govern these injuries, separating them from property rights. If another person’s carelessness caused your injury, you could pursue financial compensation for your physical and emotional losses. When questions about your claim arise, a personal injury lawyer can help you find answers.

What Laws Affect a Personal Injury Claim in Texas?

Most personal injury claims are fault-based. As the person filing the claim, you are responsible for proving the other party’s negligence and providing evidence to connect your losses to the accident. To protect your claim, you benefit from understanding the laws that can impact your right to compensation.

The Statute of Limitations

Sometimes a personal injury case requires little more than filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, when the insurance company or the individual responsible for the accident will not cooperate, you may need to file a lawsuit against them. In Texas, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. However, the clock may start later, depending on the circumstances. For example, if you lost a loved one in a car accident, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years, starting with the date of the person’s death, which can differ from the date of their injury.

The Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

Liability for a personal injury does not always fall entirely on one party. When you are partially responsible for your injuries and resulting losses, it does not automatically make you ineligible for compensation. However, it can decrease the amount you receive under the comparative negligence rule.

Texas applies the modified comparative negligence rule to all personal injury claims involving shared fault. In practice, the court will do the following:

  • Calculate the total value of your losses
  • Determine a percentage of responsibility for both parties totaling 100%
  • Deduct your share of liability from the damages awarded to you

The caveat is that you cannot receive compensation if you are more than 50% at fault. For example, suppose your accident results in $50,000 in damages, and the court finds you 30% liable. In that case, you would receive $35,000 in damages. However, if you are 51% or more responsible, you cannot recover any damages.

Claims Against Government Agencies

The rules change when a government agency or employee is responsible for your accident and injury. For example, if you fell on an icy step outside a government building and broke your ankle, you cannot file a civil lawsuit against the government. Instead, you have six months to file a claim with the government agency responsible for the accident and must include a detailed description of the accident and the resulting injuries.

Applicable Caps on Damages

Texas law only places a cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. For example, if a healthcare professional or facility provides negligent service, causing severe injuries, you can file a lawsuit for your losses. However, you cannot receive more than $250,000 per person and $500,000 per incident for non-economic damages, which include pain and suffering and other psychological losses.

The cap for damages in a wrongful death case involving medical malpractice is different. It accounts for inflation. Therefore, if you lost a loved one due to a doctor’s negligence, the $500,000 cap set in 1977 when the law started would now equate to roughly $2 million. These cases are often complex and challenging to prove. Most victims hire a personal injury attorney to help them value their claim and argue their case.

What Are the Most Common Types of Personal Injury Claims?

Virtually any incident that results in an injury caused by another person or party is potentially a tort claim. However, some types of cases are significantly more common than others. For example, auto accidents are the most frequent, making up most of the cases handled by personal injury lawyers.

Auto Accidents

An auto accident claim can stem from several types of accidents. The value of damages can also vary drastically depending on the collision’s severity and the victim’s injuries. Common types of auto accidents include the following:

For apparent reasons, accidents involving commercial trucks and motorcycles are among the most dangerous, often resulting in severe injuries or death, given the vulnerability of the victims. Additionally, truck accidents are usually more complex than other collision types because multiple parties, including the driver, trucking company, truck manufacturer, a third-party mechanic or the cargo loader, could be liable for damages when the truck driver is at fault.

Premises Liability Claims

Premises liability laws govern slip and fall accident cases. According to this legal concept, property owners owe a duty of care to anyone lawfully present on their property. This means they must ensure the property is safe for visitors. If you slip and fall in a restaurant, grocery store, parking lot or neighbor’s home, you could file a claim against the property owner for damages.

The challenging part of a slip and fall case is that you must prove the property owner either knew the hazardous condition was there or should have known it was there and failed to remove it. But, again, most victims will hire a personal injury attorney to help them build a case.

Product Liability

Product liability cases refer to the responsibility manufacturers have to ensure the safety of products before placing them on the market for consumers. Examples of ways a product can be dangerous include:

  • The design is defective, making it inherently hazardous.
  • The product has missing safety features.
  • The manufacturer fails to provide adequate safety warnings or instructions.
  • The product contains toxic ingredients.

It is not uncommon for a defective product to result in a class action lawsuit because there are often many victims suing the same defendant. These cases are often challenging to prove, and victims sometimes face multi-million-dollar companies with endless legal resources. For that reason, they typically hire a personal injury attorney.

Wrongful Death

When an injury that would constitute a tort claim results in the victim’s death, it becomes a wrongful death. This includes an accident that results in the loss of a fetus. According to Texas law, the surviving spouse, parents and children of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one. If the surviving relatives do not file a wrongful death claim within three months, a personal representative, also known as the executor of the estate, can file as long as the family does not stipulate that no wrongful death suit be filed.

Should You Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Texas?

Personal injury lawyers practice tort law and understand state statutes related to personal injuries. They can help you build a case against the party responsible for your damages and identify your losses to ensure you receive a fast and fair settlement. Most work on contingency, meaning they agree to no payment for their services until they secure a win for your case. A Fielding Law, we understand the financial, physical and psychological consequences you face and will fight to protect your right to compensation. Contact us to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury lawyer today.