Each year thousands of people are injured as the result of negligence. Many accidental injuries are debilitating, complicated, and so life-changing that people will experience emotional stress on top of any physical injury or pain.
Personal injury law in Texas allows the injured person to file a civil claim to receive compensation for any loss or harm associated with the injury. If you suffered an injury because of someone’s negligence or intentional act, you can hire a lawyer to help you recover damages.
What Is Considered Personal Injury?
A personal injury lawyer will represent a plaintiff in a case. For personal injury cases, the plaintiff suffered some kind of harm, and a lawyer can help hold a particular party or defendant responsible for causing that harm, whether it was intentional or negligent.
In many cases, personal injury is avoidable. What constitutes personal injury is wide-ranging. The following are general examples of what’s considered personal injury:
Accidents include slips and falls, vehicle crashes, and other incidents that could have been avoided. The key in accidental personal injury cases is negligence, which means that one party acted in a careless or reckless way that directly resulted in someone’s personal injury.
Personal injury also covers intentional acts, or situations where a defendant purposefully caused harm to a plaintiff. Examples include sexual assault, assault and battery, and any other act that was carried out to injure or harm another person.
Product liability is a type of personal injury law. This occurs when a product is defective by design and causes harm to a person. Some dangerous drug cases fall into this category, as well as claims that involve medical devices and other products that ended up causing harm.
Personal injury isn’t always physical harm to someone’s body or health. It also includes harm to their reputation, which is called defamation. Defamation includes slander or libel cases, which covers published information that’s false and causes harm.
Types Of Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury cases represent plaintiffs who have been harmed by either negligent or intentional acts. This covers a wide range of issues, from social media defamation to wrongful death claims.
At Florin|Roebig, some examples of personal injury claims we see in Texas include:
- assault and battery
- sexual assault and battery
- car accidents
- bicycle accidents
- truck accidents
- rideshare accidents
- motorcycle accidents
- dog bite
- inadequate security
- libel and slander
- slip-and-fall accidents
- swimming pool accidents
We also try cases under personal injury law that may include wrongful death claims, medical malpractice, dangerous drug lawsuits, product liability cases, and more. Contact a lawyer to learn more about filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal Injury Law In Texas
In Texas, personal injury law is established and governed within the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Under Texas personal injury law, this section of legal code defines statutes of limitations, damages, liability, negligence, duties of care, and more.
Two important aspects of Texas personal injury law include negligence and statute of limitations.
Texas Negligence Laws
In Texas, as with many other states, negligence is the legal basis for personal injury lawsuits. However, Texas employs a principle called comparative negligence to determine negligence in civil cases.
Comparative negligence, which is also defined as “proportionate responsibility,” means that if the plaintiff was partially responsible or at fault for the injury, then their awarded damages may be reduced. This is also referred to as Texas’ “shared-fault rule.”
Texas also follows the 51-percent bar rule. This means that if it’s proven that you share 51 percent or more of the fault in your injury, then you cannot collect any damages whatsoever. However, state laws are always subject to change. Contact a lawyer in Texas to learn more about local negligence laws.
Texas Civil Statute Of Limitations
Statute of limitations refers to the time limit people have for filing a personal injury lawsuit or any other kind of civil claim. How long you have to file a personal injury claim in Texas depends on the specific details of your case.
Although the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code defines a general statute of limitations rule for personal injury claims, it gets complicated in practice. To avoid losing out on a case because you waited too long, it’s crucial to contact a personal injury lawyer to assess your claim.
Here are some examples of statutes of limitations in Texas as defined in the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code:
- general personal injury: 2 years
- libel or slander: 1 year
- product liability: 2 years or 15 years (depending on the case)
- assault and battery: 2 years
- wrongful death: 2 years
- medical malpractice: 2 years
Proving The Elements Of Personal Injury In Texas
One of the most important aspects of any personal injury case is establishing negligence. A lawyer will try to prove the defendant acted without reasonable care.
To assess whether a defendant was negligent or reckless, a lawyer must prove four elements:
- There was a legal duty the defendant owed the plaintiff
- The defendant breached that legal duty
- The plaintiff was injured
- The plaintiff was injured as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty
Proving Legal Duty
In Texas, there are two ways your lawyer can prove the defendant had a legal duty towards the plaintiff: duty of care and special duty. To consider which option is best for your case, your lawyer will examine the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff, as well as the circumstances of your personal injury case.
Proving Breach Of Legal Duty
Once a lawyer has established legal duty in a case, they’ll need to show that the defendant failed to meet that legal duty.
For example, a doctor has a legal duty to provide medical care that aligns with the reasonable care given by other healthcare professionals. If the care the plaintiff receives wasn’t up to that standard of care, then there is likely a breach of duty. A lawyer may use a variety of legal techniques and strategies to prove this element.
Proving The Plaintiff’s Injuries
To prove negligence in a personal injury case, your lawyer must show the plaintiff suffered bodily or emotional harm. Bodily harm can be proven by using medical records or other documentation of a person’s injuries. Proving emotional harm can be more complex, but a skilled lawyer will consider the emotional toll the injury had on a plaintiff.
Proving The Breach Of Duty Caused The Injury
Your lawyer in Texas is likely able to prove this one of two ways. The first is called cause-in-fact, which suggests the actions of the defendant directly resulted in the injuries of the plaintiff.
A car driver who runs a red light and strikes a pedestrian, for example, is a clear-cut cause-in-fact case. If the driver stopped at the red light, then the plaintiff would not have suffered injuries.
The other option is called proximate cause. Proximate cause refers to whether the defendant could have foreseen, or anticipated, the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, a drunk driver who hit a pedestrian could have predicted that driving while intoxicated could result in an accident.
Texas Personal Injury Lawsuit Damages
Personal injury lawsuit damages in Texas could fall into three categories:
- economic damages
- non-economic damages
- punitive damages
Economic Damages In Texas
For personal injury cases, economic damages tend to include lost wages (as a result of injury) and medical expenses. The goal of rewarding economic damages is to help the plaintiff recover financial expenses that resulted from their injury.
Economic damages can include reimbursement for:
- treatment in an Emergency Department
- ambulance fees
- doctor appointments
- hospital stays
- medication expenses
- rehab or physical therapy
- lost wages from being unable to work
- other medical expenses or lost income
Non-Economic Damages In Texas
Non-economic damages seek to make the plaintiff whole again after suffering loss, injury, or harm. Non-economic damages can be more difficult to prove than economic damages because there may be little documentation available to determine valuation or monetary cost.
Examples of non-economic damages in personal injury cases include:
- overall pain and suffering
- loss of enjoyment in life
- mental or emotional distress
- loss of consortium (the injured person cannot reasonably care for their family due to their injuries; a common damage award in wrongful death claims)
Punitive Damages In Texas
Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages directly punish the defendant for their negligence in the case. Punitive damages can only be awarded after economic or non-economic damages are established.
To receive punitive damages, your lawyer must also prove that the defendant acted with blatant negligence. Punitive damages may apply in drunk driving cases, dangerous drug lawsuits, and other cases where the defendant’s negligence is obvious.
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How To Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer In Texas
For any personal injury claim, an experienced lawyer can provide legal services that can lessen the burden for the injured party. As you search for personal injury lawyers in Texas, consider who will work best for your case.
Here are some things to look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer in Texas:
Local Experience And Knowledge In Texas
Like general state laws, some local laws in Texas could determine the process and outcome of your personal injury case. You’ll want to hire a lawyer who understands the intricacies of local law, from San Antonio to Houston and the different counties across the state. County law is likely to play a major role in your case, so it helps to hire a lawyer familiar with local litigation.
Experts In Personal Injury Law
For any legal matter, you’ll want to hire a lawyer who specializes in law applicable to your case. Depending on the details of your personal injury case, make sure the law firm you consult with has experience in the kind of case you’re trying.
Personal injury cases can be time-consuming, costly, and complex. Some law firms that operate in Texas may practice law in various states and have access to a host of resources that could help prove your claim. Compare different law firms to see how their resources will play into your lawsuit.
Judicial Connections In Texas
It helps for your lawyer to have established connections with the judicial community where your case will be tried. Legal relationships matter in Texas, and skilled personal injury lawyers will have relationships with judges, experts, and other professionals. You can ask a law firm about this directly, or also check local lawyer associations.
Good Communication Skills
When you decide to hire a lawyer, it’s crucial to have good communication. Select a lawyer you feel comfortable sharing intimate details with. They’ll need to collect all the evidence they can to better represent your case. You should also feel comfortable asking tough questions, such as who will represent you, how much things will cost, and what you should expect moving forward.
Many personal injury lawsuits end up settling rather than going to trial. It’s important that the lawyer you hire is willing to meet at the negotiation table and is skilled at negotiating the best terms for you. How they negotiate the settlement can determine the amount of monetary damages you receive.
We Are Nationally Awarded Lawyers
Contact Florin|Roebig To File A Personal Injury Claim In Texas
Florin|Roebig operates an office in Dallas, Texas. We’re a multi-state law firm with years of experience in personal injury litigation and have served multiple areas throughout the state. Our lawyers at this office have been licensed to practice law in Texas for several decades.
If you’ve been injured because of negligence, you may have options for filing a personal injury claim. Our Texas office offers free case evaluations to help you decide if you should move forward with your personal injury claim.
To learn more about personal injury law in Texas, or to start your free case evaluation, contact the office of Florin|Roebig today.