In Texas, injuries are the leading cause of death for people aged 1 through 44. Car accidents and falls are among the top reasons accidental injuries happen, and both of these situations can fall under personal injury law.
Personal injury lawsuits allow injured victims to collect compensation for their expenses and pain and suffering. But winning one of these lawsuits is easier said than done.
In this guide, we want to explain the most important laws to know when filing a personal injury claim in Texas. Keep reading to learn more about personal injury lawsuit stages and prerequisites.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits
According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 16.003(a), personal injury victims have two years to file for damages. The clock starts on the day of the accident that caused the victim’s injury.
Failing to file before the deadline means victims have to forfeit the right to file at all.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Texas is a modified comparative negligence and contributory negligence state. Judges consider the fault of both the victim and the negligent party when awarding damages. As such, they assign a share of fault to each.
Contributory negligence means that victims can’t file for damages if they are more than 50% at fault for the accident. Comparative negligence means that the judge will reduce the victim’s compensation by their percentage of fault.
Here’s an example. Say the judge assigns 20% fault to the victim, who wins $100,000 in personal injury compensation. The court would subtract 20% ($20,000) from the award, leaving the victim with $80,000.
Five Elements of Negligence
Personal injury lawsuits fall under negligence laws. In Texas, plaintiffs must prove the following five elements:
- Breach of Duty
- Cause in Fact
- Proximate Cause
These elements basically mean that a negligent party must have caused the injury to the victim. Then, the victim must have obtained monetary or non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) to file for compensation.
Evidence is crucial for strengthening a personal injury claim. Victims can obtain accident reports from the scene, photos and testimonials from witnesses, and their own medical records.
Pro se representation is legal in Texas. Victims (and defendants) have the right to represent themselves in legal proceedings. However, we do not recommend this strategy since victims are required to understand the laws in their cases.
An experienced personal injury attorney knows the relevant laws backward and forwards. They can help victims write demand and complaint letters. If those don’t work, an attorney is invaluable during settlement negotiations.
Most personal injury and negligence lawsuits, in general, are civil cases. So, victims must file their cases with a civil court.
Victims with claims worth $200 to $10,000 can file in a county-level court. Meanwhile, claims worth over $10,000 should be filed in a state trial court or district court in Texas.
Need a Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston?
Texas victims have two years to file personal injury lawsuits, but they can’t be more than 50% at fault, and the elements of negligence must be present. If these things are true, choosing a lawyer can help victims gather evidence and file a civil court claim.
Were you recently injured due to someone else’s negligence? Schedule a free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at WestLoop Law in Houston to find out if you have a personal injury claim on your hands.