In Texas, a personal injury lawsuit is a civil lawsuit filed to recover for damages arising from a physical or emotional injury. Personal injury lawsuits arise from many different scenarios and situations, but the most common include car accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, premises liability, and wrongful death suits to name a few.
If you are party to a personal injury lawsuit, then you are likely injured and experiencing a time of great difficulty in your life. It is important to note that as an injured party you have the right to recover for your injuries, lost income, and other various associated costs that arose from the incident in question.
How to Recover for Your Injuries in Texas
In order to recover for your injuries, you must first initiate a lawsuit and prove that the other party is legally liable or “at-fault.” Generally, a person is considered to be “at-fault” when they have failed to act with reasonable care or acted negligent.
In many personal injury cases, the defendant to the suit, the business or individual you are filing the claim against, will likely argue that you are completely or at least somewhat “at-fault” for the incident that led to your injuries.
Because Texas follows a modified comparative fault rule, the amount of compensation that you are entitled to recover will be reduced by an amount equal to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. For example, in a car accident case where you suffered a total of $100,000 damages, and the judge or jury finds you 25% at fault for the incident, then your total recovery would be reduced to $75,000.
However, if the judge or jury finds that you are more than 50% at fault for the incident that caused your injuries, under Texas’ modified comparative fault rule, you are barred from collecting from the other at fault parties.
Although Texas courts are obligated to follow the modified comparative fault rule approach when calculating damages at trial, a vast majority of personal injury lawsuits do not proceed to trial, and instead settle well before trial.
When the opposing party’s fault is relatively certain, often the defendant insurance company will seek to settle and jointly dismiss the lawsuit before trial. Settlement negotiations are an important part of every personal injury lawsuit, and plaintiff’s should be careful to make sure that they are not being taken advantage of by defendant insurance adjusters or legal representatives.
Personal injury damages are usually calculated by totalling up the amount of past and future medical bills, property damage, past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of income. There are two ways to calculate the amount of past recoverable medical bills in Texas:
- Calculate the total billed amount of medical bills minus the amount of bills written off by the medical provider; or
- Calculate the total of bills paid by the plaintiff to the medical provider plus the amount of bills outstanding.
For example, if the hospital billed $250,000 for your care and stay at the hospital, but wrote off $175,000 of the charges, plaintiff is limited to recovering $75,000 in past medical bills, not the total amount billed of $250,000. These two calculations should equal one another.
Are there Time Limits on Recovering for Personal Injuries in Texas?
In Texas, the law only gives plaintiff’s a certain amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover for their injuries. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations, normally expressed in terms of years, and the deadline varies depending of the type of suit being filed. For a personal injury lawsuit, the statute of limitations is two years.
This means that if you are involved in a car accident that occurred on January 1, 2018, then you have until January 1, 2020 to file your lawsuit. Personal injury lawsuits that are filed after the date that the injury occurred will not be heard in Texas courts, and will result in the loss of your right to recovery.
It is important to pay attention to this deadline, if you feel like you are approaching the two year anniversary of the incident that caused your injuries, you should immediately seek the assistance of a well qualified personal injury lawyer to initiate your claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Claim in Texas?
If you were injured by the acts or omissions of another person, you should consult a qualified and local Texas personal injury lawyer. As an injured person, you may not be in the right mindset to be able to negotiate with a hostile insurance adjuster, handle your property damage claim, or negotiate with your own insurance company, all while trying recover from your injuries.
The personal injury lawsuit road is a tough road to navigate alone; a licensed attorney can assist you in figuring out what legal theory to sue upon, assist you with settlement negotiations, handle complex legal case discovery, help maintain your various records, and represent you in court if trial becomes necessary.
The vast majority of personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they will foot the court costs associated with filing and maintaining your personal injury claim, and will only take a percentage of your net recovery as payment for their legal services. This means that cost should not be a barrier for you to obtain legal counsel and assistance in navigating the road to your recovery.
If you were the cause of someone else’s personal injuries or suspect you may be largely at fault, you should immediately contact your insurance company. Your insurance company will find you legal representation, defend you, and settle your claim with the plaintiff.