Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury lawsuit is intended to compensate an individual for physical or emotional harm inflicted upon them by another party. It does not cover personal property that may have been damaged as a result of the incident in question. These suits may be brought against another individual, a business, or the government.
Basis of Personal Injury Cases
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff is expected to prove that the defendant acted in an inappropriate manner, or failed to take appropriate action. The defendant can be found to be at fault if their behavior falls into one of the following categories:
- Negligence – To prove negligence, it needs to be shown that the defendant behaved in a manner that substantially contributed to the cause of the incident leading to the plaintiff’s injury. Negligence does not mean that the defendant acted (or failed to act) with the intent of causing harm to another party. It means only that they failed to behave in a responsible manner. A person who drives their automobile at excessive speed can be held to have been negligent if they cause a car accident, even though they did not mean to cause such an accident.
- Intentional harm – Personal injury suits can also be brought against an individual who assaults another person. In these cases, the defendant is frequently subject to criminal charges as well.
- Strict liability – This is a common element of personal injury cases dealing with defective products. Here, the plaintiff has to show that the defendant—the company that manufactured the product—failed to create a safe product. “Strict liability” means that the manufacturer need not be shown to have acted irresponsibly—the only relevant question is the design and functionality of the product involved in causing harm.
Types of Personal Injury Recognized by Law
Here is a partial list of personal injury cases that come before Texas courts.
- Injury resulting from vehicular accidents
- Injury resulting from use of defective commercial products
- Trip and fall
- Medical malpractice
- Dog bites
- Industrial disease (e.g., illness from on-the-job exposure to toxic chemicals)
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
In the state of Texas, you have two years from the date you experienced the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. More information can be found in the relevant section (Title 2, Section 16.003) of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. If you fail to file within this time period, you may forever lose the right to pursue a legal claim against the party responsible for your personal injury.
Limitations on Damages Awarded by the Court
In the state of Texas, there are generally no caps on the amount of damages that can be awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury case. However, medical malpractice cases are an exception to this rule. In most of these cases, the state places a cap of $250,000 on “noneconomic” damages awarded to an individual who has been victimized by medical malpractice. For a more detailed explanation, please read Title 4, Section 74.301 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Comparative Negligence in Texas
In the state of Texas, the amount you may be awarded in damages can be reduced if you are shown to have partly contributed to the incident in question. This is known as modified comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence means that the court assigns a degree of blame, usually expressed as a percentage (e.g., “25% fault”), to each party involved in the injury-causing incident. The amount awarded to the defendant is calculated according to this percentage. For example, if a plaintiff who suffered harm in an auto accident is determined to have sustained $100,000 worth of personal injury, but was 25% at fault for the incident, then they will be awarded only $75,000.
However, if the plaintiff is found to be over 50% at fault for the incident, then they will be awarded nothing. This is what makes modified comparative negligence different from pure comparative negligence.
Getting a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
When you need a personal injury attorney in Houston, TX who has years of experience with the regional court system, call Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. As one of the top personal injury law firms in Texas, we have helped many people win settlements and judgments for their pain and suffering.