Texas Personal Injury Laws
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What are the laws specific to Texas concerning personal injury?
If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, you should be aware of some of the Lone Star State’s personal injury statutes that may affect your case. While there are relatively similar laws throughout the United States concerning personal injury, there are some differences from state to state and it is important to be aware of them.
Time Limits on Personal Injury Lawsuits
All states have statutory limits on personal injury claims, meaning that the time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit after you have suffered an injury is limited. This deadline is referred to as statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Texas is 2 years from the date of the injury. You must file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system within these 2 years or the Texas civil court will almost certainly refuse to hear your case and you will have forfeited your right to compensation.
Shared Fault Rules
In certain personal injury cases, the individual or business you are suing argues that you are fully or partially responsible for the incident that resulted in your injuries. If your opponent can prove that you share some degree of liability, the amount of your compensation will be negatively affected.
If the court rules that fault is shared, Texas applies a “modified comparative negligence rule,” meaning that the amount of your compensation will be decreased by the amount equal to the percentage of your fault in the incident. If you are found to be more than 50 percent responsible, you won’t be able to collect anything from the other party.
Not only will all Texas courts follow this rule, but the rule of modified comparative negligence rule also comes into play during settlement negotiations.
Owner Liability for Animal Injuries
Texas has no specific laws governing liability for dog bites or other animal-inflicted injuries
In Texas, owners are held liable for injuries caused by an animal they own only if the injured individual can demonstrate that the owner knew, or should have known, that the animal was dangerous. Known as the “one bite” rule, this law means that, if the owner has had a dog (or other animal) for 10 years and the dog has never shown aggressive tendencies during that time, the first time the dog bites someone, the owner is off the hook. Once the dog has bitten someone, however, the owner has been forewarned and will be held responsible for the second offense.
Caps on Malpractice Injury Damages
In Texas, caps on damages only apply to medical malpractice cases. In most medical malpractice cases, for example, damage amounts meant to compensate for pain and suffering, as opposed to financial reimbursement for medical or rehabilitation costs, are limited to $250,000 for each plaintiff and $500,000 overall. Where such cases involve a wrongful death, however, the cap is adjusted for inflation so that, although it began at $500,000 in 1977, it has now reached $1.9 million.
Claims against the Government of Texas
In Texas, as in many other states, if your injury case involves government liability, there are further complexities involved. For one thing, in such cases, you must file a formal claim of intention to sue with the government unit you believe to be responsible for causing your injury before you can file the actual lawsuit. For another, you have only 6 months to file such a claim. The claim of injury must include a description of the damage or injury, the specific time and place of the incident, and a review of the circumstances that occurred.
Though it is certainly helpful to understand the legal underpinning of personal injury law in Texas, there is no substitute for hiring a skilled personal injury attorney. If you have suffered a personal injury, seek a law firm with the experience and know-how to handle your case while you concentrate on healing.