Whether you were traveling in Texas and a situation happened that led you to need to think about hiring a personal injury lawyer or you live there, it’s important to understand what personal injury law looks like in the state.
While every state has some similarities in their personal injury laws, there are differences as well.
Having a general understanding of the law will help guide you through the process if you file a lawsuit, and the following are key things to know.
Working with a Board-Certified Attorney
First, if you believe you have a personal injury claim in Texas, you should try to work with a board-certified attorney. According to attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C., the Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies professionals as Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law.
Only around 3% of Texas attorneys have this designation. To earn board certification, lawyers are expected to have a high level of understanding of personal injury law in the state and that has to be paired with a great deal of trial experience.
A board-certified attorney can make a difference in your case because you have a level of certainty that they know what they’re doing when it comes to personal injury.
Board-certified lawyers are specialists in personal injury, whereas another lawyer could advertise their services in personal injury cases but not necessarily specialize in this area.
Damages You May Be Entitled to In Texas
Depending on the specifics of your personal injury case, there are certain damages you may be entitled to.
First are economic damages. The concept of economic damages is pretty uniform as far as how they’re calculated regardless of the state you’re in.
Economic damages are what you recover because of your actual financial losses that stemmed from your injury. As an example, economic damages may include medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages.
Then, it can get a bit more gray as far as the calculation of damages.
Non-economic damages are the compensation you might receive for what’s often referred to as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering can include scarring or physical disfigurement, and mental pain and suffering.
Exemplary damages are something that is typically called punitive damages in personal law cases.
Punitive or exemplary damages are awarded to punish the person who’s found to be at-fault for being negligent or reckless in their behavior.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Texas
If you believe that you have a case, you should speak with a lawyer. You have, under Texas law, two years to file a legal claim if someone is at-fault in a personal injury case. This two-year time period is known as the statute of limitations.
If you decide to work with a lawyer and file a personal injury case, they will start by filing a formal complaint.
In this complaint, you are the plaintiff, and the person or party at-fault is the defendant.
The complaint is then served to the other party, or in some cases, multiple parties. This complaint will include a summons to appear at a court date.
Pre-trial motions are then filed, and these can include court orders for discovery of evidence.
During this time, your lawyer will work with you get any necessary witness statements and documents.
In cases of personal injury lawsuits, the defendant may try to offer a settlement before actually going to court.
In this case, your lawyer should go over offers with you, and they’ll let you know their thoughts as to how reasonable the offer is.
If you can’t solve the situation as a settlement, then you’ll go to trial.
In most states, there are limits or caps on how much you can be awarded in a personal injury case. There aren’t these type of cases in Texas.
The only exception in the state is medical malpractice, on which there are limits in Texas.
Non-economic damages in Texas medical malpractice cases are usually limited to $250,000 per defendant, and a total of $500,000.
There are similarly limits on medical malpractice cases that involve wrongful deaths.
All personal injury claims in Texas and elsewhere are based on legal negligence.
With the idea of legal negligence, there have to be certain things proven by the plaintiff. For example, as a plaintiff, you should have to show a duty of care was owed to your or the victim, that the defendant breached the duty, and the breach led the victim to suffer an injury.