Jason Stephens | November 9, 2023 | Car Accidents
Unlike some states, Texas is a “fault” auto insurance jurisdiction. This means that in the event of a car accident, you can sue or file a third-party insurance claim immediately. You don’t need to look to your own insurance for compensation. Texas authorizes personal injury victims with valid claims to collect the various forms of damages listed below.
Texas imposes no artificial limits on the amount of economic damages you can collect. You can demand and receive whatever amount you can prove, including the following forms.
You can demand and collect reimbursement for all of your medical expenses, from ambulance rides to aftercare. The only limitations are (i) the expenses you claim must actually arise from your accident, and (ii) your expenses must be “reasonable and necessary.”
Estimated future medical expenses
If your medical condition has not stabilized by the time you file your claim, you will have to estimate your future medical expenses. This is dangerous because if you underestimate your future expenses, you won’t be able to come back and ask for more later. You might need an expert witness to help you estimate your future medical expenses.
How much earned income did you lose because of your injuries? This can include the value of:
- Your wages or salary;
- Vacation time and sick leave that you used up because of your injuries (even if you were paid your regular salary those days);
- Benefits that you lost, such as health insurance or retirement contributions;
- Income arising from entrepreneurial activity, if you are self-employed;
- Sales commission; and
- Other forms of earned income.
You will need to thoroughly document these losses in order to claim them.
Diminished earning capacity
“Diminished earning capacity” refers to any long-term or permanent reduction in your ability to earn a living that arose from your injuries. If you had to retire from your job as a software engineer due to cognitive problems arising from a head injury, for example, you might claim quite a large sum in diminished earning capacity.
You might need an expert to help you calculate diminished earning capacity. Underestimating your losses here could be disastrous, as you won’t be able to ask for more compensation later.
Any number of expenses might arise that require you to pay out of your pocket, including expenses that would otherwise be classified as medical expenses. Following are some typical examples.
Child care expenses
You can collect damages for child care expenses if you normally take care of your children but you have to hire a babysitter or child care institution to do it because of your injuries.
House cleaning expenses
You can claim house cleaning expenses if you are the one who normally cleans the house, but you have to hire someone else to do it because of your injuries.
The following are additional examples of out-of-pocket expenses:
- Vehicle towing and storage expenses;
- Rental car expenses;
- Travel and parking expenses for out-of-town medical appointments;
- Alterations to your home or vehicle due to your injuries;
- Medical equipment such as wheelchairs; and
- Prescription drug copays.
Many other expenses are possible.
Texas limits non-economic damages to $250,000 in medical malpractice claims. Other types of claims suffer from no such limitation.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages compensate you for physical pain and other forms of pain-like suffering, such as respiratory distress. In many claims, pain and suffering damages add up to more than all other forms of compensation combined.
Imagine the pain of hearing your doctor tell you that you will never walk again. This is not physical pain, but it is one form of emotional distress. Another form of emotional distress is the fear and shock that any sudden, serious injury naturally produces in its victims.
Imagine that you suffer from permanent facial scarring. Reimbursement for your medical bills alone simply wouldn’t be enough for this, would it? That is what damages for disfigurement are for.
Imagine suffering a paralyzed hand, for example. This is a form of physical impairment for which you can seek compensation beyond the amount of your medical bills.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Loss of enjoyment of life damages compensate you for losses such as the inability to exercise, take a walk in the park, play chess, play the guitar, or engage in any hobby or leisure activity that you find enjoyable.
Loss of Consortium
“Loss of consortium” refers to the loss of the benefits of an intimate relationship, including sexual relations, if applicable. The claim belongs not to the accident victim, but to the intimate partner of the injured victim.
In Texas, a spouse can file a loss of consortium claim for the injuries suffered by their spouse, and a child can file a loss of consortium claim for the injuries suffered by their parent.
In a personal injury lawsuit, property damage usually means a damaged or totaled vehicle. Your vehicle is totaled if the cost to repair it exceeds a certain percentage of the cost to replace it. That percentage runs from 70% to 100%, depending on the insurance company. In some cases, your car might be totaled even if it is still drivable.
Wrongful Death Damages
If an accident victim dies from their injuries, their personal injury claim becomes a wrongful death claim in favor of the surviving spouse, children, and parents. Compensation can include:
- Lost financial support;
- Lost household services (if applicable);
- Survivors’ emotional distress; and
- The value of any lost savings or inheritance.
Wrongful death compensation tends to be generous.
The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the victim, but to punish the defendant for outrageous behavior. Courts are reluctant to award punitive damages even to winning plaintiffs.
In any case, Texas limits punitive damages to the greater of $200,000 or twice the amount of economic damages, plus an amount equal to the amount of non-economic damages – up to $750,000.
Empty Pockets? No Problem – Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury lawyers don’t play the “billable hours” game. There are no upfront fees, so either you win your claim or they work for free. So don’t worry if you don’t have any money.
Ultimately, it is the defendant who pays your legal fees, not you. To a personal injury lawyer, a strong claim is what matters most.
CONTACT OUR CAR ACCIDENT LAW FIRM IN FORT WORTH, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth car accident lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107
(817) 420 7000