Jason Stephens | July 7, 2023 | Personal Injury
Simply put, in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff is the party who filed the lawsuit, while the defendant is the party who the plaintiff is suing. Generally speaking, the plaintiff in a personal injury case is the injured victim, while the defendant is the at-fault party.
The plaintiff in a personal injury claim is different from the plaintiff in a wrongful death case. The reason is obvious—if the victim dies in the accident, they cannot file a lawsuit.
The injured parties themselves are the most common plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. It is the injured party who needs medical attention, loses work earnings while recovering from their injuries, and endures pain and suffering – among other common elements of personal injury compensation.
Survivors and Executors
Texas allows two types of claims when the law holds a defendant liable for the death of someone else: a wrongful death action and a survival action. A survival action seeks damages for losses suffered by the deceased victim from the date of the accident until the date of death. If death was instantaneous, the value of this claim is zero.
A wrongful death action seeks compensation for losses suffered by the deceased victim’s close family members on account of the victim’s death. This might mean lost income, lost inheritance, mental anguish and emotional pain, and more.
The surviving spouse, children, and parents can file claims; under certain circumstances, the victim’s estate executor can do so as well.
Defendants come in many varieties. Following is a listing of some of the most commonly sued defendants. Some of these defendants get dragged into lawsuits even when they are not personally at fault.
The at-fault party is the most logical choice of defendant in a personal injury case, and they usually are. But why wouldn’t they represent 100% of all defendants? There are two main reasons:
- Some personal injury claims are “no-fault,” meaning the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove fault to win.
- Some defendants lack financial resources, even insurance. There is no point in suing someone who is too poor to pay the claim even if you win.
Sometimes plaintiffs ignore at-fault parties in favor of other parties who can afford to pay. In other cases, a plaintiff will sue both the at-fault party and another party who is in a better financial position.
Employers of At-Fault Parties
The employer of an at-fault party is not automatically at fault if their employee commits misconduct that hurts you. To bear liability, the employee must have been acting within the scope of their employment duties at the time of their wrongful act. It’s not enough that they were simply on duty.
An employer can bear liability, for example, for their driver who runs a red light and injures someone while running an errand for their employer.
Manufacturers and Distributors of Defective Products
Suppose you suffer an injury from a defective product. This might mean a mislabeled prescription drug, a child’s toy with a dangerous manufacturing defect, or a lawn mower with a design flaw. It is likely that you can sue any party in the product’s chain of distribution, including:
- The designer;
- The manufacturer; or
- Any merchant who acts as a distributor of the product.
You might be able to collect damages from any of these parties even if your injuries were not their fault.
Alcohol Vendors Who Indirectly Cause DUI Accidents
The Texas dram shop law allows people injured in DUI accidents to sue third parties under the following two circumstances:
- A bar, nightclub, or another alcohol provider serves a person who is so obviously intoxicated that they present a danger to themself or others; and
- A social host who provides alcohol to a minor (not their child).
In either case, the intoxication must have been a substantial cause of the accident that caused the injury.
Texas holds parents liable for the conduct of their children under certain circumstances. These circumstances include:
- The parents negligently fail to supervise their child; or
- The child acts maliciously and willfully and is between 10 and 18 years old.
If the child acts maliciously and willfully, Texas limits the parents’ liability to $25,000 per occurrence.
The Role of Insurance Companies
Liability insurance companies pay many, if not most, successful personal injury claims. Since the insurance company is liable for paying, they might supply a lawyer to help the defendant win the claim so that the insurance company doesn’t have to pay.
Do You Need a Fort Worth Personal Injury Attorney?
If your claim is small (a fender-bender, for example), you might not need a lawyer. If the value of your claim is significant, however, it’s likely that you will need a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer. You might not know how much your claim is worth until you consult with an attorney. Remember that most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations.
Contact Our Personal Injury 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 personal injury 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