How Texas Statutes Affect Personal Injury Claims
When you are injured because of another person’s wrongdoing or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.
However, various statutes in Texas impact your personal injury claim.
Some statutes might work in your favor, while other laws could have adverse effects on the outcome of your personal injury lawsuit.
The good news is that you do not have to understand each of the laws and statutes that govern a personal injury case.
When you hire a personal injury lawyer, your lawyer is responsible for identifying each statute that impacts your case. He is also responsible for analyzing the laws and determining how the law affects your ability to recover fair compensation for an injury claim.
Three Texas statutes that can affect your personal injury claim are:
Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims
Texas imposes a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. The statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The deadline encourages parties to settle their claims or file lawsuits quickly.
The deadline for filing a lawsuit in most personal injury cases is two years from the injury date. In most personal injury cases, the accident date is typically the date used to begin the two-year deadline.
However, if you did not discover an injury until later, the discovery rule starts the statute of limitations from the date you should have reasonably known the accident or incident caused your injury.
Other statutes provide exceptions to the statute of limitations in Texas.
Tolling of the Statute of Limitations
Tolling of the statute of limitations means there is a temporary pause. The statute of limitations is generally paused in cases involving minors. With very few exceptions, the statute begins to run when the minor turns 18 years of age.
If a person is judged mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations may be tolled until the person is of sound mind. Likewise, if the person responsible for causing your injury leaves the state, the statute of limitations could be paused until the person returns or is located.
Statutes of Repose
Statutes of repose may bar your claim after a certain period of time, even if you did not discover your injury until after that date. These statutes generally apply in cases involving defective products or medical malpractice.
For example, the statute of repose bars medical malpractice claims after ten years from the date of the injury-causing event. The statute of repose for a product liability claim is 15 years from the date of purchase.
Suing the Government in Texas
Most lawsuits against the government are prohibited by sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity states that you cannot sue a government entity without its permission. The Texas Tort Claims Act permits injury claims when the injury was caused by a government employee or government agency’s negligence.
However, the time to file a claim is severely limited. Personal injury claims involving government entities have special rules.
You must file a notice of claim within six months from the date of injury to protect your right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Some local governments have shorter deadlines to file notices of claims. If your personal injury case involves a government agency, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately to discuss your case.
Texas Proportionate Responsibility Statute
The theory of comparative fault states that a victim’s compensation can be reduced when the victim is partially at fault for the cause of the injury. In other words, if you contributed to the cause of an accident or situation that caused your injury, you cannot recover full compensation for all damages.
Four states and the District of Columbia bar all recovery if the victim has any fault for the cause of the accident. A dozen states operate under a pure comparative fault law that allows a victim to recover some compensation for damages, even though the victim is 99 percent at fault for the cause of the accident.
Texas uses a modified comparative fault standard for personal injury cases.
According to the state’s Proportionate Responsibility statute, an accident victim can recover compensation for an injury claim unless the person is 51 percent or more at fault for the accident. If your blame for the accident is 51 percent or more, you cannot recover money for an injury claim.
If your blame for the cause of the accident is less than 51 percent, you can recover some compensation for your injuries and damages. However, the amount of compensation you receive is reduced by the percentage of blame assigned to you for causing the accident.
Insurance companies often use comparative fault to try to shift the blame to the victim. If they are successful, they can avoid paying full value for a personal injury claim.
Texas Wrongful Death Act
Some personal injury claims have special laws that apply only to those types of claims, such as claims for wrongful death.
The Texas Wrongful Death Act defines wrongful death as the death of another person caused by carelessness, wrongful acts, or negligence. The person whose actions resulted in another person’s death can be held financially liable for damages caused by the death. A wrongful death can arise from almost any accident or situation that results in death.
The wrongful death statutes dictate who can file a wrongful death claim. Family members can file a wrongful death claim, but not all family members.
The deceased person’s surviving spouse can file a wrongful death action. Additionally, the person’s children and parents can file a wrongful death claim.
Damages are also different in wrongful death claims than in other personal injury cases. The damages in a wrongful death claim are limited to certain types of damages.
A family can generally recover compensation for damages including:
- Loss of financial support
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of inheritance
- Medical expenses incurred from the date of the injury through the person’s death
- Loss of support, counsel, companionship, guidance, and care
- The survivors’ mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of household support
The wrongful death statutes contain many other rules that pertain only to wrongful death cases. If you lose a family member, it is best to talk with a lawyer who has experience handling wrongful death cases.
What Types of Personal Injury Cases Are Affected by the Above Statutes?
Personal injury claims are generally based on accidents or situations involving negligence, errors, or other wrongdoing.
The above statutes impact all cases. Examples of situations that might result in a personal injury claim include, but are not limited to:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Dog bites and dog attacks
- Premises liability claims
- Construction site accidents
- Product liability claims
- Negligent security claims
- Slip and fall accidents
- Boating accidents
- Wrongful death claims
Some of the above claims may have additional statutes that impact the case. Your personal injury attorney identifies additional Texas statutes that could affect your case. He uses this information to build a strong case for full compensation of all injuries and damages.
Call Our Texas Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you have questions about a personal injury claim, contact Stephens Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a free case review with a Texas personal injury attorney. Jason Stephens will explain your legal rights and give you suggestions and advice you can use right now.
His goal is to help you recover a fair settlement for your injury claim. If the other party refuses to negotiate in good faith, you can rest assured that your attorney is a skilled, aggressive trial lawyer who never shies away from a court battle.