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Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Any injury, especially a permanently disabling injury, may cause a lifetime of expenses, difficulties and pain. You may face hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and you may be unable to work while you recover. If someone else caused of your injuries, then you should not have to shoulder these financial and economic burdens yourself. Usually, you can file an insurance claim to recover injury-related expenses and other damages. If the insurance company does not make a fair offer or there is no insurance policy that covers your situation, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the liable party. A personal injury attorney can represent your best interests in negotiations or in the courtroom to help ensure you get the recovery you deserve.
Below, our local Texas lawyers explain the basics of personal injury claims and applicable state laws. However, no two injuries are the same, so the process of filing a personal injury claim may vary from case to case. The best way to learn how the law applies to your situation is to consult a personal injury attorney. If you need immediate legal assistance, then consult our directory to find a lawyer near you.
In general, the law allows you to file a personal injury claim when someone else’s actions cause you physical or financial injury. However, your claim must also meet certain legal standards as well. Typically, for your claim to be successful, you and your attorney must demonstrate that:
In some circumstances, the strict liability doctrine may apply to a personal injury claim, which alters the requirements for a successful case. If the defendant is “strictly liable” for an accident or injury, then you do not have to prove negligence. It is enough that you demonstrate the connection between the defendant’s actions and your injuries. Strict liability most commonly applies to product defect claims.
Personal injury laws give you the right to hold another person or entity legally and financially accountable if the actions of that person or entity caused you harm. In general, you can recover two different types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages, as the name implies, compensate you for your losses, both economic and noneconomic. These may include:
On the other hand, punitive damages punish the defendant for grossly negligent or reckless actions, rather than compensate the plaintiff. An award of punitive damages is rare, however, and only applies to the most serious situations. Additionally, some states limit the amount of punitive damages the court may award, including Texas, which has a cap of either:
Texas personal injury laws place limits on the amount of compensation you can recover in certain types of cases by imposing “damage caps.” These damage caps apply only to non-economic damages, which means that there are no restrictions to recovering the full amount of your medical bills and actual expenses. Only damages like pain and suffering, and loss of consortium are limited by damage caps. Additionally, all damage cap laws include exceptions for cases involving wrongful death and serious injuries, such as severe traumatic brain injuries.
The Texas medical malpractice damage cap restricts non-economic damages to $250,000. Medical malpractice damage caps are often controversial, since injuries from medical mistakes are frequently catastrophic and debilitating.
Texas is one of only a handful of states that imposes a non-economic damage cap on all personal injury claims. This means that, no matter the type of accident or situation that caused your injuries, you can only recover a maximum of $250,000 (or $500,000 if against more than one party) in non-economic damages.
Punitive damage caps are the most common limitations on recoveries from lawsuits. Federal laws limit awards of excessive punitive damages, but some states impose even more restrictions. The Texas punitive damages cap is determined by ratio, where punitive damages cannot exceed a 10:1 in return. In other words, punitive damages cannot be more than 10 times the initial award given. For example, if the trial court or jury awards $100,000 in recovery, the court must give less than $1,000,000 in punitive damages. In Texas, the award for punitive damages cannot exceed three times the amount of the economic damages recovered.
If you have concerns about a personal injury matter or have a question about the law, then feel free to ask the lawyers. Otherwise, consult our local listings to find an attorney near you who can review your unique claim and offer you customized legal advice.
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