- February 25, 2020
- Personal Injury
Knowing the different types of negligence in Texas can help you understand whether you have a valid personal injury case.
Accidents are always unfortunate and can offset your life in unexpected ways. If you were in an accident that you believe to be the fault of another person or entity, it’s understandable to want to hold someone accountable. As bills pile up and those lost days at work start to take a toll, financial compensation can help to ease some of the burden.
But how do you know whether your accident was due to someone else’s negligence? For this, it’s important to understand Texas negligence laws as they pertain to personal injury, especially the different types of negligence in Texas. Speak with a Texas personal injury lawyer to see whether you have a case.
Types of Negligence in Texas Personal Injury Cases
Sometimes an accident is just an accident. Slipping on the ice on the sidewalk outside or nicking your thumb while cutting vegetables may hurt, but they also aren’t necessarily the fault of another person. However, some accidents do come down to another person or entity’s fault. You may find several types of negligence in Texas personal injury cases, including:
- Vehicle collisions caused by drunk or distracted driving, or failure to adhere to traffic laws
- Workplace accidents due to a failure to create a safe workplace
- Defective products or other product liability
- Child safety accidents
- Dog bites.
In these cases, both parties have a duty to take caution in their actions. If one party defaults in this duty, causing an accident, they can be found negligent and held liable by Texas law.
How To Prove Negligence by Texas Law
Proving negligence, however, can get a little tricky. It’s not as simple as pointing to the defendant’s actions and simply showing that they were negligent. There are actually four elements of negligence that must be proven through solid evidence in order to have a valid case for personal injury. These include:
Duty of Care
The first element of negligence is the simplest: there must be proof that the defendant had a duty of care. For instance, drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and be mindful of other drivers. Employers have a duty to make their workplace safe and up to code. Manufacturers have a duty to make sure their products are safe and work the way they should. Doctors and caregivers have a duty to those in their care, and pet owners have a duty to ensure their pets don’t bite. To do less than the duty of care is negligent.
Breach of Duty
The next task is to prove that there was a breach in that social contract on the part of the defendant. Did the doctor performing surgery not properly prep the patient or clean their equipment, leading to an infection? Was the other driver talking on their phone at the time of the accident? These examples constitute a breach of duty.
It’s one thing to prove that the defendant was talking on the phone while driving. But was that the reason for the car accident or was the accident caused by your running a red light?
Vehicle accidents in particular can be complicated when it comes to negligence. Sometimes both parties are partly at fault. Fortunately, Texas is a comparative negligence state rather than a contributory negligence state; in the latter case, parties found even partially responsible for the accident lose all right to collect damages for the accident. But it is still important to be able to prove that the breach of duty caused the accident.
Finally, you need to be able to prove the damages incurred as a result of the accident. This goes beyond just medical bills and lost wages. How has the accident altered the way that you navigate your life? Damages are split into economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses in the event of wrongful death.
Pay stubs, bills, and invoices can help to prove economic damages. Noneconomic damages require an evaluation from a mental health professional, as well as some counseling sessions in some cases. Noneconomic damages include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Accidents can change your life completely, even having long-lasting impacts. It’s important to ensure that you receive all the financial compensation you deserve.
How Long After an Injury Can You Sue in Texas?
In Texas, you may sue as soon as you are injured — or, more likely, as soon as the medical bills come in for your injury. However, there is a time limit on the amount of time you can take to file your personal injury lawsuit. So how long after an injury can you sue in Texas?
By law, the personal injury statute of limitations is 2 years. The timer starts either at the time of the accident or at the time that the injury became apparent. For instance, you may not recognize medical malpractice the moment you wake up. But if you become sick in the following days due to a malfunction, the day you become aware of the infection is the day that the two years starts.
If you attempt to file a personal injury lawsuit after two years have passed, the most likely scenario is that it will be dismissed out of hand. There are, however, a few exceptions.
One is product liability. In the case of an injury from an unsafe product, you have fifteen years from the date that the product was sold to file a lawsuit — or the length of the sale life as stated by the manufacturer, whichever is longer. In a wrongful death case, you have two years from the death of the deceased.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in Texas
As stated before, Texas is a comparative negligence state. According to comparative negligence, each party is responsible for the amount of fault they may have borne in the accident. If you are found to be partly at fault for the accident, the amount of damages you can recover is reduced based on the percentage of fault you bear.
Let’s go back to the vehicle collision accident example: One driver runs a red light, and another driver, talking on their phone while driving, crashes into them while crossing an intersection. Both drivers bear some fault. The first driver did not adhere to traffic laws and their dangerous driving made them a risk for through traffic. The other driver had the right of way, but because they were talking on the phone, they did not pay enough attention to brake in time to avoid the first car.
In these cases, the court will establish a percentage of fault that each party bears. Based on that percentage, the plaintiff will be unable to recover certain damages. This means that in a settlement, the insurance company or the defendant’s legal team will try everything they can to put as much of the blame on you as possible. The more percentage of fault you bear, the less they have to pay. The right personal injury attorneys can help defend your right to compensation while negotiating with the other parties.
Were You Injured Due to Negligence in Texas? Call Crain Brogdon, LLP Today!
Crain Brogdon, LLP is a nationally recognized, precedent-setting personal injury law firm here to help you get the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you in your case: visit our contact page or call us at 214-522-9404.
Attorney Quentin Brogdon
Quentin Brogdon has over thirty years of experience and expertise in the field of personal injury trial law. He is board certified in both personal injury trial law and civil trial advocacy. Quentin has received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible rating. This rating reflects an attorney’s ethics and abilities according to reviews from fellow attorneys. [ Attorney Bio ]