Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas?
Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003(a), you have two years to commence legal action on most personal injury claims. Certain exceptions apply to the general statute of limitations, however. Medical malpractice cases involving injuries that were not immediately apparent to the victim may be filed up to two years from the date that the injury was discovered. Minors who are not old enough to file their own actions will have two years to file from the date that they turn 18 years of age. Members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving overseas can also have their limitations periods tolled (delayed). You should also know that the statute of limitations can be further reduced when the defendant in your case is a municipal, county, or state agency. It is critical for you to contact a lawyer to be sure that you are not subject to any additional filing deadlines.
Can I still recover damages if I was partially at fault for my accident?
Texas uses a modified comparative fault system that is followed by many states in the nation. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.001, a person cannot recover damages when their percentage of responsibility was more than 50 percent, and Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.012 also provides that a court must reduce the amount of damages in a personal injury case by a percentage equal to that victim’s percentage of responsibility. In other words, a victim who is awarded $100,000 in damages but found to be 10 percent at fault would have his or her damages reduced by $10,000 and ultimately receive $90,000. The insurance company for the negligent party obviously wants to attribute as much fault as possible to the victim.
What are compensatory damages?
Compensatory damages often involves a combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages refer to tangible losses that can be calculated and proven while noneconomic damages are much more subjective and cannot be quantified. Economic damages may include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, while noneconomic damages could be for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and disfigurement. In an extremely limited number of cases, a jury could also award punitive damages or exemplary damages, but Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.003 states that punitive damages can only be awarded when a plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the harm in their personal injury claim resulted from fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Punitive damages are intended to punish defendants for particularly reprehensible conduct and discourage others from behaving similarly, but Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.008 establishes that punitive damages cannot exceed $200,000 or two times the amount of economic damages plus an amount equal to any noneconomic damages found by the jury, up to $750,000.