In our everyday lives, we encounter different situations that carry the risk of harm or injury. In some cases, these injuries result from the negligence or wrongful actions of another party, and when this occurs, personal injury law comes into play.
Personal injury refers to any harm or damage sustained by a person due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another individual or entity. These injuries can be either physical or psychological and can result from a wide variety of incidents.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
The purpose of personal injury cases is to provide injured parties with financial compensation for losses resulting from the incident.
To better understand a personal injury case, looking at the most common issues that bring about these claims is helpful.
Car accidents are among the most frequent personal injury cases encountered by lawyers. They typically occur due to negligent driving, including speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving, or disobeying traffic laws.
When a driver’s negligence causes an accident resulting in injury, the responsible party may be held liable for the victim’s damages.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents fall under the category of premises liability. Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain a safe environment for the people who visit their premises – including business owners and private property owners having friends over for dinner.
This duty includes addressing potential hazards, such as wet floors, icy walkways, or poor lighting.
Animal owners are responsible for their pet’s behavior, and when a dog attacks and injures someone, the owner may be liable for damages. Texas follows a “one-bite” rule, which means an owner is only liable if you can prove they were negligent unless they had a reason to know their dog was dangerous and prone to bites or attacks.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, breaches the standard of care during the course of treating a patient, and that breach leads to the patient’s injury or death.
The standard of care is the accepted practice and guidelines that a reasonable healthcare provider would adhere to in a similar situation. Examples of medical malpractice cases include surgical errors, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medication errors, and birth injuries.
Product liability refers to a manufacturer’s or seller’s liability for producing or selling a defective product that causes harm to a consumer. In a product liability case, the injured party must prove that the product was defective and that the defect directly caused their injury.
There are three main types of defects that may result in a product liability claim:
- Design Defects: These defects stem from a flaw in the design of the product, rendering it inherently dangerous even when properly assembled and used as intended.
- Manufacturing Defects: Such defects occur when a product deviates from its intended design during the manufacturing process, resulting in a dangerous flaw that can cause injury.
- Marketing Defects: These defects arise from inadequate or misleading instructions, labeling, or safety warnings, which may lead consumers to use the product in an unsafe manner.
Examples of product liability cases include defective medical devices and faulty vehicle components.
A wrongful death claim arises when a person dies as a direct result of someone else’s negligence or intentional actions. The victim’s surviving family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party to seek compensation for the financial and emotional losses incurred due to their loved one’s death.
Common causes of wrongful death claims include car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, and workplace accidents.
Compensation You Can Recover for a Personal Injury in Texas
When you file a personal injury claim, your goal is to recover compensation for the damages you have suffered due to the negligence or misconduct of another party.
Compensation in a personal injury case may include:
These are the financial losses incurred as a result of the injury. Economic damages include:
Medical expenses: The cost of all medical treatments required due to the injury, including hospital bills, surgery, physical therapy, and medications.
Lost wages: Compensation for income lost due to the injury, including the time spent recovering and attending medical appointments.
Lost earning capacity: If the injury prevents the plaintiff from returning to their previous job or severely limits their long-term earning potential, they may recover compensation for the difference between their pre-injury and post-injury income.
Property damage: Repair or replacement of personal property (such as a vehicle) that was damaged or destroyed during the incident that caused the injury.
These are more intangible losses that stem from an injury. Non-economic damages may include:
Pain and suffering: Compensation for the physical pain and discomfort experienced by the victim as a result of their injury.
Emotional distress: Compensation for psychological trauma, anxiety, and depression caused by the injury.
Loss of companionship or consortium: Compensation to the spouse or family members of the injured individual for the loss of companionship, affection, and support.
Loss of enjoyment of life: Compensation for the limitations the plaintiff may face in participating in activities and hobbies that they enjoyed before their injury.
These damages are awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless, malicious, or intentional. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.
Proving Negligence in a Texas Personal Injury Claim
To succeed in a personal injury claim, you typically must prove that the defendant was negligent.
To establish negligence, you must demonstrate the following four elements:
- Duty: The defendant owed you a duty of care. This means that they were legally required to act in a reasonably safe manner to avoid causing harm to others.
- Breach: The defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act as a reasonably prudent person would in similar circumstances.
- Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused your injury.
- Damages: You suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s negligent actions.
If you can prove these elements, you can establish the defendant’s liability for your damages.
Gathering Evidence for a Successful Personal Injury Case
To succeed in a personal injury case, you must gather and present compelling evidence demonstrating that the defendant’s negligence or misconduct caused your injury.
The following are some of the most important types of evidence you might need:
Police Reports and Accident Reports
After an accident, it’s crucial to contact law enforcement and report the incident. The responding officers will create a police report, which is typically a key piece of evidence in personal injury cases.
Medical records are vital in proving the extent and nature of your injuries sustained due to the defendant’s actions. Obtain detailed records from your healthcare providers, including diagnoses, treatment plans, and medications administered.
Photographs and Videos
Visual evidence can be remarkably powerful in demonstrating the severity of the accident and its impact on your life. Take clear pictures or videos of the accident scene, your injuries, and property damage, if possible.
Witness accounts can provide a firsthand perspective of the incident and corroborate your version of events. Collect contact information for any witnesses and gather written or recorded statements from them as soon as possible.
Expert Witness Opinions
Experts, such as doctors or accident reconstruction specialists, can help establish essential elements like the cause and severity of your injuries or the details of how the accident occurred. Their testimonies can strengthen your case significantly.