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Personal Injury Law in Texas: 10 Terms and Phrases You Should Know

If you were wrongfully injured in Houston, TX, we recommend that you contact a lawyer to see how you can claim compensation. In the meantime, it’s not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with personal injury law and how it works. Below are 11 terms and phrases you should know that will make navigating your case less daunting.

Personal Injury Law in Houston, TX: 10 Terms and Phrases You Should Know

1. Civil Lawsuit

A civil lawsuit involves a plaintiff who has been wronged and a defendant who allegedly caused the harm. In your personal injury case, you would be the plaintiff. With your lawyer, you would try to recover what you lost from the defendant, whether that’s an individual, a business entity, the government, or a combination of these.

2. Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is one of the most important phrases you should know because it determines whether you’re able to file a lawsuit in the first place. It’s the time limit after your accident during which you can legally take action. In Texas, personal injury law holds that you have up to two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit in Houston, TX. Though a few exceptions exist, this is an inflexible deadline.

3. Damages

The damages are the compensation you can receive to reflect the hardships that you encountered. They are the legal system’s way of righting the wrongs that you experienced. You could receive three types of damages from a personal injury claim: economic, non-economic, and punitive.

Economic Damages

Economic damages include all of your sufferings that you can easily quantify with a number. For example, all of the medical procedures you underwent will have bills with exact numbers to be paid. These damages comprise all past, present, and future medical treatments. Economic damages also include lost wages for the time that you couldn’t work as well as any future lost earning capacity.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages exist to compensate you for emotional hardships that aren’t as easy to quantify, such as your pain and suffering. For example, you may now have PTSD or other problems with your mental health that affect your day-to-day life as a result of the accident. Other non-economic damages include loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and emotional inconvenience and distress.

Punitive Damages

The third type of damage you could receive is punitive damages. You will only be eligible to receive punitive damages if your case goes to trial, which is rare for a personal injury case. These damages are usually awarded only if the defendant’s behavior seems so harmful or reckless that the court believes they need additional penalties.

4. Comparative Fault

Comparative fault is a principle that applies when multiple parties are at fault for an accident. If you incurred $100,000 of damages from your accident, for example, but it’s determined that you were 20% responsible, your damages would be reduced to $80,000.

Texas is a comparative fault state, but you are barred from receiving compensation if you are 51% responsible or more. If your injury happened in Houston, TX, you might be able to receive compensation even if your actions are partly what caused the injury.

5. Duty of Care

Duty of care means that the person responsible for the environment is also legally obligated to maintain safety. For example, the manager of a manufacturing plant would have a duty of care to keep the workplace safe. A business or public facility has a duty of care to make the grounds safe for customers and alert anyone if there are dangerous hazards on the premises. A medical office has the duty of care to meet health and industry standards.

When injuries happen from the lack of proper action by an employer, organization, or individual, you will work with your lawyer to determine that the party responsible for your injuries had a duty of care that was designed to keep you from getting injured in the first place.

6. Negligence

Negligence means that the person in question failed to act in a way that another reasonable person or party would behave in that situation. To prove negligence in your case, your lawyer will have to prove that the defendant had a duty of care or responsibility to maintain safety, that the defendant violated that duty, and that this violation caused you damages.

Say that your personal injury resulted from a mistake your doctor made with your prescription because they ignored your medical history. To prove negligence and claim your damages, your lawyer would prove that your doctor had a relationship with you that obligated them to follow a certain standard of care, they breached that standard by not fulfilling their medical duties properly, and you now have injury and damages because of their actions.

7. Bodily Injury

You will hear the terms “bodily injury” and “personal injury” throughout your case. Your case falls under the umbrella of personal injury law, meaning that you became injured because of another party’s negligence. Bodily injury is a specific type of claim that’s included in your lawsuit. Bodily injury is specific harm that happens to you, like a head injury or broken bones.

8. Bad Faith

You will often have to negotiate with your insurance company or the defendant’s insurance company to receive compensation for your injuries. If they are cooperative, you and your lawyer can come to an agreement with them “in good faith.” However, if they refuse to negotiate with you or respond to you in a reasonable manner, they may be operating in bad faith.

A low offer isn’t bad faith, but refusing to give you specific reasons for a number, trying to intimidate you into taking a low offer, and dodging your emails and phone calls may require you and your lawyer to bring up their actions in writing.

9. Settlement

On rare occasions, your personal injury claim will go to trial, where you will be awarded damages based on what the judge or jury deems appropriate. Most of the time, though, most personal injury cases are settled out of court. This means that you will receive a settlement, which is an agreement with the defendant that you will accept money as compensation for your injuries and you will therefore drop the case.

10. Contingency Fee

A contingency fee is the type of payment that most personal injury attorneys use for cases, and it means that you won’t pay your lawyer a cent until you have received damages. The contingency fee is a percentage of these damages that you have agreed upon in advance, and it is typically around 30% of the damages awarded.

The best way to navigate a personal injury case is with the help of an experienced lawyer. You can rest assured that you have the best chance of receiving a fair settlement with the support of someone who will fight for you. Contact us at Houston Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

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