Understanding Texas Negligence Laws
Understanding how the state defines negligent actions is an important aspect of personal injury law because it outlines what actions actually constitute negligence. Whenever someone fails to exercise the degree of care necessary to minimize the risk of harm to another, those actions can be deemed negligent. The simplest example of this can be when someone slips on a patch of ice on your front porch and sustains an injury. In this case, as the homeowner, you have a responsibility to maintain a safe walkway by eliminating that patch of ice to prevent others from slipping and falling. When you fail to do so, you can be held liable for their injuries.
Texas state negligence laws are largely similar to most other states', with the exception of how the state views comparative and contributory negligence. Generally, any plaintiff seeking compensation for a personal injury will have to demonstrate to the court the following:
- Duty - The defendant had a duty to act in a certain way to minimize the risk of harm to another
- Breach of Duty - The defendant failed to uphold their duty to minimize the risk of harm to another.
- Cause in Fact - The injuries sustained by the plaintiff were "in fact" caused by the defendant's breach of duty.
- Proximate Case - The plaintiff will have to show that a reasonable person would have been able to act responsibly and maintain their duty to minimize the risk of harm to another.
- Damages - The plaintiff will have to show that actual harm resulted from the breach of duty and that the system is capable of compensating them for the damages.
Time Limits and Shared Fault Rules
The state of Texas does impose statutory limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after you have suffered a personal injury. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases provides you two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit in the civil court system. If a lawsuit is not filed within this two-year window, the Texas civil court system will likely refuse to hear your case, and your right to compensation will be lost.
If you've been injured in an accident and the person you're filing suit against argues that you are actually to blame for the incident that led to your injuries, the court may rule that both parties share some level of responsibility. In shared-fault injury cases, Texas follows a comparative negligence rule that states that the amount of compensation you're entitled to will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault. For example, let's say a jury finds you to be 25 percent at fault for a car accident, while the other driver is found to be 75 percent at fault. If the court awards $100,000 in compensation for your injuries, that number will be reduced by 25 percent to account for the fact that you were 25 percent at fault — resulting in a $75,000 settlement.
Don't Wait. Put My Experience On Your Side
At the end of the day, many of these laws can be complex. That's why it's crucial that you have an experienced personal injury attorney working for you to maximize your chances at successfully winning your case. With over 15 years of working exclusively on personal injury casework, I have the knowledge and experience you need to take you through this process step by step. If you or someone you know is facing a difficult personal injury, don't face this challenge alone. Call The Fostel Law Firm today for a free consultation, and put my experience on your side.