Personal injury is a type of law that allows someone who is injured due to the negligent act of someone or something to receive compensation for their damages and injuries. The basic concept is that you can sue someone in order to receive compensation to make you “whole.” In Texas law, a person in a personal injury lawsuit can sue for “damages.” The word “damages” is a legal term used to describe the amount and type of loss that someone incurs due to the injury.
For you to collect damages in a personal injury lawsuit, you have to prove specific elements. There are four basic elements that must be proven to win any personal injury lawsuit in Texas. They are:
- That the defendant in the case had a duty to the person who was injured
- That the defendant who had a duty breached that duty
- That it was the breach of duty that specifically led to the plaintiff being injured
- Finally, that the plaintiff was actually injured due to the defendant’s breach of duty
The goal of any personal injury lawsuit is to prove that the plaintiff was not only injured, but that they were injured specifically due to the defendant, and that for that reason, they deserve to be compensated for their injuries. The first three elements require that the plaintiff establish that they had a relationship or that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, and that it was due to a breach of that duty that the plaintiff was injured. The fourth is essential because if you can’t establish that you actually sustained injuries at all, then the case is not a case.
What types of damages are awarded in Texas personal injury law?
In personal injury law, there are two types of damages that someone can be awarded: noneconomic and economic damages. It isn’t that noneconomic damages aren’t “economic” as in “compensated by money” – it is that one is based on the subjective nature of the injury, while the other is concrete. Economic damages are all those things for which the person has documentation, like medical bills and validation of lost earnings. Noneconomic damages are different. They are things that are less concrete and more subjective.
Noneconomic damages are the type of damages that are referred to as “pain and suffering” and “emotional distress.” They are calculated based on the amount of noneconomic damage someone has endured. Noneconomic damages do not have to be argued. They are calculated according to the ability to prove economic damages. Therefore, the way that you win a case is through proving that you have economic damages.
How you prove damages is through having documentation. It is from the economic documentation that the jury will award a plaintiff noneconomic damages. Typically, the more extensive the injury and the more procedures and medical care that are required, the more a jury will award in noneconomic damages.
Most lawyers and juries will use the “multiplier method” to estimate how much pain and suffering someone has endured. Obviously it’s not an exact calculation; they rate the severity of the injury using a scale of one to five. Then they use that factor to multiply the amount of economic damages to calculate a dollar amount of how much someone has suffered.
In Texas, there is a cap on noneconomic damages for medical malpractice suits. Due to increasingly high awards, Texas put a cap on the amount that a plaintiff might be rewarded in noneconomic damages. That cap is set at $250,000 dollars. If it is a medical malpractice suit that is a wrongful death suit, then the cap has been placed at $500,000. Although set in 1977, the caps have been adjusted for inflation.
If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, it is imperative that you hire a personal injury lawyer like Hugh Howerton to know what you are entitled to recover. Don’t ever accept a settlement without having a professional personal injury attorney look over the offer and ensure that you are getting all that you are entitled to in both economic and noneconomic damages. Otherwise, there is no way to know whether you are getting the compensation you deserve.
Shruti Gupta is a writer, digital marketer and outreaching expert. She writes about technology, startups & other niches. She has contributed to a number of famous websites like Thenextweb deccanchronicle and Crazyegg. Stay tuned with her at:@shruti_gupta01 or via skype