Filing a car accident injury claim can be a frustrating and confusing process. Pleadings, motions, hearings, interrogatories, discovery, document requests, continuances, adjournments, negotiations, deadlines–the journey from your attorney’s office to the last gavel is an unfamiliar one to most people. Understandably, you have some serious questions
Q: What is the statute of limitations on filing a car accident injury claim?A: Knowing how a statute of limitations works is imperative, as its rules and procedures are complex and the consequences for failing to follow them can be harsh. You must act quickly. The statute of limitations for filing a car accident injury claim in Texas is 2 years. You can view a chart of all 50 states with their respective number of years here.
Q: What happens when a car accident lawsuit is filed?
A: Once a lawsuit is filed against those responsible for your car accident injury, you become the plaintiff in the case and the party responsible for your injuries becomes the defendant. Attorneys for each side typically begin gathering facts through exchange of documents, interrogatories (written questions), or depositions (questions that are asked in person and answered under oath). This process is called discovery. After discovery, many cases get settled before trial. Only a small percentage of personal injury actions ever go to trial.
Q: What’s the difference between negligence, strict liability, and intentional wrongs?
A: You may be wondering if there is any other basis for a car accident injury other than negligence. The answer: yes. Strict liability refers to the culpability of designers and manufacturers for injuries resulting in defective automotive parts. In this case, the victim does not have to establish negligence–rather, they will need to show that the car part was designed or manufactured in a way that made it unreasonably dangerous when used as intended. Intentional wrongs, while rare, refer to cases in which an individual or entity purposefully causes bodily injury to you.
Q: What kind of compensation is awarded for car accident victims?A: When the court determines that a car accident plaintiff has sufficiently proven their case and is entitled to recover compensation, they are awarded damages. These damages are intended to compensate the injured party for the losses that they have sustained (plus those that they are reasonably expected to experience in the future). Additionally, the court may also decide to award punitive damages to the plaintiff if the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious. Compensatory damages that are often recovered in car accident cases include:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Q:I was injured in a car accident that was partially my fault, can I still file a lawsuit against the other driver?
A: Yes, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver as long as you are not more than 50 percent at fault for causing the accident. This is because Texas law follows a modified theory of comparative negligence with a 50 percent bar. If you are more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, then you are not legally entitled to recover damages from the other partially liable party in Texas.
Q:Does Texas impose caps on personal injury damage awards?
A: Some states limit (or cap) the amount of compensation that the court can award a successful personal injury plaintiff. In Texas, we have statutes that limit the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice personal injury cases, but there is no statutory limit on the amount of damages that a car accident personal injury plaintiff can recover.
Q: Can you name the government as the defendant in a car accident personal injury lawsuit?
A: While most car accident personal injury lawsuits are filed against a driver or product manufacturer, it is possible to name the government as the defendant in some cases. For example, if the car accident you were injured in was caused by a badly designed roadway or a poorly maintained street, then you may have a viable claim against a government entity if you can prove that the road was negligently designed or maintained.
Q: What does it mean to settle a case?
A: This is where you must practice thoughtful consideration towards the outcome of your lawsuit. Settling your car accident claim means that you agree to accept money in return for dropping your action against the person who injured you. This will absolve the defendant of any further liability. Your attorney will provide a realistic assessment of whether a lawsuit based on your claim will be successful–after which, the decision to accept a settlement offer is entirely yours.