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Filing a personal injury lawsuit is often a necessary move in Texas if you want to claim the maximum compensation for an injury that was the fault of another party.
It may be clear to you that your injuries were due to another party’s negligence or recklessness but insurance companies fight tooth and nail to avoid liability or reduce the amount of compensation they must pay.
While nine out of ten cases are eventually settled out of court without a trial, filing a lawsuit is often the best strategy to enforce action.
But how do you file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas? Can anyone in your family file? How long do you have to file it? What happens after the paperwork is submitted to the court?
If you’re going to file a lawsuit in Texas, it pays to understand how the claims process and lawsuits work here.
In accidents involving an injury, only the injured party can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in Texas.
The same doesn’t apply to fatal accidents. The person killed cannot follow up with a claim, so a close member of the family (spouse, parent or child) usually files a wrongful death lawsuit based on the fact that they were at least partly financially dependent on the deceased.
If immediate family members do not file a lawsuit within three months of the death, the executor of the deceased person’s estate may file a claim on behalf of the estate.
You can claim for both economic and noneconomic losses in the past, present and future in Texas — providing you can prove that the losses are directly related to the injuries from an accident.
Economic losses include:
Non-economic (“general”) damages include:
Non-economic losses especially are often challenged by insurance companies as they can be significant (there is no cap in Texas) and are more difficult to prove.
You generally have two years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas. The same period applies to a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal accident (you have two years from the date of death).
This two-year deadline is known as the statute of limitations and is applied quite rigorously in Texas. If you miss the deadline, it’s usually not possible to file a personal injury lawsuit here.
Personal injury lawsuits are generally considered civil court cases in Texas. Cases get filed in the civil courts rather than the criminal courts — that usually means the local district court in Texas but it is not always a straightforward choice.
A plaintiff in Texas can file the lawsuit in any of the following three different jurisdictions:
It’s best to discuss your options with your personal injury lawyer as there may be pros and cons of each, which they can advise you on.
For small claims, with an estimated value of between $200 and $10,000, plaintiffs can file the claim in a county-level court.
If a federal law has been violated and the defendant lives or does business in another state, a judge may rule that the case should be heard in the federal courts but this is quite rare in personal injury cases in Texas. High-value cases (over $75,000 in damages) are more likely to be heard in federal courts than lower-value ones.
Once you have discussed your options with your personal injury lawyer, you may decide to proceed with a lawsuit. From there, you will likely go through the following steps:
From here, the lawsuit may be dismissed by the judge, settled by negotiation or mediation or proceed to trial. Few personal injury cases end up going to trial in Texas as the potential reputational damage and legal costs for the defendant can be significant.
If the case does go to trial, there will be a discovery process where both sides share information that could come up at trial. A date will be set and both sides will prepare for the trial.
You can file a lawsuit in Houston without a personal lawyer but few people would attempt to do so.
An experienced personal injury lawyer like Ryan DeHoyos knows how the local justice system in Houston works. He understands the steps to take to reduce delays and knows how to deal with tough-negotiating insurance companies. Small procedural errors or mistakes with the paperwork can even lead to cases being dismissed.
A skilled personal injury lawyer ensures you get a fair hearing and the best chance of maximum compensation for your losses.
Contact us at DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation to evaluate your case. We will be happy to answer your questions, explain your options and advise you on how to file a personal injury lawsuit if that is the best course of action. Call us directly at (832) 745-4878 .
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“I can’t say enough good things about DeHoyos Law! Mr. Ryan DeHoyos is extremely knowledgeable in his field of Personal Injury. I was injured in a motor vehicle accident last year and Mr. DeHoyos stopped at nothing to get me the compensation I deserved. He kept me updated on my case regularly and guided me to get the medical care I needed. Additionally, his staff is so kind and caring, especially Ashley… Thank you, DeHoyos Law for your professionalism in closing my case…and WINNING big!”