Your San Antonio Personal Injury Case: The Basics
You're at a stop light on South Alamo and, suddenly, someone rear-ends your car. Over the next few days, you start to have serious neck pain. Or maybe you're in the New Braunfels H-E-B and you slip in a puddle of spilled canola oil, fracturing your wrist and tearing a muscle in your shoulder. Whatever your story, if you've been injured in San Antonio because of the negligent, reckless or wrongful act of another person or entity, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
Below is a helpful guide to the ins and outs of personal injury law in San Antonio. Be sure to look through FindLaw's general Accidents and Injuries section to get some helpful information about personal injury cases, from first steps after your injury to stages of a personal injury case. Then, come back to this article to learn more about how personal injury cases in San Antonio work.
How long do you have to file your lawsuit?
When you or a loved one has been injured, you should always take care of health needs first before worrying about a personal injury claim. However, you should also be aware of the amount of time you have to act on your claim. In San Antonio, under Texas law, the statute of limitations for filing most personal injury claims is two years. This means that you have up to two years after the accident or injury occurred to file your lawsuit.
If you didn't know you were injured until a long period of time after the accident occurred, the courts will usually extend the statute of limitations to two years after you discovered, or should have discovered, your injury. This exception only applies to injuries incapable of discovery at the time they occurred.
What if the accident was partly your fault?
Historically, if the victim of an injury was found to have contributed to her injury in any way, she couldn't recover any money for her losses resulting from the injury. However, many states have reformed their laws so that an injured person can still recover a portion of her losses even if she shares in the fault for the injury. Texas uses a system of modified comparative negligence in which an injured person who is found to be 50% or less at fault for her injuries can recover from other individuals or entities at fault, proportionate to their fault. Texas law calls this "proportionate responsibility."
For example, if Dan ran a red light and hit Polly while she was changing lanes without using her blinker, a court might find that Polly was 10% at fault in the accident and Dan was 90% at fault. If Polly was injured in the accident and sued Dan, she could recover money for losses resulting from her injury from Dan because she was 50% or less at fault. However, she could only recover 90% of her losses, because she was 10% at fault.
What if there are several people at fault in the accident?
Take the example of Polly and Dan above. Let's say that another person was involved in the accident. Her name was Dora, and the court found her 30% at fault, Dan 60% at fault and Polly 10% at fault for the accident. Texas follows a system of modified joint and several liability.
Under this system, which Texas calls "contribution," a person who is more than 50% responsible for an injury is responsible for the full amount of the injured person's losses (minus the amount proportionate to the injured person's fault). Since Dan was more than 50% at fault in the accident, Polly can sue Dan and recover the full 90% of her losses. Dan must pay Polly, but he may sue Dora for her portion. However, once Polly is paid the full amount of her losses from one party, she can't go after another responsible party for more money.
What should you ask to be compensated for in your personal injury claim?
In Texas, if your injury resulted from the negligent, reckless or wrongful act of another, you're entitled to compensation from those who are at fault for some or all of your losses resulting from your injuries, including:
- Past and future physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of consortium (companionship)
- Loss of services (to pay for things like childcare and domestic services)
It's important to keep track of expenses resulting from and related to your accident or injury.
What else should you know about your personal injury case in San Antonio?
Many personal injury claims involve insurers who have agreed to pay for all or some of the liability of the party responsible for your injury. Dealing with insurance companies can sometimes be daunting. Check out FindLaw's section on Injury Claims and Insurance to learn more about your rights and tips for dealing with insurers. You can also visit the Texas Department of Insurance website for helpful information or to file a complaint against an insurer.
You may want to speak to an attorney about your personal injury case. For now, if you have more questions about personal injury law, visit FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Injury Law Basics for more helpful information.