Personal injury law comes into play when one person causes damage to another person. If you’ve undergone an injury due to the actions of another, you may have a personal injury case. Learning a few of the more common terms used in this area of law will help you navigate these judicial waters.
Tort is a legal term you will hear quite often in personal injury law. It covers any wrongful action that leads to the injury of another person's body, property or reputation. Tort also involves the wronged party being entitled to receive compensation due to the other person's wrongful actions. Tort does not cover contracts. Torts can involve criminal actions as well as actions involving negligence.
Negligence is key to proving a personal injury case. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in a particular situation. Reasonable care is the kind of care that a reasonable person would take in similar circumstances.
A negligence claim requires the plaintiff to prove four things:
the defendant had a duty to take reasonable care
the defendant breached (or failed) that duty
the defendant's breach of that duty caused the plaintiff injury
the plaintiff sustained damages due to the plaintiff's breach.
If the plaintiff fails to prove even one of these things, the case is lost.
If the plaintiff wins a personal injury case, the courts will award compensatory damages. This is money given to the plaintiff to compensate for the damages, injury or incurred loss due to the defendant's actions. This can include medical costs, property damage, lost wages, etc.
Compensatory damages can also include damages that are not easy to calculate because they do not involve monetary items. This can include pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of reputation, and loss of consortium, among others.
In cases where the defendant's actions are considered reckless or willful, the courts may award punitive damages. These are damages beyond the compensatory damages awarded. The extra amount is a way to punish the defendant. The award of punitive damages is always at the discretion of the courts.
Statute Of Limitations
Plaintiffs only have a limited time to file a court case to receive compensation from a defendant. That time limit is known as a statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years, from the date of the injury.
If you think you have a personal injury case, contact Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. in Amarillo, Texas. Our personal injury team is here to evaluate your case.