Before deciding to pursue a personal injury lawsuit it is very important to be aware of laws or guidelines that may affect the case and how it can be handled. Three factors that are important to keep in mind are the statute of limitations, comparative negligence, and a source for recovery.
The statute of limitations is the time period in which a lawsuit can be filed. The statute is determined by the location of the incident and the type of case. It can range anywhere from 60 days to 2 or more years depending on the laws in that city, county, state, etc. While the facts of the potential case may establish clear liability and damages, if the case is not filed within the required time it cannot be pursued.
Whether the personal injury case is settled through mediation or tried in front of a jury, the facts of the case must be examined and a determination of which party is at fault must be made. Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule meaning that any settlement is reduced by the amount of the party’s fault. If a party is found to be 49% or less at fault, any compensation that they receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to their percentage of fault. If a party is found to be more than 51% at fault they are unable to seek or collect compensation from any other parties that are involved.
The concept may sound a little confusing, but it can be easily explained. Lets say a red car is stopped at a stop sign and has one taillight out. A blue car comes up behind the red car and fails to stop quickly enough and rear-ending the red car. Upon examining the facts of the case, it is decided that the red car is 20% at fault and the blue car is 80% at fault. The total amount of damages and medical bills for the red car add up to $20,000. The driver of the red car’s settlement would be reduced by 20% (the amount of fault attributed to them) making their final settlement amount $16,000. The blue car would not be able to recover any settlement from the red car due to their amount of fault being higher than 51%.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind is the source of recovery. A personal injury lawsuit may have clear liability and a large amount of damages for the injured party, but if the at fault party does not have insurance or the funds to pay for the damages out of pocket then the injured party may not be able to collect any type of settlement. An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate a potential case to identify any responsible parties and find the best source for recovery.
Remember that each lawsuit is different. If you are considering filing a lawsuit contact Powers Taylor for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys have experience with all types of personal injury lawsuits.