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Victims of Family Violence or Misconduct Shouldn't Ignore Their Tort Claims

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The commission of an actionable tort frequently occurs in the context of, or is the impetus for, a divorce or child custody proceeding. Some examples of potential torts that you may encounter are: (1) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; (2) Assault and Battery; (3) Defamation of Character; and (4) Invasion of Privacy. In Texas-unlike some states-tort and matrimonial actions can be joined in one action. In other words, you may be able to recover for your physical and emotional injuries in the same proceeding as the divorce.

There are many misconceptions surrounding spousal suits. First, spouses in Texas have been able to sue each other for torts since 1977, when the Texas Supreme Court abolished "spousal immunity." See Bounds v. Caudle, 560 S.W.2d 925, 926-27 (Tex. 1977) (relating to intentional torts); Price v. Price, 732 S.W.2d 316, 319 (Tex. 1987) (permitting spousal suits for negligence). Second, marriage does not toll the statute of limitations for your tort claim. For most torts, the victim needs to file suit within two years of the injury (although some claims must be brought within one year). If you have been the victim of your spouse's tort, you may need to act quickly by seeking help from the experienced attorneys at Abraham Watkins.

Most spousal torts inflict serious mental anguish on the victim. Recovering mental anguish damages is fundamental in these cases, but it is difficult. Texas courts, including the Texas Supreme Court, have increased the scrutiny regarding whether sufficient evidence has been introduced to uphold an award of mental anguish. See Hancock v. Variyam, 400 S.W.3d 59 (Tex. 2013) (In a defamation case, the Court reversed an award of $900,000 for mental anguish because the plaintiff only introduced evidence of some sleeplessness and anxiety). A victim must show evidence of a substantial disruption in daily routine or a high degree of mental pain and distress. Also, the plaintiff must show the nature, duration, and severity of the mental anguish.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of family violence or misconduct, the experienced lawyers at the law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz can assist with your claim. Call us today at 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584 for your free consultation.

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