Personal injury law is a branch of the legal field that deals with civil lawsuits related to injuries sustained in accidents, workplace incidents, or malpractice. Some common examples of a personal injury case could include car accidents, workplace injuries, medical malpractice, and premises liability. Before you contact a lawyer in Houston, TX to determine whether or not you have a personal injury case, learn about some of the common phrases and terminology you may need to know.
11 Personal Injury Law Terms and Phrases You Should Know in Houston, TX
Negligence is the crux of many personal injury cases. Essentially, many of these lawsuits are filed when the person who is injured believes that negligence was involved in their case. For example, negligence could include not putting up a wet floor sign, which then leads to a slip and fall injury. Many times, negligence can be identified by highlighting the basic safety standards that are expected by the law.
Proving negligence is often one of the requirements of personal injury cases. The way negligence will be proven in your case will be based on the type of personal injury case you’re filing. For example, negligence in a medical malpractice case is proven differently from negligence in a premises liability case.
2. Comparative Negligence
In Texas, the concept of comparative negligence often comes up during car accident cases. Comparative negligence is a doctrine that refers to a car accident where both drivers are considered liable for the accident. In a comparative negligence case, your percentage of liability will have a direct impact on the compensation you are able to claim.
Comparative negligence cases usually only occur when the other driver accuses you of being responsible for the accident. When comparative negligence cases are triggered, this will require your lawyer to find evidence proving how responsible you are for causing the accident. In general, your goal is to be found less than 51% responsible for the accident by the court, which will allow you to claim at least half of the settlement compensation.
3. Standard of Care
The phrase standard of care is commonly used in medical malpractice cases. This is a concept that refers to the expectation that a medical professional will ensure a patient’s safety by following the expected norms of medical practices. For example, one standard of care would be informing a patient of the risks associated with a surgical procedure or providing prompt care if a patient is in distress.
The standard of care can be applied to any medical professional, including nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, EMTs, and more. The standard of care is put in place to protect patients, and if the standard of care is breached, this could indicate that an injury may have been caused by medical negligence or malpractice.
4. Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a common legal term that refers to the time frame in which a personal lawsuit can be filed for an injury. The statute of limitations for your case will depend on the type of lawsuit you’re filing. For example, in Houston, TX, the statute of limitations for a car accident is different from the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case. Much of the time, you will have at least two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit for a personal injury.
5. Compensation Caps
There may be caps on the compensation you are entitled to depending on the type of lawsuit you are filing. Compensation caps are usually applied to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. A compensation cap essentially says that you are not legally allowed to claim more than X amount of dollars for certain injuries or damages.
6. Wrongful Death
Wrongful death occurs when someone loses their life because of negligence caused by another person. Wrongful death lawsuits are common in personal injury law and are usually filed by the loved ones of the person who has passed away. A wrongful death lawsuit will generally seek compensation for medical bills, expenses related to funerals, and the loss of wages or earning potential of the person who has died.
7. Premises Liability
Premises liability is a type of personal injury case that occurs when someone is injured on private or public property. Any property where an individual can be considered a guest, such as a house, government facility, public park, restaurant, or store, may be eligible for a premises liability lawsuit if someone is injured. This is because property owners are responsible for ensuring that all guests are safe on the property.
8. Strict Liability
Strict liability is a concept that is used in legal cases when there is no need to prove intent for certain actions because the action is always illegal. For example, your lawyer may be able to use strict liability in a case wherein the other driver was driving without a license or insurance.
Because driving without a license or insurance is illegal in Houston, TX, strict liability means that it will not be necessary for your lawyer to prove intent for these elements of your case, which can also make it easier to hold the other driver responsible for the accident. Strict liability may not apply to all personal injury cases.
9. Pecuniary Damages
Pecuniary damages are a type of economic damage that occurs through the loss of income, wages, or earning potential because of injuries, disabilities, or death related to a personal injury accident. This type of damage will seek to compensate for lost wages from the date of the accident and can sometimes be applied to future wages.
10. Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damage that may be added to your case for additional compensation. Pain and suffering generally refer to the emotional, social, and physical suffering you may have experienced after the accident. For example, if you lost your job, if you were in a great degree of physical pain, or if you lost your relationship, these can all be considered pain and suffering damages.
An IME or an independent medical examination is often used in personal injury cases as evidence of an injury. IMEs are conducted by physicians who did not treat you for the original injury. These physicians will generate an objective report of your injuries, the type of treatment you may need in the future, and any other consequences of the injury you may experience.
An IME can be crucial to proving pain and suffering, and it can also highlight the need for additional compensation for very severe injuries. Sometimes, IME reports are necessary in worker’s compensation cases when your employer is refusing to pay worker’s compensation insurance for your medical bills and treatment.
When you want to file a personal injury lawsuit, you may come across terms and phrases that you’re unfamiliar with. While your lawyer will be knowledgeable in these terms, it can be helpful to understand how these phases may apply to your case so that you can assist your lawyer in collecting evidence. To learn more about personal injury law and how you can get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages, please contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, TX today.