Personal injury in the City of Arlington refers to injuries that an individual may suffer due to another person’s negligent or wrongful conduct. In contrast to standard bodily injury, which refers to specific injuries to a person’s body, personal injury broadly covers physical, mental, emotional, or even financial damage. Common causes of personal injury in Arlington include car accidents, slip, and fall accidents, medical malpractice, animal attacks, defective products, and so on. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code governs personal injury cases in Arlington. The Code makes provisions for the rules of negligence, liabilities of the parties, damages, limitation period, and other relevant legal issues relating to personal injury claims.
What is a Personal Injury Claim in Arlington?
A personal injury claim in Arlington is a legal process that allows an injured person to secure compensation for any loss or harm suffered due to the negligent conduct of another person. The aim of a personal injury claim is to establish that the plaintiff did suffer harm and is entitled to receive compensation from the defendant. The court will usually consider the negligence or recklessness of the defendant to determine a personal injury claim. In determining whether the defendant was negligent or reckless, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- Existence of a legal duty: To prove negligence in Arlington, the defendant must have owed a duty of care to the plaintiff in the circumstances. A duty of care may arise from the special relationship between the plaintiff and defendant. This relationship creates an obligation on the defendant’s part to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm against the plaintiff. For example, a doctor owes a patient a legal duty to provide competent medical care and services. Similarly, motor vehicle drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and in accordance with traffic regulations.
- Breach of legal duty: Once it has been proven that the defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff, the plaintiff must then successfully argue that the defendant breached this duty by doing or failing to do what an average person would do in a similar situation. Therefore, the defendant can be found liable for negligence if an average person would have known their conduct might cause an injury to the plaintiff and would have done something different from what the defendant did in the circumstances.
- Harm or Injury: To prove negligence in a personal injury case, the plaintiff must show that they suffered harm or injury. The harm suffered may be physical, emotional, or financial. Medical reports and other relevant documentation may be used to prove physical injuries.
- Causation: This element requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty directly resulted in their loss or injury. Another thing to prove is the element of proximate cause. This refers to whether the defendant could have foreseen or anticipated that their conduct might cause an injury to the plaintiff.
Texas law provides for a shared-fault rule in personal injury cases, which reduces the plaintiff's ability to recover damages. Based on this rule, the court may limit a plaintiff's compensation if found that they were partially at fault or responsible for their injury. A plaintiff may not be able to claim any compensation if they have a larger fault for their injury than the defendant. Compensation or damages awarded to successful claimants in Arlington personal injury cases can be either compensatory or exemplary.
Compensatory damages aim to seek to reimburse an injured party for the harm they have suffered. These kinds of damages are available in most personal injury cases, including auto accidents, medical malpractice, and slip and fall cases. Compensatory damages can be further divided into general and special damages. General damages compensate a plaintiff for injuries a person would reasonably incur in a personal injury accident, such as physical pain, emotional suffering, mental anguish, lost enjoyment of life, and distress. They are usually non-economic damages.
Special damages, on the other hand, encompasses quantifiable financial losses the victim experienced due to the defendant’s actions or conduct. Examples of costs awarded as special damages are health care expenses, lost income, lost future earning capacity, legal fees, travel costs, and the price of property repairs. These damages are specific to the victim, and to claim them, the claimant must prove specific losses by providing receipts and documentation, such as medical bills.
While compensatory damages aim to reimburse the victim, exemplary or punitive damages aim to punish the wrongdoer. The court may award exemplary damages if the defendant’s actions are considered despicable or if the court believes that the compensatory damages do not adequately reimburse a victim for severe, traumatic, or permanent losses. This kind of damages is usually awarded in cases that involve fraud, malice, or gross negligence. The law also places a cap on the amount that can be granted as exemplary damages. As such, per Section 41.008 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, exemplary damages are limited to either $200,000 or twice the economic damages plus the non-economic damages, whichever is greater. The total award may not exceed $750,000.
Note that special rules apply to personal injury claims against the government. The victim is required to file a formal claim with the governmental agency believed to have caused the injury or harm. The claim is to be filed within six months from the date the accident occurred and must include details of the accident and the harm or injury suffered as a result of the accident.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 7,077 auto accidents were reported in the City of Arlington in 2019. The Texas Office of Court Administration also recorded that as of 31 December 2021, District and Statutory Courts in Tarrant, Arlington’s home county, recorded a total of 6,790 active personal injury cases. The number comprised:
- 5,391 cases involving motor vehicle
- 188 medical malpractice cases
- 20 cases involving other professional malpractice
- 6 cases on product liability involving asbestos
- 25 other kinds of product liability
- 1,160 other kinds of injuries and damages.
How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer in Arlington?
A personal injury lawyer is a professional who provides legal services for parties in a personal injury claim. There are several ways to find a personal injury lawyer in Arlington, including:
- Informal Referral: one common way of finding a personal injury attorney in Arlington is through suggestions from family, friends, and colleagues that have had similar cases. A general practice lawyer can also refer a person to an attorney that specializes in personal injury claims. After receiving such recommendations, it is essential to do some extra research to be sure that the attorney has the requisite qualifications and expertise to handle a personal injury case.
- Professional Associations: one can also find an Arlington personal injury lawyer by using the online find a lawyer feature provided by the State Bar of Texas to assist individuals in finding qualified attorneys throughout the state. Concerned persons can also find qualified personal injury lawyers using the Tarrant County Bar Association’s lawyer referral service. These professional associations are particularly attractive considering that they can provide detailed information about lawyers practicing in the city, including their contact information, practice areas, and other relevant details.
- Online Research: many attorneys and law firms have online pages or websites where they advertise their services. These sites usually contain the lawyer’s credentials, case history, and contact information. Interested persons can get to these sites by making a simple google search, for example, personal injury lawyers in Arlington.
When searching for a competent personal injury lawyer in Arlington, it is essential to take note of the following factors:
- Availability: the lawyer must be easy to reach and be open to providing guidance to prevent a client from making errors that may weaken their case.
- Competence: the prospective attorney must also be familiar with the state laws and legal system, including the court procedure and applicable rules.
- Trial Experience: it is advisable to hire an attorney with practical experience in court and this kind of case. This may signify that the attorney is knowledgeable in the critical aspects of the case and can guide clients with precision and based on experience.
What does a Personal Injury Lawyer do in Arlington?
A personal injury lawyer is a qualified professional that specializes in personal injury claims ranging from car accidents, slip and fall accidents, product liability to medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. Such an attorney represents victims of accidents and negotiates on their behalf to help them receive fair compensation for their injuries. A competent personal injury lawyer critically assesses physical, emotional, and other aspects of a personal injury and provides legal advice to the victim. Other specific responsibilities of a personal injury lawyer include:
- Drafting and reviewing legal documents: A personal injury lawyer must draft a complaint with the court when filing a personal injury claim. Throughout the negotiation and trial process, a personal injury lawyer is required to prepare several legal documents such as pleadings, demand letters, discovery responses, subpoenas, and so on.
- Gathering and assessing evidence: A personal injury lawyer collects evidence on behalf of the victim, such as the testimony of expert witnesses, medical reports, and surveillance footage if available.
- Negotiating fair settlement on behalf of the victim: The knowledge and experience of personal injury lawyers enable them to negotiate a reasonable settlement on their client’s behalf. A competent lawyer who understands the legal process and how to deal with insurance companies is able to ensure that their client receives a fair settlement for their injury.
- Court representation: In the event that the case is not resolved through negotiation, a personal injury lawyer represents their client at the trial stage and makes depositions in court on their client’s behalf.
Do I need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
It is not compulsory for the victim of an accident caused by another’s negligence to hire a personal injury lawyer. It is advisable to do so. A personal injury lawyer can prove very helpful in protecting the victim's best interests against aggressive insurance companies who may try to avoid paying fair compensation for the victim’s injuries. It is also beneficial to employ the services of an experienced lawyer who understands how the legal system works and can protect one’s legal rights. There are, however, some personal injury cases where the assistance of a lawyer may not be required. For example, the victim may decide not to hire an attorney in cases where their injuries are relatively minor and the fault of the other party is clear. In this instance, a victim may find it more economical to personally carry out their own settlement negotiation as opposed to giving over one-third of their compensation money to a lawyer. Some of the common personal injury claims in Arlington include:
- Car Accidents: A person who sustained injuries in a car accident caused as a result of the negligence of another may be able to file an auto crash claim. In Arlington, the court will usually consider the percentage of fault among the parties associated with the accident. The victim's damages will therefore be reduced if found to be partially responsible for the car accident.
- Truck Accidents: In Arlington, truck accident cases are usually considered serious and are governed by strict rules. In situations where a person causes a truck accident in the course of employment, the court may impose liability on the driver’s employer using the principle of respondeat superior.
- Motorcycle Accidents: A person who negligently operates a motorcycle in such a manner as to cause injury to another may be found liable in a personal injury claim. In Arlington, motorcyclists are required to have liability insurance that will cover $30,000 for each victim in an accident, $60,000 for multiple victims, and $25,000 for property damage.
- Slip and Fall Accidents: A person who falls and suffers injury as a result of another's negligence can file a premises liability claim to receive compensation.
- Brain Injuries: In Arlington, a person who suffers from traumatic brain injury has the right to file a lawsuit for damages against the other party. The victim is entitled to economic damages in the form of monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and lost future earning capacity incurred by the victim. Non-economic damages may also be awarded for the mental anguish and physical disfigurement suffered by the victim.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: A person who suffers injuries to the spinal cord due to a car accident, medical malpractice, or slip and fall can file a personal injury lawsuit to compensate for their losses. Damages for expensive medical bills, pain and physical suffering, and permanent disability would usually be awarded to the victim.
- Wrongful Death: A wrongful death in Arlington city arises when a person suffers injury due to the negligent and wrongful act of another, and this injury must have resulted in the death of the victim. The person bringing the claim is usually the deceased’s immediate family or household members such as the spouse, parents, or children of the deceased. Notably, the siblings of the deceased are barred from filing a wrongful death claim.
- Pedestrian Accidents: This occurs when a driver operates a vehicle in such a manner as to negligently or recklessly hit a pedestrian. The court will usually award damages for incurred medical expenses, lost income, and decreased earning capacity.
- Bicycle Accidents: arises when a person negligently or recklessly operates a bicycle in such a way as to cause injury to another. In Arlington, bicycles are regarded as vehicles and are therefore subject to most of the state's traffic laws. A bicyclist may also be found liable for negligence if found to have violated some provisions of Chapter 551 of the Texas Transportation Code. For example, the law mandates the use of arm signals while turning and prohibits the riding of bicycles on sidewalks.
How Much to ask for in a Personal Injury Settlement in Arlington?
Personal injury claims in Arlington often begin with the settlement process, which is less time-consuming and more affordable than going to trial. A number of factors may influence the settlement value in a personal injury case, such as the medical and hospital expenses incurred by the victim, lost income, pain, and suffering, emotional distress, permanent physical disability or disfigurement, loss of family, social, and educational experiences.
While it may be simple to add up financial losses, there are no definite means to quantify the monetary cost of emotional damages. Insurance companies, therefore, use a damages formula to calculate the monetary worth of the accident and to assess how the accident impacted the victim's personal life or mental health. The damages formula is estimated by adding up the total economic damages, such as the medical expenses lost income, and multiplying the amount by 1.5 to 3 when the injuries are minor and up to 5 when the injuries are serious and long-lasting. The figure arrived is then added to any lost income incurred by the victim, and this becomes the amount from which settlement negotiations begin. Other facts about the accident and the victim’s injuries will be considered after the starting amount has been reached.
How Long does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
A personal injury claim may go on for a short or long period of time depending on a number of factors, including:
- The severity of plaintiff’s injury: Cases, where the plaintiff incurred serious injuries, will usually take longer to resolve than cases where the plaintiff could make a quick recovery from their injuries.
- The complexity of the case: Personal injury cases that are more complex and complicated may require a longer time to settle than other types of cases. For example, some slip-and-fall accidents and car accidents are faster to resolve than cases involving medical malpractice.
- Insurance company: The insurance company that handles a personal injury claim may significantly influence the timeline of the case. Since insurance companies are different, some companies may prefer a quick settlement while others may decide to accept liability within a long period of time.
- The caseload in the jurisdiction: Once the case goes to trial, it will take a longer period of time for the case to be settled in a jurisdiction with flooded cases than in a jurisdiction with only a few personal injury cases.
- Liability: A personal injury claim will usually be settled faster when the liability of the defendant is clear and obvious. However, the case may take longer to settle if liability is contested by the defendant and subjected to several interpretations.
Finally, note that personal injury claims in Arlington generally have a limitation period under Texas law. Meaning that the injured party must bring an action before a competent court within a particular period after the cause of action arises, or else the court may not hear the case. A two-year limitation period applies to cases of personal injury based on injury to a person, damage to property, and medical malpractice. Meanwhile, personal injury claims based on fraud or breach of a written or oral contract can be filed within four years.