Personal injury is the harm you suffer as the result of the negligence, reckless or even illegal behavior of another. When it is the result of negligence, it means that the at-fault party failed to exercise reasonable care—meaning the “degree of caution and concern an ordinarily rational person would use in similar circumstances.” In contrast, reckless behavior is the “totally unreasonable conduct that is a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would do.”
In either case, if it causes you harm, you may file a personal injury claim or personal injury lawsuit to be compensated for your losses, including medical bills, lost wages and more. Typical personal injury cases in Texas include:
1. Car accidents
Motor vehicle accidents, including passenger cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks, as well as larger commercial vehicles, constitute the majority of personal injury claims. Negligent behavior in a car accident may be the result of anything from following too close (tailgating) to failure to maintain the vehicle in proper working order—for instance, failing brakes or non-working headlights. One example of recklessness is speeding in excess of 25 miles per hour above the speed limit. Accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may also include criminal charges.
2. Workplace accidents
Workers’ compensation is the main resource for anybody suffering an on-the-job injury. Even if you were injured offsite, workers’ comp might still be available if your duties were job-related. However, since it isn’t required in Texas, not every employer has workers’ comp insurance, and workers’ comp does not apply if the injury was sustained while engaging in risky behavior or off-duty activities.
Your employer might be liable for your workplace injury or job-related illness if they failed to follow OSHA regulations. Personal injury claims or lawsuits can be filed in cases where employers do not have workers’ compensation insurance, or for injuries caused by defective equipment, where there was intent to harm, or where the injury was caused by exposure to toxic materials. Claims or suits may also be filed against third parties—non-employees who may have contributed to your illness or injury.
3. Medical malpractice
We trust our health, and often our lives, to medical professionals: physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, as well as the institutions in which they operate. When their negligence causes harm, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. Common types of medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis- delayed misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can lead to the advance of a condition that might have become life-threatening (including heart conditions or cancer) had they been correctly or adequately diagnosed.
- Surgical errors can include wrong site or wrong side surgery, or even surgery performed on the wrong patient. Sponges, clamps, adapters, or needles may also have been accidentally left inside the patient during an operation.
- Birth defects, including nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, or cerebral palsy, may occur as the result of errors made during delivery.
4. Premises liability: slips and falls
Property owners in Texas are responsible for seeing that their property is maintained to ensure the safety of visitors, customers, workers, legal occupants, and others who have permission to be on the property. Property includes not just buildings but all areas that are part of the property, such as parking lots or decks or unattached structures. It also includes machinery or equipment on the premises.
Slips and falls are the types of injury-causing accidents that lead to premises liability claims and lawsuits. While icy sidewalks aren’t common in this part of the country, poorly maintained stairways, unlit parking lots, loose carpeting, malfunctioning escalators, and obstructions are slips, trips and falls waiting to happen.
5. Dog bites
Dog owners are negligent if they do not control their dogs. Under the Texas “one-bite rule” owners are also liable if they are aware that their dog has acted aggressively or bitten someone in the past. Children are most often the victims of dog bites as they may not understand the warning signs dogs give when they do not want to be bothered.
6. Product liability
From household appliances to commercial machinery, from garden chemicals to baby strollers, and from car tires to toy cars, defective products can fail and cause serious injuries. When they do, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and others charged with protecting us from dangerous products often issue product recalls when there have been incidents and sufficient evidence to show that a specific item or product poses a health or safety problem. Defective products have led to a number of injuries including:
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Wrongful death
Defamation, also called slander or libel, is the act of destroying one’s reputation by spreading false statements. While it does not cause the kinds of physical injuries most often associated with personal injury, the person or entity who has intentionally spread falsehoods has caused damage and may be held responsible for their actions. Under the “defamation per se” law, it must only be proven that anybody would, or should, know that the statements made would damage a reputation. In order to succeed in a defamation claim, intentional malice must be proven.