If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, there are certain rights that you are entitled to during your recovery that will help you get back on your feet quickly. Texas law is clear on your rights as well as the responsibilities of the party-at-fault in an auto accident or any type of personal injury. For example, you have a right to sue the negligent party to compensate for the injuries sustained. A San Antonio personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and help you to get fair compensation for economic and non-economic injuries.
Like is the case in all states, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit if you are involved in a serious road accident caused by a negligent driver. However, just because you have filed a lawsuit does not mean you are eligible for compensation. There are a number of things that the court will consider to determine whether you should be compensated. Moreover, the amount of compensation will be determined based on the circumstances surrounding the case.
It is crucial to work with an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer to know your options in an auto accident case. Working with an attorney will also ensure you are awarded a fair settlement.
How Much Compensation Will You Receive?
The amount of compensation offered in any personal injury case varies depending on things such as:
- The severity of the injuries sustained
- Whether you had any role to play in the accident
- How your life was affected after the accident
- Texas state caps on compensation
An experienced personal injury lawyer that has dealt with auto accident cases that are similar to yours will be in a good position to advise you on the way forward. Based on the circumstances of the case, the attorney can estimate an amount that you are likely to be awarded by the courts should the case go to trial.
One of the important factors that will determine the amount of compensation you will receive in Texas for auto accident injuries is the state damage caps.
Texas Damage Caps
In Texas, there are limits on the amount of economic and non-economic damages that you can receive for different personal injury losses. The state also restricts the number of damages affected parties can receive. The damage caps can determine your ability to make a claim or the outcome of a personal injury case.
Below is an overview of the maximum compensation that you can be awarded based on different personal injury cases.
Government Liability Damage Caps
In Texas, citizens cannot directly sue government organizations and entities for personal injuries. However, in some special circumstances, government entities may be held liable and can be sued for up to $500,000.
If you suffer a personal injury due to the negligence of a government employee or the municipality, the maximum compensation you are entitled to is $500,000. Each party that is responsible for your injuries can be sued for up to $250,000.
Medical Malpractice Non-Economic Damage Caps
In Texas, anyone who gets injured in a hospital or by a medical practitioner due to medical malpractice can sue for economic damages. However, the maximum amount that a medical malpractice victim can receive for non-economic damages is capped by the state.
If you sustain injuries resulting from medical malpractice, the maximum amount that you can sue an individual or healthcare provider is $250,000. If your suit involves multiple parties, the maximum compensation you can be awarded cannot exceed $500,000. Therefore, in total, you can receive up to $750,000 for non-economic damages resulting from medical malpractice.
Punitive Damage Caps
In Texas, individuals seeking punitive damages cannot be awarded more than twice the amount the economic damages that they have been awarded plus the amount awarded for non-economic damages. The maximum amount of non-economic damages that a person is eligible for is $200,000.
On the same note, punitive damages cannot exceed more than $750,000 unless the non-economic damages awarded reach a maximum of $200,000.
Let’s look at an example to understand better how punitive damage caps work in Texas.
If you are awarded $200,000 in non-economic damages and $400,000 in economic damages, the maximum punitive damages you can be awarded will be $1,000,000 ($200,000 non-economic damages + twice $400,000 economic damages).
Here’s another example.
Suppose you are awarded $3,000 in non-economic damages and $400,000 in economic damages, the punitive damages you will be given will be $750,000. This is because the non-economic damages awarded ($3,000) did not reach the maximum amount of $200,000.
Sometimes, the jury can award an aggrieved party more than the maximum damage allowed by Texas law. When this happens, the award will be trimmed.
Texas damage caps can be a little bit unfair to personal injury victims. While the jury may determine fair compensation for your economic and non-economic losses, the amount awarded will be trimmed down to the maximum cap stipulated in the law.
Recent Texas Tort Reform
Recently, the state government has been moving towards restricting the amount that a personal injury victim can receive. There have also been attempts to make it even more difficult to recover compensation.
In 2017, the House Bill 1774 was passed by the Texas Legislature. This bill, commonly known as the “tort reform” bill, makes it more difficult for individuals to sue insurance carriers. Below are some highlights of the law when it comes to weather-related accidents.
1. Limiting the rights of victims to sue insurance firms
Under House Bill 1774, victims of personal injury caused by bad weather or “acts of God” cannot file for compensation from their insurance companies. Any damages caused by natural acts have to be shouldered by the victims themselves.
2. Decreasing the penalties slapped on insurance companies
The tort reform bill reduces the severity of the consequences that insurance companies face when they are sued. For example, under the law, insurance companies are not responsible for paying the plaintiff’s attorney fees, or extra punitive damages awarded by a jury.
3. Protecting insurance agents over victims
HB 1774 also limits a policy holder’s right to personally sue an agent. This means that insurance agents are protected from negative consequences that may result from lawsuits, such as a lowered credit score.
There are Still Options
The Texas tort reform bill has certainly made it more challenging for most personal injury victims to get a fair compensation amount. However, in many cases, there can still be a path to financial recovery.
You should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to evaluate your case and advise you on the options available for your situation.