Personal Injury Lawsuit Process In Texas
Texas personal injury lawyers explain how the legal process works
Filing a personal injury lawsuit in Texas can be a complicated legal process – from obtaining evidence in support of your case to filing a lawsuit in the court that has jurisdiction over your legal matter. And if you make a mistake at any point along the way, your lawsuit could be dismissed or might not get the attention it rightfully deserves.
That’s why it’s critical that injury victims understand how the legal process works in Texas. Our Texas personal injury lawyers at Tracey Fox King & Walters can explain how the process works, along with the different options available to you. Our knowledge is based on real-world experience handling complex legal cases for personal injury victims throughout the Lone Star State.
Who can file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas?
First, it’s important to understand a few legal terms used when talking about a personal injury lawsuit. Such terms include:
- Plaintiff – The injured person filing the lawsuit.
- Defendant – The person or business the plaintiff is filing a lawsuit against because their negligence caused the injury.
- Damages – Financial compensation being sought by the plaintiff from the defendant.
In general, only the person who was injured or harmed by the defendant can file a lawsuit seeking damages, but there are exceptions if the injured person is unable to do so. If the injured person is a child, their parent or legal guardian can file a lawsuit on their behalf. If someone dies in a personal injury accident, then the following individuals can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf:
- Surviving spouse of the deceased
- Surviving children of the deceased
- Surviving parents of the deceased
- After three months, if none of the above individuals have filed, the personal representative of the estate can file a lawsuit.
If you are not sure whether you can file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, simply talk to an experienced Texas personal injury attorney at our law firm.
Where can I file a personal injury lawsuit?
What you might not realize is you often have a choice concerning where you file your personal injury lawsuit in Texas. Some of the factors that can affect which court has jurisdiction include:
- Where the injury or accident took place.
- Where the plaintiff lives.
- Where the defendant lives or does business.
- Which laws apply to your specific situation.
- The amount of money at stake.
Experienced Texas personal injury lawyers understand the pros and cons of different courts and legal jurisdictions. That’s why it’s important to talk to an attorney when trying to decide where to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas.
How to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas
Each personal injury lawsuit is different and presents its unique challenges. However, the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit in Texas generally involves the following steps:
- Gather evidence – Without evidence of an injury due to someone else’s negligent actions, your lawsuit cannot move forward.
- Write a demand letter – This document explains why the plaintiff is filing a lawsuit against the defendant. Written by the plaintiff’s attorney, a demand letter is sent to the defendant and requests a specific amount of money by a specific date. A demand letter is not the same as filing a lawsuit. However, in most cases, the plaintiff must send the defendant a demand letter before filing a lawsuit.
- Write a complaint letter – This is a legal document sent by the plaintiff to the court that has jurisdiction over the case. This is the first formal step in filing a lawsuit. In a complaint letter, the plaintiff names the defendant and explains why the plaintiff is taking legal action. A complaint letter also outlines the facts of the case and requests a specific amount of money to resolve the legal matter.
- Response from the defendant – After the plaintiff sends the complaint letter, the defendant can choose to respond to the letter. In Texas, such responses often include:
- No response from the defendant
- Motion to dismiss lawsuit – Formal request from the defendant asking the presiding judge to declare the lawsuit invalid, thereby terminating the legal case.
- Motion for definitive statement – Request from the defendant seeking more information from the plaintiff.
- File counter lawsuit – Defendant files a lawsuit against the plaintiff in response to the complaint letter.
- Settle the lawsuit or go to trial – Both sides can choose to settle, meaning they agree to resolve the legal matter out of court. This is how most cases are resolved. However, if both sides cannot agree, the legal case will proceed to trial.
What happens if a personal injury lawsuit proceeds to trial?
If a personal injury lawsuit cannot be settled, the case will then proceed to trial. When this happens, the following steps occur:
- Both sides (plaintiff and defendant) share information with each other explaining what information will come up during the trial. This is known as the discovery stage.
- The presiding judge sets a date for the trial to begin.
- If the legal case involves a jury (which most personal injury cases do), the judge, plaintiff’s attorney, and defendant’s attorney will choose who will serve on the jury.
- Both sides present opening statements in court explaining why they believe the judge and/or jury should rule in their favor.
- Both sides present evidence in court in support of their legal case.
- Both sides present closing statements explaining why the judge or jury should rule in their favor based on the evidence presented in court.
- Judge or jury issues a verdict, either in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
In general, the plaintiff has two years from the date of the injury or accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. This two-year deadline is known as the statute of limitations and can be found in Texas’ Civil Practice and Remedy Code, Title 2, Subtitle B, Chapter 16, Subchapter A. Likewise, in wrongful death matters, the statute of limitations is usually two years from the date of death. But different deadlines can apply in some circumstances, so it’s always best to talk to an attorney about which legal deadlines apply in your case.
Two years might seem like a long time. But the longer individuals and families wait to take legal action, the harder it becomes to build a strong legal case. That’s because the evidence needed to build a case can be harder to find or might even be lost or destroyed. This is why injury victims in Texas need to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after their injury accident.
How long does the legal process normally take?
It all depends on the circumstances. Some personal injury cases can be resolved with a fairly prompt settlement. Others may take many months or even years to resolve. It depends on the nature of your injuries, the progress of your medical treatment and recovery, whether you have to file a lawsuit, and how difficult the defendant and their insurance company decide to be.
This is why it’s important that you have a skilled Texas personal injury attorney working with you that you can trust. Experienced lawyers know how to build a strong legal case based on the facts. They can also keep you informed of the progress of your case and seek your input on important legal matters.
Get the Texas personal injury law firm that gets results. Contact us
Don’t assume that your personal injury lawsuit will be easily resolved just because someone else clearly caused your injury or accident. Instead, be prepared for the defendant and their insurance company to do everything they can to dismiss your injury claim and pay you as little as possible.
This is why it’s critical that you have an experienced legal team on your side, fighting for your rights every step of the way. Our Texas personal injury lawyers at Tracey Fox King & Walters understand how the legal system works. As a result, we won’t waste a second getting right to work on your personal injury lawsuit.
Learn more about your legal rights. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer you can count on when it matters most. We have offices conveniently located in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.