Austin Texas Personal Injury Attorney
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In Texas, when someone suffers a physical injury, or their property is damaged, they have sustained what is commonly referred to as a “personal injury”. Our laws allow the injured person to be “made whole again” by receiving compensation for the damages caused by someone else’s carelessness, negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts. Personal injury law is also called “tort” law. While special interest groups in the United States have tried to tarnish this well-intended area of law, it has been part of the fabric of society since our country’s founding over 200 years ago.
Our legal systems, State and Federal, have tort laws to protect those who have suffered a personal injury. Personal injury laws require three things to be present before one may recover for their personal injury: there must be a legal duty between the one who committed the wrong and the injured person; there must be a violation (or breach) of that duty; and the injured person sustains a personal injury because of that breach. When all three elements take place, a personal injury, or tort, has occurred.
Our system of laws demands that citizens must not harm others. This means that not only should people be safe from harm, but their possessions also. Whenever someone else harms you or something that belongs to you, they become liable to answer to the tort laws governing the situation. Liability can be caused by intentional acts, or torts, or by negligence. An intentional act is one intended to cause harm or injury. In other words, the person committing the act wants to harm you. A negligent act occurs when someone fails to take reasonable and appropriate action, and you are harmed as a result. For example, if someone who becomes upset with you burns down you house, that is an intentional tort (as well as also being a criminal act). On the other hand, if someone fails to look in their mirror and moves into your lane, thereby hitting your car, that is a negligence tort. In the first case, the wrongdoer wanted to cause an injury; in the second case, the wrongdoer did not want to injure you but failed to take the reasonable and appropriate action to prevent injury. In both cases, the wrongdoer had a duty not to injure you or your property, because our laws create that duty. The duty was breached by the intentional and negligent actions of the wrongdoer, and damage to your person or property resulted.
Another form of personal injury law covers strict liability. Strict liability means that there is responsibility for the injuries caused, whether or not negligence was involved. This area of law is usually applied to situations where the activities are, themselves, abnormally or inherently dangerous. This area of law encompasses the area of product liability. Manufacturers of products are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that their products are safe when used as directed. If someone is injured by a product, under the terms of strict liability, they do not have to prove intent or negligence. They only need prove that the product was defective through no fault of their own, and that harm was done.
Once a personal injury has occurred, the wrongdoer has the legal obligation to make the injured person whole, or, in other words, to pay for the damages the wrongdoer caused. The term “damages” means the amount that is owed to you to compensate you for your loss. Damages can be agreed upon by you and the injuring party, through insurance settlements, or by other means. But often the damages offered to you may not fully compensate you for your loss. This is especially true if you have suffered physical injury and have not been able to work. Personal injury law is the mechanism for determining who is in the wrong, or in other words, who is “liable”, and what the liable person should have to pay for the damage caused.
If you are the suffered a personal injury, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself. First, make sure that you seek proper medical attention to protect your physical health. Make sure you follow up with the proper authorities to report the event and the injury. And, contact your own insurance company. If you believe your injury was caused by the carelessness or intentional act of another, you may want to contact an attorney to discuss your rights. You should call as soon as it is convenient to do so and avoid discussing the matter with strangers and/or insurance representatives who are not from your own insurance company. You should be cooperative with the police, your own treating physicians, and your own insurance company. Most personal injury cases are covered by a statute of limitations, which means that you only have a certain period of time in which you can file a lawsuit.
If you have a personal injury case that you would like us to review please call our toll-free number or email us, and we will provide you a free consultation. We stand ready to meet with you and discuss your personal injury claim.