How Is the Value of a Personal Injury Case Determined in Texas?
Brian White | May 20, 2015 | Personal Injury
Personal injury cases are often complex, and determining the value of a case can be tricky. There are many factors that go into finding how much a case is worth, who is at fault, and what types of damages can be sought. Every state handles each of these separate factors differently. There are laws for each state governing the types of damages, caps on damages, and negligence clauses. Personal injury suits in Houston will follow the regulations listed on this page.
Negligence in Houston, TX and Other Texas Cities
The first factor to consider in a personal injury case is negligence. Texas follows a contributory negligence clause. This means both parties are assigned a “fault” percentage. The compensation award is directly proportional to that amount, and only if the plaintiff is found to be less than 50% at fault.
For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, and the case is valued at $100,000, you will only receive the remaining 80% ($80,000). If you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you will not be eligible to receive compensation. Negligence is determined by proving:
- The defendant had a duty to act in a safe and reasonable manner.
- The defendant did not act in a safe and reasonable manner.
- The negligent act directly contributed to the accident that caused the injury.
- The accident caused actual harm and injury to you.
Damage Types in Texas
The final factor in calculating the value of a personal injury case is determining types of damages. The state of Texas allows for the following damages:
- Medical bills. Past and future medical bills are eligible for compensation. After a serious accident, you may need ongoing treatment for a number of years. The compensation in this category is designed to pay for any and all medical bills incurred from the accident. It can include treatment, physical therapy, hospitalizations, physical rehabilitation, prescription medication, and any other medical expense.
- Lost wages. You may recover lost wages from the past as well as future wages because of an accident. This can simply be income lost while you received medical treatment, or it can be an ongoing amount. Sometimes, injuries from an accident are so severe that you permanently lose the ability to work. In this case, it would be considered a future loss of earning capacity.
- Property damage. If any vehicles or other personal or real property is lost or destroyed in the accident, you can recover the value.
- Pain and suffering. This number is calculated based on other damage amounts, multiplied by a “pain multiplier” between 1.5-5%. The pain multiplier is based on how much pain you have sustained.
- Mental anguish. This damage is similar to pain and suffering, but it is based on emotional distress suffered as a result of the accident. This can include PTSD, anxiety, stress, depression, and any other emotional condition.
- Loss of consortium. This claim is brought on by a loved one who can no longer have a relationship with you because of the accident. For example, if you lost your ability to be intimate, or you lost the mental capacity to sustain a relationship, your loved one can file a claim.
- Punitive damages. Finally, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant in cases of gross negligence. Not all states allow this damage, but Texas does. Punitive damages in Texas are generally capped within a range of $200,000 and $750,000 depending on the circumstances.
If you would like to learn more about how the value of a personal injury case is determined, contact Houston, TX attorney Brian White today.