The Texas Department of Transportation recorded 3,553 serious injury car crashes in Dallas in 2012. Accident victims have legal options to compensate them for economic and non-economic damages they suffer in accidents that weren’t their fault. Texas law has some restrictions and implications for these damages of which drivers should be aware before filing a claim.
Types of Economic Car Accident Damages
Most car accident claims will seek compensation for economic damages. These compensate claimants for the economic harm they suffer after an accident:
- Medical damages: This includes costs related to ambulance fees, emergency room visits, physical therapy, doctor’s visits, medical specialists, medical equipment, hospital stays, and other medical expenses directly related to the accident.
- Lost wages: Lost wages can include actual lost time from work and other employment issues that arise after an accident. If a plaintiff cannot return to work or cannot perform a previous job as a result of the accident, he or she can seek damages for those harms as well.
- Property damage: Damages to the car or other personal property are compensable in a car accident claim.
Types of Non-economic Car Accident Damages
Non-economic damages compensate victims for the intangible harms they suffer from an accident. Some examples of non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental or emotional suffering, loss of consortium (time with a spouse) and loss of the enjoyment of life. Establishing a dollar amount for these damages can be difficult, which is why accident victims who suffer serious injuries should seek help from an attorney.
Punitive damages, which punish defendants for reckless behavior, may also be available in some Texas car accident cases. In order to qualify for punitive damages, under Texas law, a defendant must show that the defendant acted with malice or gross negligence in the accident. These damages are capped at the greater of two times economic damages plus non-economic damages (with a non-economic damage limit of $750,000), or $200,000.
How to prove car accident damages?
The claimant needs to prove that the accident directly caused the damages he or she claims, and must establish the value of his or her damages. Accident reports, eyewitness testimony, expert testimony, medical records, and repair invoices can help. The type of evidence necessary to establish damages will depend on the types of damages you’re seeking.
Texas is a comparative fault state. This means that the amount of damages a plaintiff can collect in an accident case is reduced proportional to his or her amount of fault in the case. For example, if a claimant is 20 percent at fault in a case where he or she suffered $30,000 in damages, the claimant can collect $24,000 in damages.
The state also follows the modified comparative negligence theory at a 51% bar. This means that plaintiffs need to be 50% or less responsible in the accident in order to collect any damages.
Other Car Accident Claims Considerations
There is a two year statute of limitations in Texas for car accident and other personal injury claims. Accident victims in Dallas considering filing a lawsuit after a car accident should consult a local personal injury attorney. An attorney can help injured drivers get a comprehensive picture of their damages and present their case to recover fair compensation.
The Law Office of Julie Johnson is committed to helping injured drivers seek justice after car accidents. Contact our office at 214-290-8001 or visit our contact page to set up an appointment to speak with an attorney.