Can You File for a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit?
The only people who have legal standing to file suit against another person or business entity for damages resulting from an injury are those who were owed a legal duty that was clearly violated by the defendant. In a broad sense, we all owe each other a basic legal duty in life to exercise a practical amount of care and good judgment so we don’t harm one another.
Take, for example, the simple act of driving a car. All drivers are expected to operate their vehicles in a manner that best protects everyone by not causing an accident. But if we drive recklessly, even if it’s just a few seconds, or choose to drive home from a bar after having too much to drink and we harm another people with our car by getting into an accident, we have violated our clear legal responsibility (or duty) to not hurt or kill others through our actions. So if we have harmed others, the burden of proof is upon the victims to gather all of the relevant evidence to show that we owed that legal duty to them, and then violated that duty. If they’re successful, the victims win their personal injury case and the court awards them monetary damages. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the person or entity who caused it owes victims a different legal duty than another person or entity would. An example of this difference is best illustrated by imagining the standard of care owed to you by your neighbor, compared to that of a doctor. Although your neighbor is your friend and you might trust him with the keys to your house and the welfare of your children, a doctor holds your very life in his or her hands. So, according to Texas law, the standard of care is much higher for that physician than it would for your friend and longtime neighbor.
Degree, or the level of legal duty, can also be different depending on the circumstances surrounding an accident. Let’s say that the same doctor walks up to you on the street and inexplicably slices your arm with a pocket knife. In this instance, he has probably violated a lower legal duty than he would have if you were on the operating table and, with his scalpel, he inadvertently performs malpractice by botching a surgical procedure. Legal duty accounts for circumstance, environment, and context at the time of the injury.
Most personal injuries arise from a clear violation of someone’s legal duty, although some are more obscure. Imagine, for example, if one company’s employee drops a hammer on your head. The legal duty of the employer to you, the injured employee, has been violated because, by legal definition, that employer allowed that employee on the job site to cause the injury to you. But on the other hand, if the same exact situation occurred and the hammer fell on a contract laborer or subcontractor, the company that employs the offending worker would not owe anything to the victim because, in most cases, there is a much lower legal duty owed by an employer to individuals hired as contractors. This is one of many possible exceptions to one’s legal duty.
But as a general rule, the most proper and efficient way to decide if your case is a valid cause of action against the perpetrator or not is to speak with a Texas personal injury attorney at our Texas Law Firm. We can clearly explain the various legal duties that people and other entities owe one another, and help you determine if a specific injury event warrants your filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Put our years of experience to work for you if you want to know what your rights are, how to proceed with your claim and how much compensation you can secure from your personal injury case. Regardless of how it happened or who is liable, we can answer all of your questions. Call our Law Firm now at 1(800) 862-1260 (toll-free) for a free consultation and find out how we can help you.