Texas Law and Personal Injury Damages
4500 W. Illinois Suite 203
Midland, TX 79703
As a personal injury law firm, we have found that many clients will ask
the same questions during their initial case review meeting or at later
pre-trial interview. On this page, the personal injury lawyer at the Doan
law Firm of Midland will answer what we have come to call the “Big
Three” questions most often asked about Texas personal injury lawsuits.
Under Texas law, who can file a personal injury lawsuit?
Texas civil law grants to the injured party the exclusive right to file
a personal injury lawsuit, meaning that the person who was injured must
be the one to initiate any civil action. There are, however, certain situations
where the right to file a lawsuit may become vested in someone other than
the person who was injured. These exceptional circumstances include:
When the injured party is a minor, defined as being under the age of 18,
a parent or legal guardian may file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf
of the injured party. However, if the injured party has been “emancipated”
(declared to be an adult) by marriage or by successfully petitioning a
court for an order of emancipation, a person under the age of 18 may sue
on their own behalf.
If an adult was injured so severely that there is no reasonable hope of
a full recovery, or if an adult who was injured had previously been deemed
by a court as being unable to care for themselves for any reason, that
person’s legal guardian may sue on behalf of an injured adult.
If an accidental injury resulted in death, the right to file a wrongful
death lawsuit usually rests with (and in order of priority) the victim’s
spouse, the victim’s children, or the victim’s natural parents.
Additionally, an adopted child may sue over the death of an adoptive parent.
However, an adopted child may not sue over the death of a biological parent.
If any person having the authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit has
not done so within three months of the date of death a representative
of the victim’s estate, or the executor of the estate, may file
unless specifically asked not to do so by a “higher-ranking”
relative of the deceased.
Is it ever “too late” to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas?
In a word, “yes,” but this answer also requires a more specific
Texas law has established “time limits” known as statutes of
limitations that specify how long after an injury or some other loss that
a plaintiff (the person who files a lawsuit) must file a lawsuit or forever
lose that right.
In most types of Texas personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff must file
within two years of the date on which the alleged injury occurred. There
are, however, several important “if" exceptions to this rule.
- If the injured party was younger than 18 years old, at the time of the
alleged injury, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until
the victim’s 18th birthday.
- If it is alleged that an injury or death was due to an act of medical malpractice,
a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the alleged malpractice unless
the malpractice was not discovered until a later date. In these situations,
the statute of limitations “clock” begins on the date that
the malpractice was first discovered.
- If the personal injury is due to a sexual assault, sexual battery, compelling
child prostitution, or to any other civil offense and the victim was under
the age of 18 years at the time the offense occurred, the statute of limitations
does not begin to run until the victim reaches their 18th birthday.
- If a potential plaintiff is held to have been unable to file a lawsuit
due to legal disability such as mental illness, the statute of limitations
begins on the date the disability was removed by a court.
Also note than if criminal charges and a civil lawsuit are brought against
the same individual or group, the verdict in one case has no bearing on
the other case (remember how the O.J. Simpson murder case ended in acquittal
but the O.J. Simpson wrongful death case led to a finding that Simpson
was liable for the wrongful deaths of his former wife and Ron Goldman?).
Is there a limit on the amount of an award in a personal injury or wrongful
In theory, there is no upper limit of the amount of damages that can be
awarded in either type of case. There are limits that are imposed by law
depending on the type of damages awarded.
Texas law sometimes places a “cap” or “upper limit”
on what are called non-economic damages. These are damages that are awarded
for the “pain and suffering” experienced by the injured party
or by the injured party’s survivors or those damages that are intended
to punish the offending party. Under Texas civil law, in some cases non-economic
damages cannot exceed a total of $250,000.
There is currently no cap or limit on the amount of “actual,”
or “real” economic damages in the Texas courts.
The Doan Law Firm of Midland 4500 W. Illinois Suite 203 Midland, TX 79703