Texas Court Records
What is a Tort Case, and What does it Involve in Texas?
In Texas, tort cases are civil actions involving negligence that lead to physical injury, financial damage, property damage, and emotional injuries. Tort cases also cover breach of civil rights, medical malpractice, worker's compensation, libel, slander, and anti-retaliation claims. These cases are generally filed with various agencies and institutions including the state courts, insurance companies, state government agencies, city secretaries' offices, and city attorneys' offices. Understanding the elements of specific tort cases can help individuals determine where to file their claims.
Records that are considered publicmay be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What is Texas Tort Law?
Texas has many state and municipal laws guiding the court, claimants, defendants, and attorneys on tort claim proceedings as well as the possible outcome of every tort-related action in the state. Some sections covered under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code include:
Negligence:Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing physical injury on another person. It constitutes the legal basis of most personal injury claims in Texas. Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code defined the elements of modified comparative negligence and contributory negligence in the state. The concept of comparative negligence revolves around a plaintiff's fault percentage to the alleged damages. Section 33.001, titled proportionate responsibility, bars recovery if the claimant is responsible for more than 50% of damages. Contributory negligence which limits a plaintiff's amount of recovery is covered under section 33.012. Typically, the amount awarded to plaintiffs not barred by § 33.001 diminishes in proportion to negligence.
Texas adopted several Tort Reform Laws to cap or limit the amount of money an injured person can obtain as a result of a tort claim. This especially applies to medical liabilities involving claims against health care providers such as doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and many more. It also applies to other types of tort claims bordering on personal injury.
Liability:Title 4 of the Texas Civil practices and Remedies Code covers several tort liabilities pertaining to medical personnel, landowners, food donors, trespassers, libel, fire fighting entities, etc. Under the common law, the government is not liable for certain harms on citizens. However, this immunity may be waived in various circumstances as stated in the Texas Torts Claim Act and §101.025 of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code.
What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Tort Law in Texas?
Below are groups of cases broadly classified as tort in Texas:
Negligent Torts:These are cases established by the existence of a legal city owed to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty by the defendant, plaintiff's sufferance of a damage/injury, and proof that the defendant's breach caused the injury. Some of these cases include:
- Workplace and medical malpractice
- Negligent entrustment
- Negligent hiring, supervision, and retention
- Negligent infliction of emotional stress
- Negligent undertaking
- Vicarious liability eg. Dog bites
- Dram shop and social host liability, eg selling liquor to a minor
Intentional torts:These are civil wrongs that are deliberately committed in Texas. They include:
- Abuse of process
- False imprisonment
- Civil conspiracy
- Intentional infliction of emotional stress
- Trespass to land and property
- Malicious prosecution
- Alienation of affection
- Dramshop and social host liability
- Wrongful death and survival
- The tort of deceit including deceptive trade practices, fraud, fraudulent inducement, etc
Strict liability torts:These are claims where defendants are held accountable for actions, irrespective of their intent or mental state when committing the action. Examples of these include:
- Attractive nuisance (see Section 75.007 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code.)
- Defamation: making verbal statements or publishing untrue articles about a person which is extremely detrimental to their reputation
- Product liability: when a company's product like food, pastries or drink has defects that when consumed endangers a person's life or exposes someone to risk
- Copyright infringement: Using another person's intellectual material without permission
- Vicarious liability eg. dog bite
- Premise liability: When someone is injured as a result of preventable defaults in a building or facility
Some cases can be filed under two or more groups depending on the circumstances. For instance, vicarious liability can be under negligence or strict liability. Dram shop liability can be categorized under intentional tort or negligent tort.
What are the Differences Between Criminal Law and Tort Law in Texas?
While a case may be simultaneously considered under both criminal and tort laws, both scopes of law have striking differences. Generally, Texas tort law covers civil claims and lawsuits seeking financial compensation for an injury, physically or otherwise, suffered during an accident. These tort claims are granted or denied based on the laws set by the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code. The purpose of tort law is primarily not to punish a defendant, but to compensate the plaintiff or wronged party. Private parties filing tort claims are solely responsible for covering their attorney fees and court costs.
On the other hand, Texas criminal law as defined under the Texas Penal Code is concerned with actions brought against parties accused of violating the law. Guilty defendants are punishable by imprisonment, fines, or community service. There are instances where a case can be simultaneously considered under both tort law and criminal law. False imprisonment, assault, and wrongful death and survival fall under the concurrent jurisdiction of both criminal and tort laws.
What is the Purpose of Tort Law in Texas?
The Texas tort law has been reformed and revised to serve the following purposes:
- To provide financial compensation for injuries caused by negligence, deliberate acts, and liabilities of others
- To protect defendants such as doctors and insurance companies from frivolous lawsuits and to limit the amount of liability
- To restrict the court from awarding payment for statutory damages —with no proof of economic losses
- To allow individuals and entities to file private lawsuit against a government entity
- To protect physicians from tort liabilities for discontinuing treatments for critically ill patients (Texas Futile Care Law)
- To limit or cap a plaintiff's ability to recover damages if their percentage of liability is greater than 50%
- To facilitate dispute resolutions within a reasonable amount of time after the alleged incident
What is a Tort Claim in Texas?
In Texas, a tort claim is a lawsuit filed under the Texas Tort Claims Act in any of the state's District Courts, Constitutional County Courts, and Justice of Peace Court. There are standards that must be met by every tort claim in Texas. For the most part, the plaintiff's legal representative must show that their client was owed a duty of care by the defending party. Texas courts generally look at the duty of care from a reasonable person's point of view — that is, whether the alleged harm was foreseeable as well as whether or not there are mitigating and exacerbating factors.
How Do You File a Tort Claim in Texas?
Generally, the process of filing a tort claim in Texas depends on the type of claim, facts of the case, and the targeted defendant— that is individual, business entity, or the government. All tort-related lawsuits have a deadline or a statute of limitation for filing. The deadline for filing all personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury or accident. If the case involves liability on behalf of the government, the statute of limitations is significantly reduced to six months. To file a tort claim in Texas, start by seeking professional help to determine whether or not there is a case.
Those injured in an accident will need to file a report with the police and then file a police report and seek medical attention. As soon as possible, petitioners are required to file a first-party claim with their insurance company or a third-party claim with the other person's insurance provider. The type of claim filed is generally dependent on the degree of the petitioner's insurance coverage, type of accident, and who was at fault in the accident. The insurance company is responsible for opening an investigation of the claim. Make sure to get ready relevant photos of the accident scene, details of any witnesses, medical records, and any further information that can be of help.
Other tort cases including negligence and non-economic damage suits such as medical malpractice should be filed in the state's civil courts directly. Depending on the amount in controversy, petitioners should visit the clerk of the district court, constitutional county court, or justice court to file and begin the process.
Those injured due to negligence of a state government entity can sue under the Texas Tort Claims Act by preparing and submitting a Texas Tort Claim Notification Letter to the director of the government agency or facility that caused the injury. This letter should include a statement of intention to file a claim; concise description of the claim; details of damages including pictures, witness information, medical reports, other essential information or evidential documents; as well as appropriate contact information. Take the letter in person or send it by certified mail. Those sending by mail are advised to return requested receipts and save them for proof. Also, request that the letter be forwarded to the appropriate person if the receiver is not the right person.
The process of filing a tort claim against a Texas county or city or municipal government varies from one county to another. Most cities have established laws, guidelines, and deadlines for filing tort of claims for damages. For instance, Houston City requires petitioners to file Notice of Claims for Damages within 90 days. The notice must be in writing and notarized by a Notary Public. On the other hand, some cities such as the City of Lewisville provide a printable Notice of Claim Form to facilitate the process.
What Does a Tort Claim Contain in Texas?
Personal injury and property damage claims in Texas feature the following information:
- Biodata including the full name and date of birth of the claimant
- Mailing and physical addresses of both the claimant and defendant including the state, city, and zip code
- Work and home phone number of both parties
- Location, date, and time of the incident
- Total amount of claim
- Statement detailing the alleged damage/injury and how it occured
- Photos, videos, medical reports, witnesses information, and other documents supporting the claim
What Happens after a Tort Claim is Filed in Texas?
What happens following a tort claim in Texas varies depending on type of claim, and where the case was filed. After investigations, insurance companies, the state government, or municipal government may deny claims or issue settlement checks to claimants. Denied claims and unsatisfactory settlements may further be appealed to the relevant entity or dragged to the district courts with jurisdiction. In court, these cases may be settled via alternative dispute resolutions or through jury trials.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim?
Tort claims are generally considered to be complicated. A single error in a filed notice can render a claim null and void. While claimants are lawfully permitted to represent themselves, hiring a personal injury lawyer is recommended to get them the full compensation they deserve. Such experienced personal injury attorneys can help investigate and gather beneficial information, navigate the filing processes in relation to the applicable tort law, and ensure a fair recovery. If the claim was not initially filed in court, the attorney may then determine if the case should proceed to court or not.
How Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
To find a personal injury lawyer near a specific location in Texas, visit the Lawyer Referral Service / page hosted on the State Bar of Texas website. Limit the search results by choosing applicable boxes in the drop-down lists. Those in need of assistance should contact the State Bar of Texas's Lawyer Referral Information Service at 800-252‐9690. The Texas State Law Library also offers a Find a Lawyer service on its website. Using this search tool, interested persons can find local attorneys practicing within selected cities.