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Personal injury

Personal injury refers to an injury to a person’s body—also known as bodily injury—or to their mind or emotional well-being—also referred to as emotional distress or pain and suffering. The term personal injury is also used to refer to a broad category of legal claims involving personal injuries or death.

Claims for personal injuries are generally known as torts—wrongful acts that are done intentionally or negligently, or for which there is liability without proving negligence (strict liability).

Personal injury claims are primarily a matter of state law and may be compensated by the court system if the injured person—also known as the claimant, or the plaintiff if a lawsuit is filed—can prove liability (another person or entity caused the personal injury) and damages (medical expenses, permanent disability, death).

In Texas, personal injury law allows individuals who have suffered bodily injury, emotional distress, or pain and suffering due to another's wrongful act to seek compensation. These wrongful acts, known as torts, can be intentional, negligent, or subject to strict liability, where fault is assigned without proving negligence. To succeed in a personal injury claim, the injured party (claimant or plaintiff) must establish that the defendant is liable for the injury and that there are actual damages, such as medical expenses, permanent disability, or in the case of wrongful death claims, the loss of a loved one. Texas law sets specific statutes of limitations for filing personal injury claims, which is generally two years from the date of the injury. Additionally, Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means that if the claimant is found to be partially at fault, their compensation may be reduced proportionally. If they are more than 50% at fault, they may be barred from recovering any compensation.

Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

28 U.S.C. § 1332 - Diversity of Citizenship; Amount in Controversy; Costs
This statute is relevant because it allows federal courts to hear personal injury cases when the parties are from different states and the amount in controversy exceeds a certain threshold.

28 U.S.C. § 1332 grants federal district courts original jurisdiction over civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between citizens of different states, citizens of a state and citizens or subjects of a foreign state, citizens of different states in which citizens or subjects of a foreign state are additional parties, or a foreign state as plaintiff and citizens of a state or of different states. This statute is commonly referred to as 'diversity jurisdiction' and is often used in personal injury cases where the plaintiff and defendant reside in different states, allowing the case to be heard in federal court rather than state court.

42 U.S.C. § 1983 - Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights
This statute is relevant to personal injury claims when the injury is a result of a violation of an individual's federal rights by someone acting under the authority of state law.

42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a civil cause of action for individuals whose rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws have been violated by someone acting under the color of state law. This statute is often invoked in personal injury cases involving police brutality, excessive force, or other misconduct by government officials. Plaintiffs can seek monetary damages and injunctive relief for the violation of their federal rights. To succeed, the plaintiff must show that the defendant was acting under color of state law and that the defendant's conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) - 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680
This statute is relevant because it waives the sovereign immunity of the United States for certain torts committed by federal employees.

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows private individuals to sue the United States in federal court for most torts committed by persons acting on behalf of the United States. Under the FTCA, the government can be held liable for personal injury, death, or property damage caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the government while acting within the scope of their office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred. There are exceptions to this waiver of immunity, including claims arising out of combatant activities during times of war, claims involving the fiscal operations of the Treasury, and claims involving the imposition or establishment of a quarantine by the United States.

The Jones Act - 46 U.S.C. § 30104
This statute is relevant for personal injury claims involving maritime workers.

The Jones Act provides protections to seamen who are injured in the course of their employment, allowing them to bring personal injury claims against their employers. Under this act, seamen can sue for damages from their employers for the negligence of the ship owner, the master, or other members of the crew and are entitled to maintenance and cure, which is a form of compensation for medical care and daily living expenses until recovery. The Jones Act is significant because it gives maritime workers rights similar to those provided to workers on land under workers' compensation laws, but with the potential for greater compensation since they can pursue damages through the court system.

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