If you suffer bodily injury for which a company is responsible, you should probably file a personal injury claim. Such a claim will allow you to sue the defendant for monetary compensation or (more likely) to settle out of court.
Sometimes the defendant is a business rather than an individual. This is a good thing for you because a company is more likely to be able to pay your claim than an individual. Talk to a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer for more information.
Steps to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The steps to filing a personal injury lawsuit in Fort Worth are similar for almost all types of personal injury claim:
File a formal complaint outlining your claim and justifying the compensation you are seeking, along with a civil case fact sheet (for Fort Worth claims). Your claim must be worth at least $200.
Submit your complaint to the clerk at the Tarrant County Courthouse, located at 100 W. Weatherford St. in Fort Worth.
Pay the filing fee to the court clerk. Expect to pay up to several hundred dollars unless you qualify for a waiver.
You must arrange for a neutral third party to deliver the complaint and civil case information sheet to the defendant. Delivery is normally made by hand, although other methods are possible in the right circumstances. Since you are suing a business, you must arrange to have process served on the business’s registered agent.
If the amount of your claim is large, it is best to have an attorney guide you through the process.
Small Claims Court
You can file a claim for up to $20,000 under the simplified rules of Small Claims Court. The rules of civil procedure are relaxed in Small Claims Court so that you can represent yourself. Fort Worth has several small claims courts, including the Weatherford St. Courthouse.
You don’t have to use small claims if you don’t want to. In fact, you cannot use small claims if your claim, including attorney’s fees, exceeds $20,000.
Did you break your leg after slipping on a banana peel at the grocery store? If so, you probably have a premises liability claim against the store owner. Property owners who invite the public onto their property must repair or warn of any known dangerous conditions on the property.
They must also make a reasonable inspection of the property and repair or warn of any latent hazards they discover.
The five elements of liability for negligence
Negligence, meaning something like negligence, is by far the most commonly asserted personal injury claim. Most civil liability claims are based on negligence. To win a negligence claim, you must prove:
The defendant owed you a duty of care.
The defendant breached their duty of care to you.
You have suffered an injury.
The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused your injury.
Given the defendant’s breach of duty, your injury was reasonably foreseeable (proximate cause). In other words, it wasn’t a freak accident.
Once you have proven liability by establishing the five elements described above, you can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost work time, out-of-pocket expenses, and even intangible losses such as pain, suffering and emotional distress.
Vicarious liability: the superior doctrine in response
An employer functions through its employees. As such, an employer is responsible for compensating those injured by its employee’s misconduct as long as the employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time they caused your injury.
Let’s say, for example, that you suffer an injury due to a car accident caused by an employee of XYZ Co. You can recover compensation against XYZ Co. as long as the employee acted within the scope of their employment.
If a defective and excessively dangerous product (such as a faulty prescription drug) caused your injury, you can usually sue any party in the product’s distribution chain for monetary compensation.
This means that you can sue the manufacturer or distributor and can win your case without proving fault. You can even win a lawsuit against a distributor for a manufacturing defect, even if the distributor did not manufacture the product.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for Legal Help
If you think you have a claim against a business, it is almost certainly in your best interest to hire a personal injury attorney. The company will likely have its own legal representation; hiring a lawyer will allow you to level the playing field.
Interesting related article: “6 Ways to Prepare for a Personal Injury Trial“