If you suffer a bodily injury for which a business is liable, you should probably file a personal injury claim. Such a claim will allow you to sue the defendant for monetary compensation or (more likely) settle out of court.
Sometimes the defendant is a business rather than an individual. That’s good for you, as a business is more likely to be able to afford to pay your claim than an individual is. Speak to a personal injury attorney in Fort Worth for more information.
Steps to Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The steps to filing a personal injury lawsuit in Fort Worth are similar for almost every type of personal injury claim:
- Submit a formal complaint stating your claim and justifying the compensation you seek, as well as a civil case information sheet (for Fort Worth claims). Your claim must be worth at least $200.
- Submit your complaint to the clerk of the Tarrant County Courthouse 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 the civil case information sheet to the defendant. Delivery is normally by hand, although other methods are possible under the right circumstances. Since you are suing a business, you must arrange for service of process to the business’s registered agent.
If the size of your claim is significant, it’s best to have a lawyer walk you through this process.
Small Claims Court
You can file a claim of 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 court locations, 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 in the grocery store? If you did, you probably have a premises liability claim against the store owner. Property owners who invite the public to their property must repair or warn of any known dangerous conditions on the property.
They must also conduct a reasonable inspection of the property and repair or warn against any latent dangers they discover.
The Five Elements of Negligence Liability
Negligence, which means something like carelessness, is easily the most commonly asserted personal injury claim. Most premises 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 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 prove liability by establishing all five of the above-described elements, you can claim compensation for medical expenses, lost work time, out-of-pocket expenses, and even intangible losses such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Vicarious Liability: The Doctrine of Respondeat Superior
An employer operates through its employees. As such, an employer is responsible for compensating people harmed by the misconduct of its employee as long as the employee was acting within the scope of employment when they caused your injury.
Suppose, for example, that you suffer injury due to a car accident caused by an employee of XYZ Co. You can win compensation against XYZ Co. as long as the employee was acting within the scope of their employment.
If a defective and unreasonably dangerous product (such as a defective prescription drug) caused your injury, you can typically sue any party in the product’s chain of distribution for monetary compensation.
That means you can sue the manufacturer or the distributor, and you can win your lawsuit without proving fault. You can even win a lawsuit against a distributor for a manufacturing defect, even though the distributor did not manufacture the product.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for Legal Help
If you believe you may have a claim against a business, it’s almost certainly in your best interest to hire a personal injury attorney. The business 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“