Texas has its own set of laws that apply in slip and fall injury cases. In this article, we'll look at some of those rules, starting with the time limits on Texas slip and fall injury lawsuits. We'll also look at how Texas laws affect your case if you're found to be partly at fault for your slip and fall, as well as the special rules that apply to slip and fall cases where the Texas government may bear some liability for the accident.
Texas sets time limits on filing a slip and fall claim in court. In Texas, you have two years from the date of your slip and fall accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in court.
This time limit only restricts how long you have to file a court case. It doesn't affect you long you have to file an insurance claim over your slip and fall. However, it's helpful to file your insurance claim as soon as you can after the accident, and get the settlement process started. If you delay, and the insurance claim process hits a snag or drags on, your two-year time limit to go to court might run out, depriving you of the opportunity to file a lawsuit -- or the ability to make a credible threat to do so -- if insurance settlement negotiations stall out or fail altogether.
Texas uses a "modified comparative fault" rule to decide how cases are affected when the injured person is found to be partly at fault for causing the slip and fall accident. This shared fault rule may reduce or even eliminate an award of damages, depending on how much fault is assigned to you, and how closely the insurance carrier or court adheres to the rules.
Here's an example of Texas's modified comparative fault rule in action. Suppose you're walking through a mall one day, busily looking at the various stores. You're so busy looking in shop windows that you don't notice a puddle of melted ice cream someone has dropped on the floor ahead of you. You slip in the ice cream puddle, fall, and suffer serious injuries.
You decide to file a slip and fall injury claim with an insurance company, or a lawsuit in court. After investigating your claim or examining all the evidence in your case, the insurance adjuster or jury decides you were 10 percent at fault in your slip and fall. The adjuster or jury also calculates your total damages from the accident to equal $10,000.
Under Texas's modified comparative fault rule, you may receive damages that equal the total damages, minus an amount that equals the percentage of fault assigned to you. In this example, the rule applies to leave you with $9,000. This equals the $10,000 total, minus $1,000 that represents your 10 percent of the fault.
As long as you are less than 50 percent at fault, you will be able to recover some amount of damages. If you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault, however, your damage award drops to $0 automatically, and you will be unable to collect any compensation at all from any other at-fault party.
There are several ways in which a slip and fall accident might involve the state or local government in Texas. For instance, if you slip on a wet floor in a state building or trip on a broken floor tile in a county courthouse, you might have a valid injury claim for compensation against the government.
If your claim involves the state, county, or township, government, you'll need to file a case in court withinsix months of the date of your slip and fall accident. Detailed information on how to file your claim and what claims are allowed is in the Texas Tort Claims Act.
If your claim involves a city government, you'll need to provide written notice of your claim to the city council or the city attorney's office. Each city handles slip and fall claims a bit differently; for one example, see the City of Houston's website.