Roderick C. Lopez | September 9, 2023 | Personal Injury
Navigating the world of personal injury law means familiarizing yourself with different legal terms. Two of the most fundamental are “plaintiff” and “defendant.” Many wonder, “Who are the plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases?”
Fortunately, Roderick C. Lopez, PC in Laredo, Texas, has over 25 years of experience representing accident victims in personal injury cases. Read on for more information regarding these two key terms, and contact us today to schedule a free consultation if you need help after sustaining an injury.
What Is a Personal Injury Case in Laredo, TX?
We must start by defining what a personal injury case is. A personal injury case arises when a person suffers harm or injury due to an incident that another party may be legally responsible for.
Who Is the Plaintiff?
The plaintiff is the party that files the initial lawsuit, generally within two years of the incident in Texas. This individual (or sometimes a group of individuals) must allege they have suffered harm due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another. In essence, they are the complainant.
The plaintiff is typically the direct victim of an accident. However, a representative, such as a family member, may sometimes act as the plaintiff. This can occur when the victim is deceased. Guardians or legal representatives may also take on the plaintiff’s role if the victim is a minor or incapacitated.
Who Is the Defendant?
The defendant is the party accused of causing the plaintiff’s injuries. This may be an individual person or legal entity. Common entities include businesses, government agencies, and non-profits. In some cases, there may be multiple defendants.
The plaintiff’s complaint will allege facts to support their theory that the defendant caused them harm. In response, the defendant will file a pleading known as an answer. The defendant’s answer will admit or deny the allegations in the complaint and assert any defenses.
Responsibilities of the Plaintiff
The plaintiff in personal injury cases has certain responsibilities. First, it is not enough to just allege harm. The plaintiff must show evidence that the defendant’s negligence directly or indirectly injured them. This requires showing that the defendant owned a legal duty to the plaintiff and that the defendant’s breach of that duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Second, the plaintiff must also have evidence to support their claim for economic damages. Plaintiffs often seek compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, or non-economic damages like pain and suffering. In extreme cases, plaintiffs may also seek punitive damages to punish the defendant for willful acts.
Responsibilities of the Defendant
After being sued, the defendant can rebut the plaintiff’s claims. The defendant may present evidence to show that they were not negligent or that the plaintiff’s own negligence played a part in their injury.
This is important because Texas uses a “modified comparative negligence system.” This allows a plaintiff to pursue compensation if they are less than 50 percent responsible for them. Their compensation will be reduced proportionally. However, if the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault, they would be barred from recovering compensation. The judge or jury will determine the appropriate level of fault in any case.
If legal proceedings conclude with a judgment against the defendant, the defendant is also responsible for compensating the plaintiff. The amount is determined at trial based on the plaintiff’s proven damages.
The Complication of Multiple Parties
Some personal injury cases are more intricate than others. It is common to see multiple plaintiffs or defendants in a single case. For example, imagine a multi-car pile-up near an intersection in Laredo. The resulting lawsuit could be a complex web of claims involving several plaintiffs and defendants. Personal injury lawyers help untangle this web.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer in Laredo, TX
Personal injury law is a vast landscape. While it can seem overwhelming, understanding the key players and their roles is a significant first step. At its core, a personal injury case focuses on ensuring a plaintiff receives compensation from a defendant who is legally responsible for causing their injuries.
If you are a plaintiff seeking redress for injuries, it is crucial to understand this framework to effectively navigate your case. Consult a personal injury lawyer Roderick C. Lopez, PC, in Laredo, Texas, for a free initial consultation.
Contact the Laredo Personal Injury Lawyers at Roderick C. Lopez Personal Injury Lawyers Today
If you were injured in an accident in Laredo, TX, and need legal help, contact our Laredo personal injury lawyers at Roderick C. Lopez Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case review today.