How to File a Lawsuit in Dallas, Texas
If you have been injured in an accident in Dallas, Texas, you have the option to pursue compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. How your lawsuit plays out will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. However, you can typically expect the following as you go about filing your claim.
Who Can File a Dallas Lawsuit?
Any person over the age of 18 years can pursue a personal injury claim. The party that files the lawsuit is called the Plaintiff. Minors can seek compensation through a lawsuit if accompanied by a parent, relative, or “next friend” over the age of 18. The individual would also go to court with the minor if the case goes to trial.
Whom Can the Plaintiff Sue?
Any person, association, partnership, or corporation within the Court’s jurisdiction can be sued for compensation. The person or entity being sued is called the Defendant.
Because federal and state laws grant and limit courts’ jurisdictions, it is important you know where your lawsuit will be filed. For your lawsuit to be filed in Dallas County, for example, the Dallas County court would need to have personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. Damages would also need to fall within a certain dollar amount to be filed at the county level.
Personal jurisdiction rules whether a court has power over the defendant. Subject matter jurisdiction establishes the court’s power to hear the kind of case the lawsuit involves.
Normally, the courts within a particular state have personal jurisdiction over all people or businesses that are citizens of or do business in that state. So, if you are looking to sue a Texas citizen, you can file your lawsuit in Dallas. In personal injury lawsuits, you can also sue Defendants outside of your state if they caused an accident in your state. You can also sue a business that has some contact within the state.
A Dallas personal injury attorney can help you determine who can be sued for your accidents and injuries.
Which Court Do I Use?
The court you use to file your lawsuit will depend on where your damages occurred and what you are suing for. For example, if an individual suing for seeking only money for a total of less than $10,000 will typically file a small claims lawsuit with a county-level court.
If your Dallas lawsuit deals with a larger amount, you would file with a civil court at the state level. These are called district courts in Texas.
Again, your personal injury attorney will ensure your case is filed with the appropriate court.
When to File a Lawsuit
In Texas, most personal injury claims have a statute of limitation of two years. This means you have two years from the date of your accident or injury to file your lawsuit. As such, it is best to file your lawsuit as soon as possible. Not only will this guarantee your lawsuit is filed within Texas’ statute of limitations, but it will also help ensure you are able to gather all evidence related to your case.
The Three Phases of Civil Litigation
Civil cases are broken down into three phases: pre-trial, trial, and post-trial. Not every case will go through all three phases. In fact, most personal injury cases are resolved in the pre-trial phase. Still, here is what you can expect to occur in each phase.
- Pre-trial: To prepare your legal claim, your attorney will conduct research and establish the facts of your case. This is also the phase in which your attorney will file your claim with the court. They will then notify the Defendant, get the Defendant’s response, complete discovery, and file motions and request for a fair settlement or default judgment. Your case may be resolved here.
- Trial: If you case is contested and the Defendant refuses to resolve the case with a fair settlement, your case will proceed to trial. During trial, your attorney will represent you in court, argue your case, and seek a verdict in your favor.
- Post-Trial: Depending on how your trial was resolved, there are different scenarios your attorney should be prepared for:
- If your trial resulted in a default judgment against the Defendant, the Defendant may try to get the judgment set aside on a technicality. For example, they may claim they were given improper notice about the case. This is one reason you want an attorney familiar with the procedures of a personal injury lawsuit.
- If the Defendant does not comply with the court’s decision in a timely manner, your attorney may file a Motion to Enforce or similar document. The filing will inform the judge that the court order is not being followed. They will request specific enforcement of the order.
- The Defendant may also try to appeal the court’s decision. This would send your case to appellate court for review of what happened in trial court. If the Defendant convinces the appellate court that there was an error in the trial court’s decision, they could change the court’s decision or send your case to be tried again.
I Want to File a Lawsuit in Dallas. What Do I Do?
If you are looking to file a lawsuit for an accident or injury that occurred in Dallas, you should speak with an attorney. A personal injury attorney will help you file your lawsuit. They can also navigate you through the legal process so your case meets all procedural requirements and deadlines.
Thomas J. Henry Law has Dallas injury attorneys standing by 24/7 to hear your claim. Also, because we work on a contingency fee basis, you pay us nothing unless and until we win your case.
Do not wait, call now for your free case review.