Handcuffs next to a gavel on a table If you or a loved one was hurt by an individual or company that did something wrong, you have the option to file a lawsuit to hold that person or company accountable and seek compensation (aka damages). When filing a lawsuit in Texas, there are two types of cases: criminal and civil. Our Texas personal injury attorney team at The Button Law Firm break down the key differences between criminal and civil cases in the Lone Star State.

What Are the Key Differences Between Criminal and Civil Cases in Texas? 

The key difference between criminal and civil cases in Texas is based on whether or not a person’s harmful actions violated a criminal law.

Secondly, the two types of cases have different desired outcomes. A criminal case aims to punish the specific person or group of people who violated a criminal law, and the desired punishment includes time in jail, fines, or probation. Civil cases, on the other hand, seek to help the person who was harmed, or their close family members, by financially compensating them for their injuries and any of the losses they suffered because of the other person’s wrongdoing.

What Are Examples of a Criminal Case in Texas?

When one person deliberately hurts another person, including a child, this is classified as a criminal case. A criminal case occurs when there are allegations that the person or, if the harm occurred at a business, an employee has violated a criminal law, such as theft, assault, or murder. In these cases, the person (or persons) responsible for the wrongdoing is prosecuted for harming the other person.

Some examples of common crimes that are classified as criminal cases include:

  • Boating under the influence and drunk boating crashes
  • Daycare abuse, which can include caregivers treating a child in a harsh or cruel way and threatening a child with corporal punishment. We have seen firsthand how some caregivers physically abuse children by hitting, pinching, shaking, or biting them.
  • Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs. These mind-altering substances can slow down a person’s reaction time, impair their judgment, and cause recklessness that results in a car crash. Because of the driver’s severe impairment, these car wrecks are often deadly. In fact, Texas ranks highest for the most drunk driving fatalities in the country.
  • Sexual abuse at a daycare center in Texas includes any sexual activity with a minor. A child is not old enough to understand or consent to these adult behaviors in the first place. Caregivers who expose themselves to a child or produce, own, or share pornographic images or movies with a child are breaking the law. Physical behaviors such as touching, fondling, and intercourse are also examples of sexual abuse that can be criminally prosecuted.

What Are Examples of a Civil Case in a Lawsuit Filed in Texas?

A civil case typically involves a dispute between two parties. In most personal injury disputes, one party, the person who was hurt or the person’s loved one (including the parent of a child who was hurt), seeks monetary relief from the other party, which can often be a business or company such as a grocery store, daycare center, or workplace.

Most lawsuits in Texas are classified as civil cases. The legal issues or questions at the center of the disputes focus on whether or not a person’s injuries were preventable and if they were caused by the company’s negligence, also known as wrongdoing. This can include violating safety laws or best practices or neglecting to fix a hazard, knowing that the hazard could cause an innocent shopper, child, or bystander to get hurt.

In civil lawsuits that are filed in Texas courts, monetary damages sought by a plaintiff can include medical expenses, therapy, and other treatments and resources that help the person heal after a serious injury. Spouses and parents of the injured person can also seek lost wages while serving as a caregiver for a loved one recovering from injuries.

Some examples of common incidents in Texas civil cases include:

  • Auto accidents, including wrecks involving 18-wheelers, tow trucks, and delivery drivers. These serious accidents are often caused by negligent behaviors such as distracted driving, speeding, and driving a vehicle that is not properly maintained. Our experienced attorneys have also fought for clients who were seriously injured in an accident where a truck or delivery driver was not qualified to operate the vehicle due to having a poor driving record or a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Boating accidents
  • Brain injuries caused by slips and fall accidents, serious car wrecks, or blunt trauma
  • Catastrophic injuries that have a life-changing impact such as severe burns, traumatic amputations, chest injuries, or vision loss or blindness
  • Daycare injuries, including incidents of neglect, finger injuries, falls, serious burns, allergic reactions, and choking
  • Inadequate security, also known as negligent security, incidents occur when a company is aware of red flags regarding the safety of their premises but opts to ignore these hazards, a decision that puts people who set foot on the property at risk of serious injury or death. A majority of these cases involve dangerous conditions at places like nightclubs, apartment complexes, and nursing homes, where a lack of security can leave people vulnerable to crimes such as shootings or robberies. Often, these establishments create unsafe conditions by neglecting to take simple yet effective steps, such as having adequate lighting, checking IDs properly before allowing a person to enter the establishment, or hiring enough staff or security to conduct surveillance and mitigate security risks.
  • Premises liability, including dog bites and injuries sustained on escalators or elevators
  • School bus injuries sustained in an accident or from bullying, neglect, or abuse at the hands of the driver
  • Spinal cord injuries that result in quadriplegia or paraplegia
  • Wrongful death

Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Texas Personal Injury Lawyers

Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys at The Button Law Firm is dedicated to advocating for you and your family after a serious injury is sustained due to the negligence of another person or company. With offices in Dallas, Houston, and Midland, we are ready to listen, fight for you, and help you move forward. Our attorneys at The Button Law Firm are recognized on the prestigious Texas Super Lawyers list, and we can help guide you after a traumatizing incident. We work on contingency, meaning we don’t charge you or collect any upfront fees to get started on your case. Call us at 214-699-4409 or fill out a contact form for a free consultation.

Russell Button
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Dallas, Houston, and Midland Texas trial and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.