Loss of Body Part or Mental Function from Accidents

Doug Goyen, AttorneyIn personal injury cases, loss of a body part or loss of mental and intellectual function are separate elements of damages. The fact patterns that allow for the collection of these elements of damage are limited but demonstrable. If you believe your case may involve one of these elements of damage, call our Dallas accident and injury lawyer, Doug Goyen, at (972) 599 4100.

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LOSS OF BODY PART (AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T OVERLAP PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT)

In some cases, Texas courts have allowed recovery for the element of loss of a body part. To avoid appeal issues, you must be careful not to overlap the damages you are requesting, such as requesting loss of a body part but only providing evidence of how this causes “physical impairment.” If you recover for physical impairment and then for loss of a body part, the Defendant (or his insurance company) may be able to have the award overturned on appeal for giving the same money under two different names (double recovery).

Loss of Teeth: The Texas Supreme Court has recognized tooth loss as a distinct element of damage in Houston Transit Co. v. Felder, 208 S.W.2d 880 (Tex. 1948).

Loss of Hearing: The Tyler court of appeals approved a separate element of damage for hearing loss in City of Houston v. Riggins, 568 S.W.2d 188 (Tex.Civ.App.—Tyler 1978, writ ref’d n.r.e.).

Loss of Mental and Intellectual Function (Cases are listed below. – possibly only when the Plaintiff’s brain damage is so severe that he or she can no longer perceive mental anguish or pain and suffering):

A Dallas case involved catastrophic injuries so severe, including severe brain damage, that the Defendant questioned whether the Plaintiff could even feel pain or experience mental anguish – because his brain damage had left him in such a state that it was questioned whether the injured Plaintiff could even perceive pain or mental anguish. The court ruled that the loss of mental and intellectual function, which precludes such “appreciation,” is a separate element of damages in and of itself. Western Union Tel. Co. v. Tweed, 138 S.W. 1155 (Tex.Civ.App—Dallas 1911), rev’d on other grounds, 166 S.W. 696 (Tex.Civ.App—Dallas 1911). (Tex. 1914). Instead of mental suffering, loss of mental function (mind destruction) is a component of damages.

BUT, in a case where a person DID suffer brain damage, but not to the extent that they could not perceive mental anguish or pain and suffering, the courts have ruled that submitting “loss of mental and intellectual function” is improper, because that part of the damage (loss of mental and intellectual function) can be properly included in the pain and suffering and mental anguish. Johnson v. King, 821 S.W.2d 425 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1991, writ denied).

Contact our Dallas injury lawyer if you have a case involving the loss of a body part or the loss of mental and intellectual function and need assistance with your case. The Law Office of Doug Goyen will assist you in fighting the insurance company and ensuring that the insurance company cannot avoid paying what it owes. To discuss your case, call (972) 599 4100.

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