Texas Choice of Law provisions or what law applies to a case?

07 Aug 2020
For the most part, if you file a case in Texas, Texas law will apply. But this is not always the case. A Court can have jurisdiction to try a case in Texas but still have to apply the law of another state or even another Country. How does that happen and what is the standard in Texas to make that determination?

Many times a case is filed in Texas where all or some of the facts that gave rise to the case happened in another State or Country. Just because a case is filed in Texas does not necessarily mean that the Texas Court should apply Texas law. The analysis of what law should apply to a case is known as "Choice of Law" provisions. Texas follows Sec 146 of the Second Restatement of Tort which holds that in “In an action for a personal injury, the local law of the state where the injury occurred determines the rights and liabilities of the parties, unless, with respect to the particular issue, some other state has a more significant relationship under the principles stated in § 6 to the occurrence and the parties, in which event the local law of the other state will be applied.” Perkins v. Dynasty Group, No. 08-01-00493-CV, at *1 (Tex. App. Nov. 25, 2003)

Likewise Texas follows Sec. 145 comment (e) of the Second Restatement of Torts. “Comment (e) of Section 145 provides that in personal injuries cases, the place where the injury occurred plays an important role in the selection of the state of the applicable law.” Perkins v. Dynasty Group, No. 08-01-00493-CV, at *1 (Tex. App. Nov. 25, 2003). See also Cates ex rel. Cates v. Creamer, 2001 WL 1196058 (N.D. Tex. August 7, 2001) (holding that the conduct causing the injury was the act of the driver falling asleep at the wheel in Texas, not the rental of the vehicle in Florida). See also Vizcarra v. Roldan, 925 S.W.2d 89 (Tex. App. 1996) holding that in an accident in Mexico that was filed in Texas is governed by Mexican law because Texas has no interest in regulating the driving laws of another jurisdiction and Sec 146 of the Second Restatement of Torts dictates that Mexican law dealing with automobile accidents in Mexico (not involving product liability) should apply Mexican, not Texas law.

Remember that even if Texas has jursidiction a case can be dismissed on the grounds of forum non conveniens if the foreign country has jurisdiction and the law of that country or state would apply. The application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens is different depending if the case is in Federal Court or State Court and can be complicated based on if the case is more convenient in a foreign country as opposed to another state.


Roger Davie P.C. El Paso's Board Certified Personal / Work Injury, Wrongful Termination, Workers' Compensation and Employment Lawyer. Free Consultation.