Understanding Comparative Negligence in Texas Car Accidents

If you’re involved in a car accident in Texas, you may hear the term “comparative negligence” used in discussions of liability and compensation. This concept is pivotal in determining how damages are awarded in Texas car accidents and can significantly affect the settlement or judgment you may receive.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that allocates fault among the parties involved in an accident. Instead of a simple designation of fault to one party, comparative negligence recognizes that multiple parties can be partially at fault for an accident. In the eyes of the law, the damages are then divided according to each party’s percentage of fault.

Texas’ Approach to Comparative Negligence

Modified Comparative Fault Rule

Texas adheres to a “modified comparative fault” rule, known as proportionate responsibility, under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 33.001. According to this rule, the amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault in the accident.

The 51% Bar Rule

The Austin injury lawyers at FVF Law note that you can recover damages only if your level of fault does not exceed 50%. This is commonly referred to as the 51% bar rule. If you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you are barred from recovering any compensation from the other parties involved.

How Comparative Negligence Works in Texas Car Accidents

Investigating Fault

After an accident, each driver’s actions leading up to the event will be scrutinized. Insurance adjusters, attorneys, and possibly a court will examine factors such as speeding, failure to yield, distraction, and intoxication to determine each party’s share of the negligence.

Determining Percentages

Once fault is established, percentages are assigned to each party. For example, Driver A might be found 70% at fault for running a red light, while Driver B, who was speeding, might be 30% at fault. If Driver B suffered $10,000 in damages, they could only recover 70% ($7,000), reflecting Driver A’s share of the fault.

Impact on Recovery

The comparative negligence system directly impacts your potential recovery. In the above example, if Driver B’s damages were $10,000 and they were found to be 30% at fault, they would subtract their percentage of fault from the total recovery, resulting in $7,000. Conversely, if Driver B were found to be 51% or more at fault, they would not recover any damages.

Tips for Dealing with Comparative Negligence

1. Gather Evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident. This includes photos, videos, and witness statements.

2. Be Cautious with Statements: Be prudent in what you say to other drivers, insurance adjusters, and law enforcement, as your statements could impact the determination of your percentage of fault.

3. Seek Legal Advice: Speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process and help build a strong case for the lowest possible fault on your part.

4. Avoid Delays: Texas has a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims, so timely action is crucial.

5. Understand Insurance Policies: Familiarize yourself with the details of your insurance policy and the coverage amounts, as they play a role in your compensation.

The Importance of Education

It is important for any driver in Texas to understand how comparative negligence works since any party involved in a vehicular accident can potentially be found at fault. Knowing the intricacies of the 51% bar rule and how damages are calculated can help you navigate the aftermath of an accident more effectively. If you’re unsure of your position or rights after an accident, securing legal representation is often the best course of action.

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