In personal injury cases, you may have three, four, or five parties that contributed to a single accident, injury, or death. In these cases, it is important that the court has a way to allocate fault to each party. This is where comparative negligence, also called comparative fault, comes in.
Comparative fault is a concept by which multiple parties are assigned a percentage of fault for an accident or instance of personal injury. Courts then use that percentage when determining whether damages can be awarded and the amount each party is responsible for.
Texas uses a modified comparative negligence standard when allocating fault and awarding damages. This standard for comparative negligence in Texas is often referred to as “proportionate responsibility.” Under Texas’ comparative fault standard, the amount of damages a party is responsible for is proportionate to the percentage of fault they are determined to carry for an accident, injury, or death.
A common case type in which we see comparative negligence applied is trucking accidents.
Let’s say a plaintiff is involved in an accident with a large truck and it is determined the truck driver was pressured to travel faster than the posted speed limit by his employer. In Texas, that plaintiff would file a lawsuit against the truck driver responsible who was traveling at unsafe speed as well as the trucking company that urged the driver to disobey traffic laws.
The case progresses, and the court determines the truck driver is 60% at fault for the crash and their employer is determined to be 40% at fault for the crash. The damages would be split 60/40 between the truck driver and the trucking company that employs them. Therefore, if you were awarded $100,000, the truck driver would be responsible for paying $60,000 and the trucking company would be responsible for $40,000.
One of the benefits of Texas’ comparative fault standard is that you are still able to recover damages even if you are deemed partially at fault for your accident. Again, it will come down to proportionate responsibility.
For this example, consider a simple car accident. You are driving when another car pulls out in front of you. You are unable to avoid them and crash into the vehicle. An investigation reveals that the other driver was texting as they pulled into traffic. It also determines you were traveling slightly over the speed limit.
Because you were traveling over the speed limit, the court determines you are 20% at fault for the crash and that the other driver is 80% responsible. If you were awarded $10,000 in damages, you would only be able to recover 80% of that amount or $8,000.
Additionally, Texas follows the 51% bar rule. This means that you may not collect damages for injuries if you are determined to be 51% or more at fault for your injuries. This is much more lenient than states that follow a pure contributory negligence standard in which a plaintiff can be barred from recovering damages if they are even 1% at fault for their crash.
If you have been involved in a crash and suspect multiple parties may be responsible for your injuries, or if you suspect you may be partially at fault for your accident, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney.
Comparative negligence is a complex matter, and the more parties involved the more complicated the case becomes. Further, you will need to prove negligence occurred in each instance which is a whole other process.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you identify all potentially liable parties, even those existing behind the scenes. This will put you in the best position to recover full compensation for your damages and will increase the likelihood of securing positive results in your case.
If you have been involved in a car accident, truck accident, workplace accident, or any other instance in which you or a loved one suffered injury or damages due to someone else’s negligence, call the personal injury attorneys at Thomas J. Henry Law.
We handle all manner of personal injury cases and have been securing favorable results for your clients for more than 25 years. Our law firm has built a reputation for securing record-breaking verdicts and settlements and has the experience and resources to handle your claim aggressively and effectively.
Our attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends, and have offices throughout Texas for your convenience. If you are unable to travel to one of our offices, we can send an attorney directly to you.