At Fault in an Auto Accident: Can I Sue and Recover Damages in Texas?May 29, 2017
Whether you are able to recover damages in Texas for a car wreck will depend on the degree to which you were at fault for the car crash (when compared to the other involved parties). This is because Texas has comparative negligence laws (as opposed to contributory negligence laws).
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Comparative Negligence versus Contributory Negligence
Texas follows the modified comparative fault 51 percent Bar Rule for determinations related to fault and damages in car crashes (and other accidents).
According to this rule, a party to an accident CAN recover damages as long as (s)he is 50 percent or less at fault for the accident (i.e., as long as (s)he is not 51 percent or more at fault). Also referred to as proportionate responsibility, comparative fault in Texas allows for the following:
- Each party involved in the accident can be held responsible for the factors that were his or her fault.
- A fault percentage will be assigned to each party, based on the details and evidence related to the accident.
- The damages awarded to the victim will be reduced by his or her fault percentage.
In contrast, contributory negligence holds that an accident victim (i.e., the plaintiff) can only recover damages if (s)he did not contribute to the accident at all. This means that a plaintiff will NOT be able to recover damages if (s)he was even slightly or partially at fault for an accident.
Texas Comparative Negligence Law: An Example
The following example clarifies how the Texas comparative negligence law typically works in practice:
- A distracted driver runs a red light and hits a pedestrian who was jaywalking while drunk.
- A jury determines that the driver is 55 percent responsible for the accident while the pedestrian is 45 percent at fault.
- The pedestrian/plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in damages.
- Given that the plaintiff’s fault was 45 percent, the damages of $100,000 will be reduced by that percentage (i.e., by $45,000). So, the plaintiff in this case would end up getting $55,000 in damages.
Comparative Fault in Texas Car Accidents: The Bottom Line
When it comes to comparative negligence for car wrecks in Texas, the bottom line is that:
- You CAN be eligible for damages for auto accidents even if you may have been partially at fault for causing a crash.
- Fault determinations can be complicated, especially when accidents involve three or more parties.
- The proper determination of fault is critical to victims’ financial recovery.
- An attorney can be key to making proper fault determinations and to preserving the value of victims’ claims after crashes.
Find Out More about Your Recovery Options after a Crash: Contact a Houston Car Accident Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an auto wreck, call a Houston car accident lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm at (713) 352-7975 to find out more about your options for financial recovery. You can also Contact Us.
We offer free consultations and are ready to provide you with helpful legal advice regarding your potential claim.
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