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When a person files a claim, it may be difficult to determine who is responsible for the damages resulting from that accident. Even when a claim is successful, the claimant might be found partially liable for their own injuries, which is known as “contributory negligence.”
If the Court determines that you were partly at fault, it will deduct a proportion of the amount the Defendant is ordered to pay based on what the court thinks is fair. In some circumstances, this can represent a substantial percentage of compensation.
If you have doubts about your case, it is critical that you consult a lawyer. If you want to learn more about contributory negligence in your situation, call Texas Personal Injury Lawyers at (888) 997-2148 for a free consultation.
How Does Texas Personal Injury Law Deal With Contributory Negligence?
If a distracted driver collides with your car while you’re stopped at a red light, the causes of the accident may appear obvious at first.
Sometimes, a single action causes a car crash. However, many wrecks are more complicated and involve multiple at-fault parties. You may even have made a minor mistake that contributed to the “accident.”
It’s difficult to determine who is financially accountable for your vehicle accident when numerous individuals or organizations (like businesses) contribute to it. Texas Personal Injury Lawyers explains Texas’ approach to contributory negligence and how you can fight back against victim-blaming in this post.
Texas Is A Modified Comparative Negligence State
How Texas handles contributory negligence—The answer is that it does not. In Texas, comparative negligence is not a lawful option. Instead, modified comparative responsibility is utilized.
While the terms “contributory negligence” and “comparative negligence” may appear to be identical or at least interchangeable, they have distinct legal meanings, which can influence whether you are eligible for any compensation following a collision in which several partially responsible parties are involved.
Let’s have a closer look at what all these terms really imply.
What Is Negligence?
In Texas, as in other states, most vehicle accidents are caused by negligence. While the average person may think of “negligence” or “gross negligence” as being careless or sloppy, the legal definition is more precise. In Texas, someone is considered “at fault” or “negligent” if they:
- Owed a duty of care, such as the requirement to abide by Texas’ traffic rules and be aware of potential hazards.
- Violated this duty of care and caused your injuries
- You suffered damages, such as lost income, pain and suffering, and medical bills
If you can’t demonstrate any of these factors, your negligence claim will be denied.
For example, suppose a drunk driver runs a stop sign and you avoid the accident by making a quick lane change. You and your car are unharmed, but while the drunk driver violated his or her duty of care, you do not have a negligence claim because you did not experience injuries or losses.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
The stringent standard of full contributory negligence is quite narrow. Anyone who contributes to an accident—even in a minor way—under this criterion is entirely excluded from receiving compensation. As a result, even if you’re found responsible for only 5% or 10% of the liability, you won’t be compensated.
Fortunately, most states (including Texas) agree that this is an unreasonable and unworkable standard, so it isn’t employed in this case.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
In cases of comparative negligence, injured people may receive a portion of their medical expenses, missed income, and other losses even if part of their own fault was involved. The amount you are able to obtain will be determined by the percentage of responsibility you agree to share. If you are found to be 10% at fault for an accident, for example, and claim $100,000 in damages, you may only receive $90,000 in compensation.
Texas Negligence Laws Set A 51% Bar For Comparative Negligence
Although Texas is a comparative fault state, our rules add another layer of intricacy to the equation. We employ a modified comparative fault rule that restricts an at-fault driver’s capacity to recoup losses. The 51 percent bar is a regulation that prevents you from receiving recompense if you were more than 51 percent responsible for the failure. In other words, if you are more than 50% to blame, you lose and receive nothing.
It may appear to plaintiffs that the 51 percent bar is unfavorable, but at least it eliminates counter-lawsuits by the at-fault party, who might otherwise claim that driving 5 mph over the speed limit makes you liable for a part of their damages.
To better comprehend these distinctions, let’s look at a specific case.
Simple Examples Of How Contributory And Comparative Negligence Can Affect Compensation
Example 1: A Drunk Driver And A Defective Product Contribute To Your Wreck
Assume you’re driving down the street and approaching an intersection. You have the right-of-way, and you drive into the junction at 5 mph above the speed limit. A drunk driver races through a stop sign at 20 mph above the speed limit, causing severe injuries as your seatbelt fails during impact.
In this example, the negligent motorist is to blame for the majority of the wrongdoing. However, your speeding, as well as that faulty seatbelt, may have played a role. Let’s assume that a court determines fault in the following manner:
- The other driver is 60% responsible due to reckless behavior
- Your car’s manufacturer is 35% responsible due to the defective seatbelt
- You are 5% responsible for speeding
Your right to compensation is determined by the statute of the state in which you live.
- You may not recover anything if you were partly at fault, which is why contributory negligence does not apply.
- The amount of compensation you’re able to get will be decreased by your percentage of fault under comparative negligence (modification or otherwise). In this instance, if you had $200,000 worth of damage, you could receive $190,000 in compensation (95% of $200,000).
Example 2: Both You And The Other Driver Broke The Rules Of The Road
Assume you have the identical problem as before, but without the seatbelt malfunction. In this scenario, only the two drivers are to blame. Let’s suppose that because of his/her intoxication, the court rules that the drunk driver is 90% responsible, whereas you are 10% at fault.
You are injured, as well as the other driver. Each of you suffers for $100,000.
- Neither of you may recover anything under contributory negligence, because you’re both at least partially responsible.
- The drunk driver is liable for $90,000 of your damages ($100,000 – 10%) if you engage in comparative negligence, but you are responsible for $10,000 of their losses (990.00 minus 90%).
- Under Texas’ modified comparative negligence law, you can get up to $90,000 in compensation because the drunk driver is more than 50% responsible, he or she will not be able to recoup anything from you owing to his or her being more than 50% liable.
You May Use Compelling Evidence To Refute Victim-Blaming
In order to reduce compensation payouts, insurance companies frequently unjustly blame the victim for causing an accident. There may be a mistake in the police report that results in victim-blaming. In other words, there are certain situations where you’re caught in a “he said, she said” dispute with the negligent driver. In either case, you’ll need compelling evidence and the assistance of a skilled lawyer to clarify the facts of your situation.
At Texas Personal Injury Lawyers, we employ cutting-edge technology and tactics to advocate for our clients. We thoroughly study the facts surrounding our clients’ personal injury allegations, including police reports, witness interviews, vehicle data and surveillance video preservation, and expert consultation.
For example, commercial vehicles, such as big trucks and buses, frequently employ sophisticated technologies that monitor the driver’s every move. These sensors may include devices that recognize when a driver applies the brakes or goes out of their lane, as well as the driver’s speed and even in-car behaviors. Records from these systems may help you identify the actual reasons behind your accident and hold the appropriate parties responsible.
However, if you don’t take action promptly, you may lose some of this evidence, making it far more difficult to establish negligence. Companies do not store their security camera footage, vehicle black box data, or cell phone data indefinitely. That’s why, as soon as our attorneys discover these vital records, they send letters requiring them to be kept for our client’s claims.
Texas Personal Injury Lawyers: Standing Up For Texas Accident Victims
We aggressively fight for our clients and do what is fair at Texas Personal Injury Lawyers. We understand that insurance companies use comparative fault laws in Texas to minimize or eliminate victims’ compensation, so we fight back with the facts.
Contact our law firm immediately if you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident. You may contact us at (888) 997-2148 to set up your free consultation and case evaluation.