What is comparative negligence, and how does it affect my Texas car accident case?

Every day, we interact with those around us. Even if passively, when we go out in public, we have the power and influence to change the lives of others. When we wait in line at the grocery store, take a run through the park, or have dinner at a restaurant, even our simple actions can affect those around us. This is perhaps no more true than when we get behind the wheel of a car and take to the road. Drivers have a special responsibility to take care and act reliably on the road. When a driver fails to live up to that responsibility, other drivers and passengers can be seriously hurt or even killed. The law allows those victims to pursue a personal injury case to hold careless and negligent drivers accountable for their actions. Every state, however, takes a different approach to what it deems appropriate in an accident case. In Texas, state laws follow the convention of comparative negligence. This method for determining fault is key to understanding what a personal injury claim can mean for you.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Every accident happens for a reason. Sometimes, an accident is just an accident, and no amount of care could have prevented it. Many other times, however, a driver acted in a careless manner and caused the crash. A personal injury case seeks to show that a driver was at fault and hold that person accountable through compensation to the injured party. To be successful, a personal injury case must show that a person acted in a negligent manner to Black and White Negligence Stampcause the crash. In general, negligence is regarded as failure to take reasonable care in action. Comparative negligence understands that every situation is unique, and one person may not be entirely to blame for an accident.

Under comparative negligence rules, the accident is assessed by the courts or an insurance company, and a degree of blame is assigned to each party. If a driver failed to yield at an intersection and crashed into a second driver, the first driver would be at fault. However, if the second driver was traveling 10 mph over the speed limit at the time, that driver would share some portion of the blame. For example, the driver who failed to yield may be 85 percent responsible, while the speeding driver would be 15 percent responsible.

Determining Compensation Under Comparative Negligence Rules

The determination of fault is important to compensation in a car accident case. Texas follows the system of modified comparative negligence, which means the at-fault driver does not have to take responsibility for the victim’s share of the blame. This is referred to as proportionate responsibility, and any compensation awarded to the victim is reduced by his percentage of fault. Let’s say the victim in the previous example was awarded $100,000. That amount would be reduced by his portion of the fault (15 percent), and he would receive $85,000.

Can I Still Pursue a Claim If I am Partly to Blame for the Accident?

This system protects both the victim and the at-fault driver from having to bear an unnecessary burden. Ideally, each party takes responsibility for only the role he played in the accident. So, a victim is allowed to pursue a legal claim even if they are partially at fault. This can change, however, depending on one’s level of fault. In Texas, if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault, you may not pursue a claim against the other driver.

An Experienced Texas Accident Attorney Can Help Protect Your Interests

As a result, the determination of fault in a modified comparative negligence case can be critical. It can dictate how much compensation a victim can receive or even if a victim can obtain compensation at all. For the injured parties and their families, that compensation can be vital in securing proper medical care and ensuring the financial stability of the family. At Kennedy Hodges, LLP, we understand how important these cases can be. Our experienced legal team can help ensure the best outcome for a personal injury case by investigating the accident, securing expert witnesses, filing appropriate court paperwork, negotiating with insurance companies, or even taking the case to trial.

Often, victims are left to face mounting bills, missed work, and painful recoveries. When you or someone you love are injured in a car accident, you should have the time and energy to focus on what really matters—recovering both physically and emotionally. Call the knowledgeable lawyers at Kennedy Hodges, LLP, today to at 855-947-0707 learn more about how we can help ease your burden and help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

 

David W. Hodges
David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.