In many car accident cases, it is obvious that one party was at fault while the other was blameless. In many other cases, the issues of fault and causation are not clear at all. In some cases, multiple parties contributed to the accident.
If a driver was partly at fault for the accident in which they were injured, can they recover compensation from the other party?
In Texas, the answer is yes, but there are some important limitations.
In the past, personal injury law provided no way for an injured person to recover compensation if they were even partly at fault for the accident in which they were injured. This situation led to a lot of unfair results, and over the years, lawmakers in various states came up with the concept of comparative negligence, which is also sometimes known as proportionate responsibility.
In Texas, comparative negligence law asks courts to determine the percentage of fault held by each party to an accident. In a two-vehicle accident, an injured party can recover compensation from the other party so long as their share of the fault is no more than 50%. However, the injured party’s recovery is reduced proportionate to their share of the fault.
How it works
Let’s say there’s an accident in which Albert’s Ford collides with Zachary’s Cadillac. Zachary is badly injured and files a lawsuit against Albert, seeking compensation for $100,000 in hospital bills, lost wages and other damages.
The case goes to trial and the court examines the evidence. It determines that Zachary was partly at fault for the accident because he was speeding at the time of the collision. The court divides the fault and decides Zachary was 25% at fault and Albert was 75% at fault.
Because Zachary’s share of the fault is less than 50%, he can recover from Albert. However, Zachary’s recovery must be reduced proportionate to his share of fault. This means his recovery is reduced by 25%, and he can recovery $75,000 instead of $100,000.
The above is a simplified example. Determining fault in real life is usually quite complex. Cases involving more than two vehicles are notoriously difficult to resolve. Still, comparative fault law can provide a way for many injured people and their families to recover compensation they badly need after an injury.