What is Comparative Negligence, and How Does it Work in Texas?

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What is Comparative Negligence, and How Does it Work in Texas? - Shamieh Law

Determining Fault Will Help Decide if You Receive Compensation or Not

Texas is considered a modified comparative fault state, meaning the victim of an accident must prove fault to receive compensation for their injuries. There are only five states in the nation that do not follow comparative negligence rules. They are Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. In these states, car accident victims cannot recover any damages if they had a role in the accident. The remainder of states have adopted some comparative negligence laws, allowing drivers to collect some degree of damages. Texas has some weird driving laws, no doubt, but is this one of them, or is this the norm?

Given Texas’ comparative negligence laws, the only way you will have the opportunity to recover damages is if you were 49 percent less at-fault as the other driver(s). This can be confusing, we know. To learn more about Texas state laws or to discuss your case with an attorney, contact Shamieh Law today and schedule a free consultation.

The 51 Percent Rule

There are two different types of comparative negligence: pure comparative and modified comparative. Texas is among the 33 states who have modified comparative negligence laws that have a specific at-fault threshold that governs the amount of compensation that can be recovered. In Texas, the threshold percentage is 51 percent. What this means is that if the driver is found to be 50 percent or less to blame for the accident, he or she can seek compensation. But if they are more than 50 percent at fault, recovering damages is out of the question.

Factors in Determining Fault 

Determining fault is one of the biggest questions following any car accident. As we’ve discussed, fault directly affects how much monetary compensation you receive. You may be wondering how the legal system even came up with these percentages to begin with. These numbers are based on numerous factors, including the actions each driver took leading to, during, and after the accident. Some of the elements used in determining fault in a car accident include:

  • Speed
  • Disobey traffic signals
  • Wrong-way driving
  • Driving too fast in poor weather conditions
  • Distracted driving
  • Talking on the phone while driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Failing to signal properly
  • Making unsafe turns
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs

Determining fault in an accident can be extremely complicated. Numerous things will need to happen, starting with a thorough investigation where investigators analyze every piece of evidence. When serious injuries are suffered as a result of the accident, it is even more imperative that the case is handled with great detail and attention. In Texas, the evidence will need to show that you (the victim) are not more than 50 percent responsible for the accident that occurred. If you aren’t sure where to start or how to prove you were not to blame, contact Shamieh Law, and schedule an appointment.

Evidence Matters 

The above are common driving behaviors that contribute to accidents here in Texas. In the event the case goes to court, a jury will likely determine fault based on what the evidence suggests. Evidence may vary, but common examples include:

  • Your vehicle’s dashcam
  • The police report on your accident
  • Any eyewitness testimony
  • Cell phone records that may show texting, phone calls, social media activity, or any other action that may have contributed to the crash
  • Professional accident reconstruction
  • Pictures from the scene of the accident
  • Information on weather and what road conditions were like at the time of the accident
  • Your personal account of the accident

Proving Negligence 

There are five elements that victims will need to consider when it comes to proving negligence and, in turn, fault:

  • Duty – The at-fault driver had a duty of care (for example, paying attention to the road and other drivers).
  • Breach of duty – When the driver did something (or failed to do something) that was considered his or her duty, they breached this duty. An example of this would be if the driver is reading text messages and rear-ends another driver because they weren’t paying attention.
  • The injury was caused by this breach of duty – One of the most complicated parts of these cases is showing the correlation between the breach of duty and injury. You must be able to show that your injuries happened as a direct result of the driver’s negligence to have any chance of recovering damages in Texas.
  • Proximate cause – Another important component is proving that the texting driver (for example) knew that these actions were dangerous and could potentially cause harm to another driver.
  • Damages – The victim must be able to show they suffered actual injuries (whether physical or psychological) that require compensation.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Given the comparative negligence laws in Texas, there’s a good chance you will benefit from hiring an attorney following a car accident. The percentage rules can be complicated and difficult to understand, especially if you have no prior experience with these types of cases. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Texas, contact Shamieh Law today and schedule a free consultation. We understand how stressful an accident of any degree can be and will do everything we can to protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

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