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What is meant by comparative negligence

Car Accident Lawyer | Attorney Javier Marcos | 713.999.4444

The State of Texas uses a modified Comparative Negligence or Comparative Fault principle to determine how much a person can receive in an accident claim if more than one person is at fault.  This article will explain the details of fault as it pertains to accident claims and what happens in Texas when it is not clear if one party was completely at fault or if multiple parties shared the fault of the accident.

What is fault when it comes to accidents and personal injury claims?

Fault, in the context of accidents and personal injury claims, refers to the legal responsibility for causing the accident and resulting injuries. Determining fault is crucial in many legal systems, as it helps establish who is liable for compensating the injured party for their damages.

Determining fault: Proving fault can be complex and often involves gathering evidence such as:

  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Photos and videos of the accident scene
  • Medical records
  • Accident reconstruction reports
  • Expert testimony

Impact on claims: Determining fault plays a significant role in personal injury claims, as it directly affects who is responsible for paying damages and the amount of compensation the injured party may receive.

It’s important to note that the nuances of fault can vary depending on the specific type of accident, the jurisdiction where it occurred, and the applicable laws. Consulting with a qualified legal professional can help you understand the specific implications of fault in your situation and guide you through the process of pursuing a personal injury claim.

Comparative Negligence Explained

Comparative negligence is a legal principle that applies in tort law, specifically in personal injury cases where the injured party (plaintiff) may bear some responsibility for the accident. It allows for a more nuanced approach to assigning blame than the traditional “contributory negligence” rule, resulting in fairer compensation for victims.

Here’s how it works:

The Basics:

  • Multiple Parties, Shared Fault: Instead of placing all blame on one party, comparative negligence acknowledges that in many accidents, both the plaintiff and the defendant (the party responsible for the injury) contribute to the occurrence.
  • Degrees of Fault: A jury or judge will determine the percentage of fault attributable to each party, based on their actions and how they directly contributed to the accident.
  • Damages Adjust Based on Fault: The plaintiff’s recovery of damages is then adjusted proportionally to their percentage of fault. For example, if the plaintiff is found 20% at fault, their damages award is reduced by 20%.

Types of Comparative Negligence:

There are two main types of comparative negligence rules:

  1. Pure Comparative Negligence: Under this rule, even if the plaintiff is 99% at fault, they can still recover 1% of their damages from the defendant. This is followed by around a third of states.
  2. Modified Comparative Negligence: This rule bars the plaintiff from recovering any damages if they are found to be above a certain percentage at fault. The threshold varies by state, typically ranging from 50% to 51%.

Benefits of Comparative Negligence:

  • Fairer Compensation: It recognizes that accidents are rarely caused by one party alone and allows victims to still receive some compensation even if they contributed slightly.
  • Encourages Safety: By holding both parties accountable for their actions, it incentivizes safer behavior as everyone’s conduct is weighed.
  • Reduces Litigation: Knowing their claim could be barred or significantly reduced encourages parties to negotiate settlements earlier.

Texas is a 51% rule state

This means that you may be able to recover compensation for injuries and damages sustained in an accident as long as you are not 51% or over in terms of fault for the accident.  If it has been determined that you are 51% or more responsible for the accident, you cannot get any compensation.

Many people give up on getting compensation for an accident because they think they have all the fault in an accident but a professional and experienced attorney can look at your case and see if there is a chance that others had contributing factors that resulted in an accident.  In cases where fault may be disputed, a strong legal team like Attorney Javier Marcos will use their knowledge and experience to represent your case.

How compensation works in a comparative negligence or fault case

As an example, let’s say that you were involved in a car accident and between medical bills and car repair bills, you had $50,000 in damages.  In Texas, if it is determined that you were 25% at fault in the accident due to distracted driving or other factor, then your compensation would be reduced by 25% and you would receive $37,500.  The other person (assuming this is a two person accident) would not get compensated at all since it would be over 51% of fault.

In any case, it is always a good idea to get the advice of a personal injury attorney if you have been hurt in an accident.  They are much more experienced in these matters and can help you determine an informed course of action.  Also, if you are involved in an accident, answer questions truthfully but do not elaborate and if you feel uncomfortable, let them know you would like to seek the advice of an attorney prior to answering more questions.

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