If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are seeking compensation for your injuries from the other driver or drivers, you have to prove that they were at fault for the accident. If you can’t prove that their negligence or recklessness caused the accident which led to your injuries, you won’t stand much of a chance of recovering any damages in a lawsuit.
Sometimes, though, there’s more than enough blame to go around for an auto accident. Sometimes, the person seeking compensation for their injuries, may be partially at fault.
If you’re partially at fault for your Texas car accident, can you still seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit?
You can, so long as you are found to be less than 51% responsible for the accident.
Texas, like the majority of other states, uses a system of “comparative fault” in determining how responsibility and damages will be allocated in a lawsuit when multiple parties are found to be at fault.
Under a comparative fault system, or what Texas law refers to as “proportionate responsibility,” a “liable defendant is liable to a claimant only for the percentage of the damages found by the trier of fact equal to that defendant’s percentage of responsibility with respect to the personal injury, property damage, death, or other harm for which the damages are allowed.” Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 33.013.
Let’s say an injured driver who sues another driver for compensation is found to have suffered $100,000 in damages, but the judge or jury finds that the defendant driver was only 60% at fault for the accident or injuries, while the plaintiff was found to be 40% at fault.
The plaintiff driver would only be able to recover $60,000 in damages from the defendant because, under Texas law, “the court shall reduce the amount of damages to be recovered by the claimant with respect to a cause of action by a percentage equal to the claimant’s percentage of responsibility.” Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 33.012.
If You Are More Than 50% Responsible, You May Be Out of Luck
This “proportionate responsibility” framework in Texas has one major limitation, however. An injured driver, or anyone suing for a personal injury in Texas, “may not recover damages if his percentage of responsibility is greater than 50 percent.” Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 33.001.
This means that if you are found to have been 51% or more to blame for the accident, you will not be able to recover a dime. Texas is one of 22 states that apply this 51% bar on recovering damages. Some states are even harsher, though. Alabama, for example, bars any recovery for a plaintiff who was even the slightest bit at fault.
Who was at fault for an accident and how fault will ultimately be apportioned between multiple parties depends on a number of factors. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, even if you think you may have been partially at fault, please give Dallas personal injury lawyer Robert Greening a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to discuss your situation and learn about your options.