Determining who is at fault after a car accident is rarely easy. And the process can get even more complicated when more than one person is at fault.
In situations where both drivers are at fault, Texas uses a comparative negligence system (or modified comparative fault system) to determine what percentage each person is liable for the accident. Brylak Law can help you understand legal concepts that might be used to assess your car accident claim. Contact us today to learn more.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Texas uses the legal doctrine of comparative negligence to determine what percentage of damages each party should pay. The more a party is at fault, the more they have to pay in damages. The less a party is at fault, the more they can recover in compensation.
In order to assign a percentage of fault, the court will determine to what extent each party was negligent. For example, if a driver was 80% responsible for a car accident, then they would have to pay 80% of the total damages of the other driver. That means if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in a judgment, the other driver would only have to pay 80%, or $80,000.
What Is Modified Comparative Fault?
The modified comparative fault system in Texas is often called the “51% Rule.” That means that if you are 51% or more at fault in a personal injury incident, then you cannot receive any award of monetary damages.
If you are between 0% and 50% at fault, then you can still recover damages from the other person who is more at fault. However, you cannot recover damages if they are less at fault than you.
When it comes to determining those percentages, the legal system will look at the actions of each driver to see how each contributed to the accident, and to what extent.
Determining Negligence and Fault in a Personal Injury Case
In a car accident case, determining fault is often a matter of establishing who was negligent. Negligence occurs when someone fails to act in a reasonable manner. To prove negligence, you must be able to show that:
- A person has a duty to act in a certain way; and
- That person fails to uphold that duty and acts unreasonably;
In addition, when someone is harmed as a result of those actions and damages occur, they can recover compensation for that negligence.
For example, if a person who is driving has a duty to obey all laws. If they are speeding, then they fail to uphold that duty and are acting unreasonably. This would amount to negligence.
Once you prove that a person has been negligent, it is often easier to show they were at fault in a situation. Their negligence is evidence of where fault should be placed. It’s important to place fault because the person who is at fault is often responsible for paying compensation to those who are harmed.
Common Factors Examples of Negligence in Car Accident Cases
There are many negligent actions that can lead to a determination of fault, including:
- Drunk driving
- Texting while driving
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Making an unsafe turn
- Illegal lane changes
- Failure to signal
- Driving too fast on dangerous roads
Proving Fault in a Personal Injury Case
Fault must be proven with evidence. You may use a police report, eyewitness testimony, expert witness testimony, accident reconstruction, cell phone records, pictures and videos from the scene, and more to prove someone was at fault. If you use this evidence, your goal should be to show that another person acted negligently, and is at fault.
Contact a San Antonio TX Car Accident Attorney to Learn More About How to Determine Fault in Texas
If you sustained injuries in a car accident in Texas, you need an experienced car accident lawyer who understands Texas’ comparative negligence laws and modified comparative fault system. Contact Brylak Law today to learn more about how we can help.