Understanding Comparative Negligence in Texas Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases involving comparative negligence can be complex. Understanding how comparative negligence works in Texas is crucial for obtaining fair compensation.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence refers to laws that allow for the reduction of damages based on the percentage of fault attributable to the plaintiff in a personal injury case.
Under comparative negligence, if both the plaintiff and defendant are partially at fault for the accident and injuries, the plaintiff’s compensation is reduced in proportion to their share of fault. The more negligent the plaintiff is determined to be, the less they can recover in damages.
Comparative negligence aims to account for the realities of most accidents—they are often caused by multiple parties whose negligent actions combine to produce the harm. Comparative negligence laws intend to align compensation with actual fault by factoring in the plaintiff’s role.
How Comparative Negligence Works In Texas
Texas follows a modified comparative negligence system. This means plaintiffs whose share of fault is equal to or less than that of all defendants can still recover damages, but the amount will be reduced based on their percentage of fault.
However, if the plaintiff is found more than 50% at fault for the accident, they are completely barred from recovering any compensation under Texas’ 51% bar rule. The plaintiff must be less negligent than the combined negligence of all defendants to obtain any damages.
For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 25% negligent and the defendant 75% negligent, the plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by 25%. But if the plaintiff is found 60% negligent, they recover nothing due to the 51% rule.
Do You Still Have Questions About Comparative Negligence In Texas?
Determining Fault in Comparative Negligence Cases
Establishing the fault percentages is a key process in comparative negligence cases. The court or jury must weigh the evidence objectively to reach fair percentages.
Factors considered include:
- The nature of the negligent acts—who had the last clear chance to avoid the accident? Whose actions set the events in motion?
- The extent of the causal relationship between the conduct and the injury.
- The capacities of the parties to recognize and avoid the risks.
- Whether a party violated a statute, ordinance, or regulation.
Thorough investigation and experience litigating personal injury cases are crucial to presenting convincing evidence regarding appropriate fault allocation. Defendants often push to exaggerate the plaintiff’s fault to defeat claims under the 51% rule.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Damages
In Texas personal injury cases involving comparative negligence, the plaintiff’s compensation is calculated in three steps:
- Full compensation: The total amount of damages sustained by the plaintiff is determined as if they held no fault.
- Reduction: The plaintiff’s share of negligence, expressed as a percentage, is applied to reduce the total damages.
- Award: The plaintiff receives the remaining amount after deducting their percentage of fault.
- A plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in total damages.
- The plaintiff was found 25% at fault for the accident. (25% of $100,000 is $25,000)
- So the plaintiff would receive $100,000 – $25,000 = $75,000
It is vital to maximize the total damages award before any reductions. This provides the largest base from which the plaintiff’s percentage is deducted. Arguments establishing liability and proving extensive harm are key.
Strategies for Improving Your Recovery in Comparative Negligence Cases
While comparative negligence can reduce compensation, several strategies exist to help plaintiffs maximize recovery:
- Retain An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney – Legal knowledge and litigation skills are invaluable for building a strong case and negotiating reasonable settlements.
- Conduct A Thorough Investigation – Gathering complete evidence and witness testimony establishes a compelling account of what happened.
- Highlight The Defendant’s Duties – Demonstrating the defendant’s obligations and failures to take reasonable care strengthens arguments they bear the majority of fault.
- Document Injuries Completely – Extensive medical records and testimony prove the full extent of damages for calculating total compensation
Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer About Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence can significantly impact damage awards in Texas personal injury cases. But with a firm grasp of how it works and solid legal strategies, our personal injury law firm can work to maximize your recovery.
Those who have suffered harm due to another party’s negligence should consult with a personal injury attorney to protect their rights. The experienced legal team at Allbee Law Firm helps injury victims navigate comparative negligence laws and build their strongest case. Contact us today at (972) 848-4848 for a free case review.
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