Comparative Negligence & Car Accidents in Texas
How comparative fault plays a role in car accident claims in San Antonio
One of the most important parts of any car accident case is the determination of fault: who caused the accident and your resulting injuries? Sometimes, only one person or party is to blame for a crash; in other cases, there may be more than one at-fault person. At the Law Offices of Pat Maloney, you work with a San Antonio car accident lawyer who understands how Texas’ comparative negligence laws can affect the outcome of your case.
What is Texas’ comparative negligence law?
Texas has a comparative negligence law that is formally called “Proportionate Responsibility.” The law provides that the trier of fact (normally, a jury) will determine the percentage of responsibility (stated in whole numbers) of each person involved in the accident.
The people involved are typically the two drivers. In some cases, three or more drivers may be responsible. In some cases, a third party may also be fully or partially responsible. Possible third parties include a seller of alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated or a minor, the manufacturer of defective car parts such as defective brakes, and the Texas Department of Transportation, if the road where the accident happened wasn’t properly designed or properly maintained.
The statute specifically states that “a claimant [the victim who files the lawsuit] may not recover damages if his percentage of responsibility is greater than 50 percent.” This means that if you are injured in a San Antonio car accident and you are 30% at fault, you can receive a damage award. Even if you are 50% at fault, you can be awarded damages. However, if you are 51% or more at fault, your claim for damages will be denied – you’ll receive nothing no matter how serious your injuries are.
How does your comparative negligence affect your San Antonio car accident claim?
Once it is established that you are eligible to receive damages for your injuries even though you were partially (50% or less) responsible, the question becomes – how does comparative negligence affect your San Antonio car accident claim?
The answer is, your damage award will be reduced by your percentage of negligence.
For example, if our San Antonio comparative negligence lawyer is able to show that another driver was 75% responsible for an accident and you were 25% responsible, then your total damage award is reduced by 25%.
For example, if you broke your arm, you may need surgery to repair the break and/or reset the damaged bones. You may need multiple doctor visits and have to live with a cast on your arm for several months. During this time you may not be able to work – if, for example, you need both arms to drive your car to your job. Your case is successful and a jury awards you $80,000 in damages. Because you were found 25% negligent, your total award will be reduced by 25%, or $20,000, for a final award of $60,000.
What happens when there are multiple liable parties in a San Antonio car accident?
Generally, comparative negligence only affects the recoveries of the negligent parties. If you are a passenger in a car in which the driver of your car was partially at fault and another driver was partially at fault, you are entitled to 100% of any award. The main difference from accidents where just one driver is at fault is that you generally will collect your damages based on the proportional amount of fault from each driver’s insurance company.
For example, if the driver in your car (where you were a passenger) was 60% liable, then you collect 60% of your damages from the insurance company for the driver of your car and 40% from the insurance company for the other driver.
Our San Antonio comparative negligence lawyer works aggressively to minimize the percentage of fault that is assigned to you and maximize the amount of fault assigned to the other defendants. We are skilled at negotiating settlements with insurance companies when comparative negligence is an issue. Our personal injury lawyer is also skilled at explaining to juries why the other defendant(s) bear the bulk of the blame.
We’re skilled at handling San Antonio car accident cases involving one defendant and cases involving multiple defendants. We also handle cases where you might settle with one defendant but still need to go to court to pursue your claim against another defendant.
Our team represents families when a loved one dies in a car accident – even though your loved one may have been partially negligent. We’ll explain the unique rules of evidence that apply in wrongful death actions since your loved one is not alive to tell his/her version of what happened.
Do you have a San Antonio car accident lawyer near me?
At the Law Offices of Pat Maloney, we meet victims of falls and their families at our office located at 239 E Commerce Street in the center of Downtown San Antonio, TX. Our building is one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in San Antonio. Finding a parking spot should be easy. We do make in-hospital visits and conduct video conferences and phone conversations when necessary.
We understand how to handle car accident claims that involve complex issues such as comparative negligence.
Speak with an experienced San Antonio car accident lawyer today
People aren’t perfect. It’s common for drivers to be partially responsible for an accident. Just know that in order to obtain compensation, you can’t hold more liability than the other driver. At the Law Offices of Pat Maloney, we’ve obtained many settlements and verdicts for hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars. To discuss how your rights if you are comparatively responsible for a crash, call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Antonio car accident lawyer today. We’ll fight for all the compensation you deserve.