Millions of car and truck accidents occur every year in the United States, events that are responsible for millions of injuries, tens of thousands of fatalities, and have a monetary cost of $871 billion1 in damages and compensation to those affected.
Those involved in accidents often ask Texas truck accident attorneys about contributory negligence and if compensation is ever paid when a driver contributed to an accident and is partially at fault.
Because Texas is a comparative fault state, the answer to that question is yes - and no.
Contributory Negligence Versus Comparative Fault
Every accident compensation case must first identify who is at fault in the accident, after which any compensation to be distributed is then based on those circumstances.
Proving negligence is not always easy according to experienced accident lawyers because there may be more than one party at fault for causing the accident.
How different states handle fault concerning who is and is not entitled to compensation falls under the laws of contributory negligence and comparative fault, each of which awards compensation differently:
Contributory Negligence - The clause of contributory negligence states that anyone who is partially at fault for an accident to any extent cannot place blame on another party involved in the accident and is not entitled to compensation from the other party.
Comparative Fault - The clause of comparative fault does take the degree of fault into consideration and pays compensation according to the assessed degree of fault, allowing drivers who are partially at fault to receive partial compensation.
How Does Comparative Fault Work in Texas?
Texas is a comparative fault or comparative negligence state where the amount of a driver's responsibility for an accident is taken into consideration when awarding compensation for damages.
The first step is for the court to determine the degree of fault of each involved party based on the evidence presented by attorneys representing the parties involved in the accident and then applying that percentage to the total monetary damage award.
As an example of comparative fault, if a driver found to be 20% at fault for an accident is entitled to 80% of the financial award determined for those damages, then $80,000 would be the amount payable if the damage award was $100,00.
Accident lawyers do point out that Texas operates under what is called a modified comparative negligence clause as opposed to pure comparative negligence.
The modified comparative negligence clause states that a party may be up to 50% at fault and still receive partial compensation; however, if found to be 51% or more at fault, that person is not entitled to any compensation.
This is called the 51% Bar Rule, with Texas being one of 21 states that follow it.
Partial Fault - Partial Compensation In Texas
Texas traffic laws state that even if a driver is partially responsible for causing an accident, they may still be entitled to compensation for damages under the comparative fault clause.
Because proving fault can be such a complex undertaking, it’s essential that anyone involved in an accident hire an experienced accident lawyer to represent them, especially if there is a possibility they may have contributed in any way to the accident.
Texas attorneys can ensure that even with partial fault, involved parties can still receive partial awards for their injuries and other damages.
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 (Revised), May 2015