Comparative negligence is a legal principle that allows for the allocation of fault and damages between two or more parties in a personal injury lawsuit. Under this principle, the plaintiff may still be entitled to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the injury. The damages awarded to the plaintiff, however, may be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to them.
Types of Comparative Negligence:
There are two main types of comparative negligence: pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. Under pure comparative negligence, the plaintiff is allowed to recover damages no matter how much they were at fault for the injury. For example, if the plaintiff was found to be 80% at fault and the defendant 20% at fault, the plaintiff could still recover 20% of the damages awarded.
Under modified comparative negligence, the plaintiff can only recover damages if they were less than a certain percentage at fault for the injury, usually 50% or 51%. If the plaintiff is found to be more than that percentage at fault, they are not entitled to recover any damages. For example, if the plaintiff was found to be 60% at fault and the defendant 40% at fault, the plaintiff would not be able to recover any damages under a 50% modified comparative negligence system.
Comparative Negligence in Texas
In Texas, comparative negligence is used to determine the amount of damages that a plaintiff can recover in a personal injury lawsuit. Texas follows a modified comparative negligence system, specifically the 51% rule.
Under the 51% rule, a plaintiff can only recover damages if they are found to be 50% or less at fault for the injury. If the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or less at fault, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to them. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in damages but is found to be 20% at fault for the injury, their damages will be reduced by 20% to $80,000. However, if the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault, they will not be able to recover any damages.
Texas also follows the doctrine of proportionate responsibility, which means that each party in a lawsuit is only responsible for their percentage of fault. This means that if there are multiple defendants in a lawsuit, each defendant will only be responsible for their percentage of fault and not the fault of the other defendants.
Keeping Fault Low:
In Texas, minimizing your level of fault after an accident is crucial to ensure you have a chance at recovering compensation. This applies regardless of where you reside, but the stakes are higher in Texas since excessive fault under comparative negligence can prevent you from receiving any compensation. To reduce your level of fault, you can present compelling evidence both in and out of court to demonstrate that you are not responsible for the accident. Police reports and medical records are just a couple of examples of useful evidence. If you require assistance in gathering and utilizing evidence of liability for your claim, it is advisable to collaborate with a personal injury attorney. They can provide guidance and support to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.