Contributory fault is a legal term used to describe a situation where the plaintiff’s own actions or omissions have contributed to the harm or injury they suffered, and therefore reduces or eliminates the defendant’s liability for damages. In other words, if a plaintiff was partially responsible for their own injury or loss, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff’s contributory fault should be taken into account when determining the extent of damages or compensation they are entitled to receive. Contributory fault is also known as contributory negligence or comparative fault, depending on the jurisdiction.
Contributory Fault and Personal Injury Cases:
Contributory fault can have a significant impact on personal injury cases. In some jurisdictions, contributory fault is a complete bar to recovery, meaning that if the plaintiff is found to have contributed in any way to their injury, they will be barred from recovering any damages from the defendant. However, many jurisdictions have moved away from this harsh rule and instead apply a system of comparative fault, which allows the plaintiff to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for their own injury, but the amount of damages is reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.
For example, if a plaintiff is injured in a car accident and is found to be 25% at fault for the accident because they were not wearing a seatbelt, and the defendant is found to be 75% at fault for running a red light, the plaintiff’s damages would be reduced by 25%. If the plaintiff’s damages were $100,000, they would only be entitled to recover $75,000.
Contributory fault can be a powerful defense strategy for defendants in personal injury cases, as it can significantly reduce the amount of damages they may have to pay. It is important for plaintiffs to be aware of the potential impact of their own actions or omissions on their case and to work closely with their attorney to present a strong case for recovery.
How Fault is Calculated in Texas:
Texas uses a modified comparative fault system to determine how contributory fault affects personal injury cases. Under this system, a plaintiff can still recover damages if they were partially at fault for their own injury, but their recovery will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. However, if the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault for their own injury, they will be barred from recovering any damages from the defendant.
For example, if a plaintiff is injured in a slip and fall accident on a wet floor in a store, and it is determined that they were 20% at fault for not paying attention to their surroundings, while the store was 80% at fault for not placing warning signs, the plaintiff’s damages would be reduced by 20%. If the plaintiff’s damages were $100,000, they would only be entitled to recover $80,000.
It is important to note that Texas also follows a rule called the “one percent rule,” which means that if the plaintiff is found to be less than 51% at fault for their injury, they can still recover damages, but their recovery will be reduced by their percentage of fault. This means that even if the plaintiff is found to be 1% at fault, their damages will still be reduced by that amount.
Overall, contributory fault in Texas can significantly affect the outcome of a personal injury case and it is important for plaintiffs to work closely with their attorney to present a strong case and minimize their own percentage of fault.