Partial Fault Does Not Prohibit Recovery for Injuries under Texas Law
This is the next post in our series on the personal injury process in Texas. Our last post highlighted the importance of seeking immediate medical care after suffering an injury. We discussed the fact that many victims cause unnecessary obstacles in their cases by waiting to see a doctor. In this article, we will explain the fact that one may still be able to seek compensation even if they were partially responsible for the accident that led to their injury. This is due to the comparative negligence laws in Texas.
Comparative Negligence: “The 51% Bar” in Texas
In most cases, one of the first disputes an injured party will encounter is over liability. In other words, who is at fault for this incident? Texas recognizes a system of proportionate responsibility. Section 33.001 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code (CPRC) states, “a claimant may not recover damages if his percentage of responsibility is greater than 50 percent.” This is commonly referred to as “the 51% bar” meaning that if one is 51% or more responsible for the accident then he or she may not recover damages. Furthermore, Section 33.012 of the CPRC provides “the court shall reduce the amount of damages to be recovered by the claimant . . . by a percentage equal to the claimant’s percentage of responsibility.” In short, this means that if an injured party is less than 51% responsible he or she may still recover even if they bear some fault. However, the amount recovered will be reduced in proportion to the fault. For example, if a jury decides that an injured Plaintiff is 10% at fault for an incident and the Defendant is 90% at fault, the Plaintiff will still recover. If the jury in this example determined that the Plaintiff’s damages were $100,000, the Plaintiff would recover $90,000, taking into account the 10% reduction due to the Plaintiff’s partial responsibility. This concept is an important one. It ensures that people are held responsible for their actions and not barred from recovering just because they bear a small amount of responsibility for what led to their injuries.
If you have been injured in an accident and are not aggressively pursuing a recovery because you feel that you are to blame, it is important to contact an attorney to better understand your rights under the law. If you are less than 51% at fault, you may have a right to recover. States have different laws regarding proportionate responsibility so make sure to speak with an attorney who is familiar with the Texas system.
Many Texas injury victims err by not contacting an attorney if they feel partially responsible for an accident
Unfortunately, it is common for people injured in accidents to not contact an attorney if they feel they are partially to blame. The failure to consult with an experienced lawyer and learn more about your rights under Texas law can thwart any possibility of a recovery for your injuries. When selecting a personal injury attorney it is important that you select a firm which handles major injury cases and in which the lawyers have substantial experience. You should also determine whether the attorneys are board certified and whether the firm employs a full time investigator. Finally, you should determine whether the firm is large enough to advance court costs and whether the office can devote multiple attorneys to your case. This is true whether you were injured in counties including Tarrant, Dallas, Johnson, and Wise as well as Fort Worth, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Watauga, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Arlington, Keller, Grand Prairie, and Dallas.