How Fault Determines Liability: How Likely Are You to Receive a Decreased Settlement?
The ability to prove negligence is the key to unlocking a strong injury case.
When it comes to the variables of a truck accident, many parties could potentially be negligent, such as the truck driver, the business that does maintenance on the truck, the manufacturer of the truck or truck parts, and even the trucking company itself. However, the essential legal issue that comes into play is how the defendant was negligent, and how much his negligence contributed to the overall damage.
In Texas, it isn’t enough to just prove the truck driver (or someone else) was negligent. Comparative fault laws say you must be able to prove that other people were directly responsible for at least 51% of the mistakes that led to your injuries. If you can’t provide evidence and a solid argument to show you didn’t cause the majority of the damage yourself, your case will end before it even begins.
Negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care resulting in damage or injury to another. Negligence isn’t necessarily premeditated or intentional, but it can result in catastrophic consequences…consequences in which the negligent party needs to be held accountable.
While the specifics of the law are complex, in simple terms, when someone has a duty to drive safely and fails to fulfill that duty, you have the right to seek financial compensation for any damages. However, if you are partially to blame for the accident, compensation will depend on your percentage of fault.
Texas follows a “modified comparative fault” rule. This rule states that during a personal injury trial, the judge or jury will consider the aspects of the case and assign a percentage of fault to each party involved.
- Percentage calculation. If the jury in your case decides that you were one-fifth responsible for the accident and the driver was four-fifths responsible, then the final ruling will determine that you’re 20 percent at-fault, while the trucker is 80 percent at-fault. A fair damage amount will then be assigned to the case based on the amount of damage caused—let's say in this instance the amount was $100,000. This amount will then be divided based on the percentages of fault. If you were found to be 0% liable, you would receive the full $100,000 settlement. However, in this situation, you were found to be 20 percent responsible, so you’ll receive an amount that is 20 percent less than $100,000…which is $80,000.
- Majority-fault condition. If you’re found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, this rule will negate your right to compensation, and you’ll receive nothing. This majority-fault condition is put into place to stop drivers from deliberately causing accidents in order to receive a settlement.
Now that you know a little more about negligence and comparative fault laws, do you think their regulations are right for Texas drivers—especially considering the amount of truck traffic in this state? Is the comparative fault law good for at-risk drivers, or should Texas adopt different fault laws that allow for more negligent leeway, as Washington does? Or should we adopt stricter fault laws like South Dakota? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section provided.
Looking for more information on driver negligence or truck accident claims? Contact our office directly for a FREE attorney consultation. We’ll help answer all your questions and address any concerns your collision may have caused. Our number is 713-921-4171; call today!
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