Q: Can an older driver recover money for an auto accident if she is partially to blame?
Texas follows a modified comparative negligence (also called “comparative fault”) rule when it comes to car accidents. Comparative negligence means that multiple parties can be considered liable for the same accident. This rule also acknowledges that since multiple parties can be at fault, the percentages of fault come into play when determining injury settlements.
In the simplest of terms, comparative negligence allows:
- Accident victims to sue for damages if, and only if, they can prove that they’re less than 51% at fault.
- Settlements to be decreased based on the determined liability of the victim.
So what does this mean for older drivers? Pretty much the same thing it means for younger drivers.
Comparative Negligence for Elderly Drivers
Despite the fact that many motorists believe that elderly drivers are a menace, their opinions, whether justified or not, do not affect an older driver’s rights under Texas law. For example, let’s imagine that your grandma wasn’t wearing her glasses while driving, and was injured in a multi-car pile up. Although there is a case to be made that her lack of corrective lenses contributed to the collision, as long as she is less than 51% at fault for the pileup, she can collect damages. However, the amount she’ll collect will be reduced by whatever percentage of fault the jury assigns to her as a result of her ocular mistake. Thus, if the jury says she was 10 percent to blame, then the damages she may collect would be 10 percent less than the jury initially awarded.
Liability is often difficult to determine in accidents that involve older drivers because—despite their percentage of fault—they’re the ones who usually sustain the most severe injuries. In other words, it’s difficult to gain sympathy and argue to a jury that a 70-year-old is to blame for your broken leg, when he is present with a broken hip, fractured collarbone, and severe bruises all over his face. Think about it. How would you feel if you saw your grandfather in that state? Any sympathy that your case may have gotten will be overshadowed strictly because the other driver was more susceptible to injury.
On the other hand, insurance companies are ruthless when it comes to paying settlements. Consequently, if you’re an older driver who may be partially at fault for an accident, your insurance adjuster could attempt to argue that you deserve less compensation as a result of your age.
All in all, the only consistent aspect of a car accident injury claim is that opposing parties will do anything to keep you from getting a fair and justifiable settlement. However, you do have options to balance the scales of justice. No matter your age or comparative injuries, if you have been seriously wounded in a collision, attorney Steve Lee is here to help. With over 25 years’ worth of experience with car accident claims, liability disputes, and insurance trickery, Steve Lee has the resources to help you build a strong claim. Contact him today to set up a no-obligation case review. Trust us; you won’t regret it.