Many car accidents are not black and white. Even if you believe the other driver is 100% at fault for your collision, he or she might have a different opinion. It is common for the victim of a car accident to be at least partially to blame. The victim might have been speeding, for example, when another vehicle pulled out in front of him or her. This case could involve the shared liability of both the plaintiff and defendant in a car accident claim. In Texas, you can still bring a cause of action and obtain compensation when you are partially at fault for a car accident.
Most states have transitioned from contributory to comparative negligence laws. In states that still abide by strict contributory negligence laws, even the smallest amount of fault on a plaintiff’s part will bar him or her from financial recovery. If you live in one of these states (Alabama, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and the District of Columbia) and are partially at fault in a car accident, you might be unable to sue. Speak to a Dallas car accident lawyer before assuming you do not have grounds for compensation, however.
Luckily, Texas is a comparative negligence state. In Texas, you can still file a claim even if you contributed to the crash that injured you. Texas’ modified comparative negligence law – the law of proportionate responsibility (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 33.001) – states that in an action with a claimant’s comparative fault, he or she may still be eligible for partial financial compensation. Under this law, you have the right to file an insurance claim or injury suit for damages even if you were at fault for the car accident.
In a crash you contributed to, you could receive a reduced compensatory award. The courts will subtract an amount from your financial recovery that is equal to your percentage of comparative fault. Texas’ modified comparative negligence rule means the state caps the ability to recover damages at 50%. If the defendant can prove to a judge or jury that you were more than 50% at fault for the auto accident, you could lose all right to recover compensation. The defendant’s ability to prove your majority share of fault would result in $0 in a settlement or verdict for you in an auto accident claim.
On top of using a modified comparative negligence law, Texas is also a fault-based insurance state. After a car accident in a fault-based state, all victims will seek financial compensation from the insurance provider of the at-fault party. In a case involving comparative negligence, however, insurance rules can be difficult to maneuver. Bring your initial claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Start with a third-party claim for the best odds of maximizing your recovery award. Then, report the crash to your insurer as well.
The other driver’s insurance company will investigate the crash to determine fault. Meanwhile, hire a car accident lawyer to investigate things for you. Your personal injury lawyer may find evidence that contrasts what the insurer finds. Your lawyer can also represent your rights and interests during insurance settlement negotiations, fighting against bad faith practices or allegations of comparative negligence. A lawyer can improve your odds of minimizing your percentage of fault and maximizing your financial recovery.
In a crash you contributed to, you might seek recovery from your own insurance provider as well. In this case, you cannot recover the costs of pain and suffering. Your insurer may, however, pay for your medical bills and vehicle repairs. Since the other driver also contributed to the crash, you might be able to seek pain and suffering damages from his or her insurance provider. The rules of comparative negligence during an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit can be tricky to navigate. Contact an attorney for assistance filing your claim if you believe you are partially at fault for a car accident in Texas.