Can I Still Recover Damages if I Am Partially to Blame for My Injuries in Texas?
In an injury case, the injured party is not expected to be perfect. Many times, the defendant in an injury case will claim that the plaintiff (the injured victim) helped cause their own injuries. For many car accidents and other injuries, the fact that you might have done something wrong or contributed to your own injuries does not forgive the defendant’s negligence. If you have been injured in Texas, contact The Queenan Law Firm. Our Arlington TX personal injury lawyer helps clients get compensation for their injuries, even if they are partially at fault.
Injury Causes are Complicated
When you take someone to court because they caused you injury, you need to prove a few things to get compensation. In general, you must prove that the other party owed you a duty, and because they breached that duty, you were injured. One of the factors in this proof is that they caused your injuries. Proving cause is sometimes complicated when a case goes to court.
Using the example of a car accident, we can find many things that technically caused the accident. The main cause of the accident is the negligent driver’s bad actions. If you go back a step, the accident would not have happened if neither driver turned down that road. The accident would have been avoided if neither driver got in the car that day. Even further out, if the other driver’s parents had not given birth to the driver, the accident would not have happened.
“But for” these events and decisions, the accident would never have occurred. These are called the “but for causes,” or the “causes-in-fact.” In a court case, these causes are important, but most of them are so far removed from the events that the courts do not look at them.
Instead, a cause needs to be close to the accident. These are called “proximate causes,” where “proximate” means “close.” These are the causes that you can actually point to in court to get a judge and jury to agree that they were “the cause” of the accident.
In many cases, the other driver’s negligence is a clear cause. Things like failing to signal, speeding, tailgating, and making dangerous driving decisions are clearly negligent acts that cause car accidents. Other things, like poor road conditions, faulty car systems, poor maintenance, and other problems may also cause the accident. Whoever’s negligence caused those car or road problems, whether it be a car manufacturer, a mechanic, or the government who failed to repair the road is partially responsible. In court, you can hold these parties partially liable.
In the same way that another party might be held partially responsible, the defense might argue that you were partially responsible. Using the example of a car accident, you may be partially at fault for your injuries if you failed to signal, looked away from the road to change the radio, or forgot to wear your seatbelt. Ultimately, this may hurt your recovery, but it does not prevent you from recovering.
Proportionate Compensation is Available
In some States, anything you do to contribute to the accident will prevent recovery. This is called “contributory negligence” and is a very old legal rule. Luckily, Texas, like most states, is more forgiving.
In general, anyone who is responsible for the accident can be held liable for the accident. Each party is only responsible for paying the compensation for their part of the injury. That means, for instance, if you are hit by two cars, each car’s driver might pay for 50% of your injuries.
When you are partly responsible, the courts will reduce your compensation by how much you are responsible. The question of dividing responsibility goes to the jury in a trial. If, for example, a jury decides you are 10% responsible, and that the injury is worth $100,000, you will lose 10% of that compensation. Instead, you only receive $90,000. This is called “proportionate responsibility” under Texas’s Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 33.001.
As long as you are under 50% responsible, you can still recover for your injuries in Texas. That means that if you are exactly 50% at fault, you are blocked from recovering. For anything less than that, even if you are 49.999% responsible, you can still recover. For example, even in a case worth $100,000 where you are 45% responsible, you could still recover up to $55,000 for your injuries.
Texas Personal Injury Lawyers Are Available
If you have been injured in the Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, or Houston areas, the lawyers of The Queenan Law Firm, P.C., may be able to help. We can help you understand your possible compensation, and how much it might be reduced. In any case, we will try to get you the maximum compensation available under the law. Call us today for a free consultation at (817) 476-1797.