Most of the time when this blog discusses car accidents, we talk about cases where one party caused the crash through negligence, while the other party was completely blameless. Issues of liability are relatively straightforward in these cases. For example, when a drunk driver crashes into a sober driver who is legally stopped at a stop light, and the sober driver is injured, we can see that the drunk driver caused the accident through negligence and therefore should be held liable for the sober driver’s damages.
Many accidents are not so simple, and many personal injury cases are not so straightforward. In many accidents, more than one party contributes to the accident. Can injured people recover compensation if they were partly at fault for their accident? Under Texas law, the answer is sometimes yes.
Texas courts handle this kind of scenario with a legal concept called proportionate responsibility. If an injured party is found to be partly at fault for the accident, he or she can recover compensation, but the recovery will be limited. The court examines the evidence and apportions the percentage of fault between the parties. So long as the plaintiff’s share of the fault is less than the defendant’s, the plaintiff may recover compensation. However, the recovery is reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s share of the fault.
To illustrate, imagine a car accident case where Ainsley sues Zora for damages she suffered when Zora’s car collided with hers at an intersection. When examining the evidence, the court finds that Ainsley was partly at fault for the accident. The court then apportions the percentage of fault for Ainsley and Zora, finding that Ainsley was 30% at fault and Zora was 70% at fault. Therefore, Ainsley can hold Zora liable for her damages, but Ainsley’s award is reduced by 30%.
The damages that come with a car accident injury can be enormous. They can include medical expenses, lost wages and less tangible damages such as pain and suffering. Recovering compensation for these damages can be crucial for the injured and their families, even when their awards are reduced under proportionate responsibility rules. An experienced attorney can help the injured and their families to understand their legal options.