In several car accident cases, determining fault is difficult. Yet, the conclusion that the judge or jury ultimately reaches can have a profound impact on your future. This is because Texas utilizes a comparative negligence approach in personal injury cases.
Here, the finder of fact, whether that be the judge or a jury, will allocate fault amongst the parties and adjust the compensatory award accordingly. Therefore, if you win your case and show that you suffered $100,000 in damages, but the jury finds that you were 30% at fault for the accident, then your ultimate award will be reduced to $70,000. So, to answer the question posed above, yes, you can recover compensation so long as you’re portion of fault isn’t found to be more than 50%.
The reduction experienced when hit with a comparative negligence finding can be significant, though. It can cut you off from much needed compensation to pay for medical care and rehabilitation, and it might leave you without the financial stability you need at a time when you’re unable to work. Therefore, as you prepare to head into your car accident personal injury case, you need to know how to address any potential comparative negligence arguments that you might face.
How to defend against allegations of comparative negligence
Your personal injury case can be stressful, and you might find yourself overwhelmed knowing that the defense could try to shift the blame back onto you. But you can alleviate some of your concerns by adequately preparing for the arguments ahead. This includes doing the following:
- Utilizing an accident reconstruction: If fault is at issue, then you need clear evidence that indicates how the accident occurred. An accident reconstruction can help here. Through a reconstruction, an expert utilizes the principles of science to analyze the wreck and come to a sound conclusion as to how the events leading up to the crash unfolded. A formal report is generated, too, which can then be used during negotiations and at trial. Just be prepared to counter any contrary opinions offered up by the defense’s own expert witness.
- Attacking witness credibility: When raising a comparative negligence argument, the defense will use both physical and testimonial evidence. However, if you can raise doubt as to witness reliability, then you might be able to diminish the impact of both. You can achieve this by deposing the defense’s witnesses to find inconsistencies in their statements, assessing their criminal records to see if they have a history of crimes involving dishonesty, and using contradictory evidence to make their testimony seem unbelievable.
- Focusing on the comparative aspect of the law: If there’s little doubt that you contributed to the accident, then you’ll want to tackle the issue head-on and focus on minimizing the amount of fault that can be attributed to you. Expert witnesses might be able to help you here, and so, too, can eyewitnesses. Going into your case, make sure you have a sound story you can tell the judge and jury that will convince them that you’re truly the victim here, even if you did make a mistake.
Build a robust personal injury case to protect your future
There’s no doubt that the outcome of your personal injury claim is going to have a dramatic effect on your life for years to come. To protect your interests, then, you need to have strong legal arguments and solid evidence to support your claim. Improvising any part of your case could put your recovery in jeopardy, threatening to leave you without the resources that you need post-accident.
So, if you’re ready to get to work building the aggressive claim you want, then now is the time to research the legal strategies available to you and choose the one that’s right given the circumstances of your accident.