Understanding comparative negligence in Texas after a wreck

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2022 | Car Accidents |

You didn’t even see the other vehicle coming before it slammed into you – and now you’re seriously injured. However, the insurance company doesn’t want to pay the full value of your claim because they say that you were partially responsible for the accident or your injuries.

Can they do that? Maybe. To understand what might happen, you have to understand how Texas allocates fault in personal injury cases.

Proportionate responsibility and the 51% rule

The reality is that many drivers are partially at fault for their own injuries or accidents – even if the other driver is mostly to blame. To make things fair, Texas uses what’s known as a “modified comparative negligence” rule or “proportionate responsibility.” This allows the court to allocate the liability for any losses to each driver according to their personal degree of fault. 

For example, maybe the other driver was speeding and drove right through a red light before they hit you. However, maybe you jumped the gun a little and started to slide into the intersection just a second or two before the light on your side was actually green. An insurance company (or a court) might say that you were 30% responsible for your injuries and losses, but the other driver was 70% responsible. If your damages were worth $100,000, you would be due 70% of that, or $70,000.

However, your ability to claim any compensation at all vanishes if you were more than 50% responsible for the wreck. At 51% liability, you are barred from recovering anything.

The insurance company’s viewpoint and the court’s

There’s one more important thing to note here – the insurance company doesn’t get the final say in these matters. They can (and will) try to devalue your claim by throwing responsibility for your injuries back on you – even if it’s not justified or fair. That’s why it’s so important to have strong legal guidance on your side to fight for what you’re due.