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Understanding Texas’ “proportionate responsibility” standard

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2023 | Car Accidents

Many car crashes aren’t 100% one party’s fault. While one driver may primarily be in the wrong, the other(s) may have failed to do something that could have prevented the crash. A third party may even be partly to blame, as we’ll discuss.

When it comes to getting compensation to cover medical expenses, car repairs and other economic damages as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering, state law determines how each driver’s negligence (if any) plays a role.

How comparative negligence works

Many states have some type of comparative negligence law. Pure comparative negligence means that if you’re found to have 10% responsibility for the crash, for example, that 10% is deducted from the amount of compensation you’re determined to be due from the at-fault driver and/or their insurers.

Texas has a modified comparative negligence law that’s referred to as “proportionate responsibility.” That means if one party is found to be at least 51% at fault, they don’t recover any damages. The law states that “the percentage of responsibility” will need to be determined “for the following persons with respect to each person’s causing or contributing to cause in any way the harm for which recovery of damages is sought, whether by negligent act or omission, by any defective or unreasonably dangerous product, by other conduct or activity that violates an applicable legal standard, or by any combination of these.”

Determining levels of responsibility is key

In terms of a car crash, responsibility can be spread among multiple drivers, pedestrians and others on the road (like bicyclists or those on scooters). Third parties like vehicle manufacturers (if a vehicle malfunctioned) or even government entities (for example, if there was a pothole or other dangerous condition) may also have responsibility.

If you suffer injuries in a crash caused by another driver, you need to maximize your claim to help ensure that you get the compensation you need to deal with expenses, lost wages and more. If you had little, if any, responsibility for the crash, you want to make sure that the facts are determined and presented accurately. Getting sound legal guidance as soon as possible is a good first step.