Can I Recover Damages if I Contributed to a Car Accident?
Regardless of who was at fault, a car wreck can create a stressful situation where everyone is quick to assign blame. Following an accident, most people worry about their physical injuries, the damage to their vehicle, and whether they’ll be able to recover compensation to pay for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But what if the accident was partially your fault?
Determining who is legally responsible for a car accident can be complicated, which is why it’s so important to consult an experienced car accident attorney early in the process.
Keep reading to learn more about how courts and attorneys evaluate negligence in the wake of a car accident and find out whether you can receive damages if your actions played a role in causing the wreck.
What Are Comparative and Contributory Negligence?
Whether you can recover damages if you’re partially at fault for a crash depends on where the collision happened. Each state has its own rules for assigning fault and determining liability in personal injury cases. The rule in Texas that applies to negligence cases is called modified comparative negligence, also known as “proportionate responsibility.”
Comparative negligence is a legal concept that holds at-fault parties liable in proportion to the extent their conduct contributed to the accident. In other words, if a court or jury determines that the plaintiff in a negligence case bears 25 percent of the responsibility for causing a wreck while the defendant was 75 percent responsible, the plaintiff can recover 75 percent of the total damages in that case.
Two-thirds of the states, including Texas, follow a variation of this rule called modified comparative fault. This rule works the same as described above, but with one twist: if the plaintiff in a case bears most of the responsibility (51 percent or more) for causing their own injuries, they can’t recover any damages at all.
In contrast, the doctrine of contributory negligence at common law holds that an accident victim can only recover damages if they didn’t contribute to the incident at all. If the victim is even 1 percent at fault for what happened, they will not be able to recover damages. This rule is extremely unfair to victims, but fortunately, our state doesn’t use it.
Proving Negligence in Texas Car Accident Cases
To successfully prove negligence in a car wreck case, a defendant must prove that the plaintiff’s reckless or otherwise unreasonable actions contributed to the collision to some degree. Examples of negligent behavior might include speeding, drunk driving, jaywalking, or driving a car that the driver knows is unsafe in some way.
As an example, if you suffered injuries in a crash, the other driver’s attorney might argue you were partially to blame because you were speeding at the time of the crash and traveling too fast to make a safe stop. If the jury agrees, they’ll assign you a percentage of fault for causing the crash and reduce your compensation by that percentage. So, if your damages total $100,000, but the jury finds you are 10 percent at fault, the maximum compensation you can receive is $90,000.
“Examples of negligent behavior might include speeding, drunk driving, jaywalking, or driving a car that the driver knows is unsafe in some way.”
RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Law Terms: What Is Negligence?
The Benefits of Purchasing PIP Coverage in Texas
Along with retaining a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney, car accident victims can also benefit from having personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which is a type of no-fault insurance. PIP pays the medical bills and rehabilitative costs for you and your passengers when you’re involved in a car wreck, and it does so regardless of who’s at fault for the accident.
PIP coverage can pay for costs that include:
- Most medical costs, including operations, diagnostic imaging outpatient care, and other medical treatment
- Professional nursing care
- Ambulance services
- Rehabilitation therapies
- Funeral costs
- Lost wages as a result of the accident
Although it is not required by law, drivers are permitted to carry at least PIP insurance coverage, and the coverage limit extends to each person injured in an accident. For example, if you and your child suffered injuries in a car accident, and you had $2,500 of PIP insurance in place, your insurance policy would cover up to $2,500 in expenses for you and $2,500 in expenses for your child. At Crosley Law, we recommend that our clients carry PIP insurance as well as uninsured motorist insurance (UM) to cover them if they are involved in a crash where the at-fault driver does not have insurance coverage sufficient to cover the loss.
Crosley Law: Fighting for Justice for Car Accident Victims in San Antonio
If you’ve been injured in a car wreck in Texas, you could be eligible to receive compensation even if the accident was partially your fault. Determining fault can be difficult, so it’s essential to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to gather all the facts and present convincing evidence in your case.
At Crosley Law, our attorneys have years of experience successfully handling challenging personal injury cases, including car crash claims. To schedule your free consultation with an attorney from our team, please complete this brief online contact form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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