Many different variables determine who is responsible for injury or damages following a traffic accident. Liability is not black and white. This is especially true in multi-car pileups. The legal definition of fault may differ from its traditional usage, so what does fault mean for you? Fault loosely determines which way compensation money flows.
Fault is not the only factor when determining damages, though. Recent legislation has moved compensation decisions and accident liability away from the traditional notion of fault. Liability is increasingly determined by decisions on motor vehicle statutes. This shift is in favor of insurance companies who lobbied for the bill changes, making claim denial easier.
How does this affect you? If you have insurance, but not liability insurance, and are rear-ended, an insurance company can deny your claim, even though you were not at fault. Depending on where the accident took place, you could then be denied compensation for damages by the insurance company because you do not have liability insurance, even though the at-fault driver’s insurance would be expected to provide compensation.
More Than One Person at Fault
When multiple drivers are responsible for the damages, the law says that anybody can provide compensation. The drivers can decide amongst themselves who will file the claim and then reimburse the rest involved. Sometimes this decision brings a group of people to court.
If multiple people are involved, anybody can make the claim, which means the best insurance can be selected. Or if one driver does not have insurance, depending on where he or she lives, this person might still benefit from a payout. Sometimes an insurance company denies the claim, and the claimants must approach a different company.
If you were careless, you cannot collect insurance money from your own company. You can, however, collect from the provider of another partially responsible party. How much you deserve in compensation is based on the percentage of liability afforded to each party. The legal term for this rule is comparative negligence.
Comparative Negligence in Texas
More than half of the states in the U.S. have comparative negligence laws, including Texas. You need to prove the other party was partially responsible for the crash, and thus you were due a payout. There are other factors which help your case, including environmental factors like road and weather conditions.
In cases of comparative negligence, call us for a personal injury lawyer familiar with Texas law. A jury or judge will analyze evidence to determine the percentage of fault for each party.
There are two types of comparative negligence: pure and modified. Pure comparative negligence means your payout will likely be determined by the jury. Texas law follows modified comparative negligence, which deducts your damage liability based on percentage of fault.
In other words, if you are 25% at fault, you will likely be compensated for 75% of the crash. If the final claim is posted at $200,000, you would receive $150,000 in this situation.
Proportional Comparative Fault
Sometimes a company will cite proportional comparative fault if you are responsible for more than half the crash. This means if your percentage of fault is 51% or higher, you are not allowed to file a claim against the other party. This law is practiced in Texas.
If you have extra coverage under your own insurance company, you can likely avoid the other parties and the discussion of fault, unless the other party files a claim against you. Most companies offer additional options, like personal injury protection. PIP is a no-fault coverage plan that replaces any income lost from work, medical bills, and, in rare cases, damage to the vehicle.
Make sure to discuss your accident with our experienced attorneys. Our lawyers understand the specific legal issues involving accident in Texas. Contact us at 713-224-4878 to ensure your rights are protected.