Determining Fault in a Car Accident
How do You Determine Fault or Partial Fault in a Texas Automobile Accident?
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering whether you have any legal remedies available to you and your family. There are certain facts which we must prove in order for you have a successful claim, including who caused the accident and is, consequently, responsible for your injuries. This article will discuss why it is important that we establish fault, how the court apportions and determines percentage of fault, and we will elaborate on the theory of comparative fault as it is utilized in Texas.
How We Have Previously Proven Fault
We have handled literally thousands of car accident claims. Each case brings its own challenges and variables, but many are very similar. Because of this overlap we have been able to utilize many similar techniques in proving that the defendant caused the accident and was responsible for our client's damages. One of the most obvious examples is the situation where the defendant rear-ends our client.
It is pretty much assumed, by the courts and by insurance companies, that the car which hits another from behind was probably negligent in some fashion and is the guilty party. However, we do not simply rely upon this assumption to prove your claim. We use accident analysis experts who can study things like skid marks on the road, and the damage on both cars to determine impact location and speed of both vehicles. Through this scientific method we can conclusively establish that, not only did the defendant hit your car from behind, but they were speeding and failed to brake a safe distance away from your vehicle.
But What if I am Partially Responsible for My Car Accident?
Of course, your potential compensation rests solely on our ability to prove that you were injured in the car accident, and the other party is responsible for those injuries. When we tell our clients this detail, many automatically worry that they will not be able to receive any compensation for their suffering because they believe they might be somewhat responsible for the accident. The most important thing you can remember in this situation is - DO NOT PANIC. Just because you may be partially responsible for your injuries, it does not mean that you are completely barred from filing a claim against the other driver. It is also crucial that you tell us the truth about every detail and do not exxagerate or alter any of the details. Our attorneys can only help you if you are truthful. If you tell us something even just slightly deviating from what actually happened, your entire case could be harmed and you may receive nothing.
The cause of an accident is not always black and white. Sometimes both parties involved will share responsibility; however, this does not mean that both parties share this blame equally. There will always be one party that is more blameworthy and it is our job to prove that you are not that party. Our attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have been handling personal injury causes of action stemming from vehicular collisions for over two decades and we know how to effectively prove in trial that the defendant carries the majority of responsibility and, therefore, owes you for your injuries.
More importantly, our attorneys understand how fault is often determined by a jury. Fault is considered a question of fact and it is the jury who must decide which party is more liable and then apportion the amount for which each party is responsible. Juries tend to favor certain scenarios, and they also have a pattern of disfavoring other situations. Due to our extensive experience we have learned how to predict whether a jury will offer you a favorable ruling. This is one more reason why it is so important that you have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to evaluate your claim before trial.
How is Fault Apportioned in the State of Texas?
The first thing that your attorney will evaluate is the negligence of each party involved. Drivers of automobiles in the state of Texas must operate their cars as reasonably prudent people. If a party acted negligently while driving then it would fall below this standard of care. A simple example of a negligent action while driving would be to change lanes without checking for other cars. By failing to check for cars in neigboring lanes, and failing to adequately check your blind spot, the driver not only put their safety and the safety of their passengers at risk, but they also endangered the lives of other drivers. So let's say this is exactly what happened in your car accident. The defendant changed lanes without looking and hit your car. But let's say that you were actually speeding at the time of the accident, and had it not been for your speeding, your car would not have been in that exact location and no one would have been injured. Both parties were negligent, but who is more responsible?
Arguably, the driver who changed lanes without properly checking for other cars is proportionately more repsonsible for the accident. Even though you were exceeding the speed limit and, you are not as responsible because you were not changing lanes. Anytime you change lanes you are disrupting the flow of traffic and impeding another car's lane. Just like when you turn onto a street from a parking lot, it is your responsibility to make sure that you do not interfere with traffic, and if an accident does occur it is likely your fault. The same is true for switching lanes. Therefore, the automobile accident is more so the defendant's fault, rather than your own.
The Application of Comparative Fault
Once each party's relative negligence has been established, each party will be given a certain percentage of fault. This percentage then dictates whether you can recover at all for your injuries, and if so, exactly how much you are allowed to recover. The state of Texas uses a modified comparative fault model to determine this amount. Under Texas law, if you have been involved in a car accident you are not permitted to recover damages from the other party if you were 51% or more responsible for the accident that occurred. If you are apportioned a percentage lower than 51% then you can still recover damages, although your percentage of fault will operate to deduct that amount from your award.
So let's say the court determines you to be 30% responsible for the car accident since you were speeding, and the defendant is found to be 70% responsible for the car accident since he failed to use caution when switching lanes. Based on this apportionment of liability, you would be able to recover only 70% of your damages, as opposed to the full cost of your injuries. Therefore, if you have $100,000 worth of damages including medical bills, treatment, and lost wages, the defendant would only be required to reimburse your for $70,000.
The concept of modified comparative fault and the different legal mechanisms that are at work in car accident cases can be difficult to comprehend. This is why it is in your best interests to retain legal counsel that knows about these complex legal theories and understands how to use them to your advantage so that you receive the largest financial sum possible. Grossman Law Offices has been practicing in the field of personal injury law in Dallas for a great deal of time, and we have the necessary experience to ensure your claim has the best theory of recovery possible. To discuss your particular lawsuit contact us toll-free at 1-855-326-0000.
Below is a Sample of Our Recent Successful Verdicts & Settlements