What Does Comparative Negligence Mean?

Comparative Negligence Attorney helping man with neck brace

There are two types of negligence standards used in personal injury cases: contributory negligence and comparative negligence. When a person is injured in an accident due to someone else's negligence, they can seek compensation for their injuries and losses through a personal injury lawsuit.

However, if the plaintiff's own actions or negligence contributed to the accident, they may not be entitled to recover the full amount of damages they would have otherwise received. Contributory negligence prevents a plaintiff from recovering damages if they were even partially at fault for their injuries.

Comparative negligence allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for their injuries. The court will assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in the accident, including the plaintiff. The plaintiff's damages award will then be reduced by their percentage of fault.

The comparative negligence standard is used in Texas, specifically the modified comparative fault 51% rule. This means a plaintiff can only recover damages if they were less than 51% at fault for the accident. If the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages.

Determining contributory versus comparative negligence and assigning percentages of fault can be a contentious process in Texas personal injury cases. That's why you need the advice of a knowledgeable attorney who can help you through the legal system. Our personal injury team at McKinney Vos can investigate your accident, gather evidence, and negotiate with the insurance companies to give you the compensation you deserve. Keep reading to find out more about comparative negligence and how McKinney Vos can help.

How to Make a Negligence Claim in Texas

To successfully make a negligence claim in Texas, you must meet four main elements:

  1. Duty of care: You must first prove that the person or entity you are making a claim against owed you a duty of care. For example, a driver on the road owes a duty to other drivers and pedestrians to follow traffic laws and drive safely.
  2. Breach: You must prove that the defendant breached their duty of care to you. For example, a driver who ran a red light and caused an accident may have breached their duty to drive safely and obey traffic laws.
  3. Causation: You must then show that the defendant's breach of duty caused your injury or harm. If the driver who ran the red light caused an accident that resulted in your injuries, you would have to show that their actions directly caused your injuries.
  4. Damages: Finally, you must prove that you suffered damages as a result of the defendant's actions. Your damages can include medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering.

If you can prove all four elements, you may be able to recover damages after your accident. However, if you fail to prove even one of these elements, you may not be able to recover compensation for your injuries.

Understanding Texas' Modified Comparative Negligence Standard

Under the Texas modified comparative negligence standard, you can sue for damages even if you are partially at fault for an accident. However, if you are found to be more than 50% to blame for the accident, you cannot recover any damages.

This rule is commonly referred to as the "51% bar." While it's not as strict as the pure contributory negligence standard, it can still be harsh for those who share blame for an accident.

This standard can impact the amount of damages you can recover in a personal injury case. If you are found to be partially at fault for an accident, your damages award will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were found to be 25% at fault and your damages totaled $100,000, you would only be able to recover $75,000.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Claims in Texas

In the state of Texas, most drivers have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as a part of their auto insurance policy. PIP coverage provides a basic level of personal injury coverage in the event of an accident.

If you are involved in an auto accident in Texas, your PIP coverage will typically cover up to $10,000 in medical bills, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This coverage can also extend to lost income, essential services, and funeral expenses in some cases.

Texas law requires insurance companies to offer PIP coverage to drivers, but drivers can decline this coverage in writing if they choose to do so.

If you need to make a PIP claim after an accident, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible. You will need to provide them with information about the accident and your injuries, as well as any medical bills or other expenses that have piled up as a result of the accident.

While PIP coverage can help cover some of your medical expenses after an accident, it may not cover all your costs. That's why you need an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you explore all of your options for recovering compensation after an accident. McKinney Vos can help you negotiate with insurance companies and build a strong case on your behalf so you receive the full amount of compensation you are entitled to under the law.

Let McKinney Vos Help You Through Your Texas Personal Injury Case

At McKinney Vos, we understand that determining and assigning fault percentages can be a contentious process in personal injury cases. That's why we'll work on your behalf to investigate your accident, gather evidence of your injuries, and negotiate with insurance companies to make sure you receive the full amount of compensation you're entitled to under the law.

Don't try to handle your Texas personal injury case alone. Let McKinney Vos help you through this difficult time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you with comparative negligence and personal injury cases at large.

Categories: Personal Injury