After you have been injured in a car accident, you will undoubtedly face huge medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages. A personal injury lawsuit can help you recover compensation for these damages, and can be crucial to you and your family as you cope with the long aftermath of an injury.
But what if you were partly at fault for the accident in which you were injured? Are you still able to recover compensation?
The answer is yes, under some circumstances. Texas law follows an idea known as proportionate responsibility. In this post, we will examine this idea, but first we need to briefly discuss the basics.
In a classic, textbook example of a personal injury lawsuit, a negligent driver crashes into a blameless victim. The victim is injured and suffers damages. The injured victim files a lawsuit to recover compensation for their damages from the negligent driver.
This is the scenario in many personal injury lawsuits involving car accidents, but there are many other cases where the picture is more complicated. In some cases, there are multiple parties and multiple people injured. In some cases, more than one party is at fault for the accident. Proportionate responsibility comes into play in these cases.
Proportionate responsibility allows an injured person to hold another party liable for their damages even if the injured person was partly at fault for the accident. However, the injured person must have been no more than 50% at fault, and the person’s recovery is reduced proportionate to their percentage or responsibility.
To illustrate how this might work, imagine an accident in which Dracula crashes into Harker, injuring him. Harker then files suit against Dracula, alleging that Dracula caused the accident through negligence, and asking to recover compensation for his damages. The court weighs the evidence and finds that Dracula did indeed act negligently. However, Harker acted negligently as well. Dracula changed lanes without signaling, and Harker was speeding.
The court determines each party’s share of fault as a percentage. It decides Dracula was 80% at fault, and Harker was 20% at fault. Because Harker’s share of fault is less than 50%, he can recover damages from Dracula. However, his recover must be reduced in proportion to his share of fault. Since he was 20% at fault, his recovery is reduced by 20%. If his damages total $100,000, the most he can recover from Dracula is $80,000.