On August 3rd, 2015 an 81 year old great grandmother and a young child were killed in an automobile accident in Fort Worth, Texas. The victims were in a Chevrolet Malibu when their car sustained a flat tire caused by running over a pipe. While they were stopped, a truck plowed into the back of the Malibu killing the older woman instantly and sending the young child to the hospital in critical condition, where she also later died. Unfortunately rear-end collisions like this are much too common and many suffer as a result. Rear-end collisions can be legally complicated. If you or a loved one has been involved in a rear-end car accident you need an experienced attorney to protect your legal rights.
Determining Blame in Rear-end Car Accidents in Texas
A common assumption is that a driver who rear-ends another driver is unquestionably the one at fault for the accident. This is incorrect, in the state of Texas negligence is the key element in determining fault. Negligence is required for a jury to find fault on any party in an automobile accident. To be negligent means that one failed to act in a similar way to how another reasonable person would have acted. So in order for any party to recover damages in a rear-end collision the other party must be found to have acted negligently. This means that in Texas it is possible that either one of the drivers could be held at fault for the accident. Further, it is also possible that neither or even both of the drivers could be held at fault. This is because Texas is a ‘comparative negligence’ state.
What is Comparative Negligence and How Does it Work in Rear-end Collisions?
Comparative negligence allows the injured party to be deemed partially responsible for their injuries, yet at the same time still recover damages for those injuries. The judge or jury in a case involving comparative negligence will review the evidence and assign a percentage of the blame for the accident to all relevant parties. Texas law uses what is known as ‘modified comparative negligence’ which prohibits any recovery of damages when a party is responsible for 51% (or more) of their injury. So in Texas, if you are injured in a rear-end collision and are deemed to be 50% at fault for the collision. You can still recover damages. But, if you are in a collision and are deemed to be 60% at fault, you are not entitled to recover any damages for your injury.
Apportionment of Liability
The percentage that one is deemed at fault is also the same percentage that their recovery is reduced by, as long as that percentage is less than 51%. For example, if you were injured in a rear-end collision and your case settled for $100,000 but you were deemed to be 25% responsible, that would also reduce your recovery amount by 25%. Meaning you would collect $75,000. But if you were deemed to be 60% responsible for the collision, you would not be entitled to collect anything. It is clear that the appointment of liability is extremely important. An attorney experienced in handling rear-end car accidents can help you ensure that you are not held responsible for an unfair percentage of the accident as this could greatly reduce your reward or maybe even eliminate it all together.
If you have been injured in a rear end car accident in San Antonio, contact our office for a free consultation and case evaluation today. Opposing insurance companies will work hard to reduce their liability and that comes out of your pocket. We can help even the playing field.