How is fault determined in a Texas car accident case?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2023 | Car accidents

When a motorist who is distracted by their cell phone rear-ends you while you are duly stopped at the red light, the cause of the accident may seem clear. And so would be the liable party. However, not all car crashes are straightforward.

When a car wreck happens, determining who is at fault is key for settling the matter. In Texas, fault is distributed based on each party’s contribution to the accident. This doctrine is known as modified comparative fault. Understanding how this legal concept works can help you pursue the damages you deserved following an accident that is not your fault. 

What is modified comparative negligence and how does it work?

Modified comparative negligence fault apportions liability to the most at-fault party in a car crash. This means that you can recover damages even if you partially contributed to the accident, as long as your contribution was not greater than 51 percent. This is known as the 51 Percent Bar Rule.

How does the 51 Percent Bar Rule work?

Under this rule, if you bear fault but less than 51 percent, you may still file a claim. However, the awarded damages will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. For instance, if the court awards $100,000, but it is established that you were 20 percent at fault, then the total compensation you would receive is $80,000. 

In the days, weeks and months following the crash, it is important that you take steps to protect your legal rights. For instance, you need to seek treatment as soon as you can so you can obtain a medical report that will be critical for litigating your case. Additionally, you need to file your claim within the Texas statute of limitations period. Learning more about Texas negligence laws can help you take the right steps when pursuing damages following a car accident that is not your fault.