Liability is a big issue in car accidents, especially those involving commercial trucks. Who is responsible for paying damages to those who have been hurt? Sometimes the answer is clear and all the responsibility falls solely on a single party, but there are many cases where it’s not so obvious. There may be shared fault between two or more parties.
The question is, then, who can seek financial compensation when fault is shared in a crash? Can victims recover anything, even if they’re found to be partially liable for the accident?
Comparative Liability in Texas
In the state of Texas, whether you can recover damages after an accident with a truck or other vehicle depends on the portion of the responsibility that you share for what happened. Texas law calls this “proportionate responsibility” and it means that you may still recover damages under certain circumstances, even if you are found to be partially at fault.
Proportionate responsibility in Texas uses a legal method called “modified comparative negligence” when determining damage awards. This type of law says that victims who share a part of the responsibility may make a claim, but any awards for damages will be reduced by the percentage of liability that is shared.
For example, under proportionate responsibility law, if you’re in an accident with a truck and the court decides that you are 20 percent responsible for the crash, you still will be able to recover an award for damages. However, your final award will be reduced by 20 percent. This means that if you are given an award of $500,000, it would be reduced to $400,000.
Proportionate responsibility law also obeys the “51 percent rule.” This means that someone is not able to receive damages at all if his or her share of the responsibility is 51 percent or higher. In our example, if you are found to be 20 percent responsible and the truck driver is 80 percent responsible, the truck driver would not be able to receive a damage award at all.
Determining Negligence in Truck Accidents
There is a three-step process to determine whether there was negligence in an accident. You and your legal team will typically need to show that:
- There was a duty of care. Truck drivers (and others on the road) have a responsibility to operate their vehicles with a reasonable level of care, as required by the law. This is called a “duty of care.”
- There was a breach of duty. After you demonstrate that there was a duty of care, it must be shown that the truck driver breached that duty of care. That is, he or she failed to take appropriate care, or operate the truck in a reasonable and safe manner.
- The breach caused your injuries. The truck driver’s breach of duty must be shown to be the reason you are hurt or otherwise suffered a loss, such as property damage to your vehicle.
Even if you think you shared some part of the responsibility for the accident, you still may be able to receive compensation. By bringing these elements together and demonstrating that you suffered financial and other losses in the accident, you can make your claim for damages in a court of law.
Damage awards can include financial compensation for your medical bills, physical therapy or rehabilitation, lost or damaged property, lost wages from time away from work, pain and suffering, and more. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able help you determine what types of damage awards are available in your situation and what legal options are available to you.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, semi-truck, or delivery vehicle, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We believe in standing up for the rights of those who have been hurt due to the negligence and carelessness of others, and we’d like to help you get the justice you deserve in a court of law.
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