While the basic idea of
personal injury cases is the same in every state, specific laws vary from state-to-state.
In the first post of our two-part series on Texas
personal injury laws,we discussed what you need to know about some of the common limitations
placed on personal injury lawsuits in Texas:
- Texas’s statue of limitations,
- Caps on personal injury awards in Texas,
- Filing injury claims against the Texas government.
In this post, we’ll describe some more specific laws that affect
the amount of compensation that your Texas personal injury case may result in:
- Texas’s shared fault rules, and
- Texas’s modified joint and several liability law.
(1) Shared Fault: Texas Doctrine of Modified Comparative Negligence
In some cases, the defendant may argue that the personal injury victim
is actually to blame. For example, perhaps
a car accident victim’s taillights were out when she was rear-ended or perhaps a
medial malpractice victim waited too long to see a physician before he underwent a risky emergency
surgery. In such cases, even though the defendant is probably at fault,
the plaintiff may share some of the blame too. Luckily, Texas civil law
usually allows personal injury victims to successfully pursue shared fault
injury cases — if you were partly to blame for your own injuries,
you may still have a case.
Texas follows a modified comparative
negligence rule, though it calls it “proportionate responsibility”. Essentially,
Texas law dictates that the amount the personal injury victim is entitled
to will be reduced by a percentage equal to the victim’s percentage
of fault in his or her own injury. However, if the plaintiff is found
to be more than 50 percent at fault for the injury, he or she cannot collect
anything at all.
(Tex. Civ. Prac. Rem. & Code. Section 33.001.).
For example, if the car accident victim’s damages are worth $100,000,
but the court decides that she was 25% at fault, her total compensation
will be reduced to $75,000 — if she is found to be 51% at fault,
she will receive no compensation at all. Clearly, Texas’s comparative
negligence doctrine can make all the difference in the result of a Texas
personal injury case, so it is important to have an experienced
personal injury attorney by your side if you may be at partly at-fault.
(2) Amount of Liability: Texas Doctrine of Modified Joint and Several Liability
An issue that resembles shared fault is the issue of defendant liability.
Sometimes, an injury victim may have trouble collecting the compensation
he or she wins as the result of a successful personal injury lawsuit.
This becomes even more complicated when there are are multiple parties
responsible for the injury, not including the plaintiff.
When the plaintiff and a single defendant are responsible for the plaintiff’s
injury, the case has to do with modified comparative negligence as we
discussed above. However, what happens when there are multiple defendants
found to be responsible for the plaintiff’s injury? Who is responsible
for paying the damages? What happens if one of the guilty defendants disappears,
dies, or becomes unable to pay for another reason?
Texas uses an interesting combination of joint and several liability in
distributing the financial liability of multiple defendants in a personal
injury case: each defendant who isless than or 50 percent at-fault for
the plaintiff’s injury can only be held responsible for paying their
percentage share of the damages, but if any defendant is found to be anything
more than 50 percent at-fault for the plaintiff’s injury, that defendant
can be held responsible for paying the full amount of the damages.
For example, if a
motorcycle accident victim was boxed in by a truck on one side, and then rear-ended by another car,
both the truck driver and the other driver may be held liable as defendants.
If each defendant is found to be 50% at-fault and the total damages came
out to be $200,000, then each defendant will owe $100,000. However, if
the truck driver, for example, was found to be 75% negligent instead,
he or she may be held responsible for the entire $200,000. In some serious
personal injury cases like those involving injury to a child, if one defendant
intentionally caused the injury, that defendant can be held 100 percent
liable regardless of any other defendants’ involvement.
(Tex. Civ. Prac. Rem. & Code. Section 33.013.).
The Kyle Law Firm
Texas personal injury law can have many complex aspects to it, but we hope
that this post and
our last post have helped you understand some of the factors that may affect
your personal injury case. While some personal injury claims can be worked out without the help of a
personal injury attorney, it is always best to work with a professional Texas attorney who knows
everything about the limitations and caps that may apply to your case
and about how the defendants can be held responsible before the law.
If you’ve been injured because of somebody else’s negligence
in Texas, you can count on the experienced personal injury attorneys at
The Kyle Law Firm to expertly deliver the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation today.