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Do I still have a claim if I am partly at fault in an accident?

In Texas, a driver who is partly at fault in an auto accident may still be able to bring a claim for damages against the other driver. Texas has a "proportionate responsibility" or "comparative fault" law. Under this law, the jury in an accident case is asked to assign a percentage of the total fault to each driver. A person who is more than 50 percent at fault cannot collect damages from the other driver. A person who is 50% at fault or less can collect damages, but the amount they collect is reduced by their percentage of the total fault.

A simple example can illustrate how the comparative fault law works. Let's say two vehicles collide at an intersection. Driver 1 is injured and sues Driver 2 for damages. At the trial, the jury assigns 25 percent of the total fault to Driver 1 and 75 percent to Driver 2. Under the law Driver 1 can recover damages from Driver 2, but those damages will be reduced by 25 percent. If Driver 1's total damages are $100,000, Driver 1 can collect $75,000.

But if the numbers are reversed and Driver 1 is found 75 percent at fault and Driver 2 is found 25 percent at fault, Driver 1 would recover nothing, because Driver 1's fault is more than 50 percent of the total.

The information in this post is general in nature and is not intended as specific legal advice. How the comparative fault statute will apply in a given situation is often a complex legal issue. If you have been injured in a car accident and are wondering whether you will be able to recover damages, you may wish to consult an experienced Texas personal injury law firm.

Source: Texas State Legislature, "Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Title 2, Subtitle C, Chapter 33, Subchapter A", accessed on Sept. 28, 2014

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