In some Texas car accidents, it’s obvious that one driver is responsible for causing the crash. Perhaps the motorist was driving drunk or ran a red light, striking a vehicle whose driver did nothing wrong. The rights of injured victims are clear, so the process for recovering compensation is straightforward.
However, in some car crashes, liability can be extremely convoluted if multiple drivers contributed to the collision. When you share fault in a car accident, you can expect significant challenges. Finger-pointing and the classic “he said/she said” scenarios are common among motorists and their insurance companies.
If you were hurt in an auto crash that you arguably had a hand in causing, solid legal representation is crucial. Your right to monetary damages is at risk when the focus is on your actions. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we will protect your interests as we strive to recover the highest compensation allowed by law.
Why Fault Matters in Texas Auto Crash Claims
Motor vehicle accidents usually happen because of driver carelessness, which goes by the term “negligence” for purposes of determining legal liability. You may be entitled to recover monetary damages if you can prove four essential elements of a negligence case:
- The other motorist had a duty to drive safely,
- That person breached the legal duty of care through careless misconduct;
- The breach of duty was a direct cause of the crash in which you were injured; and,
- You sustained losses because of your injuries.
Your first step in seeking compensation as the victim of a car accident is filing a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company. Though the process may seem as simple as filling out a few forms, it’s common to encounter hurdles. Insurers are business, so they aim to maximize profits and minimize losses. Since your claim is a threat to these interests, claims adjusters will investigate from all angles to find a reason to avoid paying you.
How Victims Might Share Fault in Car Accidents
Under Texas law on proportionate responsibility, your right to recover compensation is tied to your percentage of fault. If you’re more than 50% liable for a motor vehicle crash, you cannot obtain any monetary damages. When the percentage is lower, your compensation is reduced by the proportion of fault attributable to your own actions.
For instance, an award of $10,000 decreases to $8,000 if you were 20% responsible for causing the accident. This rule on legal liability also goes by the term modified comparative negligence in other states that apply it.
As such, the insurance adjuster will raise the issue of proportionate responsibility if an investigation reveals that you were somewhat responsible. Your own misconduct as a victim gives the insurer ideal grounds to deny your claim or offer a low settlement amount.
Examples of Sharing Fault in a Car Accident
To demonstrate the application of modified comparative negligence or proportionate responsibility, some examples may be useful. Your compensation may be reduced if you contributed to the crash by:
- Riding with a motorist that you know to be intoxicated or fatigued;
- Making improper lane changes;
- Not using a turn signal;
- Texting, surfing the internet, or reviewing social media posts; or,
- Engaging in other negligent acts that violate the legal duty to exercise reasonable caution while driving.
Plus, you may receive less in monetary damages if you were a pedestrian or on a bicycle when you were involved in a collision. Not using the crosswalk or bike lane, jaywalking, stumbling, and other acts may force you to bear proportional responsibility.
Reach Out to a Houston Car Accident Attorney
Sharing fault in a car accident can lead to consequences you didn’t expect as an injury victim, like your possible compensation being reduced considerably. That’s why it’s important to retain a knowledgeable lawyer who can overcome challenges and highlight the finer points of comparative negligence.
To learn more about your rights, please contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. You can schedule a free case evaluation by calling (281) 283-8500 or complete our online form. Our attorneys are in a better position to advise you once we can learn more about your circumstances.