What Happens If Both Drivers are at Fault?
Texas Modified Comparative Negligence Rules for Car Accidents
Often, it is really easy to pin the blame on one driver after a car accident and expect them to be fully liable for the damages. In truth, though, many car accidents are caused by both drivers making different mistakes that contributed to the crash. What happens then?
In Texas, liability for auto accidents is examined using a modified comparative negligence rule. This system allows liability to be assigned to each driver based on the mistakes they made and how that affected the chances of the accident occurring and the severity of everyone’s injuries. For example, if there was a five-car crash and every driver was equally negligent, i.e., liable, then each driver would have 20% liability assigned to them.
However, the “modified” part of Texas’s modified comparative negligence rule means that a driver can lose the opportunity to file a claim against another party if they are found to be mostly liable for the accident. Any driver who is at least 51% liable for a car accident cannot recover damages from the other parties involved. Under this system, it is imperative that claimants can argue down their liability as much as possible, which is usually handled best by a car accident attorney.
Modified Comparative Negligence in a Two-Car Accident
Imagine that you were in a car accident with just one other driver in Texas. You admit that you were reading and distracted by a billboard on the side of the road when the crash happened. But criminal evidence shows that the other driver was drunk and speeding at the time.
The liability in this situation may be split 80-20 in your favor, meaning the drunk driver is determined to be 80% at fault for the crash. Any apportionment is determined by a jury with this liability assignment, the other driver cannot demand damages from you or your insurance company at all. But you can still hold them accountable for 80% of your damages, which is your damages minus the amount for which you are liable (20%). This scenario shows the benefit of a modified comparative negligence system because it disallows counter-lawsuits that would only slow down your claim and possibly cost you money as you attempt to defend yourself.
Consider Buying PIP Insurance
Even the best drivers can make serious mistakes sometimes and cause an accident. If this happens to you, then you could be in serious financial trouble if you’re found to be at least 51% liable for the crash. To safeguard your finances against such a situation, it is advised that you talk to your auto insurance provider about adding personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to your policy. PIP insurance pays for certain damages without considering liability, which means you can get much-needed coverage even if Texas’s modified comparative negligence rules prevent you from suing the other driver.
Damages that can be covered with PIP insurance include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Aftercare requirements
- And more
PIP insurance also does not preclude you from filing a claim against another driver if you are able. You can use your PIP coverage to get benefits right away while still suing another driver, assuming your liability remains below the 51% threshold.
In a Multicar Crash? Call Scott Law Firm
Our car accident attorneys from Scott Law Firm have seen pretty much every imaginable car accident claim since we first opened our doors in Conroe, Texas. If you were in a multicar collision and don’t know who to file a claim against because you might be partially liable, then we can help you sort everything out. Leave the details of your case up to us while you focus on recovering.
“Mr. Scott and his staff care about their clients and fight tooth and nail to see that they are represented and treated fairly in cases that they take on. I highly recommend him and his great staff if you are looking for a personal injury lawyer.”- James H.
“His experience as an attorney proved invaluable. He guided me and kept me informed through the entire process. I definitely recommend this firm.”- Nancy V.
“Wonderful, compatible people. I highly recommend them. I myself was previously referred to Scott Law Firm & I absolutely don't regret my decision.”- Ariel T.