Pure comparative negligence determines that injury compensation is divided based on fault. Not all states follow this rule.
“One of the key ingredients necessary to determine fault in accidents is the presence of negligence. In the U.S., there are four ways to figure out damage awards: pure contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence (50 percent bar rule) and then modified comparative negligence (51 percent bar rule). Not all states follow the same system. In order to know what you may face in court, if your accident was in Texas, you will need to understand how the system works. For this, you will need to consult a personal injury lawyer,” said Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.
When a plaintiff goes to file for damages as the result of an accident, the arbiter at trial has to figure out who caused the accident. Typically, the person who was negligent and caused the crash is the one paying for the damages. However, if more than one individual was at fault, the negligence is divvied up between the parties on a percentage basis, based on the apportionment laws of the state where the accident took place. “Depending on the jurisdiction, the allocation does impact damages awarded,” said Austin personal injury lawyer Schuelke.
While it may seem like an odd way to talk about liability – who did what and how much at fault they are – there has to be some method in place to break liability down into percentages. This is particularly true if one party is more responsible for the wreck than another. Ultimately, it is a matter of being more or less responsible for their actions. That does not mean both individuals cannot file claims for compensation for any injuries or damages they sustained.
“An example may be that a person is 45 percent liable for a car wreck because they turned abruptly without signaling their intentions and were rear-ended because the person behind them was following too close. That means they could claim 55% of the total compensation they may be awarded. In other words, the percentage of the fault that was not theirs,” Schuelke said. While this may be confusing, an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer can explain it in plain English so that it makes sense.
In Texas, the modified comparative fault (51 percent) rule is followed. That means an injured plaintiff may only recover if it is deemed that the plaintiff’s fault isn’t 51 percent or greater. If the injured victim was 50 percent or less at fault for the accident, they may still recover damages. “What this boils down to is that if a plaintiff is found to be responsible for causing 50% of the accident, they may still file a damage claim and recover. If the plaintiff was responsible for more than half the crash, they are barred from getting damages from the court,” Schuelke said.
“There are always exceptions to every rule, so if there are questions about any case you may have been involved in, call my office for answers. That’s my job, to tell you your rights and if I may assist you, I will,” Schuelke said.
Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC at https://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.
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