One of the most critical aspects to a personal injury claim is proving fault for the injury. While some personal injury cases are straightforward, such as cases involving only one liable party, other cases where multiple liable parties exist can become extremely complicated very quickly. Fault, or liability, is determined by each party’s degree of responsibility for causing the accident or injury in Texas.
Texas Is A Fault State
Texas is a fault state, meaning that when it comes to determining who is responsible for injuries the courts look to who was at fault. When the injuries are the result of intentional actions, the court places fault with the person who committed the intentional act. When the injuries are the result of negligent action, the court considers to what degree the negligence contributed to the injuries. Each party is held accountable for their negligent actions, and for their share of the liability for the injuries.
The victim might be partially at fault for their injuries due to their own negligence. The victim may still be able to recover for their injuries; however, there is a limit in place for how liable a victim can be and still obtain recovery from others.
Fault Can Arise In A Number of Ways
Fault for injuries can be found in a number of ways. For instance:
- The injuries could be the result of intentional misconduct;
- The injuries could be the result of negligence;
- The injuries could be the result of negligence per se, where someone is considered to have acted negligently as a result of doing something else. For example, when a person breaks the law, and someone else is injured as a result, the court might deem the person who broke the law in the first place per se negligent; or
- The injuries could be the result of something that is subject to strict liability. For instance, dog owners are held strictly liable for any dog bite injuries if they know that their dog has a history of biting.
Texas Is A Modified Comparative Negligence State
In Texas, a modified comparative negligence theory is used to determine fault. When a victim is injured, due at least in part to their own negligence, the court will determine how responsible the victim is for their own injuries, and will reduce the victim’s total recovery by their share of the liability. The courts allow the victim to recover even when the victim is up to 51 percent at fault for the injuries. However, if the victim is more than 51 percent at fault, the victim is barred from seeking recovery.
Multiple Parties Contribute To A Victim’s Injuries
When multiple parties are involved, things can get complicated. A liability determination for all parties involved must be made, which considers the role that each party played in causing the victim’s injuries. The victim can only obtain a total recovery from all of the liable parties combined, meaning the victim’s recovery will be assessed at a certain value and then liability for that total will be divided up amongst the liable parties according to their share, or percentage, of liability.