Many people assume fault for most motor vehicle crashes is cut and dry: there is one victim and one at-fault party. However, some cases are more complicated, particularly truck accident cases. There are even situations where a truck crash victim is partially to blame.
In Texas, these situations are governed by the modified comparative negligence doctrine. Below, our Fort Worth truck accident lawyers explain how this rule affects truck accident cases. We also discuss proportionate responsibility and how victims could be partially at fault.
Our law firm has secured more than $100 million in compensation on behalf of our clients. We charge zero upfront fees, and an initial legal consultation is free.
Call Anderson & Cummings for post-truck crash legal help: (817) 920-9000.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal theory that says the percentage of damages you can recover in a personal injury claim matches the other party’s percentage of fault. In other words, if another party is 80 percent at fault, you can recover 80 percent of the total value of your claim from that party.
This theory applies to accidents where the victim is partially to blame. In the example above, the victim is 20 percent at fault, which means he or she loses 20 percent of the total value of the damages.
The Modified Comparative Negligence Rule in Texas
Texas’ modified comparative negligence rule is also called the 51 percent rule. This rule says accident victims can recover compensation if they are no more than 50 percent at fault for their injuries. The law prohibits the recovery of compensation for victims who are 51 percent or more at fault.
The modified comparative negligence rule also says your total compensation award will be reduced by your total percentage of fault.
This legal standard is not as harsh as a pure contributory fault standard that is applied in other states. In those states, you cannot recover any compensation if you are even one percent at fault.
However, there are some states that do not have a threshold for barring compensation. In these states, you could be well over 50 percent at fault and still seek compensation.
How Could a Truck Crash Victim Be Partially at Fault?
Many truck crashes are caused by the negligence of the truck driver. However, there are times when the victim may be partially to blame, such as if he or she:
- Had a broken tail light
- Cut in front of a truck
- Changed lanes without signaling
- Followed a commercial truck too closely
- Was distracted
- Was in a truck driver’s blind spot and may have had a chance to move before the collision occurred
Negligent Parties Often Blame Victims Who Are Not at Fault
It is important to remember that trucking companies and their insurers often assign fault to victims when the victims are not in any way at fault. They do this because they are trying to deny or underpay claims to save themselves money.
If the trucking company or insurance company tells you that you are partially at fault, you should not take them at the word. It is important to discuss the situation with an experienced lawyer. You might not be even one percent to blame, and an experienced lawyer should know how to dispute claims from the at-fault parties about your role in the accident.
The Texas Doctrine of Proportionate Responsibility
Texas also uses the proportionate responsibility doctrine to assign fault in injury cases. This doctrine assigns fault proportionally to all the at-fault parties. For example, one party might be 60 percent at fault, while another party may be 40 percent to blame.
This doctrine can apply to any injury claim, but it often comes up in a truck accident claim, as multiple parties may be at fault. For example, the driver may have been negligent because he or she was speeding or following another vehicle too closely. However, when the driver applied the brake, it may not have worked properly because the maintenance company did a poor job repairing it. The trucking company could also be at fault because it hired the maintenance company that failed to properly repair the brakes. Each of these parties may bear some percentage of fault for the truck accident.
Proving Fault in a Texas Truck Accident Case
There are various pieces of evidence that can be used to prove fault for a commercial truck crash. These pieces of evidence may also be used to dispute invalid claims that the victim is to blame.
For example, statements from witnesses may back up the victim’s account of events. These statements may also support analysis from expert witnesses and crash damage reports.
Photos and videos can also show how an accident occurred and the results of the accident. While statements about the crash are important, visual evidence can be even more powerful, particularly for juries.
One of the challenges with truck accident cases is preserving evidence, which is why it is so important for victims to call a lawyer as soon as possible. Lawyers can take steps to preserve evidence, helping them build stronger cases.
Contact Anderson & Cummings For Legal Help After a Truck Crash
Have you been injured in a truck accident?
Anderson & Cummings has the resources and legal knowledge to seek full compensation for your injuries and damages. We represent clients on contingency, which means there are no upfront costs and no fees while working on your case.
Call to schedule your free legal consultation: (817) 920-9000.