Most car crashes aren’t 100% one driver’s fault. Even if your collision was caused by a negligent driver, you can anticipate that their insurance company or attorney can find something you could have done differently that would have mitigated the risky circumstances that led to the crash. For example, maybe you were talking on your phone via your onboard system and didn’t notice the other driver failing to stop for a red light before they hit you.
The temptation to “spread the blame around” is one of the reasons why it’s crucial to seek legal guidance in the wake of a crash. Doing so can help to ensure that you aren’t assigned a larger percentage of the fault than is rightfully yours. This determination can make a big difference in the amount of compensation that you ultimately receive.
What is the 51% rule?
States use various formulas when it comes to negligence and compensation. Texas follows a type of comparative negligence rule known as “proportionate responsibility” or sometimes as a “51% rule.”
This means that if either party is determined to have at least 51% of the fault for a crash, they can’t collect anything from anyone else who was also partially at fault for the harm caused by the collision in question. However, if both parties are determined to be equally at fault, each can collect damages from the other.
That doesn’t mean that damages cancel each other out. For example, say one party suffers serious injuries and has extensive medical bills, repair costs on a luxury vehicle and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages. The other suffers only minor injuries and some dents in an old car. That first driver would likely end up with a large payout – although less than they’d receive if the other driver was determined to be exclusively at fault.
You can see how determining the precise cause of a crash is crucial if someone else’s negligence or recklessness was to blame. Pursuing an accurate determination of both causation and fault is just one reason why having sound legal guidance can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve in the wake of an injurious crash.