Texas state law protects individuals who have been injured in an accident by allowing them to file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party. This lawsuit is aimed at getting financial compensation for medical costs and damages that were a result of the accident and the injury. The injured party has two years after the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit but knowing who is at fault for the accident and being able to show their liability is key in ensuring you get the compensation you deserve.
Branch & Dhillon, P.C. is dedicated to ensuring that the individuals of Arlington, Texas, and the surrounding areas get the compensation they deserve. We will work closely with you to get a clear picture of what happened during the accident, helping you to determine which party was at fault and helping you gather the evidence to clearly show their liability. This article takes a closer look at how liability is established in a personal injury claim. Here is what you need to know for your injury case:
Establishing Negligence in a Texas Personal Injury Case
The state of Texas requires that the plaintiff can show, “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is responsible for the action. This is done by establishing that these elements existed between the plaintiff and the defendant:
The Defendant Had a Duty to the Plaintiff
Under the law, every person owes others a duty of care to avoid an accident that can cause injury to another individual or damage to their property. For example, a driver must follow the driving laws, pay attention to changing conditions of the road around them, and prevent distractions while behind the wheel.
The Defendant Breached Their Duty
When an individual breaches their duty, it puts themselves and others at risk of sustaining an injury due to an accident. This breach of duty can either occur as a failure to do something or a failure to not do something. For example, a driver who fails to stop at a red light because they were texting on their phone would be an example of a breach of duty.
The Defendant’s Breach of Duty Was the Cause of the Accident Which Resulted in Injury to the Plaintiff
Continuing from the previous example, the driver, who was texting and failed to stop at the red light, rear-ends the car in front of them. The collision causes the first driver to sustain a broken wrist that requires surgery to be fixed as well as their car to be totaled. This accident could have been avoidable had the defendant been paying attention to the road instead of their phone.
Branch & Dhillon Inside Look at Personal Injury Law: Sometimes establishing that the cause of the accident is straightforward. It is easy to see the connection between failing to stop at a stop light due to distracted driving. In other cases, though, establishing this connection can be difficult. For example, if the same scenario were to take place and the defendant wasn’t texting on their phone but still managed to hit the driver in front of them, there could be several different factors that led to the accident. The defendant’s brakes may have been defective, preventing them from stopping. The plaintiff could be at fault for cutting over in front of the defendant too soon.
Depending on how the accident occurred, the liability falls to either the plaintiff or another party, such as the manufacturer of the faulty brakes. It is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to ensure that you are going after the right party and that you can prove “without reasonable doubt” that the defendant is at fault for your accident.
The Plaintiff’s Injuries and Damages Were a Direct Result of the Accident
To receive compensation for your injuries and damages, it must be shown that those injuries and damages were from the accident itself and not older injuries that were present before the accident. This can be done by presenting medical records after the accident, pictures from the accident and the damages to you and your property, and witness testimony.
The Different Types of Negligence
Unfortunately, proving fault isn’t the only thing that can affect your personal injury case. There are cases where the court may find that the plaintiff may be partially responsible for the accident. For example, if the plaintiff cut in front of the defendant before a stop sign and was then struck due to not giving the driver behind them enough room to stop, then both parties could potentially be at fault.
In these situations, comparative negligence laws will apply to your case. The court will reduce the amount of compensation the plaintiff can receive by the percentage of liability they share in the accident. Each state has different rules for shared liability. These are as follows:
- Pure Comparative Negligence: The court will total the damages of the plaintiff and reduce the compensation by the amount of fault they share. They can recover compensation, even if they share 50% or more of the liability.
- Modified Comparative Negligence: The court will reduce the compensation of the plaintiff by the liability they share but if they are more than 50% at fault, then they will be denied compensation.
- Contributory Negligence: If the plaintiff shares any part of the liability, the court may totally or partially prevent them from recovering damages.
The State of Texas Is a Modified Comparative Negligence State
Texas follows the modified comparative negligence rules of negligence. Oftentimes, the courts will refer to this standard of negligence as ‘proportionate responsibility.’ This simply means that compensation awarded could be reduced if it is found that the plaintiff has partial liability for the accident and injuries.
For example, if the plaintiff is found to be 40% at fault for the accident, they will receive 60% of the total dollar amount established as compensation. If there was no fault found, then the plaintiff could walk with the entire amount.
Determine Whether You Have a Case
If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another party but are unsure whether or not you can claim compensation, then you need to contact the dedicated personal injury team at Branch & Dhillon, P.C. Our team offers a free, no-obligation consultation so that we can go over the specifics of your case and give you the legal advice that best fits your situation. We work with you every step of the way to ensure that all of the right evidence is collected, your voice is heard, and you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our team today for more information!