Are you always at fault if you’re speeding and in an accident?

The short answer is “usually, but not always.”

Most auto accident lawsuits in Texas are the result of some driver’s negligence. Negligence is a legal term meaning carelessness.

Speeding Laws in Texas

Texas Transportation Code, Section 545.352 (“Prima Facie Speed Limit”)

Section 545.352 of the Texas Transportation Code lays out speed limits for the state. These speed limits depend on:

  • The location (e.g., urban vs. rural areas)
  • The type of vehicle (e.g. 18-wheeler, commercial bus)

Texas Transportation Code, Section 545.351 (“Maximum Speed Limit”)

Section 545.351 of the Texas Transportation Code states that deciding the safe maximum speed limit depends on the actual “conditions” on that road. In certain cases, driving safely may require that the driver slow down:

  • At an intersection or railroad crossing
  • Approaching and going around a curve
  • Driving over a hill crest
  • On a narrow or winding roadway
  • A special hazard to traffic (e.g., pedestrians, bad weather or road conditions)

Texas Car Accidents and Texas Negligence Law

Under Texas negligence law, someone whose carelessness harms another person may have to pay for the other person’s injury. In the case of car accidents in Texas, deciding if there was negligence involves two main questions:

Was the driver being careful enough? (Standard of Care)

Standard of Care

You are negligent if your behavior is less careful than a level set by the Court. This measurement is known as the standard of care. Courts require us to act in the way a “reasonable person” would act under similar circumstances. If we do not, we do not meet the standard of care.

Negligence Per Se

When behavior violates a safety law, Texas Courts will generally assume that the behavior did not meet the standard of care. Unless you have a particularly good excuse for why you broke the safety law, judges and juries will usually decide you were legally too careless. This is known as negligence per se.

If you were driving faster than the speed limit in a certain area, you were violating Texas safety laws. Section 545.352 of the Texas Transportation Code also states that driving faster than the posted speed limit is evidence that the driving was unreasonable and careless.

So if you were speeding, a Court will probably assume you were being careless. The next question is whether that negligent driving caused the accident.

Did the careless driving lead to the accident? (Causation)

In order to recover money for an injury under negligence law, the careless behavior must have caused the injury. Even if you behave carelessly, that behavior must cause the accident which led to the injury.

For example, if you were driving 5 miles above the speed limit, but the other driver flew through a red light and plowed into you in the intersection, your careless driving (speeding) might not be considered the cause of the accident.

Texas Traffic Law and Comparative Fault (Proportionate Responsibility)

Under the road regulations and negligence laws of Texas, if more than one driver is caused an accident because of careless driving, a special rule applies. This is often called comparative fault, and in Texas is known as proportionate responsibility.

In Texas, only drivers who were less than 51% at fault in causing the accident can receive money. (In legal speak, this is known as modified comparative negligence).

The bottom line: even if you were speeding, if the other driver was driving carelessly or in a reckless manner, you might both be at fault. And depending on your speed limit and how the accident occurred, you still may be able to receive partial payment for your injuries.

Each case is different, and deciding fault depends on the specific details of the case. If you were in a car accident in Texas and would like your case evaluated, call Justinian & Associates for an absolutely free consultation. You can tell your story to an experienced Texas attorney, and we will let you know your options under Texas law. There is no obligation.