I was hurt as a result of someone driving recklessly (possibly street racing). Do I deserve higher compensation?

If you were injured in an Texas car accident because the other car was driving recklessly, you may be able to receive higher compensation. That is because reckless driving like street racing can be considered gross negligence under Texas state traffic and liability laws.

When an accident is caused by someone’s gross negligence, injured victims can often receive additional money known as exemplary damages.

Gross Negligence and Auto Accident Laws in Texas

What is Gross Negligence?

Negligence is a legal term meaning carelessness. People who do not take proper care and hurt other people as a result may be legally responsible for that harm. Negligence laws apply to auto accidents in Texas. Drivers who are negligent and cause a car accident may have to pay for the bodily injuries and property damages of anyone hurt in the accident.

Gross negligence is a more severe type of negligence in which someone is particularly reckless. People who act recklessly and ignore the obvious risks of injuring others are often determined to be grossly negligent. Intentionally violating a safety law can be proof someone was being grossly negligent.

For example, drivers who are street racing are behaving even more than carelessly, they are being reckless. They are ignoring the clear risks to other drivers and pedestrians who may be on the road or sidewalk. And street racers are also violating speed limit regulations and laws against racing on public streets. They are grossly negligent.

How Gross Negligence Works in Texas Auto Accident Law

When it comes to negligence, Texas state law uses a rule called modified comparative fault. This means that if you’re injured in an accident because of someone’s carelessness, the court will see if you also were partly at fault for your injury:

  • If the court decides you’re more than 51% at fault, you cannot receive money from the other drivers in the accident, even if they were at fault too.
  • If you were 50% or less at fault, you can get a money award for all of your injuries. However, the court will reduce the amount you receive by the percentage you were at fault.

For example, say Driver A and Driver B get in an accident. If Driver A was 70% at fault and Driver B was 30% at fault, Driver B can still recover some money from Driver A, but it will be reduced by 30%.

But if Driver A was street racing, Driver A might be grossly negligent and responsible for the entire accident. If this was the case Driver B might be able to recover 100%.

Gross Negligence and Punitive Damages (Exemplary Damages) under Texas Law

If someone has committed gross negligence, sometimes courts allow the injured people to receive more money than the total cost of their injuries (more than car repairs, medical bills, therapy, lost wages). This additional money is usually called punitive damages.

Punitive Damages and Exemplary Damages Discourage Reckless Behavior

Punitive means intended to punish. Courts impose punitive damages to punish the person who was grossly negligent (extremely careless and putting others at risk of injury). This is a way to reform the person’s behavior, and sends a message to others not to act so recklessly.

Under Texas state negligence law, punitive damages are called exemplary damages, because they make an example of the person who was grossly negligent. Again, exemplary damages are intended to discourage that person from doing it again. They also make that person an example to warn others of what can happen if they drive recklessly.

Exemplary Damages Require a High Standard of Proof Under Texas Law

Regular negligence needs to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. This means it is more likely than not (51% likely) that a person was negligent.

To receive exemplary damages in Texas, an Texas auto accident victim must show someone was reckless with clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is sometimes said to be 75% likely. It is a higher hurdle than a preponderance of the evidence.

Because these areas of law are complex and require knowledge of Texas traffic and liability laws, they are difficult to argue without an Texas auto accident attorney.

If you have been in an Texas auto accident, and the other driver was reckless, call Justinian and Associates for a free consultation today. Tell us your story, and we’ll tell you your options. No obligation.