What to do if you were partially at fault in an accident?

Texas has a higher number of cellular phone users than the national average. Cell phones provide increased convenience, with the ability to communicate, run a GPS and look up information, all from the comfort of your car.

But along with the increased convenience these phones provide, Texas has seen a rise in distracted driving connected to cell phone use. The Texas Department of Transportation records show that 20% of Texas auto accidents are related to distracted driving.

Research by engineers and transportation experts find that driving while using a cell phone is particularly dangerous. This is because it not only distracts the driver from seeing the road when they look at the phone. Just speaking on the phone or composing a text message also diverts the drivers’ attention from all the risks on the road. Many have called it a national epidemic.

What is Comparative Fault (Proportional Responsibility)?

  • Comparative fault (also called comparative negligence) is a doctrine in law that allows people to receive compensation, even if they were partly at fault.
  • This is known as proportional responsibility under Texas state law.
  • Under comparative fault, the amount of money a person can recover is reduced based on how much they were at fault. For example, if your damages equalled $100,000, but you were 20% at fault, your damages would be reduced by twenty percent ($20,000 in this case), and
  • Judges or juries usually decide how much each person in an accident is at fault.
  • Twenty-three states in the U.S. apply comparative fault, including Texas.
  • Comparative fault is an improvement over the traditional rule of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence says that a person who was at-fault at all in an accident cannot recover anything from the other person in the accident. This was seen by many as too harsh a rule, and so comparative fault was developed.

What is “Modified” Comparative Fault?

“Pure” Comparative Fault

  • Under Pure Comparative Fault, a person can recover compensation for an accident, even if the other person in the accident was only a little bit responsible. For example, if you were 95% responsible, you could still recover 5% of your damages from the other person.

“Modified” Comparative Fault

  • Modified Comparative Fault is different. This doctrine says you can only recover in an accident if your share of the fault is less than a certain amount (usually 50 or 51 percent). This is also known as 51-percent modified comparative fault.

Texas is a 51-percent modified comparative fault state

  • Under Texas traffic and tort laws, if you are injured in an accident that was 50 percent or less your fault, you can still sue for payment. Only if you are 51 percent or more at fault in the accident can your claim be denied.