Accidents can be complicated. Many factors can contribute to a car accident or a slip and fall. There are times when more than one person is at fault. In some cases, a victim in an accident may share some of the blame.

What happens when multiple people contribute to an injury-causing accident? Who is liable for injuries? Can you still get money if you’re injured but also played a role in causing an accident?

Negligence is the Leading Cause of Accidents

Negligence is the leading cause of accidents in Austin. Negligence means that someone had a duty to act in a certain way, but didn’t. Examples might include texting and driving or speeding. Sometimes, multiple people are negligent and contribute to an accident. This is when Texas’ modified comparative fault rule applies.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence laws dictate what happens when multiple people are responsible for an accident. In simple terms, comparative negligence means that:

  • Multiple people can be liable for damages resulting from an accident, and
  • You aren’t barred from recovering compensation just because you contributed to your accident.

All but four states follow comparative negligence rules. The others are contributory negligence states, which prevent you from getting any money if you are even 1 percent to blame for an accident.

A few states embrace “pure” comparative negligence rules. They allow anyone to recover compensation, as long as someone else is also partly to blame. In these states, you could get money after an accident even if you were 99 percent responsible.

Texas, and most other states, follow “modified’ comparative fault rules. In Texas, this is also called “proportionate responsibility.” In these states, you can recover compensation as long as you are not more than 50 or 51 percent responsible.

Bar to Recovery in Texas

Texas imposes a 51 percent bar to recovery. In other words, you retain the right to pursue compensation as long as you are less than 51 percent to blame for an accident. Someone else (or several other people) must be mostly responsible for the accident.

How Comparative Negligence Can Affect Your Financial Award

So, you can recover compensation after an accident as long as you are no more than 49 percent to blame. However, it’s important to understand that your role in causing the accident will affect your financial award.

Just because you reserve the right to ask for compensation doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get it all. Under comparative negligence rules, your ability to recover compensation is reduced by your degree of fault.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you are involved in an Austin car accident. You’re attributed 25 percent of the blame for the crash. Between medical bills and lost wages, you’ve incurred about $40,000 in damages. When you seek compensation from other parties, your award will be reduced by 25 percent. You’ll only be able to recover 75 percent of your damages, or $30,000.

Understanding Your Liability to Others

Did someone else get hurt in your accident? You might be on the hook for damages. Under comparative fault rules, anyone who contributes to an accident can be liable. This is true even if you were injured in the crash. You’ll be liable to the degree to which you caused the accident.

Again, let’s say that you were 25 percent responsible for a car accident. You weren’t the only one who was injured. Another person also sustained $40,000 in damages because of the accident. Since you were 25 percent at fault, you’ll be liable for 25 percent ($10,000) of their damages.

It’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Austin if you’ve been involved in an accident. Others involved in the accident will try to shift some (or all) of the blame to you. You’ll need an attorney who knows how to protect you from these claims and minimize your role in the accident. The less fault you share, the more money you’ll be able to get.