Yes, you can because Texas operates under a modified comparative negligence rule. Unless you were 51 percent or more at fault for your accident, you can still file a lawsuit and recover financially for any damages you incurred. At Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, we have seen many individuals who did not pursue a claim because they believe they were partially liable— which therefore disqualified them from filing a lawsuit. This is not true.
What is the 51% Bar Rule, and What Does it Mean for My Case?
Section 33.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code says that “a claimant may not recover damages if his percentage of responsibility is greater than 50 percent.” This is commonly referred to as the 51% Bar Rule. As noted above, as long as you were not at least 51 percent responsible for the accident, you will still be eligible to file a lawsuit for damages.
In some car accidents, it is clear that one driver was the sole cause of the crash. However, in many other accidents, it is much more complicated. Sometimes, more than two vehicles were involved in the crash, and sometimes more than one driver was negligent in some way. The 51% Bar Rule holds you accountable for your actions while still enabling you to recover a portion of your losses.
Should I Hire an Attorney, and if So, When Should I Do It?
By hiring a qualified Dallas car accident attorney, you will be working with someone who has experience investigating all of the facts and circumstances that led to your accident regardless of who was cited by law enforcement.
After conducting this investigation, your auto accident lawyer should be able to provide an estimate as to the degree of fault, if any, that may be assigned to you. The other driver’s insurance company will likely argue that you were more at fault than you claim. Therefore, this issue will be on the table in settlement negotiations and then again at trial– if the parties cannot reach a fair settlement agreement.
How are Damages Awarded if You Were Partially at Fault?
Section 33.012 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code states that “the court shall reduce the amount of damages to be recovered by the claimant with respect to a cause of action by a percentage equal to the claimant’s percentage of responsibility.” In other words, the monetary amount of damages that you are seeking will be reduced by the proportion of fault that you are assigned for the crash.
For example, suppose you sustain serious back and neck injuries as a result of an accident. The other driver was cited for reckless driving, and you were cited for distracted driving. In that case, you may both share a portion of the fault. If a jury finds that you have $1 Million in damages and you were 25 percent at fault for the crash, you receive $750,000.
Contact us for a free consultation
Our attorneys and staff at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP have more than 65 combined years of experience representing Texans– and we have earned more than $100 Million in jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. If you have been injured in a car accident and you may have been partially at fault, call us today to book a 100 percent free consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Nothing will come out of your pocket unless you prevail.