Comparative Negligence in Texas

Texas’ comparative negligence laws allow you to collect damages in proportion to your degree of fault in a car accident.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Edited by Jessica Barrett
background
Modified comparative negligence laws state that every driver making a
Texas car insurance
claim may receive damages in proportion to their degree of fault in an accident, as long as it’s 50% or less.
  • Texas law prevents any driver who is 51% or more at fault in a car accident from collecting damages.
  • If you file an insurance claim, your damages will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault by Texas’s modified comparative fault laws.
  • Your percentage of fault is decided by the insurance adjuster handling your claim.

What is Texas’ comparative negligence law?

Comparative negligence is a legal system for awarding damages after an accident. The amount of damages each driver receives is based on their percentage of fault.
Here’s an example of comparative fault rules:
  • Let’s say you get into an auto accident with another driver and you’re determined to be 20% at fault
  • You’ll only be held liable for 20% of the damages—but any claims you make will also be reduced by 20%
  • Since the other driver is responsible for 80% of the blame, they’re responsible for 80% of the costs
Texas is a comparative fault state and its comparative negligence rules apply to bodily injuries, property damages, and personal injury cases. If you
file a car insurance claim
, an adjuster for the car insurance company will determine each driver’s degree of fault. If you file a personal injury claim, a judge and jury will do the same in court.

Comparative negligence versus contributory negligence

Each state's law follows one of three levels of comparative negligence:
  • Pure comparative negligence: Each injured party collects damages according to their percentage of fault. 
  • Partial/modified comparative negligence: Depending on the state, an injured party may only collect a percentage of damages if they’re less than 50 or 51% at fault.
  • Pure contributory negligence: An injured party may only collect damages if they’re 100% not at fault.
Texas uses modified comparative fault laws, but it's called “proportionate responsibility”.
Key Takeaway All damages awarded in Texas follow a system of proportionate responsible, which compensates each claimant in proportion to their percentage of fault (up to 50%).

Insurers use evidence and police reports to determine fault

If you file a claim against a car insurance company, the insurance adjuster representing that company will determine your percentage of fault. For that reason, it’s important to collect as much evidence as you can.
Of course, one of the first
things you should do after a car accident
is check that everyone’s okay, call 911 for any injuries, and move your car to a safe place. But once you’ve gotten over the shock, it’s best to document everything you can by:
  • Taking pictures of every car involved, any visible damages, and the road itself
  • Recording the names, contact numbers, insurance companies, and policy numbers of every driver involved
  • Recording the
    make and model
    of all cars involved
  • Talking to witnesses and recording their names and contact information
  • Noting the time of day and weather conditions
  • Noting the police report number and the badge number of any officers who respond
The more evidence you collect, the better equipped the insurance adjuster will be to determine causation and fault in your car accident case.

FAQ

Under the Texan doctrine of proportionate responsibility, you can recover damages in proportion to your percentage of fault as long as it doesn’t exceed 50%. For example, if you’re only found 20% at fault, you can recover 80% of your damages. But if you’re 51% or more at fault, you can’t recover anything. 
Comparative negligence is a legal system used for deciding fault and damages after an accident. Everyone involved is responsible for a share of the damages in proportion to their percentage of fault. For example, if you’re 20% at fault in an accident, you’re liable for 20% of the costs—but you can also claim 80% of your repair and medical bills.
When three or more people are involved in a car accident in Texas, the person most at fault is responsible for paying proportionate damages to all parties involved. 
If you want to claim damages from two or more at-fault parties, you may choose to file a claim with only one of them. But depending on the circumstances, it could result in collecting fewer damages than you otherwise would.
If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit, we highly recommend hiring a personal injury lawyer or personal injury law firm. Unlike filing a car insurance claim, the process of suing for wrongful death or claiming damages related to a negligence case is extremely complicated and inaccessible to ordinary people. 
If you’re interested in going to court, there may be a legal representative in your area willing to provide a free consultation, a free case evaluation, or pro-bono legal advice.
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