While any Texas car accident lawsuit has the potential to become very complicated, as a general rule the more parties that are involved in an accident, the more complex a subsequent personal injury case will be. In Texas, courts apply several doctrines to determine which accident victims are entitled to compensation for their injuries and the amount of compensation each at-fault party owes the plaintiff.
Under Texas’ comparative negligence law, an accident victim who is less than 51% at fault for causing the accident that resulted in their injuries can pursue claims for compensation against the other parties involved in the crash. After the case, the jury will assign each party, including the plaintiff, a percentage of fault. Under Section 33.013 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, each defendant is then liable only for their percentage of fault. Thus, a plaintiff may be required to recover several judgments to obtain full compensation for their injuries.
If, however, a defendant is more than 50% at fault, the defendant is considered jointly and severally liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. This means that, while a defendant who is more than 50% at fault is technically only responsible for their percentage of fault, at the plaintiff’s option, the defendant can be required to pay the full damages amount to the plaintiff. Then, the defendant would be able to pursue a claim against those defendants with a lesser percentage of fault. When joint-and-several liability applies, the burden of recovering on smaller judgments is shifted onto the defendant who is primarily responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.