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.
Another consideration in Texas multi-vehicle car accidents is the one-satisfaction rule. If a Texas car accident victim is injured in a crash that was caused by the negligence of multiple parties, the plaintiff can only recover for the injuries they received one time. Under the one-satisfaction rule, “a plaintiff is entitled to only one recovery for any damages suffered” even if more than one defendant’s negligence caused the accident.
An interesting exception to the one-satisfaction rule is the collateral-source rule. Under the collateral source rule, a plaintiff who recovers compensation from a collateral source (such as an insurance policy) cannot have their compensation award reduced by the amount they recovered from the collateral source.
In a recent state appellate decision, the Texas Supreme Court explained that the collateral-source rule does not implicate the same double-recovery concerns as the one-satisfaction rule. This is because when an injured party receives compensation from a collateral source, they generally assign the right to pursue a claim against the remaining defendants to the party that provided the payment. Thus, if an insurance company compensates an accident victim, the accident victim will usually then assign their right to pursue a claim against the defendant to the insurance company. If the insurance company can recover against the defendant, then the plaintiff will not have received a double-recovery.
Have You Been Injured in a Texas Car Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Texas car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident can be incredibly frustrating. Rather than go at it alone, contact the dedicated San Antonio personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Carabin Shaw for assistance. At Carabin Shaw, we have a proud and extensive history of representing Texas accident victims and their families. To learn more, call 800-862-1260 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.