Determining fault in a Texas car accident can be a very complex matter, depending on the surrounding circumstances. While some accidents involve few parties and present straightforward issues, other cases involve complex fact patterns that require judges and juries to consider and apply numerous legal doctrines.
One of the more common issues that can arise in a Texas personal injury lawsuit that may make the case more complicated is the presence of multiple parties, each of which shares some amount of fault in causing an accident. A common example of this type of case is a Texas chain reaction accident.
In these cases, Texas courts apply what is commonly known as the doctrine of comparative fault. In Texas, however, the doctrine is referred to as “proportionate liability.” Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code discusses proportionate liability and how it applies in Texas personal injury cases.
Dividing Up Responsibility
Under section 33.003, at the conclusion of the evidence, the fact-finder will assign a percentage of responsibility for each party involved in the case. Of course, this includes all named defendants in the lawsuit. However, this also includes the plaintiff as well as any parties who may have settled claims against them before trial. Third parties who are not named in the plaintiff’s complaint may also be assigned a percentage of fault, provided the defendant complied with the procedures outlined in section 33.004.
Importantly, Texas law allows for a plaintiff who is partially at fault for causing the accident that resulted in their injuries to recover from other at-fault parties. However, as section 33.001 explains, a plaintiff cannot pursue a claim against other parties if his share of responsibility is greater than 50%. If a plaintiff is determined to be partially at fault, then their total recovery amount will ultimately be reduced by their percentage of fault. Similarly, a defendant is only responsible for their share of the damages, and cannot be required to pay another party’s share if that party is unable to compensate the plaintiff fully. There is an exception, however, if a defendant was found to be more than 50% at fault, or if the plaintiff’s injuries were caused due to certain criminal acts committed by the defendant.
The Importance of Naming all Potentially Liable Parties
Given the manner in which courts apply proportionate liability, it is critical for a Texas personal injury plaintiff to thoroughly investigate their case and name all potentially liable parties in their complaint. A failure to do so could result in a named defendant shifting a majority of the fault onto an unnamed party, which will at least delay the proceedings and could defeat a plaintiff’s chance at recovering for their injuries.
Have You Been Injured in a Texas Accident?
If you have recently been injured in a Texas car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Texas personal injury lawsuit. It is essential, however, that you contact a dedicated San Antonio personal injury attorney to assist in the investigation and preparation of your case to ensure that all potentially liable parties are named from the outset. At the law firm of Carabin Shaw, we have extensive experience handling all types of Texas personal injury cases, including those involving multiple defendants. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your situation, call 800-862-1260 to schedule a free consultation today.
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