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How Texas negligence laws work


Negligence occurs when a person doesn’t uphold reasonable care that another individual would have used in the same circumstance. Sometimes, the fault is obvious, and the injured party can get compensated. When the fault isn’t obvious, comparative negligence could apply.

Basics of comparative negligence

Comparative negligence theory holds all parties responsible for personal injury cases, which limits compensation. The court assigns each party a percentage of the blame, and the percentage determines compensation.

For example, if the court assigns one party a 10% fault and the party seeks $30,000 in compensation, they receive $27,000. It means that the defendant holds 90% of the fault for the accident, so if they seek $20,000, they get $2,000. Auto insurance providers use this rule to only pay for the damages their client caused.

Other types of negligence doctrine

Texas applies modified comparative fault laws to personal injury cases. This means that the plaintiff is barred from collecting damages over a certain percentage. Most states refer to this as the 50% rule, restricting the ability to collect to that fault percentage. Twenty-three states apply the 51% rule, which restricts collecting damages to 50% or less fault.

A few states follow the pure comparative law doctrine, which prohibits collection if the plaintiff is assigned even 1%. Only South Dakota follows the slight and gross rule, which assigns more blame to the party who caused more damage.

Some insurance providers will work with the plaintiff to avoid court, but others will not cooperate or will make low settlement offers. If the plaintiff can’t work things out with the provider, a lawyer may be able to to help negotiate a fair settlement or sue the negligent party for damages.