In order to recover compensation for damages in a car accident, plaintiffs in Texas need to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. That the actions or inactions of the defendant caused the accident from which they suffered monetary and non-monetary losses.
Texas law requires drivers using Texan roads to protect themselves and other road users by providing a minimum coverage of $30,000 in bodily injury per person and $25,000 in property damage if they are found liable in an accident. Dale R. Rose, PLLC, is a qualified personal injury firm that understands the necessary elements to prove negligence in a Texas car accident claim.
Negligence in Texas Car Accidents
Negligence is a legal term in personal injury claims (like car accidents) referring to a person’s lack of regard for the safety of others or their failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person.
Texas is a comparative fault jurisdiction. This means that a driver who is entirely, or at least 50 percent, liable for an accident has to take responsibility for their share of the fault. In addition, the rule of “modified comparative fault” in Texas allows financial compensation only when the plaintiff’s percentage of responsibility in the accident is less than that of the defendant(s). Therefore, you will not receive any compensation if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault in the accident.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Texas Car Accident Claim?
Proving negligence or fault in a car accident claim requires evidence like pictures, videos, police reports, crash reconstruction reports, and witness testimonies, among others. Below are the four elements needed to prove negligence in a Texas car accident claim:
Duty of Care
This is the legal obligation of a driver to act in a manner that ensures the safety of other road users. This obligation entails obeying traffic laws and extends to anyone using the road. The duty of care is established in court by proving that the defendant was negligently operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.
The duty of care does not apply to the driver only and may extend to other parties. For example, a vehicle owner may share liability with the at-fault driver under the theory of negligent entrustment. It is a legal theory based on the idea that the vehicle owner knew or reasonably should have known that the at-fault driver was incompetent, reckless, or unlicensed. Other parties include government entities who have a duty to maintain roads and employers who may be liable for the actions of their employees when said actions are performed within the scope of their employment.
Breach of Duty
After establishing that the defendant owed you a duty of care, you must prove that they breached this duty. A breach of duty is any action that differs from what a reasonable person would do under the same or similar circumstances. Some examples of breach of duty include:
- Driving too slowly
- Driving under the influence
- Tailgating, i.e., driving too closely behind another vehicle
- Distracted driving
The judge or jury decides if the defendant breached the duty of care. For example, a driver going at 70 MPH in a 55 MPH zone places other road users at risk of harm or injury. This is not something a reasonable person would do and if their speed caused the wreck, it should be considered negligence.
Breach of duty is not causation. It is not sufficient to show that the driver made a mistake. The plaintiff must link the breach of duty to causing the accident. Causation is conveyed as a “but for clause.” That is, but for this breach of duty, the accident would not have occurred. Speeding is a factor that may have contributed to the cause of an accident, but not all speeding drivers cause accidents. This is sometimes the most challenging element to prove.
Types of Recoverable Damages
If the car accident did not result in any damages, there is no legal claim for relief. Damages is a legal term that is used to include several types of recoverable claims. To recover money for a personal injury claim, you must show that the accident caused your injuries or damages directly linked to the accident.
Damages in a Texas car accident include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity (ability to do your work in the future)
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Retaining all medical records and receipts related to the accident is crucial. A skilled and experienced Texas personal injury lawyer may accurately assess your damages and determine what your claim is worth.
Furthermore, if the plaintiff’s injuries are due to the at-fault driver’s gross negligence, fraud, or malice, the judge may award punitive/exemplary damages. Punitive damages are awarded as a penalty or a way to push the defendant, not to compensate the plaintiff.
Contact an Experienced Texas Car Accident Lawyer to Handle Your Claim
Car accidents are scary and stressful. Getting legal representation for your injury claim allows you to focus on healing without worrying about the case. Leaning on the knowledge and experience of a Texas car accident lawyer is the best decision you can make for your recovery and your case.
If you have been injured in a Texas car accident, contact the best lawyer in North Texas with 25+ years of experience handling personal injury claims at Dale R. Rose, PLLC. We are committed to ensuring you get the justice you deserve and total compensation for your injuries. Call (972) 634-ROSE (7673) or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.