Whose Fault Are Truck Accidents? Part 4: Proportionate Responsibility

Truck accidents are often the fault of the truck driver, but not always. There are some circumstances where the driver of another vehicle is to blame. But even in those cases, it is sometimes possible for the other driver to seek damages from the truck driver. This is because Texas has what is known as a proportionate responsibility (also known as comparative fault) law.

Modified Comparative Fault

Texas is one of 33 states that uses the modified comparative fault rule. If a person is injured in a car accident in Texas, he or she cannot recover damages from the other party if he or she is 51 percent or more responsible for the crash. Percentage of fault is determined by a jury. So, if a driver gets into an accident with a truck, that driver could argue that the truck driver played some role in the accident as well. Here’s an example.

Natasha is driving down I-35 during a sunny day and she is stuck in traffic. She is distracted by a car accident up ahead and changes lanes without signaling and strikes a semi-truck that is approaching from behind. The semi-truck was driving 10 mph over the speed limit. Natasha suffers serious injuries and seeks a lawsuit against the truck driver for her lost wages, pain and suffering and medical bills.

The truck driver’s representatives claim that Natasha was at fault for not using her turn signals. Natasha’s lawyer says that while Natasha was indeed distracted, the truck driver’s speeding was unlawful and made Natasha’s injuries much more severe. Natasha seeks $100,000 in damages. A jury hears both sides and determines that, while Natasha’s distraction contributed to the accident, the truck driver’s excessive speed was the main factor in Natasha’s injuries. They decide that Natasha was 30 percent at fault, so she is entitled to 70 percent of the damages she sought. Meanwhile, the truck driver and his company are not able to recover at all.



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