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What is negligence and how does it affect compensation?

We've all heard the stories: you're driving along a roadway in Texas when suddenly you hear the screeching of tires and the loud crash of breaking glass. When you come to, your airbag has been deployed and you slowly become aware of the fact that you've just been involved in an accident.

Your first thoughts are rarely on what caused the accident. You're more worried about the state of your car, whether you're injured and how much everything is going to cost you. It's not until after the dust settles that you finally ask the all important question: How did this happen and who was at fault?

 

In order to answer this question you have to keep in mind that there are a number of factors that determine who is liable for your injuries. Generally, fault is broken down into four main levels:

  1. Negligence - Typically refers to carelessness or inadvertent behaviors that result in collisions and injuries.
  2. Recklessness - Usually refers to a willful disregard for safety.
  3. Intentional misconduct - Applies in cases where another person or driver does something to intentionally cause an accident.
  4. Strict liability - Typically applies in cases involving specific product defects or in collisions caused by dangerous situations (example: a truck carrying flammable liquids bursts into flames after rolling over and you are injured as a result.)

Negligence claims are common after a motor vehicle collision, but how does this affect compensation, you may ask? Negligence claims in Texas follow the contributory negligence rule which states that a person may recover damages after a collision if their portion of negligence is less than the other driver. (Civ. Prac. & Rem. §33.001)

This is determined by using the 51 Percent Bar Rule, which states that if a person is 51 percent or more at fault in a crash, they cannot recover damages. If the person's fault is determined to be 50 percent or less, however, they can receive compensation less the percentage they were at fault.

Handling a claim on your own isn't always the best idea

If determining the percentage of fault seems like a difficult process, you wouldn't be alone in thinking that. A lot of people get tripped up by this part of their personal injury claim. Many more are unable to identify when their settlement is a fair one or not as a result.

Getting help from an attorney is never a bad idea in personal injury cases, especially considering the fact that a good personal injury lawyer can explain the law to you, how it will apply to your situation and your best course of action when it comes to seeking adequate compensation.

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