In Texas, personal injury cases are governed by the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This section of law helps define and determine negligence, duties of care, statutes of limitations, liability, damages, and recovery.
As with all states, many of Texas’ personal injury laws are based on the doctrine of negligence. The Legal Information Institute defines negligence as a failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances.
By law, a general legal duty of care is owed by every member of society and requires them to act responsibly and avoid putting others at risk. Therefore, if you were injured in an accident and wanted to seek financial recovery in the form of a personal injury claim, you would need to show that a reasonably prudent person placed in the same position as the defendant would have acted differently under the circumstances that led to your accident or injury.
Stricter duties of care (e.g. special duties) are established in cases that involve a professional providing a service. For example, in the case of a medical malpractice claim, the doctor or physician accused of wrongdoing would be held to the same duty of care as a reasonable member of his or her profession. Stricter duties of care can also be owed by a business to a consumer or an employer to an employee.
Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code also establishes Texas’ shared fault rule.
What is Texas’ Shared Fault Rule
Texas personal injury law is further governed by a modified comparative negligence rule (commonly referred to as the “shared fault rule” or “proportionate responsibility”).
Texas’ shared fault rule states that if a person or business is partially to blame for your accident or injury, then they can be held liable for an amount of damages proportionate to their share of fault. So in a case where multiple parties contributed to your injuries, the court will assign each party a percentage of fault based on how much responsibility they bear. When damages are awarded, each party is responsible for paying a percentage of your total recovery equivalent to their determined percentage of fault.
Texas’ shared fault rule also means that you are able to make a recovery even if you are determined to be partially at fault for your own accident and injuries.
For example, if you were texting on your phone when your vehicle was t-boned by a car that ran a stop sign, the court could determine that you were 30% at fault for the accident and therefore 30% at fault for your injuries. As such, if you were awarded $10,000 in damages, you would only be able to recover 70% of that amount or $7,000.
It is important to remember, however, that Texas follows the 51% bar rule. This means that you may not collect damages for injuries if you are determined to be 51% or more at fault for your injuries.