If you are distracted by a cell phone while driving leading to a rear-end crash at the red light, the cause of the accident and the liable party may seem straightforward – distracted driving. In this case, your actions would be deemed negligent and, thus, you’d bear the greatest responsibility for the accident.
But what happens if the other party played a role in the accident? What defence options do you have if you are accused of causing a car wreck?
Texas’ 51% Rule can help you build a strong defence
Texas’ modified comparative negligence statute allows the court to apportion fault based on each party’s contribution to the accident. This is known as proportionate responsibility.
However, the modified comparative fault rule prevents the other party from recovering damages if their contribution to the accident is 51 percent or more. Known as the 51% bar, this rule stipulates if the other party was at least 51 percent at fault, then they would walk away with nothing.
Here is an example: say the driver in front of you (John) slammed their brakes without notice leaving you with very limited reaction time. Consequently, you hit them from behind causing damage to their car and injuries to their passenger. But then, when the police arrive and investigate the accident, they discover that John was kind of tipsy. The police find that the accident could have been avoided if:
- John wasn’t driving while drunk, and
- If you kept a safe distance from John
But it doesn’t stop there. Eyewitnesses point out that John’s passengers did not have their seatbelts on when the accident occurred.
Given the circumstances of the case, the police conclude that John contributed, say, 60 percent to the accident.
In the example above, you can cite John’s drunk driving and failure to put seatbelts on as a defence against the car accident charge.
Strengthening your case
Being charged with causing injury and property damage is a big deal. Find out how Texas negligence laws can come to your rescue when charged with causing injury to another person.