Contributory Negligence And Car Crash Claims
Insurance companies in the United States earn more than $1 trillion per year. They have the resources to hire defense lawyers who often charge more than $1,000 per hour. These attorneys spend lots of time researching the ever-changing law, looking for legal loopholes that reduce or deny compensation to victims. All these loopholes basically involve one concept. They shift accident blame from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. That’s why it’s so important to understand the granddaddy of them all, which is the contributory negligence defenses.
A Missouri City car accident attorney cannot possibly match the resources an insurance company brings to bear in these cases. But a personal injury lawyer has an important advantage. Insurance company lawyers only care about insurance company profits. That’s not a very motivational idea. A Missouri City personal injury attorney cares about individual rights. That’s an important cause that really gets you out of bed in the morning.
Contributory Negligence Basics
Excessive speed is one of the most common causes of car accidents in Texas. It’s also one of the most common foundations of the contributory negligence. But there’s speeding and then there’s speeding.
Police officers often recognize this difference. Many law enforcement departments have at least informal policies not to issue citations unless the motorist is driving at least 10mph over the limit. In other cases, a “slow down” warning, accompanied by a stern lecture on roadway safety, is usually sufficient.
Many judges use the same approach. If a driver was speeding more than 10mph over the limit, that excessive speed could contribute to a car wreck. Lower excessive speeds are, in the minds of many judges, unwise but not unsafe.
Before the contributory negligence defense goes to the jury, an insurance company lawyer must convince the judge that the defense might apply. Because of the aforementioned discussion, that’s often a hard sell.
It’s an even harder sell to convince twelve diverse jurors not only that the contributory negligence could apply, but that it should apply.
To reduce the impact of contributory negligence in excessive speed cases, a Missouri City personal injury lawyer often points out the relative speed difference between the two vehicles. If Speed Racer collides with a borderline speeder, the borderline speeder probably couldn’t have avoided a wreck even if s/he eased off on the accelerator a little.
Comparative Fault in Texas
Based on the evidence, jurors must divide responsibility between the two parties on a percentage basis (e.g. 50-50 or 80-20). Texas is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent cutoff. Tortfeasors are liable for a proportionate share of damages if they are at least 51 percent responsible for a crash.
These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The rules are different in neighboring Louisiana and some other states. The Bayou State is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction. Victims are eligible for compensation even if they were 99 percent responsible for a car crash.
Insurance company lawyers often use this defense, or a variation of it, in other injury cases as well, like falls and dog bites. So, an attorney must be prepared to refute this defense. Otherwise, the victim must usually settle for less.
Reach Out to a Compassionate Harris County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Missouri City, contact the Henrietta Ezeoke Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.