Injury Claims and Proportionate Responsibility

September 21, 2018

In Texas, a person injured due to someone else’s negligence may bring a claim or lawsuit against the negligent person or company. However, an injured person’s damages may be reduced due Texas’ system of proportionate responsibility.

Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code Chapter 33 identifies how Texas’ system of proportionate responsibility works. Under a system of proportionate responsibility in negligence cases, a jury or judge (whoever is the fact-finder in a particular case) apportions responsibility among all actors in an incident. This allows an injured person bringing a lawsuit to recover damages while at the same time reducing that recovery by the percentage for which the injured person was at fault. So long as the injured person’s own responsibility does not exceed 50%, then the injured person is entitled to a recovery that is reduced by his responsibility percentage.

For example, two vehicles are traveling in the same direction on the highway. The lead vehicle slows down to make a right hand turn, but fails to use a turn signal. The trailing vehicle then collides with the rear of the lead vehicle, causing severe head injuries to the driver of the trailing vehicle. The lead vehicle’s driver is uninjured. The driver of the trailing vehicle then files a lawsuit against the lead driver for $100,000. At trial, the jury awards the driver of the trailing vehicle $100,000, but believes the driver to be 40% at fault. Based on Texas’ system of proportionate responsibility, the driver of the trailing vehicle can only recover $40,000 from the lead vehicle’s driver.