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How Is Liability Determined in a Houston Car Accident?

March 29, 2021Car Accidents

Under Texas law, the distribution and extent of each party’s liability in a car accident will often dictate who is responsible for paying damages and the dollar amount owed. When establishing liability, an insurance company and your Houston car accident attorney will investigate and seek to understand how much a party is at fault for a collision. Several factors come into play when determining liability. 

Negligence 

When behind the wheel, drivers have a responsibility to act with a certain degree of care. If a driver acts unreasonably and places others at risk of harm (e.g., speeding, texting while driving, running red lights, etc.), they may be found negligent. To prove another party was negligent and therefore liable, you must demonstrate the following elements:

  • The other driver breached their duty of care to act in a reasonably safe manner. 
  • The accident could have been avoided. 
  • The other driver’s violation of their duty directly caused the accident or your injuries. 

Even if the other party was also injured or if you are partly at fault, you may be eligible for compensation. Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. That means if you were partially responsible for the accident, your compensation will be reduced by your degree of liability but not completely nullified as long as it is under 51%. This is called the 51% bar rule, which bars drivers’ ability to recover compensation if they are 51% or more to blame. 

Recklessness

If another driver acted with utter disregard for others’ safety and welfare and knew or should have known the consequences, they can be liable for damages. A driver may be considered reckless for any number of actions that pose a threat to the safety of others on the road. Examples of reckless driving include driving while intoxicated, swerving into oncoming traffic, weaving, tailgating, etc. In accidents where recklessness is involved, there is often no question as to who is liable. 

Intentional Misconduct 

A driver who is guilty of acting maliciously or intending to cause harm is almost always held responsible for paying car accident damages. This is known as intentional misconduct. 

Strict Liability

If your car crash resulted from a defective part or product in a vehicle, this falls under strict liability. The manufacturer of the product is directly liable for paying any damages that occurred as the result of a malfunction. 

How to Prove Liability in a Houston Car Accident

After an accident, the most effective way to prove that another driver is responsible for your accident is notifying the policy and taking photographs and/or video of the entire scene. An insurance company and your lawyer can determine who caused the crash by looking at the points of impact on the vehicles, as well as any skid marks on the road. The police report will also be a vital piece of evidence when the insurance company is making its determination. 

We Are Here to Help 

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact Ramsey Law Group. We will help you determine liability and protect your legal right to compensation. Call (713) 489-7577 or message us online to schedule a free consultation.