A rollover crash near Alamo Heights has claimed the life of a 22-year-old man.
Police state that an SUV driver, whose vehicle may have been speeding, apparently smashed into the back of a Mustang, which may have been moving at a slower than normal speed, near the Olmos Basin on the southbound side of Highway 281 North. The driver was ejected after the SUV rolled over several times; it eventually tumbled off the bridge and into the Basin, where it caught fire.
The SUV driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
It is not unusual for both drivers to share responsibility in a car crash, at least to some extent. If there is evidence of shared fault, the judge will ask the jury to apportion liability between the parties on a percentage basis.
Texas is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Assume the evidence indicates that Defendant Driver was speeding and Plaintiff Driver was moving too slowly. Both these driving behaviors violate the Transportation Code’s provisions. Further assume that the jury assigns 75 percent of the fault to Defendant and 25 percent to Plaintiff. If the total damages were $25,000, Plaintiff would receive $18,750, or 75 percent.
But, if the jury apportions fault as 51-49, with Plaintiff greater than 50 percent at fault, Plaintiff would receive nothing, because under the statute, the defendant must be at least 50 percent responsible for the plaintiff to recover any damages.
To create a question of comparative fault, the defendant normally relies on a recognized defense to a negligence action. Some of these defenses include:
- Negligence Per Se: Violation of a statute is evidence of negligence but is not necessarily conclusive; for example, failure to use headlights a few minutes before dawn is much less serious than DUI;
- Sudden Emergency: If the driver is reacting to an unexpected hazard, like a tire blowout or a hood fly-up, that driver is often excused from negligent behavior; and
- Listed Fault: The responding officer may indicate fault, like distracted driving or fatigued driving, but “fault” and “liability” are not necessarily the same thing.
Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums and not by paying claims, so the company’s lawyers look for any way possible to reduce the victim’s compensation.
For prompt assistance in this area, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney. The sooner you call, the easier it is to obtain maximum compensation.