Figuring Out Fault
Whether they realize it or not, most people are familiar with the concept of comparative fault. How does this idea play out in car crash cases?
Almost inevitably, when two siblings, two workers, two schoolchildren, or two athletes get into a fight, they will give markedly different answers to the question of “who started it?” Although premeditated sneak attacks are not unheard of, at least when children are involved, the truth is that both parties are almost always somewhat at fault. In these situations, the parent, supervisor, teacher, referee, or coach must apportion blame according to the applicable rules and assess the proper punishment.
The same thing is true in many negligence cases, particularly intersection collisions and freeway wrecks. Each driver blames the other one for the crash. The applicable rule is found in Chapter 33 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Essentially, the plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by the percentage of his or her fault. Moreover, if the defendant is not at least 51 percent negligent, the plaintiff recovers nothing.
How It Works
When it comes to comparative fault, an effective advocate with a solid strategy makes all the difference. An old Bing Crosby song encourages us to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch on to the affirmative.” This concept is almost literally money in the bank in comparative fault cases.
- Accentuate the Positive: Instead of allowing the jury to dwell on what the plaintiff did wrong, an attorney can have them reflect on what the plaintiff did right; for example, although Ms. Smith may have turned on her signal late, she was operating at the speed limit, got plenty of rest the night before, and was not distracted or intoxicated.
- Eliminate the Negative: Perhaps the sun was in Ms. Smith’s eyes as she turned the corner. While that is not a legal excuse, it does tend to diminish her degree of fault.
Damages in an auto crash case almost always include money for both economic damages, like lost wages and medical bills, and non-economic losses, like the emotional pain and suffering associated with the aftermath of a collision.
Even if you were partially at fault, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries. For a free consultation, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in New Braunfels. You have a limited amount of time to act.