Whose Fault Is It?
A pair of pileup accidents that involved several big rigs, a number of passenger cars, and a garbage truck occurred almost simultaneously on Interstate 10. The drivers involved may wind up pointing fingers at one another in court.
The first crash occurred on westbound Interstate 10 near Fair Oaks. A man driving a Corvette in an aggressive fashion slammed into the back of an SUV, which then toppled into the median. That SUV then collided with a garbage truck on the service road. Meanwhile, the Corvette skidded out of control and landed across the highway.
A few moments later, perhaps because the drivers were distracted by the chain-reaction crash on the main highway, three large trucks collided into one another on the service road. Some injured victims were transported to local hospitals, but all were expected to survive.
The Corvette driver, whose name was not released, now faces charges of reckless driving.
Some injured victims hesitate to pursue their claims because they believe that recovery is possible only if the other driver was entirely at fault. While that may be true in a few states, it is untrue in South Central Texas.
The Lone Star State is one of 33 modified comparative fault jurisdictions. If the judge instructs the jury to divide the blame between the parties, the plaintiff’s damages are reduced by the amount of contributory fault. Assume that the plaintiff’s damages are $100,000, and the jury finds that the plaintiff is 40 percent responsible. The recovery would be $60,000 – a 40 percent reduction.
There is a cutoff. Assume that the jury declared the plaintiff to be 50 percent responsible. In this instance, the plaintiff would receive nothing because legally, the defendant must be at least 51 percent responsible for the plaintiff to win damages.
This question often comes up in rubbernecking accidents, such as the one that apparently occurred on the I-10 service road. If the big rig drivers try to blame the Corvette driver, the jury must answer this: could the pileup accident on the main freeway have foreseeably caused a collision on the service road? Put another way, it is foreseeable that a person shooting a gun may miss the target and hit an immediate bystander. However, it is not foreseeable that the bullet may ricochet off a rock and strike a pedestrian across the street.
For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney who knows the law and how it works, contact our office. A lawyer from The Bettersworth Law Firm can connect you with a doctor, even if you have no money and no insurance.