The Texas Department of Transportation’s latest statistics concerning Fort Worth auto accidents show that nearly 3000 crashes occurred in Fort Worth in 2022, with over 600 of those accidents causing serious injuries and fatalities. Only three other Texas cities reported more auto accidents than Fort Worth–Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. When accounting for population density and the number of registered vehicles, Fort Worth may be considered one of the more dangerous places to drive in Texas when it comes to potential involvement in a car accident.

To ensure victims of car crashes receive adequate accident compensation for their injuries, Texas has adopted a system of (modified) comparative fault (proportionate responsibility) laws that determine liability percentages for drivers implicated in accidents. While most accidents are caused by the actions of one driver, some accidents may be attributed to the reckless actions of both drivers. This system of accident laws makes the payment and receipt of compensation fairer and not as one-sided as non-comparative fault laws.

Comparative Fault in Texas: The Basics

Also referred to as comparative negligence, comparative fault is a legal principle used in civil wrong (tort) cases. Comparative fault laws are primarily used in cases where one or more individuals may be responsible for causing injury to others.

51 Percent Bar Rule

Modified comparative fault laws are applied to all Texas car accidents involving injuries. Under the 51 percent Bar Rule included in the modified comparative fault system, injured parties cannot recover accident compensation if they are found to be at least 51 percent at fault for the accident. However, injured parties found to be 50 percent or less at fault can recover damages. In this case, the amount of damages awarded to the injured party is reduced by their percentage of fault.

Real-life Example of the 51 Percent Bar Rule

Alice and Bob are both driving in heavy traffic. Alice is in the left lane, and Bob is in the right lane. Suddenly, another car swerves into Alice’s lane, causing her to veer into Bob’s lane. As a result, their cars collide. The investigation of the crash finds that the driver who swerved into Alice’s lane is 80 percent responsible for the accident. Alice is 15 percent at fault for failing to react quickly enough to avoid the third driver’s car. Bob is five percent at fault for not taking evasive action.

The total amount of damages was assessed at $10,000 for Alice and Bob respectively. Under the 51 percent bar rule in Texas, Bob and Alice can recover accident compensation if each is found to be less than 50 percent at fault. Therefore, Alice received 85 percent of $10,000 in damages and Bob received 95 percent of $10,000 in damages. The at-fault driver paid Alice $8500 in accident compensation and Bob received $9500 in accident compensation.

Investigation Process in Fort Worth Auto Accidents

Texas accident laws mandate that anyone involved in a car accident must report the accident to police if property damage exceeds $1000, or if there are injuries or fatalities.

  • Fort Worth law enforcement investigates auto accidents to determine comparative fault by:
  • Obtaining driver, passenger, and witness statements
  • Noting road conditions and weather at the time of the accident
  • Writing accident reports describing how the accident happened, the extent of injuries, damage to vehicles, and including other details relevant to supporting comparative fault percentages

Contacting an auto accident lawyer in Fort Worth as soon as possible is important for ensuring you receive accident compensation commensurate to the extent of your injuries.

Role of Comparative Fault in Liability Determination

Medical professionals and accident reconstruction experts may be consulted to provide specialized insight into factors that determine liability. Speed of the vehicles at the time of the accident, the force of impact, the severity of the injuries, driver negligence, and whether traffic laws were being violated just before the accident are some of the factors used to determine comparative fault percentage liability.

Insurance adjusters often review insurance policies to interpret coverage limits and exclusions. Policy terms may influence the negotiation and settlement process when accident compensation lawsuits are litigated in court.

Seeking Legal Guidance in Fort Worth

If you have been in an accident and believe the police report or insurance companies wrongly proportioned responsibility for the accident, contact an auto accident lawyer in Fort Worth to ensure you receive the accident compensation you deserve for your injuries. The Ledger Law Firm has been helping Fort Worth residents navigate modified comparative fault laws, so they get the fair compensation they deserve. Call our firm today: (800) 300-0001.