What is Comparative Negligence, and Why Should I Care About It?

The comparative negligence law applies to personal injury incidents in Texas and holds the accident victim legally and financially accountable when his or her own negligence contributed to the accident and consequential injuries.  In plain English, this means that if the court finds you more than 50% liable for the accident, you cannot collect an award for your injuries at your trial.  When you are less than 50% liable, you are eligible to receive an award which is reduced  only by the amount of negligence you contributed to your injury.  If you contributed zero negligence, were in no way responsible for your injury, you would be entitled to collect the entire damage award.  In other words, if a judge or jury decided your injury deserves a 1 million dollar award, they will also decide on your own contributory negligence if any at that time.  If you were found to be more than 50% the cause of your own injury, you receive nothing.  If you were found to be 30% the cause of your own injury, your award is reduced by 30% and you receive  $700,000.  If it was decided you did not contribute to your own injury by a negligent act then you will receive the entire award.  An out of court settlement does not deal with comparative negligence in quite this manner, but it is considered as the parties come to an agreement.