Did you experience a personal injury in Texas due to another’s negligence? You may not get 100% of the compensation due to proportionate responsibility.
About Proportionate Responsibility
What is Proportionate Responsibility in Texas?
Before 1973, if you contributed in any way to your personal injury claim, you could not recover any financial compensation in Texas. So if you rolled through a stop sign while a defendant drove drunk and went 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, that spelled tough luck and no compensation for you.
Guess your parents or grandparents weren’t kidding when they said they had it harder, were they?
In 1973, Texas decided that was ridiculous. So now “proportionate responsibility” applies in certain situations where multiple parties are at fault. You might also hear this called “comparative fault” or “contributory negligence.”
The language gets tricky, but the idea is simple: each party assumes financial responsibility for their portion of the injured party’s damages.
So if you would normally get $100,000, but you’re 25% responsible for your injuries, you get $75,000 ($100,000 – $25,000). Or, if 2 other people caused $100,000 in injuries to you, they owe you $37,500 ($75,000 total) each.
Seems much more fair, doesn’t it?
Also, if the jury finds you more than 50% responsible for your injuries, you cannot recover any financial compensation at all.
Who Do You Actually Collect From When There Are Multiple Defendants?
So let’s say you get into an automobile collision, and the jury finds all 3 defendants 100% responsible for your injuries in the amount of $200,000.
Who do you actually get to recover your damages from?
Before 1995, Texas actually followed “Joint and Several Liability,” which made each defendant equally responsible for 100% of your injuries. You would recover the entire $200,000 from the defendant of your choice.
Wisely, Texas decided that doesn’t make much sense either. So in 1995, they changed the law to be called “Modified Joint and Several Liability.” Now, defendants are 100% financially responsible for your injuries if they are found to be 50% or more responsible for the accident. If they are found to be 50% or less responsible for your injuries, they also owe you financial compensation in that same proportion.
So let’s say 3 people, defendants A, B, and C, cause your injuries. The jury finds:
- Defendant A is 60% responsible
- B and C are each 20% responsible
Remember, you got compensated $200,000 in total. Here’s how that gets awarded:
- Defendant A pays you all $200,000 and looks for contributions in the amount of $40,000 each from defendants B and C
If Defendant A had 40% responsibility, B 40%, and C 20%, you would get compensation like this:
- $80,000 each from defendants A and B
- $40,000 from defendant C
It all seems pretty clear until you get to that “more than 50%” rule.
Will Texas eventually assign more proportionate responsibility in the future? It doesn’t make sense for you to take 100% financial responsibility when you only caused 60% of the accident.
That’s not up to us. But the important thing is that you get fair compensation when you are injured.
With Mullen & Mullen‘s Dallas injury attorneys, you only pay when your case wins. And you pay just a 29% fee (a 5.3% discount versus our normal fee of 33.3%) when you mention you found us on this website and your case settles out of court (about 90% of cases do). Get your free consultation today.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.