This is the next post in my series on the handling of Laredo, Texas accident cases which involve company owned vehicles. My last article discussed the need for discovery in commercial vehicle accidents. It is important to understand that proving claims against a corporate defendant can be complicated. This is due to the fact that all businesses operate in a different manner and that your counsel will need to take a customized approach to each case. In this article we will discuss how damages are calculated in such cases. If you have been injured in a wreck then contact my office today to speak with an accident lawyer. My office serves south Texas.
Texas’ comparative fault laws will apply to commercial accident cases
Texas is like many other states in the country in that it recognizes the concept of comparative fault. This means that a victim may recover damages even if they were partially responsible for the accident. The extent to which a victim is compensated will be reduced by their share of responsibility for the accident. This “share” of responsibility is determined by the jury. Texas has a fifty-one percent threshold for comparative negligence. This means that a victim will recover nothing if the jury finds that the victim was more than fifty percent responsible for the accident.
The foregoing concept is best explained by way of example. Suppose an individual is driving down the road and was hit by a commercial vehicle (such as a semi-truck or delivery van). The victim suffers a severe spine injury and the jury determines that he or she has been damaged in the amount of $500,000. The jury found that the victim was hit after they changed lanes without signaling. The driver of the commercial vehicle was a) speeding and b) not looking at the road at the time of the accident. If the commercial driver had been driving the speed limit and looking at the road then the accident would have been avoided. The jurors decide that the victim was ten percent responsible for the accident due to their not signaling and the other ninety percent of blame goes to the defendant. The victim would be awarded $450,000 in this circumstance ($500k x 90%). While it is important to remember that how the jury will rule is always going to depend on the facts of the case, this example illustrates how comparative negligence is calculated in our state.
Laredo accident victims can invoke joint and several liability against commercial defendants
Cases which involve commercial defendants are likely to involve the concept of “joint and several liability.” This is a legal doctrine which helps a victim to ensure that they are able to collect their damages in the event that a defendant is insolvent. Under this concept, a victim may recover damages from a defendant even if that defendant’s share of the blame exceeds their share of the fault. To be joint and severally liable in the state of Texas, a defendant must a) be at least fifty percent responsible for the accident or b) must have engaged in intentional conduct. This is best explained by way of example.
Suppose a driver is hit by a delivery truck. The jury finds that the victim was ten percent liable for the accident. The jury also finds that the delivery driver was twenty percent responsible and the truck’s owner was seventy percent responsible. The victim suffered $100,000 in damages, so they may recover up to $90,000 ($100k – the victim’s share of responsibility). Since the owner of the vehicle was more than fifty percent responsible, the victim may recover their full $90,000 against the owner even though the owner was only seventy percent responsible for the accident. Again, how a jury will rule will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case.
The calculation of damages can be a highly complicated topic. It is vital that you retain an attorney who is experienced in presenting such matters to the jury. I am a Laredo commercial vehicle accident lawyer who believes in protecting the rights of people and not corporations. I understand that this is a serious time in your life and my office will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone to speak with an attorney.