By: Law Office of Denise Adkison-Brown

How Does Texas Law Address Comparative Fault in Slip and Fall Accidents?

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What Is Comparative Fault, and What Is Texas’ Law for it?

Comparative fault, also called comparative negligence, is a legal concept that comes into play when someone is injured because of someone else’s negligence, but the victim may also have some fault in the accident. It can affect how much the victim is eligible to receive in damages for their injuries.

Across the U.S., there are three types of comparative negligence laws, with each state determining which one it uses.

– Contributory negligence. This is the harshest type of comparative negligence and is used in very few states. It says that if the victim is even the tiniest bit at fault for the accident that caused the injury, they can’t claim damages.

– Pure comparative negligence. This is the opposite of contributory negligence in that even if the victim is 99% at fault for the accident, they can still claim 1% of the damages.

– Modified comparative negligence. This is the middle ground between the other two. It says that if the victim is either a minimum of 50% or 51% at fault, depending on which state the accident happened in, the victim can no longer claim damages. If the level of negligence is lower than the legal threshold, they can claim damages, but the percentage of fault will lower the amount they receive. So if the victim is found 30% at fault for the accident and is awarded $10,000, they’d receive $7,000 instead.

In Texas, 51% modified comparative negligence is the law. The victim filing for damages must not be found more than 51% at fault for the accident, or they’re ineligible for those damages. That means that it’s in the best interests of the party being sued for damages to find ways to push as much fault as possible onto the victim to pay less or nothing at all. That’s why it’s crucial for the victim to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the law and the tactics the other party might use to deflect fault.

How Does Modified Comparative Negligence Work in Slip and Fall Accident Claims?

It might seem logical that someone who slips and falls and suffers an injury because of it can’t be at fault. However, there are many cases where they might be. For example, if a public building such as a store or hospital has recently mopped the floors and put up a sign warning that floors are wet or slippery, but the victim ignored the signs and didn’t take caution, they may be found partly at fault.

How Is Negligence Proven in Court?

Texas law identifies five aspects of negligence that must be proven for claims to be successful.

– Duty of care. This means that a person or organization has a responsibility to provide a safe environment to others who have reason to be in that environment. In the example above, placing a sign warning others about wet or slippery conditions is a way of abiding by the duty of care.

– Breach of the duty of care. When the party with the duty of care fails to abide by it, they have breached the duty. In the example above, that could mean they were aware the floor was wet or slippery but didn’t put out a sign warning others.

– Cause in fact. Sometimes called actual cause, this means the victim needs to prove that the negligence directly led to the injury. In the example above, the failure to put out a warning sign meant the victim didn’t know the floor was slippery and had no reason to take caution.

– Proximate cause. This can be more difficult to prove than cause in fact, depending on the specific circumstances of the injury. Basically, this asks whether or not it’s reasonable to believe the victim’s claim that the injury would not have happened if the other party hadn’t been negligent. In the example above, the victim might say they would have proceeded with caution if there had been a warning sign in place.

– Damages. The victim must prove that the accident caused them harm. They have an injury and potential financial damages, such as out-of-pocket medical bills or lost wages from time away from work in recovery.

What Should I Do if I Want to File for Damages from a Slip and Fall Accident?

If you haven’t already, see a doctor for an examination, even if you think the injury is minor. Some injuries, including significant ones, don’t present symptoms right away and may become more serious if left untreated. It also prevents the other party from claiming the injury wasn’t related to the accident because the victim didn’t see a doctor immediately.

Then, call DB Law 24/7 at 346-818-3311 for your free nationwide case review. Slip and fall accidents can be complex to navigate, and you will likely benefit from working with a knowledgeable, experienced personal injury attorney. Texas’ modified comparative negligence law may cause the other party to push hard to have much of the blame placed onto the victim. An attorney who understands their tactics and knows how to prepare for them can be invaluable.

From the moment the accident happens, it’s critical that you not have any communication with the other party, their attorney, or insurance representatives. They may try to get you to say something that appears to mean you accept fault for the accident or accept a much lower settlement than you’re eligible for.