How To Determine Who’s At Fault in a Fort Worth Car Accident

Determining who is at fault in a Fort Worth car accident is sometimes fairly straightforward. However, oftentimes questions arise as to how an accident occurred and who is ultimately responsible for the defendant-driver’s negligence. Determining liability becomes more complicated when there are multiple vehicles involved in the collision, when the owner and driver of the other vehicle are two different parties, or when the defendant-driver was on the job at the time of the accident. The basic legal standards for determining who is at fault are negligence, negligence per se, contributing negligence, and the doctrine of respondeat superior.

Types of Negligence

Negligence occurs when the defendant owed a legal duty to you, the plaintiff; the defendant breached that duty; and the breach proximately caused your injuries. For example, drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. The purpose of imposing this duty on drivers is to protect other drivers and pedestrians on or near the roadway. If a driver fails to drive safely and consequently hits another car, injuring the persons inside, the driver has been negligent.

Negligence per se operates in much the same way. With negligence per se, however, the defendant must have violated a particular statute, the purpose of which was to protect people like the plaintiff.

Contributory negligence is when the negligence of the plaintiff or a third-party contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries and damages. Contributory negligence is handled differently from state to state. Texas follows a modified comparative fault scheme. Under this scheme, a plaintiff is barred from making a recovery if they are 51 percent or more at fault for the accident. If the plaintiff is less than 51 percent responsible, their damages award is reduced by their share of the liability. For example, if a jury awards the plaintiff $10,000 but the plaintiff is found to be 40 percent at fault, the plaintiff can only recover $6,000, or 60 percent, of the damages award.

Lastly, the doctrine of respondeat superior comes into play if the defendant was within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. Respondeat superior is Latin for “let the master answer.” Under this doctrine, an employer is responsible for the negligence of its employee if the employee was within the course and scope of his employment at the time the negligence occurred. There are some situations where a non-employer can be a responsible third-party in an accident. An example is when someone negligently entrusts their vehicle to the defendant-driver. If the vehicle owner knew or should have known the defendant-driver was not fit to operate a vehicle, the owner can be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

Experienced Fort Worth Car Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one have been injured in a Fort Worth car accident, the skilled personal injury lawyers of Zinda Law Group have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Call us today 800-863-5312 for a free consultation about your case. Meeting with attorneys by appointment only.