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By Jim Adler July 2, 2015

If you’ve been in a car wreck, you may have heard the terms “negligence” and “liability” used by insurance adjusters or attorneys. The difference between negligence and liability is an important distinction to understand, especially if you’re considering a lawsuit, and the attorneys at Jim Adler & Associates are here to help.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence involves someone failing to take reasonable care to protect others from injury. Negligence does not involve intent to do harm, but rather a failure to act in a way that minimizes risk to others. Such negligence is the legal basis for many personal injury cases.

In driving, negligence happens when a driver has a duty to act in a reasonable manner and fails to do so. This duty of reasonable care on the road includes yielding when appropriate, stopping at stop signs and red lights, driving within posted speed limits, maintaining a vehicle with needed repairs, avoiding texting or other distractions, and watching the road.

A driver is negligent if he or she did not take responsibility or care, but instead was speeding or otherwise breaking traffic laws and causes an accident. If a driver is determined to have been negligent, that driver is liable — or responsible — for accident losses and damages.

What Is Liability?

Liability involves a person’s legal responsibility to do something, such as paying for losses in an accident for which they were to blame.

In order for an injured driver or passenger to claim compensation for their losses, they must determine that another driver or drivers was liable for the accident, by virtue of having caused it. Then, it is the other driver’s legal responsibility to pay.

Liability and negligence are determined under local, state and federal laws.

Texas Liability & Negligence Laws

Texas liability and negligence laws hold that persons who drive in the state are responsible to pay for the accidents they cause. By state law, drivers must purchase auto liability insurance, which pays for losses to other persons who are harmed by the driver.

Most states laws are similar regarding liability and negligence. One point of divergence involves what’s known as comparative liability, or shared fault, in an injury.

Along with 32 other states, Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, in which the amount of compensation owed to an injured person is reduced by an amount equal to the injured person’s shared fault in the accident.

Such comparative negligence also is known as proportional negligence or contributory negligence, meaning the victim shared in the blame for the accident. This could be the case when a pedestrian crosses the street against a traffic light and is struck by a speeding driver. The judge could hold each party responsible for a portion of the damages.

In Texas, if an injured person is determined to bear over half of the legal blame, the injured person cannot collect anything from other at-fault parties. But if the injured person’s blame is, say, 25%, then the injured person can collect 75% of the damages, or the equivalent of the other driver’s shared fault.

In Texas, an injured person or plaintiff must demonstrate in court that the defendant had a duty to act safely and breached this duty, and the injury was in fact caused by this breach. Plaintiffs also can show proximate cause, meaning the other driver reasonably should have known that his or her actions were risky, and also must show damages, meaning the actual harm for which the plaintiff can be compensated.

Texas also has a two-year statute of limitations on injury claims. That means an injured person must file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system within two years of the date of the injury to be eligible for compensation.

Do You Need a Liability Lawyer?

If you were injured in a car crash, do you need an injury attorney or liability lawyer? If so, notify Jim Adler & Associates, a law firm which has represented thousands of injured Texans in cases involving liability and negligence.

Our car accident lawyers can fight for your legal rights in cases of liability and negligence. By determining another driver’s negligence and liability, we can claim payment of damages to you.

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