Under Texas law, negligence is established by showing that the defendant owed a duty, the defendant breached that duty, the breach of duty caused injury to the plaintiff and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
Modified Comparative Negligence
The law in Texas (Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 33.001) allows a plaintiff to recover for a personal injury caused by the negligent actions of another as long as the plaintiff was 50% or less at fault for the injury. If this is the case, the plaintiff’s damage award will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff, if any. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in damages but 30% of fault is attributed to the plaintiff for their own injury, the plaintiff’s damage award would be reduced to $70,000 to account for the 30% of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
If the plaintiff is found to have been 51% or more at fault, the plaintiff may be barred from recovery.
Joint & Several Liability
In Texas, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 33.013, states that each defendant is only financially responsible for the percentage of fault attributed to each defendant (severally liable). However, if a trier of fact determines that joint tortfeasors were more than 50% at fault for the plaintiff’s injury or intentionally harmed the plaintiff, they will be held jointly and severally liable, meaning the plaintiff can recover some or all of the monetary award from any one of the defendants.
Where one defendant has paid more than their proportional share of liability, that defendant has the right to seek contribution against any other joint defendant who has not paid its proportional share. Settlement may affect the defendant’s ability to seek contribution.
Compensatory damages are awarded by a trier of fact to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Compensatory damages include reasonable expenses necessary for medical care; hospitalization and treatment; economic loss from loss of income (both past and future); pain and suffering; disability; disfigurement; and mental anguish.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff.
Texas law allows punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, to be awarded when the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with fraud, malice or gross negligence.
With a few exceptions, the law in Texas does limit the amount of a punitive damages award to either: (1) two times the amount of economic damages, plus an amount equal to any noneconomic damages up to $750,000; or (2) $200,000, whichever is greater.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Texas. Should you have a question/concern specific to Texas law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.