Texas law regulating rear-end crashes
Today our Supreme Court issued a controversial decision that keeps red light cameras in place. However our state legislators continue to consider outlawing them. Sometimes rear-end collision are caused at intersections with those much hated cameras. But usually they happen when the following driver is not paying attention — probably because he or she is driving while distracted by their cell phone. In rear-end crashes, the law has a particular way of determining who was at fault and liable for the damages other people suffer. Anyone who tells you that the rear driver is always at fault or that a lead driver who brakes suddenly cannot ever recover for their injuries is wrong. To make sure you don’t get caught in these or other potential traps, you need the services of a good Fort Worth accident lawyer.
In Texas, every driver has a legal obligation to engage in ordinary care while behind the wheel. But to complicate this scenario, Texas law also observes what is known as the comparative negligence rule for determining each party’s culpability. What this means is that if the jury (or insurance company adjuster) decides that the other driver was more than 50% responsible for the car accident that injured you, then you can recover your damages. However that amount will be reduced by the percentage amount that the jury (or company) decides reflects your level of blame. That makes sense: a person should not be able to cause a crash and collect money. So a case can be allocated 100% to 0%, the other way around, or somewhere in between.
I see this all the time. This photo is from a routine case I recently settled where my clients were parked in front of a school waiting to pick up their children in Fort Worth when the SUV rear-ended them. That driver was (you guessed it) on her cell phone. In a school zone where cell phone use is prohibited.
On the other hand, if the lead car stops very abruptly because he mistakenly thought the light had turned or was turning yellow — perhaps due to a fear of getting a ticket a one of those red-light camera intersections — and you crash into him from the rear, then you may have a winning argument that the driver in front of you was liable. Unless you were also trying to run the light! I see that a lot too.
Deciding factors include proof of the following:
- Following distance;
- Rear driver’s attentiveness/distraction;
- Road conditions;
- Other vehicles;
- Aggressive driving/road rage; and
- Alcohol/drug use. Continue reading