Negligence has a specific legal meaning, but the idea behind it is that a person did not act the way a reasonable person would have in a similar situation. It is a legal concept commonly applied to personal injury cases when a party acts negligently and, as a result, causes injury to another. However, different types of negligence may apply in certain Texas cases.
Elements of Negligence
It is essential to understand the elements of negligence before learning the different types. To prove another party acted negligently, you and your attorney must demonstrate the following:
- Duty: the other party had a duty to act reasonably. For example, a driver owes a duty to others on the road (including pedestrians) to drive safely and to follow the rules of the road.
- Breach: the at-fault party violated that duty. In the case of a driver who struck a pedestrian, the driver may have violated his or her duty of care by being distracted while driving.
- Causation: the at-fault party’s breach of their duty of care directly caused your injuries. An added component is that this breach must be the proximate or “but for” cause of injury. In other words, you would not have been injured but for the other person’s actions.
- Damages: you must prove you suffered actual financial losses and the amount of those losses.
Types of Negligence in Texas
Negligence is a blanket term, as there are many types. Each one must be handled differently, making it critical to know which kind you are attempting to prove. The most common types of negligence in Texas are:
Modified Comparative Negligence
Texas courts follow the rule of modified comparative negligence. An injury victim who is somewhat at fault may receive compensation, but their percentage of fault will reduce the settlement or court ruling. However, the victim must be 50% or less responsible for the incident than the other parties involved. Also known as the 51% bar rule, if the claimant is found 51% or more at fault, they cannot recover compensation.
Example: in a car accident case, if the jury awards you $10,000 and determines that you are 30% responsible for not wearing your seatbelt, you will receive 70% of your award or, in this case, $7,000. On the other hand, if the jury determines you are 51% percent responsible since you didn’t wear a seatbelt, you will not receive an award.
This form of negligence holds a defendant liable for the actions of another person or animal. Vicarious liability is often used in cases involving:
- Minor children between the ages of seven to 17, as their parents, can be held responsible for their actions. Teenagers over the age of 18 are considered adults, whereas children under seven are legally defined as being incapable of negligence.
- Negligent actions of employees, since their respective employers can be vicariously liable if they cause injury to another while working.
- Animal bites or attacks, as owners can be vicariously liable for their pets’ actions.
In these cases, the act of negligence was so careless or reckless it showed a complete disregard for the safety of others. Gross negligence is a much more severe form of negligence that goes a step further than simple carelessness or failure to act—it is willful behavior. Examples include a driver speeding in an area with heavy pedestrian traffic or a physician prescribing a drug to a patient whose medical records clearly list that they are allergic to.
Another type of negligence in Texas is criminal negligence. However, it is not used in civil law or personal injury cases.
Contact Milano Legal Group
If you believe you have been injured due to the negligence of another, speak to an experienced Houston Personal Injury Lawyer. We are dedicated to the wellbeing of our clients and will make sure you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Call (713) 489-4270 today to schedule a free consultation.