What it Takes to Establish Negligence After a Car Crash
It's not enough to claim the other party is at fault and therefore liable for any injuries and property damage you suffer in an accident. Texas statutes require that the plaintiff establish that the other party's negligence caused, or contributed to causing, the damages suffered by the plaintiff.
When pursuing a personal injury claim in Texas, plaintiffs must establish the following:
- Duty of Care. Motorists in Texas owe a duty of care to their passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists. This means not engaging in dangerous behaviors that could cause personal injury or death. For example, speeding, texting while driving, drinking and driving, driving while drowsy, etc., are against the law because they are well-established causes of motor vehicle accidents.
- Breach of Duty. Plaintiffs must establish that the defendant breached a duty owed to the plaintiff by engaging in negligent behaviors. This can be established through various types of evidence, including blood alcohol tests, roadside sobriety tests, phone records, cameras, onboard computers, eyewitness testimony, etc.
- Actual Cause. Also known as "cause in fact," this means that the defendant's actions (or inactions) were directly responsible for causing the injuries, property damage, or wrongful death.
- Proximate Cause. Proximate cause essentially means that a reasonable individual would have, or should have known, that their actions could result in the injury or death of another. For example, every motorist should know that driving while intoxicated, fatigued driving, or texting while driving impairs their ability to focus on the road and safely operate a motor vehicle in Texas.
And, most importantly:
5. Damages Suffered. In order to file a personal injury claim in Texas, pedestrians, passengers, and drivers must suffer actual damages. This includes physical, emotional, and financial damage directly related to the event. If there are no damages, then there is nothing to pursue or legal remedy the court can order. Evidence of damages can include financial records, medical records, photographs, eyewitness testimony, police reports, etc.
The bar for establishing negligence in Texas is very similar to that within many states. It boils down to evidence. Solid evidence establishes that the other party's negligent actions caused the accident, were imprudent, and caused damages.
We invite you to contact the personal injury team at Welmaker Injury Law at (210) 828-6033. It is our pleasure to answer your questions about negligence and personal injury claims in Texas.