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Is The Owner Or Driver Liable In A Car Accident?

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When a car accident happens, determining who is legally responsible for the damages involves careful investigation. The process examines the cause of the accident, the behavior of each driver, and the condition of the vehicles. It’s a thorough examination of the facts in an effort to establish who is at fault and, therefore, who is financially liable for any damages or injuries.

At DeHoyos Accident Attorneys, we understand that this can be an overwhelming experience, particularly after an accident. This article is designed to explain the issues of liability in car accidents, specifically focusing on the laws in Houston, Texas. 

Our goal is to provide clear information, whether you’re the driver, the vehicle owner, or simply an interested party trying to understand how liability is determined in these situations. If you need specific questions answered about your unique situation, call our Houston office today. 

The Basics of Liability in Car Accidents

Liability in car accidents revolves around determining who is at fault for the incident. Usually, the person responsible for causing the accident is liable for the damages they caused. However, when it comes to distinguishing between the vehicle owner and the driver, things can get more complicated.

In most cases, the driver of the vehicle is held accountable for any accidents they cause. This is because it’s usually the driver’s actions, such as speeding, distracted driving, or violating traffic laws, that lead to the accident. However, there are some scenarios where the vehicle owner can also be held responsible. 

Owner Liability in Houston, Texas

There are specific circumstances under Texas law where liability can be extended to the vehicle’s owner. For example, if the owner knowingly allows someone unfit or unlicensed to use their vehicle, and that person causes an accident, the owner might also be held responsible. 

This recognizes situations where the owner’s decisions contributed to the accident. It’s a way of ensuring that vehicle owners are mindful of who they allow to drive their cars and the possible legal implications of an accident involving their vehicle. 

Negligent Entrustment and Employer Liability

Negligent entrustment is when a vehicle owner lends their car to someone who is incompetent, reckless, or unfit to drive. In these cases, both the driver and the owner can be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages. If a vehicle owner knows that the person they are lending their car to has a history of DUIs, the owner may also face legal repercussions.

Employer liability is another important aspect of this topic. When an employee is involved in a car accident while performing job-related duties, the employer might be held responsible. This is particularly important in Houston, Texas, where many businesses use vehicles for shipping and receiving.

As one of America’s largest shipping hubs, Houston sees a lot of these types of issues. Trucking companies will be held responsible if they encourage their drivers to work long hours or they neglect the vehicle’s maintenance. The laws in Texas are particularly strict on those issues because it’s important to us to keep our roads safe for the average citizen. 

How Liability is Determined 

Determining liability can sometimes be less than straightforward. The person who is held responsible in these situations may change based on the circumstances of the case. For instance, if a vehicle is stolen and the thief causes an accident, the vehicle owner usually isn’t liable. Similarly, if mechanical failure due to manufacturing defects leads to an accident, the manufacturer might be responsible. Since Texas uses a modified comparative negligence model, the percentage of fault and financial liability can be spread out to include everyone who is even partially responsible. 

Comparative Negligence in Texas

In many car accident cases, the situation isn’t always black and white with one clear responsible party. Often, both drivers will share some level of responsibility. In Texas, this is a legal concept known as comparative negligence. It considers the actions of each person involved in the accident and assigns a percentage of fault to them. 

Picture an accident where both drivers made mistakes that contributed to the crash. Under Texas’ modified comparative negligence system, each driver’s fault percentage is calculated by the courts. This percentage then influences the compensation each party can receive. For example, if you are found to be 30% at fault in an accident, and the other driver is 70%, any compensation you’re awarded would be reduced by your 30% of fault. 

It’s a fair way to handle accidents where both parties have contributed to the incident. However, it’s important to note that in Texas, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover any compensation from the other driver. This is the “modified” part of modified comparative negligence. 

Practical Advice for People Involved in Car Accidents

If you find yourself involved in a car accident, it’s important to take certain steps to protect your rights:

  • Gather Evidence: Collect as much information as possible from the accident scene. Take photos, get contact information from witnesses, and write down the details of the other vehicles involved.
  • Understand Your Insurance Coverage: Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy. Knowing what your insurance covers can help you understand your rights and responsibilities.
  • Seek Legal Counsel: Navigating the legal parts of a car accident can be challenging. Consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer at DeHoyos Accident Attorneys can provide you with the guidance and representation you need.

How DeHoyos Accident Attorneys Can Help

At DeHoyos Accident Attorneys in Houston, Texas, we specialize in helping people navigate the issues of car accident liability. We understand the stress and confusion that can arise after an accident, and we’re here to offer professional and compassionate legal assistance. Whether you’re a driver, a vehicle owner, or an employer, our team is equipped to provide you with guidance and representation.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and need help understanding your legal rights, call our Houston office at (832) 745-4878.



















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