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Texas Negligence Laws

Failing to exercise the degree of care expected of someone in order to minimize the risk of harm to another is considered "negligence," the legal basis for many personal injury cases. For example, you may be sued for negligence if a delivery person slips and falls on a patch of ice, sustaining an injury, on the way to your front door. In that case, the homeowner has a duty to maintain a relatively safe walkway.

State negligence laws are not that different from one state to the next, aside from how the law considers comparative and contributory negligence. For the most part, plaintiffs will have to demonstrate to the court that the five following elements are present:

  • Duty - The defendant should have acted (or not acted) in a certain way, owing a "duty" to act (or not act). Motorists have a duty to pay attention to the road and not be distracted by cell phones or other stimuli.
  • Breach of Duty - Defendant failed to do something (or refrain from doing something) that is considered his or her duty. For example, a motorist who was reading text messages and hit a pedestrian has breached his/her duty to pay attention to the road.
  • Cause in Fact - The injury was "in fact" caused by the defendant's breach of duty. For example, the pedestrian would not have been struck and injured had the motorist who hit him been paying attention.
  • Proximate Cause - Was it obvious to a reasonable person that texting while driving could result in someone's injury? For instance, the distracted motorist should have known that texting while driving could cause an accident.
  • Damages - There must be actual harm to the plaintiff that the system is capable of compensating him or her for.  

The basic provisions of Texas negligence laws are listed in the table below. See Negligence: Background for a general overview.

Code Section Civ. Prac. & Rem. §33.001
Comparative Negligence -
Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Plaintiff's negligence not greater than defendant's; award diminished in proportion to negligence (Civ. Prac. & Rem. §33.001)
Contribution Among Tortfeasors Yes; Civ. Prac. & Rem. §33.012
Uniform Act No

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Texas personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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