If there are multiple defendants in a lawsuit in Texas, the outcome of a case is not as clear as with two-party lawsuits. Generally, a jury or a judge is asked to allocate fault between all the parties. The percentages of fault can have a big effect on how much money the plaintiff recovers. This article covers how Texas law deals with multiple defendants in personal injury cases.

Texas Allocates Money Based on Fault


To recover damages, the personal injury victim must be less than 51% at fault for the accident. If a personal injury victim is partly at fault (but less than 51%), the damages are reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault.

Joint Liability

If any defendant is more than 50% at fault in a multiple-defendant action, that defendant may be “jointly and severally liable” for the whole verdict.

In multiple defendant cases, a jury is usually asked to allocate fault between the defendants (assuming no fault on the part of the plaintiff) and the defendants are asked to pay damages according to their percentage of the fault.

In a perfect world, a negligent party with adequate insurance coverage would injure every personal injury victim, however, many times the guiltiest party has insufficient insurance coverage to adequately compensate the plaintiff for damages suffered.

Texas 51% Rule

In effect, the plaintiff assumes the risk that the persons or companies at fault for the accident can actually pay for the damages they caused. However, as set forth above, should any defendant be found 51% or more at fault (because they would then be “jointly and severally responsible), the burden of collecting for damages may shift to the guiltiest party.

If the defendant who was 51% or more at fault had adequate insurance coverage. In that case, it may be the plaintiff seeking to collect all the damages from that defendant, and that defendant would then seek to collect “contribution” from the others.

Examples of Multiple Party Car Accident Payouts in Texas

By way of example, assuming a jury awards $1 million for damages to a person hurt in a car accident and finds fault as set forth below:

Defendant A -20% fault (20% of Award or $200,000)

Defendant B -30% fault (30% of award or $300,000)

Defendant C -50 fault (1/2 of Award or $500,000)

In this example, if any of the defendants cannot pay their share of the award, the personal injury victim who was innocent in the accident suffers the risk of not collecting the damages from each defendant because no defendant is jointly and severally responsible for the damages.

Call our Houston Injury Law Firm

If you’ve been seriously injured or have lost a family member in a wrongful death case, contact the Baumgartner Law Firm for a no-obligation consultation about your rights and options. We have extensive experience in many practice areas of personal injury and are available 24 seven by telephone.

Call (281) 587-1111 


Greg Baumgartner

attorney greg baumgartner

Greg Baumgartner has practiced personal injury law since 1984. He holds not one but two law degrees and is a graduate of Trial Lawyers College. He is licensed in Texas and Colorado. Mr. Baumgartner has earned a reputation for exemplary results for his clients. And has been preeminent rated for decades and recognized by Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Expertise, Newsweek, Houstonia magazine, and many others. He has given educational talks to lawyers and many media interviews regarding personal injury cases.

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