Car accidents are brutal and often yield injuries that can last a lifetime. With this information in mind, it’s only fair that the responsible party compensates you for your pain—both physical and emotional. In the U.S., figuring out this compensation can be difficult, as accident fault laws are different from one state to the next.
Your Dallas accident lawyer will begin to investigate as soon as possible—the evidence gathered right after the accident can be the most important. Most cases end in a car accident settlement, but your lawyer will prepare a case that will stand up in trial if necessary.
If you live in Texas, you must check the laws. So, is Texas an at-fault state? Let’s examine the differences between the two cases in more detail before diving into the law in Texas.
What is the difference between at-fault and no-fault states?
Both at-fault and no-fault car insurance systems are designed to help the people involved in the accident get compensation for damages. The difference is mainly in where victims get the compensation from, as well as their right to sue.
Through the no-fault system, all the parties involved in the accident seek compensation from their own insurance. They don’t have to prove that the accident is someone else’s fault, and the compensation includes anything to do with medical injuries.
The victim can still sue for emotional and other non-economic damages. Plus, the responsible party still has to pay for the property damage. However, the states have set thresholds for damages or injuries for the victim to file a suit. The no-fault system saves the victim from having to prove fault for the medical expenses.
Under the at-fault system, the insurance company of the person at fault pays for the victim. They can max out the policy, but if the recipient thinks that’s not enough, they may sue the responsible party for damages.
Is Texas a no-fault or at-fault state for car accidents?
Texas is an at-fault state. The victim will approach the at-fault party’s insurance to claim damages. The state still uses the tort liability system, so the parties are responsible for whatever damages they cause.
If the at-fault party fails to pay for the damages, the victim can bring a suit against them to claim compensation for any damages. These include medical, emotional, and physical damages.
Do not discuss your accident with anyone except your lawyer
You should not talk about the accident with anyone except your attorney. The other driver’s own insurance company could claim that you were completely or partially at fault for your car accident to reduce the amount that they pay. Innocent statements like a polite apology can be used against you later—even telling the adjuster that you are fine while giving a recorded statement could undermine your injury claim. Instead, the safest way to proceed is to refer all calls to your lawyer.
How is fault determined in a car accident?
There are two ways to determine fault in case of a collision. First, the insurance claim folks will make an assessment. If they admit their policyholder was at fault, they offer compensation.
If you don’t want to engage in pointless talks, you can speak with a car insurance attorney. The insurance company may try to pay you less than what you’re owed, so it’s best to have a legal professional in your corner who can help you fight for maximum compensation.
If the losses exceed the limits of your insurance coverage, you can file a lawsuit against the negligent motorist. A judge or jury will then examine the evidence and make a ruling on liability. Again, you’ll need a lawyer to present your case. Engaging the services of a trained Texas car accident lawyer like Angel Reyes will drastically improve your chances of receiving a favorable outcome.
FAQs about car accidents in Texas
While we know that Texas is an at-fault state, there are still some questions to address when it comes to determining fault and compensation. We outline some of the most common car accident questions below.
What if both parties contribute to the accident?
If both parties contribute to the accident, it will come down to partial liability. Compensation will be reduced depending on what the injured party did to contribute to the accident.
The injured party can still claim damages as long as their contribution doesn’t exceed 51%. For instance, if a drunk motorist hits you while you are on the phone, the accident is partly your fault. The extent of that responsibility will determine how much of the damages you can claim.
Can an insurance company refuse to cover damages?
If you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance by yourself, they’ll confirm in fifteen days that they received your claim — the law dictates that this is the timeframe they must respond within.
Once they have the claim, they’ll investigate the crash. During this process, they may contact you — it’s normal procedure. However, it’s imperative that you don’t say, write or reveal any information to them. This information can be used against you down the track, so it’s best to get a lawyer on board immediately to help you navigate the process.
Once you’ve engaged a lawyer, they will help you deal with the insurance company so that you get everything you’re owed. It’s likely that the insurance investigators are looking for excuses to deny your claim. As previously mentioned, you need to be extremely careful and intentionally vague during your initial communications with the insurance company — even the smallest, most seemingly innocuous things you say can be detrimental to your case.
Some common tactics that car insurance companies use to avoid paying you are rejecting your claims without reason or dragging the process out until you’re exhausted. Others will try to downplay your damages and underpay you. This is why it’s crucial to get the help of a Texas car accident attorney — they do the fighting for you.
Are they any legitimate reasons the insurance company can use to deny my claim?
Yes, there are a few scenarios. The first is if you were a major contributor in the accident (more than 51%).
The second scenario would be a lack of medical records. If the medical records don’t indicate the same injuries you claim or if you don’t follow the doctor’s advice after the accident, you may find yourself in trouble.
The third scenario would be your claims exceeding the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. The insurance company isn’t obligated to honor any claims after you max out the other driver’s policy.
What if the insurance doesn’t cover damages?
You can sue the at-fault driver if the insurance doesn’t cover all your damages. However, you need to consider if the lawsuit is worth it. You’ll be wasting money if the at-fault driver doesn’t have any assets you can use to pay your bills.
That’s because the court will simply rule in your favor. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have anything to pay you, there’s not much you can do.
Utilizing your insurance in such circumstances is preferable. You can use your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy to offset your damages.
Is there a statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit?
Yes, Texas has a two-year statute of limitations. You have two years from the accident date to file your personal injury claim. If the final date comes on a weekend, the statute of limitations will expire on the next business day.
Of course, there are exceptions. Let’s say the accident victim dies as a result of their wounds. The lawsuit window starts from the day of the death. The deceased’s next of kin has two years from that date to file the case.
The period for the lawsuit can also be paused. However, there are only four situations for that to happen. The first is if the injured person is below 18 years of age. In such cases, the victims have two years after they turn eighteen. If the victim is mentally disabled, there’s no statute of limitations. If the at-fault driver is not in Texas, the period will pause during their absence. Similarly, if the at-fault driver dies, the statute of limitation will be paused for a year.
What damages can a victim file for after a car accident?
Medical bills include all medical costs incurred because of the accident. That includes your medicines, hospital stay, and surgery. They also include the physical therapy or medication you have to get because of injuries from the accident.
Lost wages cover all the income you lost because you couldn’t work. In addition, you’ll also be compensated if you’ve had to make career changes or earn less because of the accident.
If the injuries from the accident prevent you from performing duties like child care, you’ll also need compensation for that. The compensation also extends to any modifications you need to make to your house or office to accommodate your injuries.
You can also file a claim for emotional suffering and property damage. Car replacement or lower resale value comes under compensation for property damage.
How long does settlement take in Texas?
Generally, car accident settlements in Texas don’t need to go to court. To reduce the overall cost of the settlement, the insurance company will act as swiftly as possible. However, you must speak to a lawyer before settling.
The verdict will take a bit longer if your case goes to court. After filing the lawsuit, the discovery phase may take several months. Additionally, there are more negotiations with neutral parties to help you reach an agreement. If the case goes to trial, things can take anywhere from days to months.
Find the best car accident lawyers in Texas
If you have been injured in an auto accident, recovering compensation can help you bear the burden of medical bills, lost wages, and other financial and non-financial losses associated with the crash. Finding a Dallas car accident lawyer who is committed to holding at-fault parties responsible for their actions is a crucial first step in the recovery process.
The team from Angel Reyes & Associates has decades of experience helping to fight for victims to receive the maximum compensation they are owed. We have experts in Texas road law who are able to navigate even the toughest cases, and who can identify gaps that our competitors can’t.Get in touch with us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and learn more about how we can help.