Texas is an At-Fault Car Accident State - Here's What It Means for You

 

After any auto accident in Texas, you want to understand how local laws can affect your personal injury or insurance claim. While every accident case is different, there are specific laws that apply in Texas. Below is a brief outline of these laws so you know what to expect if you are in a car accident in Texas.

Texas Is An ‘At Fault’ State

Some states are 'no fault,' but Texas is a ‘fault’ state. This means auto insurance companies will determine accident fault before they provide coverage for damages. This differs from ‘no fault’ states where insurance companies provide coverage right away to both parties, no matter who is at fault. Under the Texas fault system, all drivers must carry a minimum amount of insurance at all times:

·       $30,000 for each person for bodily injury

·       $60,000 per accident for bodily injury

·       $25,000 for property damage.

This basic level of insurance will pay for the other person’s medical bills and property damage if you are at fault for a car accident. On the other hand, the other person’s basic insurance coverage will pay for your damages if the fault was theirs. You also have the option of paying for higher amounts of insurance to protect yourself in more serious accidents.

Time Limits for Filing a Claim

If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit after a Texas accident where negligence was involved – distracted driving, drunk driving, drowsy driving – be aware of the statute of limitations. The statute in Texas states that the injured party has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the negligent party. A claim against a government employee must occur within 60 to 90 days of the accident.

If you did not find out about your injuries until days or weeks after your car accident, the clock does not begin to tick until you discover your injuries. The statute of limitations has exceptions, though, so you may wish to talk to a licensed Texas attorney before it is to late to file a claim.

Comparative Fault Rules

What if you and the other driver share fault in the accident? You can still file a personal injury claim and possibly receive compensation. Texas has what is called a 'modified comparative' fault rule. It allows you to recover damages as long as you were 50% or less at fault for the crash. The Texas court will determine what the percentage of fault is by investigating the accident. The court then reduces your compensation by a percentage that matches your amount of fault. That is why it is important to have a good Texas attorney at your side in this situation. You want to ensure that you do not get tagged with more blame for the accident than you actually deserve.

For instance, the court may deem you to be 10% at fault for having a broken tail light. But the defendant is 90% responsible for following too closely in the rear-end crash that resulted. If the total damages awarded are $50,000, you would get $45,000, which is the total award minus your 10% of fault. The rules in Texas do not allow you to receive compensation if you are more than 50% responsible for the accident. A pure comparative fault state (as opposed to our modified comparative fault rule) allows a claimant to get compensation at any percentage of fault that is under 100%.

Protect Your Legal Rights

The most effective way to navigate the ‘at fault’ car accident laws in Texas is with a licensed attorney working with you. A good attorney can investigate the accident fully, identify all potential defendants and insurance policies that are in effect, and file a claim with the proper civil court. Your attorney can also help you go up against some of the toughest insurance claims adjusters in the country. If the case needs to go to trial, the best personal injury lawyer can help you prevail in court as well.

 

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