Determining When a Car Insurance Claim is Necessary after an Accident

Was a police report filed?
  • There were 25,864 vehicle crashes reported in Tarrant County in 2012 which resulted in 6,405 serious or fatal injuries. That means there were about 19,000 minor/moderate or no injury accidents, and not all accidents would warrant filing a car insurance claim.

    Texas laws state that you must stop and render aid if there is any damage to persons or property. This means even if it's just a minor dent on a bumper, you must still exchange information with the other driver. Failure to do so may result in criminal charges. You also must take into consideration that the terms of many car insurance policies require reporting any accident involving your vehicle, even if you were the only car involved.

    If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you should generally file a claim with his or her car insurance. If you were at fault, you must examine the coverage you have available on your policy to determine if you can file a claim – the other driver will likely file a claim against your insurance to cover his or her damages.

    Accidents and Injuries Where a Car Insurance Claim is Necessary

    Medical expenses are typically the most costly part of a car accident for all parties involved. Always report a car accident that involves injuries or property damage. A written report is required if there are injuries or if property damage appears to be greater than $1,000. Drivers must file the report within 10 days if law enforcement did not investigate the accident.

    In these situations, it is usually in your best interest to file a claim to recover damages from the at-fault party's insurance. Texas requires drivers carry at least $30,000 in bodily injury liability for each person and up to $60,000 bodily injury liability per accident. It also requires at least $25,000 for property damage liability. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance coverage should compensate you for your damages.

    If you have personal injury protection, you may file a claim against your own insurance regardless of fault. If no serious injuries or deaths occurred in a single-car accident, all property damage is to your own vehicle (keep in mind that if you damage a structure, fixture or landscaping, you must locate the owner of the property), and there's just very minor cosmetic damage, you may decide not to file a claim. Instead, you may opt to pay for your damages out of pocket.

    But remember that not all injuries are readily apparent. If you develop symptoms in the hours or days after the accident, report the accident and work with an attorney to assess your damages so you can file a claim.

    Fault and Insurance Claims: Consult an Accident Attorney

    Be careful if an at-fault driver tries to talk you out of reporting the accident. Legally, if both drivers agree that there were no injuries and the damage is too minor to report, they can agree to just exchange information and work out repair details later if necessary.

    This is strictly an agreement between you two, there may be no legal recourse if you fail to report the accident and later decide you have more damages than you expected.

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