If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries in a car accident in Texas, you probably have many questions. Damages after a car accident often include far more than just a damaged or totaled vehicle. When medical bills pile up at the same time you aren’t able to return to work, the combination of physical pain and financial stress may seem insurmountable.
Thankfully, the civil courts in Texas offer redress to accident victims through the state’s fault-based insurance laws. Unlike the handful of no-fault insurance states requiring accident victims to file claims against their own insurance regardless of fault, in Texas it matters who caused a car accident. Texas is a fault-based insurance state with a modified comparative negligence rule. If you’ve been injured in a car accident in the Lonestar State, it’s important to understand the fault-based insurance system.
Understanding the fault-based insurance system is essential for your claim’s success. An experienced Dallas car accident attorney can explain how this system works in Texas and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. With their support, you can focus on your recovery while they handle the legal aspects of your case, striving to secure the best possible outcome on your behalf.
Texas Requires Liability Insurance for Motorists
In a fault-based state (tort state) like Texas, motorists must carry at least the minimum required car insurance. This includes:
- $30,000 in bodily injury coverage per person
- $60,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 in property damage coverage per accident
The state’s required insurance coverage protects drivers from personal liability in the event of a car accident in which they’re at fault or partly at fault.
Proving Negligence in a Fault-Based Insurance State
When a driver’s actions cause a car accident with injuries, the injury victim (plaintiff) must prove negligence on the part of the driver at fault (defendant). This requires using evidence to demonstrate the following legal points of liability:
- That the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injuries
- That they breached this duty through an act of negligence or recklessness
- That the breach of duty directly caused the injury
- That the injury victim suffered significant damages due to the injury, like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering
In some accidents, a third party bears liability, for instance, the manufacturer of a defective auto part or a city road maintenance agency that failed to promptly address a road hazard or faulty signal light. In those circumstances, the road agency or manufacturer also owed a duty of care to prevent injury to others.
What is Modified Comparative Fault?
Not only is Texas a fault-based insurance state, but the state’s modified comparative fault insurance law means accident victims can recover a portion of their damages even if they shared a degree of fault for the accident, as long as they were less than 50% at fault. If they were partly at fault for the accident—a driver who was hit in a rear-end collision might be found partly at fault if they failed to signal that they were slowing for a turn—they can still recover compensation minus their percentage of fault. For example, if their damages amounted to $100,000 and they were found to have been 25% at fault for the accident, they’ll recover $75,000.
It pays to have the help of an experienced Texas car accident attorney when filing a claim since some insurance companies take advantage of the state’s comparative fault system to assign drivers a higher percentage of fault than they’re due in order to undervalue their claim. In Texas, most claims are settled out of court through negotiations with the insurance company of the liable party. An accident claim only advances to a lawsuit if the insurance company fails to offer an acceptable settlement amount.