No – Texas is a comparative fault state. You must prove fault by the other driver to collect on an injury claim.
What is a “No-Fault” Claim?
When involved in an automobile accident in Texas, many people ask if Texas is a no-fault state regarding car accident compensation claims.
The answer is NO; Texas is not a no-fault state. Texas is a comparative fault state.
There are many states where the system is based upon no-fault, and you claim under your auto policy for car accident compensation. Texas, however, does not adhere to this system of compensation. In Texas, you must prove the at-fault party caused the accident.
Texas Uses a Comparative Fault System
We use a comparative fault system in Texas to determine damages for personal injuries, such as auto accidents. In short, Texas is not a no-fault car accident state.
The claim is made through the at-fault person’s insurance company. If you are hurt in an accident with an 18-wheeler, your claim is against the truck driver or the trucking company, not the insurance carrier.
How are Compensation Claims Handled in Texas Auto Accidents?
For automobile accidents in Texas, Texas uses a comparative fault model, which asks the finder of fact, usually a jury, to decide who is responsible for causing the accident. The at-fault parties’ insurance carrier typically pays damages, although the lawsuit is filed directly against the driver.
If you are in an accident and are not at fault or less than 50% at fault, the claim will be made with the negligent party’s insurance company. If the case cannot be satisfactorily settled, a lawsuit will be filed against the negligent driver, their employer, or another responsible party.
If the other driver did not have a liability policy during the crash, or your damages exceed the other driver’s policy limits. In that case, you may also want to claim your own insurance company if you have UIM or UM coverage. You also may be entitled to PIP or personal injury protection benefits under your auto insurance policy. PIP benefits are paid without regard to fault.
Examples of Comparative Fault in Texas
Example 1. You are in a car accident with another person who hit you from the rear while you were stopped at a red light. In this example, it is likely that all fault will be placed on the other driver who failed to control speed. So you would collect all of your damages.
Example 2. Like the prior example, you are struck in the rear. However, due to traffic stopping in front of you, you slammed on your brakes and hit the car ahead of you just before the other driver slammed into the back of your car. In this situation, the responsibility for causing the crash may be apportioned to you and the driver who hit you from the rear.
If the fault was determined to be 30% on you and 70% on the other driver, you could collect 70% of your damages. But if your fault is over 50%, you are barred from collecting damages in Texas.
What Are the Minimum Car Insurance Limits in Texas
In Texas, auto insurance requirements mandate that all drivers with registered vehicles must have a minimum amount of liability coverage. Liability insurance is designed to protect the other party involved in an accident if you are at fault, covering their damages, injuries, or property damage.
1. At least $30,000 per person for bodily injury liability coverage: If you are responsible for an accident and the other party sustains injuries, your insurance will cover up to $30,000 for each individual’s bodily injury expenses.
2. At least $60,000 per accident for bodily injury liability coverage: This coverage extends the liability limit to cover up to $60,000 for all bodily injury expenses resulting from an accident you caused.
3. At least $25,000 for property damage liability coverage: If you are at fault in an accident and cause damage to someone else’s property, this coverage will provide protection up to $25,000 for repair or replacement costs.
While liability insurance is the most common way to meet Texas insurance requirements, alternative options exist. For instance, it is possible to deposit a substantial amount of cash with the state government to self-insure. However, the majority of drivers choose to purchase liability insurance.
It is worth noting that despite legal requirements, a percentage of Texas drivers do not have any car insurance. This underscores the importance of being adequately insured with UIM coverage to protect yourself and your passengers in an accident.
However, Houston has many accidents where the person at fault has no liability insurance.
Often, liability insurance coverage is above the minimum coverage in Texas. You may also be able to stack coverage with your auto insurance if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
What Compensation Can I Get After a Car Accident in Texas?
We recommend hiring an attorney after your car accident to maximize your damages. Compensation will vary depending on how the accident occurred and the extent of your injuries. Here are a few examples of legally permissible compensation in Texas for a car accident injury:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lost wages or reduced earning capacity
- Medical bills
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage and rental car
How to Prove Fault in Car Accidents in Texas
Because Texas is not a no-fault state, it is imperative that if you are injured in an automobile accident in the state of Texas, you or your representatives are prepared to prove responsibility for causing the accident. Because a jury apportions liability in cases that cannot be settled, the initial investigation and what you do at the scene can be critical.
Be Wary of a Driver Changing Their Story
It is not unheard of for someone who was at fault and admitted the mistake at the scene to change their story once they have talked to their insurance company or an attorney has been hired to defend them.
The best action is to hire an automobile accident attorney in Houston as soon as possible after the crash and let them do the initial investigation.
Witnesses are Helpful
Witnesses to the collision can be crucial, and obtaining their contact information at the scene can make a massive difference in the case’s outcome. Many rely upon the police officer investigating the crash to record the witness’s information on the crash report.
Relying on the officer is a huge mistake because the vast majority of the time when the injuries are not initially thought to be life-threatening, the officer fails to keep the witness’s contact information and does not include it in the official crash report.
Obtaining photographs at the scene showing not only the property damage and severity of the impact but also the location of the vehicles at final rest and other helpful information is always a good idea. Photographs can show not only the severity of the hit but also the impact position and lane of travel.
Does a Ticket Mean the Other Person is Responsible?
Just because the other party receives a citation or a “ticket” is not binding upon the other insurance company regarding accepting liability or what a jury may determine.
Most traffic tickets are dismissed when fought, and evidence that the ticket was issued, barring conviction, probably will not be admissible in a Texas civil trial for personal injury damages.
If I’m Partly at Fault, Can I Still Collect Damages in Texas?
Yes, if you are partly at fault, you can still collect if you are not more than 50% responsible for causing an accident in Texas. If a jury or judge determines that you are more than 50% at fault, you will take nothing in the way of damages. In Texas, it does not matter if you are hurt in a car accident, construction accident, or another incident. If you are less than fifty-one percent at fault, you may be able to get compensation.
If you are partially at fault, but less than 51% of your losses are reduced, your percentage of fault is attributed to the judge or jury.
By way of example, if, for instance, your damages were $100,000 and a jury found you 33 1/3% at fault and the other driver 66 2/3% at fault, your damages would be reduced to $66,666.66.
Can I Handle a Texas Car Accident Case Without a Lawyer?
Yes, there are many instances where you can handle a personal injury case on your own; however, do not expect the insurance company to treat you fairly without counsel.
The rule of thumb is that the more serious your injury, the more likely you will need a personal injury attorney to help you through the process. Anyone with severe injuries such as a closed head or spinal cord injury or needing surgical intervention should speak with the best personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Medical Care Impacts Your Damages
You must seek needed medical care as soon as possible after an accident. A big part of an insurance adjuster’s compensation evaluation will rely on what your treating doctors say and how much your medical bills total.
Some of the most important evidence on damages is a treating physician’s opinion on the injuries and damages sustained in the car accident.
Does Accepting Responsibility by the Insurance Company Mean I Don’t Need a Lawyer?
If the insurance company “accepts responsibility,” they are hoping you do not hire a lawyer so they can settle the case for much less than its real value.
Many victims of a car accident in Texas find out they need a lawyer after months have passed, and they finally receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. Only then does the victim realize that the insurance company never intended to be fair.
Unfortunately, in some instances, waiting to retain the best attorney for my car accident makes it much more challenging to get a quality lawyer to help, and there are things you may have done or failed to do that hurt your case.
If I Speak to a Lawyer, Do I Have to Pay or Hire Them?
No, most reputable personal injury law firms offer initial consultations without cost. You can get a feel for the law firm through an initial consultation. If you feel they are hurrying to get you off the phone or sign you up, it may be best to look elsewhere.
Find an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Texas
Always do your homework before retaining a lawyer for a Texas car accident before you sign any paperwork with the lawyer. Be wary of a mill or high-volume law firm, as your case may be only a number to them. Finding the best auto accident attorney in Houston takes some research.
Be wary of claims from many organizations regarding the status of the attorney or law firm unless it is truly a peer-review-driven (other lawyers) rating.
Most rating entities have a financial relationship with the law firm or the attorneys they are rating. The rating may be driven by the financial incentive paid to the rating agency. Look for an attorney who has punitive damage experience if your accident involved a drunk driver.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney in Houston at Baumgartner Law Firm for Help
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069