Texas Car Accident Laws: Things You Need to Know
In Texas, drivers are liable for injuries caused by their vehicles, even if someone else was negligent. This means that victims cannot sue the person responsible for generating the crash unless that person could prove that he or she was completely free of fault. However, it does not mean that you are out of luck. You still have a chance to recover damages from the party that caused the collision.
The law provides several ways to determine whether another driver was partially at fault. For example, if you were driving down the road and saw a vehicle approaching from behind, you might assume that the other driver was speeding up to pass you. In reality, however, the other driver might be trying to avoid hitting something in front of him or her. If you rear-ended the other driver because you assumed that he or she was speeding up to pass, you might be able to argue that you had no way of knowing that the other driver was actually slowing down.
If you are injured in a car wreck, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC. Your lawyer can help you understand what happened and how much compensation you deserve. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.Reporting a Car Accident in Texas
The law requires drivers involved in accidents to report those crashes within 10 minutes of the incident. If you are injured during the crash, call 911 immediately. You will be asked questions about what happened; however, do not give medical information unless you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel. Do not attempt to move the victim yourself. Call 9-1-1.
If you are not sure whether the crash caused injuries or property damage, contact the nearest law enforcement agency. Your insurance agent or insurer may require proof of loss before paying claims.Should I Report the Accident to My Car Insurance Company?
If you are involved in an auto accident, there is one thing you absolutely must do: call your auto insurance company immediately. This is true even if you think the damage is minimal or you don't know how much the repair costs will be.
The reason is simple: Your auto insurance carrier needs to know about the accident as quickly as possible in order to begin investigating the incident and preparing for a potential lawsuit. In some cases, the insurer may require proof of ownership of the vehicle involved in the collision. In addition, the insurer may want to obtain statements from witnesses and/or take photographs of the scene.
In most states, failure to notify your auto insurance company promptly can void your coverage. And even though many people believe that their state does not regulate what happens once a driver reports an accident to his or her insurance company, the truth is that each state has specific rules regarding when an individual should notify his or her auto insurance provider.
Most states require that drivers report accidents within 24 hours. Some states mandate that drivers file claims within 48 hours, while others allow 72 hours. Most states also require that drivers give notice within a certain number of days. For example, New York law requires that drivers report accidents within seven days.
Many states also have special requirements related to reporting accidents involving uninsured motorists. These include requiring that drivers provide information such as the names and addresses of the injured parties, the name and address of the person whose property was damaged, and the location where the accident occurred. Other states may require additional information.
Some states also have special requirements for reporting accidents caused by commercial vehicles. For instance, California law requires that trucking companies report crashes involving tractor-trailers within five days.
Other states have different rules that apply specifically to rental cars. For example, Florida law requires that renters inform their auto insurers of accidents within 14 days.Texas's Comparative Negligence Rule in Car Accident Cases
In most car accident cases, juries are asked to calculate two things: how much money the plaintiff deserves to receive, and how much fault each defendant bears for causing the accident. This process is called apportioning responsibility.
The traditional method of calculating fault involves asking jurors to assign percentages to each defendant. For example, if there is a single defendant named John Doe, and he is responsible for 50% of the cause of the accident, then the jury might find him liable for half of the plaintiff's damages ($50,000) and award the plaintiff $25,000.
But another alternative exists, the modified comparative negligence rule. Instead of assigning percentages to each defendant, the jury is asked simply to determine the total dollar amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff. Then, the court subtracts the plaintiff's portion of those damages from the total amount of damages. So, for example, if the jury finds that the plaintiff deserves $100,000 in compensation and that the defendant shares some degree of fault, it must reduce the plaintiff's recovery by the proportionate amount attributable to the defendant.
For instance, let's say that the jury finds that the defendant is solely responsible for 60% of the cause of your injuries, while you're 30% at fault. The total amount of damages awarded to you would be $60,000 ($100,000 - $30,000 $70,000). But since you're 30% at-fault, the judge must deduct 30% ($7,000) from the total amount of your damages ($70,000 x 0.3 $21,000). Thus, your net recovery would be $49,000.
This approach works well because it removes the guesswork involved in determining the degrees of fault. And it makes sense, too; you'd want to punish someone who caused injury to you more severely if they were less culpable.Texas Car Insurance Rules
The Texas Auto Insurance Code is very specific about what types of vehicles are required to carry liability insurance. Here's how it works:
A person must purchase a policy of automobile liability insurance covering both property damage and bodily injury claims against him or her.
Car owners must insure themselves against legal liability arising from accidents involving the operation of their cars. This includes liability arising from accidents caused by negligence, recklessness, or criminal acts such as drunk driving.
If someone else suffers injuries because of another driver's negligent actions, he or she can sue the negligent party for damages. In court, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent and that his or her negligence caused the injuries suffered. If the plaintiff wins, he or she can collect money from the defendant.
In many cases, the injured victim can recover medical expenses from the negligent driver. However, there are limits on how much medical treatment the victim can receive. A person cannot file a suit against a tortfeasor unless he or she has exhausted the maximum possible benefits under the law.
To do this, the victim must obtain a judgment against the tortfeasor and then wait 30 days before filing a lawsuit. During this waiting period, the victim is considered to have received "maximum benefits." After the waiting period ends, the victim can file a lawsuit against the tortfeasors.
There are exceptions to this rule. An exception applies if the victim receives a payment from Medicare or Medicaid. Another exception allows victims to seek compensation without having to go to court if they can show that the defendant acted intentionally or willfully.