No, Texas is not a no-fault state. If you are hurt in a traffic accident, you may be able to hold the at-fault driver or another liable party legally responsible for your injuries, financial expenses, and other losses. A car accident attorney can help you seek this compensation through an auto liability insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Some states require crash victims to first turn to their own insurance policies after an accident regardless of what happened or who was at fault in the accident. Texas is not one of these states. Texas law allows victims to hold the negligent parties financially responsible from the first dollar spent, no matter the severity of the injuries suffered.
About Texas Car Accident Liability Laws
According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), Texas operates a fault-based—or tort—auto accident system. As a part of this system, the state requires liability coverage for all drivers. This includes a minimum of:
- $30,000 in coverage for injuries per accident victim
- $60,000 in coverage for injuries per accident
- $25,000 in property damage coverage
Your insurer may refer to this as 30/60/25 coverage, referencing the coverage available for the victims of an accident caused by the policyholder. If you cause a crash, this policy will pay for the car repairs and medical treatment of those who suffered damages because of your negligence.
This, plus the ability to sue at-fault parties after a crash, is at the heart of the tort-based car accident system in Texas. This required liability coverage allows victims to pursue fault-based claims and recover compensation for their qualifying damages.
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What Is a No-Fault Car Accident State?
There are several ways states can opt to handle car accident liability. The two primary options are fault-based or no-fault systems. Most states have a tort system that allows victims to sue the careless or reckless party who caused the crash and recover compensation and get justice.
A dozen states, however, use a no-fault system. This helps keep the civil courts clear from relatively minor car accident cases. Each of these states establishes its own rules for when crash victims can step outside the no-fault system (and beyond their no-fault insurance) and sue the at-fault driver. This is often because they suffer serious injuries or their medical bills cost more than their insurance will cover.
Holding a Negligent Driver Responsible for Your Texas Car Accident
While Texas law allows crash victims to sue the at-fault driver in a traffic accident, most do not go to trial, and many never need to begin a lawsuit. Instead, they file an insurance claim based on the negligent driver’s auto liability insurance and negotiate a settlement to cover their damages.
The recoverable compensation in these cases will depend on the expenses and losses they incurred and the value of those damages. This could include:
- Related medical bills, current and estimated future costs
- Missed income and diminished earning capacity, if applicable
- Car repairs
- Pain and suffering damages
To hold the at-fault driver responsible, the injured party has to prove to the insurer—or the judge and jury at trial—that the other driver:
- Acted carelessly or recklessly, usually by violating a traffic law
- This action caused the crash
- The victim suffered injuries, losses, and expenses because of the collision
This usually requires gathering evidence to support the claim that could include:
- The police report for the accident
- Any photos or videos of the crash
- Accident reconstruction
- Physical evidence from the collision
- Witness statements
- Proof of damages
- Expert testimony
Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003, victims generally have up to two years to sue. This means you need to collect evidence, value your damages, and reach an agreement with the insurer before the second anniversary of the crash. If you do not begin a lawsuit by the time this date arrives, you most likely will not be able to do so later.
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A Texas Car Accident Attorney Can Handle Your Claim While You Heal
If your injuries are moderate or severe, or if you are trying to get back to work and do not have the time or resources to fight with the insurance company, a personal injury law firm may be able to help. Most provide free consultations and represent victims based on contingency. You should not need to pay anything for representation upfront.
An attorney can investigate the crash, identify the liable parties, prove negligence, and value the case. Then, they demand a fair settlement and negotiate with the insurer on your behalf. They will protect your rights and fight for the payout you deserve based on what happened to you.
They can sue for you, if necessary. With a lawyer on your side, you can focus on your treatment, healing, and physical recovery.
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Speak With a Lawyer From Underwood Law Office
An attorney from Underwood Law Office in McKinney, Texas, can meet with you today at no cost to you or your family. The areas we serve stretch across Texas. We will discuss your crash and legal options with you for free. Reach out today.