How Does Accident Compensation Work In Texas?
Dedicated attorneys can help understand the details
Texas has one of the highest rates of car accidents in the country, and there's no way to tell when you could become part of that statistic. The second after impact is when the complicated process of pursuing compensation begins, and that process can leave you feeling confused and alone. There are too many phone calls to be made, a mountain of paperwork to spend days sifting through, all while you're trying to recuperate physically and mentally.
The legal team of Chad Jones Law, P.C has spent over 17 years fighting for justice on behalf of the injured in central Texas, helping the victims of car wrecks get the compensation they're entitled to. Medical bills, lost wages and time from work, auto repair bills-the financial aftermath of a wreck is overwhelming to deal with. Here are some basic things to know to help you find your way through the process of accident compensation.
Texas is a "Modified Comparative Fault" State
This means that when you are in a car wreck, the fault is divided between all parties involved. It ensures that drivers pay for their share of responsibility in accidents that they are involved in. For example, if you were found 20% at fault but the other driver is 80% at fault, you receive 20% less than what your settlement is worth. However, Texas observes a rule commonly known as the "50% bar". If your part in the accident is determined to be less than 50%, you are entitled to claim compensation for damages. When it exceeds 50%, your award drops automatically to zero, meaning you cannot collect anything.
If you were injured, you have several options available to you to obtain compensation for your damages. You can file a claim with your insurance company, known as a first party claim. You can file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance, known as a third-party claim. You can, in the case of injury only, also pursue a lawsuit against the party responsible for your pain and suffering. The time limit (known as the statute of limitations) to file a lawsuit is two years, but it is always in your best interest to act quickly-the clock begins ticking from the moment a claim is established, and settlements take time to reach. That's why you need a legal team on your side that's committed to your right to justice.
Insurance requirements in Texas:
Having auto insurance is required by Texas law, and all drivers must be able to present physical evidence of their insurance if asked. Failing to do so can result in hefty fines or worse penalties, especially if you're involved in an accident. The minimum requirements for liability insurance in Texas are as follows:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person
- $60,000 for bodily injury per accident if two or more people are injured
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
This coverage pays for injuries to someone else in an accident you cause. It's wise to consider that you may be held personally liable for anything in excess of your policy limits, so carefully review your policy and make sure you have all the coverage you need.
What to do after an accident:
It feels like a lot to remember, and certainly is. The moments after a car wreck are often panicked, but there are a few simple things to remember to take care of.
- Call the police. They can assess the damage suffered, and you can file a report.
- If anyone is injured, don't move them. Instead, call the EMTs so the person can receive immediate medical attention.
- Take photos. Documenting everything you can while the events are still fresh in your mind can only help you in the long run.
- Write down the details and chain of events of the accident before you forget them. As time goes on, memories fade, and you need a consistent and concise account to give to the police and your lawyer.
- Obtain license numbers, insurance information, and contact information from the other driver.
- Do not admit fault in any way, and avoid incriminating language like saying you were speeding.
- Contact us to help you navigate this stressful time and focus on your recovery.
What does your insurance cover?
Insurance is there to offer you a cushion if you're involved in a car wreck. Remember, the state minimum coverage helps to protect others who are hurt in an accident, not you. But there are several types of optional coverage that can provide you with compensation through your own policy:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) helps you to recover wages lost from missing work, and also pays your medical bills, up to the policy limit.
- Collision coverage - this is not optional if you are leasing or financing a car. It pays for accident-related damages to your vehicle, up to fair market value.
- Comprehensive coverage - similar to collision coverage, this insures your car against non-accident related damages, like vandalism.
- Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage - known as UIM and UM, this coverage protects you against drivers who don't carry enough in their policy to cover your damages, or carry any insurance at all. It's extremely important that you see to your own coverage, because you never know what the other driver carries - or doesn't.
What if I'm hit by an Underinsured/Uninsured driver?
You never know who has insurance when you're on your daily commute, and you may never think about it until it's too late. If you are in a car wreck where the other driver doesn't have enough insurance to cover your damages, your options may be limited. Going after the underinsured/uninsured driver's personal assets is a difficult process, and that can only work at all if the other motorist has assets to recover in the first place. If you have uninsured and underinsured motorist protection, though, you can file a claim with your own insurance company to get the compensation you need, up to the policy limit.
You need a legal team committed to your defense
The recovery period after a car wreck should be just that: recovery. Fighting with insurance companies and reckless drivers isn't worth the time you should be spending getting back to your daily life. Waiting to contact a lawyer means delaying results. Don't hesitate; get in touch with the attorneys at Chad Jones Law, P.C. for a free case evaluation as soon as possible.