Driving is a routine activity. We get into a vehicle to travel to and from our daily destinations. The thought of being involved in a car accident never crosses our mind. However, a car crash is reported in Texas every 56 seconds and an injury crash is reported every two minutes.
The injuries sustained in a Texas car accident can be debilitating and can affect your life in many different ways. The process of receiving compensation for your injuries can seem overwhelming, confusing, and frustrating. A car accident lawyer can assist with obtaining compensation for your injuries. The following information is a basic guide to help give you a better understanding of car accident laws in Texas and how they may work in your case.
When to Report a Car Accident in Texas
According to the Texas Transportation Code, all motorists who have been involved in an accident must report the crash if the accident involves either of the following:
- Injury or death
- Property damage exceeding $1,000
If the crash is not investigated by a police officer, it must be reported to the Texas Department of Transportation within 10 days. The Department of Transportation provides a crash form which must be completed and returned within the time frame. Failure to report a crash in Texas is a crime which can also lead to suspension of your driver’s license.
Texas Car Insurance
All drivers in Texas are required to carry car insurance. There are several different types of automobile insurance coverage, including:
- Liability coverage: If you cause a crash, this coverage pays any injuries suffered by the victims. In Texas, the rule is 30/60/25 coverage. This means that your minimum coverage must be $30,000 per occurrence, $60,000 per crash, and $25,000 of coverage for property damages.
- Collision coverage: Typically covers repairs to vehicles involved in a crash
- Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage will pay for damages suffered to your vehicle as a result of anything other than a crash. Some examples are hitting an animal or another object in the roadway.
- Medical payments coverage: If you or a passenger are injured, medical payments coverage will pay a set portion of your medical bills due to the crash.
- Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage: If you were involved in an accident with a driver who had no insurance or who did not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, UM or UIM coverage as it is commonly known will kick in to help pay for your damages. Your insurance agent must offer you this coverage when they sell your policy. If you choose not to have UM or UIM, you must state your choice in writing.
- Rental car coverage: Repairs to your vehicle can take time following an accident. Having rental car coverage ensures that you have an automobile to drive while your car is in the shop.
Comparative Negligence in Texas
Negligence is the legal principle that determines who is responsible for an accident. Each jurisdiction in the United States has their own laws regarding negligence. The concept of negligence basically refers to breaching the duty of care that all drivers owe to other motorists to keep everyone as safe as possible. You are expected to follow all traffic laws and to pay attention at all times, as well as keep your car in good working order. If any of these duties are breached, and it causes an accident with injuries, the negligent party can be held liable to pay compensation to the injured party.
Texas uses a modified comparative negligence rule that apportions responsibility for the accident among those involved. That means that if more than one driver caused the accident, there will be a percentage of fault assigned to each at-fault party.
Let’s look at an example that helps illustrate the way this works in real life:
You are driving to work when you come to an intersection with a stop sign. You slow down and look both ways, but you don’t come to a complete stop. As you complete your rolling stop, a driver speeding from the other direction comes out of nowhere and slams into your vehicle.
Most of the blame for the accident falls on the other driver. The case ends up going to trial, as a settlement was not reached, and the jury determines that the other driver was 85% at fault for the crash but that you should have stopped completely at the stop sign. They determine that you are 15% responsible. If your damages from the crash are $10,000, you will receive $8,500 which represents the full responsibility of the other driver minus the amount ($1,500) of your responsibility for the crash.
Now, consider a different situation. Suppose that in the scenario above, the jury found that you were more than 50% responsible for the crash because you should have come to a full stop before you made your turn. In some states, you could still recover the percentage for which the other driver was at fault. Under Texas law, however, your recovery is completely barred after you cross the 50% threshold. In other words, if you hold the majority of liability for the accident, you will not be able to make a financial recovery in court.
Having a personal injury lawyer in Dallas is important in order to present a convincing case that your actions did not play a key role in the collision.
Seeking Help from an Attorney
The days and weeks following a car accident are stressful. This is especially true if you suffered injuries in the crash. A Texas car accident can impact every area of your life. With the assistance of a Dallas personal injury attorney, you can recover the compensation that you need to secure your future and move forward following a serious crash. You are far more likely to see a favorable outcome when you have a solid attorney on your side, so don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel. Most attorneys take payment on a contingency when handling car accidents, so you don’t have to worry about paying their legal fees out of pocket.