What You Should Know about Texas Car Accident Laws
If you have been injured in a car accident in Texas, you might want to familiarize yourself with basic Texas car accident laws. This will give you a better understanding of how to recover your financial damages and know what questions to ask a personal injury lawyer who can assist you.
Reporting the Accident
For starters, Texas law has a requirement that drivers must call contact the police. Hopefully a law enforcement officer will write a Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (Form CR-3), which is required if any one reports being injured or there is damage to any vehicle more than $1,000.
But we have seen many examples when drivers say that they do not want to go by ambulance to a hospital so no police report is written. Make sure this happens as the report will be very useful when you are negotiating your claim with the other insurance company or the jury is considering the testimony of the police officer at trial.
Understanding Insurance Available
At the accident scene, drivers should exchange contact identifying details and insurance information. Obtain the names and contact information of witnesses as well. Take photos of all vehicles, the scene, and any injuries. Texas is a comparative fault auto accident state which means that the liability of all drivers will be considered so make sure that you are not considered at fault at the scene, which often happens in a two car “he said/she said” situation without independent eyewitnesses.
To safeguard you, the law requires purchase of liability insurance. Minimums for the coverage are the following:
- $30,000 for each person injured subject to a total of $60,000 for all people injured; and
- $25,000 for all vehicle damage
However we often see at-fault drivers presenting bogus proof of insurance, expired proof, or being excluded from the policy. A good injury lawyer can immediately help you determine if the other driver has a valid insurance policy and if not, what you can do to get paid back.
Furthermore, if multiple vehicles are involved, it is essential that you pursue your claim quickly and aggressively or there may not be sufficient (or any) insurance available to pay your claim and you will need to file a lawsuit and take your case to court — and hope the other driver has sufficient resources to pay you out of his own pocket.
Seeing a Hospital or Doctor the Day of the Accident
It is important to see a doctor the day you are hit. At the very least, make sure you see a medical professional within 48 hours. Even if you feel okay in the state of shock and with the adrenaline rush you are probably feeling, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents may not be obvious immediately. If your injuries begin causing you problems weeks later and you have not had a checkup, the other driver’s insurance company will no doubt claim that you were not injured and not pay the damages you are entitled to.
Knowing the Responsibilities of the Insurer
Drivers may choose to buy or decline coverage for vehicle damage, liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist protection, personal injury protection, and other benefits. Once you have the time, you need to file a claim with your insurer as soon as possible.Your insurance company can either support or reject your claim within 15 days of a claim being submitted. Should the company reject the claim, it needs to provide you with an explanation. Otherwise, after acceptance, the company must pay you, by law, within five business days for the claimed amount.
If you believe the other party is guilty of negligence, your personal injury attorney will help you obtain supporting documentation in the form of the police report and other evidence of how the crash happened, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. If you have this information, this will assist you in your first meeting with a car accident attorney.
Sometimes, insurance companies want policyholders to sign a release that states they will not file any more claims in relation to the wreck. Never sign off on a property damage claim if it also releases your claim for personal injuries, medical costs, lost wages, and damages. The law forbids the delay of a claim payment in lieu of a release.
To ensure that you receive a just and fair settlement in a lawsuit, you must prove that the other driver had a duty to use care and that he or she breached that duty. You also need to show that this lack of care resulted in personal injuries. Therefore, you must show that a duty existed, that the duty was breached, and that breach led to your injuries. You have two years to file a lawsuit in the state of Texas to claim monetary relief, but waiting will jeopardize your case.
Determining the Value of a Settlement
If you choose to file a lawsuit to cover your current and future medical costs as well as loss of income, the settlement amount can vary, depending on the following factors:
- The severity of the crash;
- Whether you were partially responsible for the accident;
- Your injuries;
- The medical costs;
- The loss of income, job benefits, and future employment;
- Any scarring;
- Your insurance coverage and the other party’s coverage;
- Your lawyer’s ability to persuade an insurance adjuster or jury to pay favorable compensation.
Contact us so we can help you get compensated if you have been in a car or truck wreck.