Some Things You Should Know About Comparative Fault in the State of Texas
If you’ve been injured in a crash, contact a Houston, Texas car accident lawyer at McDonald Worley for help.
Texas is considered to be a “fault” state when it comes to traffic-related accidents. So if you are operating a motor vehicle in the state of Texas, you must buy a minimum amount of liability insurance. In Texas, the minimum liability insurance amount for motor vehicles is currently $25,000 for property damage and $30,000 for bodily injury to one individual (up to $60,000 per accident). Any driver who fails to buy and maintain insurance that is required by Texas law can potentially face serious penalties. This includes suspension of your driving privileges and fines.
Why Does Texas Require Drivers to Have Liability Insurance?
Liability insurance protects other people if a driver causes a car accident. Your own liability insurance will not pay for your damages or expenses. If you end up causing a car accident resulting in injuries and property damage, you may be held liable for those damages. Car accident damages can include the following:
- Medical treatment costs
- Property damage
- Loss of income
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Physical pain and suffering
- Other out-of-pocket costs
- Future damages, including loss of income and medical care
People who are injured in a car accident can file a claim against you and your liability insurance policy. Your insurer should pay any valid claims up to the amount of your policy limit. However, you will not receive money for any of your damages unless you purchased optional insurance coverage like collision insurance or Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
What is Comparative Fault?
It is a legal concept where the fault in an accident is divided between all parties involved in the accident. What this means is a specific percentage of responsibility is assigned by the law for the cause of an accident to each party involved in the crash. In some instances, a driver might be 100% at fault for an accident. For example, when a driver does not yield the right of way to another car traveling at a regular rate of speed, who wasn’t violating any traffic laws and had the right of way, the driver can be held to be 100% at fault for the accident.
However, if the driver with the right of way was distracted or speeding, it can be argued that this driver contributed to causing the accident. A jury can assign a percentage of fault to this driver that can directly impact how much compensation can be received by the driver on their injury claim.
How Do You Prove Fault in a Texas Car Accident Case?
If you were injured in a vehicle-related accident, including a bicycle crash or pedestrian accident, you must be able to prove that the other individual was “at fault” for the accident. Since Texas is an “at fault” insurance state, you can only recover money on an accident claim when you can prove that the other driver was at fault and caused the collision. You must also prove that the crash caused your injuries and that you suffered damages.
If you cannot prove that the other driver acted negligently (such as driving while impaired, speeding, texting, not yielding the right of way, etc.), then you will not be compensated by the other driver’s insurance company for your injuries. Insurance companies use any means they can to reduce how much liability they have in injury claims, including trying to blame you for causing the accident. If an insurer is able to blame you for the accident, then it will not need to pay your claim. Under the comparative fault laws of Texas, if an insurance company is able to blame you for any part of the accident, the amount of money they must pay for your claim will be reduced.
Since comparative fault may reduce how much money you get for lost wages, medical bills, and other damages, it is critical to work with an experienced and skilled Houston car accident lawyer. Our attorneys will fight comparative fault allegations aggressively in order to protect your right to receive full compensation for your damages.
How Can Comparative Fault Reduce My Texas Car Accident Claim?
Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §33.001, when an accident victim is found to be partially responsible for the accident, then that person’s compensation may be reduced by the individual’s percentage of fault. So, if a speeding driver is assigned 40% responsibility for an accident, then their compensation will be reduced by 40%. So if the total damages are $300,000, then the maximum he can obtain is $180,000.
However, a pure comparative fault rule is not followed by Texas. Instead, a 51% Rule has been adopted by the state. If the accident victim is found to be 51% or more at fault for the accident, then that individual is barred from being able to recover any money on their injury claim. Therefore, you cannot obtain compensation for your accident claim if you are more than 50% responsible.
Work With a Houston, Texas Car Accident Lawyer at McDonald Worley
An insurance company can use comparative fault to deny or underpay your accident claim. Make sure your rights are protected. You have a better chance of receiving full compensation for all of the damages you have sustained by working closely with a car accident lawyer in Houston who thoroughly understands how to fight comparative fault allegations.
Call our Houston-based personal injury law firm today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Houston car accident attorneys.