The only way to protect your rights after a car accident is to learn the local laws and an Austin car accident lawyer can help. After any car crash in Texas, you need to understand which laws might influence the outcome of your insurance or personal injury claim. While each case is different, there are general laws that apply to all car accidents in Texas. These include fault rules, insurance laws, and time limits for filing a claim. Here’s an overview of the most important car accident laws in The Lone Star State.
Automobile Insurance Requirements
Texas is a “fault” state, meaning that insurance companies will determine fault in an accident before they will provide coverage. This is different from “no-fault” states, in which insurers will automatically provide coverage to both parties – regardless of fault. Under Texas’ fault system, all drivers must carry minimum insurance amounts at all times:
- $30,000 per person for bodily injury
- $60,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 for property damage
This basic insurance will pay for the other party’s medical bills and property damage if you are at fault for an accident. Likewise, the other party’s basic insurance will pay for your damages if he was at fault. You can also choose to pay for optional insurance coverage or higher amounts for additional protection.
Time Limits for Filing a Claim in Texas
If you want to file a personal injury claim against another party for an act of negligence, such as distracted driving, drowsy driving, or drunk driving, you have to obey the statute of limitations. This statute states that an injured party has two years from the date of the car accident to file a claim against the responsible party. A claim against a government entity, such as a public bus, has a shorter deadline – typically within 60 to 90 days of the accident.
If you did not discover your injuries until days or weeks after the accident, the clock does not start ticking until the discovery of injuries. There are exceptions to the statute of limitations, so speak with an Austin injury attorney before deciding it’s too late to file.
Comparative Fault Rules in Texas
What if you and the other driver are both at fault for the accident? Don’t worry, you can still file a claim and potentially receive compensation. Texas has modified comparative fault rules that allow a claimant to recover damages as long as she was 50% or less at fault for the collision. The courts will determine the percentage of fault by investigating the crash. The courts will then reduce the claimant’s compensation by a percentage that matches the claimant’s amount of fault.
For example, the courts deem the claimant 10% at fault for having a broken tail light, but the defendant 90% at fault for following too closely in a rear-end collision case. The total award amount was $50,000. The claimant would take home $45,000, or the total award minus her 10% of fault (the equivalent of $5,000). Texas’ fault rules are “modified” because they cut off the ability to receive compensation at 50%. Pure comparative fault states let claimants take home compensation at any percentage of fault below 100%.
Protect Your Rights in Texas
The best way to navigate the car accident laws in Texas is with a competent attorney by your side. An attorney can investigate your accident, identify the potential defendant(s), file a claim with the right civil courts, and help you go up against insurance claims adjusters. If your case has to go to trial, the right lawyer can help you in the courtroom. Retain a lawyer for negotiations with insurance companies or for help filing a personal injury claim.