IS TEXAS AN AT-FAULT STATE?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of “fault” (applicable to auto insurance) is “responsibility for wrongdoing or failure.” In Texas, who bears the responsibility for an auto crash dictates the entire claims process.
State legislatures establish whether they are an at-fault state or a no-fault state. There are degrees of practice within these two basic categories that make each state’s laws unique. Auto insurance companies must comply with a state’s laws regarding fault, forcing insurance companies to play by different rules in each state.
At Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, I help clients in Houston, South Houston, and Pasadena, Texas who have been involved in motor vehicle crashes understand how fault is applied under Texas law.
IS TEXAS AN AT-FAULT STATE?
Yes, Texas is an at-fault state for auto insurance. The person responsible for causing a crash is also responsible for compensating those they injure and for property damaged in the crash. The at-fault driver’s auto insurer indemnifies them, which means the insurer provides a certain dollar amount of coverage to be paid for damages when their policyholder is at fault.
WHAT IF YOU ARE PARTIALLY AT FAULT?
There can be degrees of fault for a car accident. Sometimes, one driver is totally at fault for the crash. In other cases, you could be found to share some level of fault for the incident.
Texas is a modified comparative fault state, which means percentages of fault are assigned to vehicle operators based on the circumstances of the crash. If you share fault for an accident, it affects your claim for compensation because your share of fault reduces the amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
For example, if you are assessed to have been 10% at fault for the accident and the other driver is assigned 90% of the fault, your compensation would be reduced by 10%. The other driver’s bodily injury liability insurance limits are $100,000 and a jury awards you $100,000 in damages. You would receive $90,000 because your award would be reduced by your 10% share of the fault.
If you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you are not eligible to recover damages from the other driver under Texas law.
To prove fault, you must provide evidence of three factors:
The other driver owed you a reasonable duty of care
The other driver breached that duty of care
Your injuries were caused as a result of that breach
Evidence you will need to document fault includes the law enforcement crash report, witness statements, photos from the scene of the crash, medical records documenting your injuries, and other evidence documenting damage such as lost wages or pain and suffering.
If your claim is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for the following:
Medical expense, including immediate expenses and future expenses if you need ongoing treatment
Lost wages, including immediate loss of income due to your injuries and future wages if your injuries compromise your ability to earn in the future
Compensation for pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, and trauma caused by the crash
In the event of a loved one’s death caused by the incident, certain beneficiaries may recover compensation for medical, funeral, and burial expenses, loss of companionship, or loss of income and support
TRUST AN EXPERIENCED TEXAS PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
Your ability to recover compensation for your injuries or property damage is contingent upon the establishment of fault. You need an experienced Texas personal injury attorney who can investigate your case and document the evidence required to prove the fault of the other driver.
You need to bring that attorney on board as soon as possible because the investigation needs to begin immediately. Otherwise, there is a risk of evidence being destroyed or unavailable later.
At Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, I help clients in Houston, South Houston, Pasadena, Clear Lake, Friendswood, League City, Alvin, Dickinson, Bacliff, Kemah, Seabrook, Santa Fe, and Webster, Texas by helping them establish fault and representing them in their car accident claims. If you have been injured in an auto crash in Texas, call my office today to schedule a free case consultation.