Recovering from a car accident in Texas often takes seeking money from one or more parties to pay for your medical costs, vehicle repairs and other crash-related losses. Which insurance company will take your claim depends on the fault laws in your state. Your state will use fault, no-fault or hybrid fault laws. Texas is a fault state, not a no-fault state.
A no-fault state does not place any significance on fault for a car accident. It does not require injured parties to determine fault, identify negligence or prove liability to recover damages. Instead, all injured drivers and victims will seek benefits from their own auto insurance companies through first-party claims, no matter who is to blame for the accident. In no-fault states, all drivers carry personal injury protection insurance. This type of coverage pays for the insured person’s medical bills and property repairs, whether or not the insured party caused the car accident.
If you live in a no-fault state, every car accident claim will be a first-party insurance claim unless your injuries are serious enough to qualify you to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party. No-fault states use serious injury thresholds to decide if a victim has been injured severely enough to enable him or her to sue the at-fault party. If so, the victim can bring a third-party insurance claim against the other driver instead.
No, Texas is not a no-fault state. It uses a tort-based insurance system, meaning the driver at fault for the collision will be financially responsible for damages. Every driver in Texas lawfully must carry car insurance. Most drivers use their car insurance policies to pay for victims’ damages rather than paying out of pocket. After a vehicle collision, injured victims will seek financial benefits through the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. A negligent driver’s bodily injury and property damage liability insurance will pay for victims’ losses.
Unlike a no-fault state, Texas always allows car accident victims to file lawsuits against others in pursuit of financial compensation. You do not have to meet an injury threshold to bear the right to file a lawsuit against another driver for speeding, drinking and driving, texting while driving, or another act of negligence or recklessness in Texas. You will, however, have to prove the other driver’s fault for your accident before his or her insurance company will pay for your damages.
In a no-fault state, you do not need to prove fault. Your own insurer will reimburse your losses without requiring proof of anyone else’s negligence. This is not the case in Texas if you file a third-party insurance claim. In a hybrid fault state, it is usually up to drivers whether they wish to purchase fault or no-fault car insurance policies.
During a car accident claim in Texas, the at-fault driver may try to avoid liability for your damages by alleging that you are also to blame for the collision. This is the comparative fault defense. This defense tries to diminish the defendant’s liability for your damages by apportioning some of the fault to you. If the courts agree that you also contributed to the crash, you may receive less in financial compensation.
A successful comparative fault defense in Texas can reduce your settlement or judgment award by an amount equivalent to your percentage of liability. If the defendant’s lawyer proves you were 10% at fault for looking at your phone when the defendant ran a red light and crashed into you, for example, you might receive 10% less than if you had not contributed to the crash at all.
Texas’s fault insurance laws can be difficult to navigate on your own – especially if you are simultaneously dealing with serious and painful personal injuries. Hire a car accident attorney to help you with the claims process. Your lawyer can negotiate with a third party’s insurance company for you while you focus on healing.