When you are involved in an accident of any kind, the results can be catastrophic. Depending on the nature of the accident, you may find yourself facing mounting medical bills and years of rehabilitation. In the event you suffer injuries following a car accident, there’s a good chance you will want to take legal action. One of the most important aspects of any case is determining fault. This is essential to your case, but it can be more challenging than many people realize. In the United States, all 50 states have adopted either fault or no-fault requirements for car insurance policies. To ensure your case is handled correctly, and you are awarded compensation, it is essential you understand the differences between fault and no-fault insurance.
Texas is considered a “fault state,” meaning insurance companies are tasked with determining who is at fault in a car accident. Also referred to as a comparative fault state, drivers in the Lone Star State are required to take responsibility for any accident in which they are at least 50 percent to blame or at fault. The simplest way to do this is by carrying liability insurance, which is recommended anyway. If you were involved in an accident, and you aren’t sure who was at fault, we encourage you to contact Shamieh Law.
We understand that determining fault can be challenging, and our lawyers are here to answer your most pressing questions. It is our goal to educate our clients and help them make the most informed decisions possible for their particular case. If you have questions about determining fault or why Texas is a fault state, please do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with Shamieh Law.
HOW IS FAULT DETERMINED?
There are about 18 states in the country that are no-fault states, but Texas isn’t one of them. In no-fault states like Oregon, Utah, and Florida, drivers involved in car accidents do not have to prove fault to seek compensation. But in Texas, drivers can also seek compensation if they were less than 50 percent responsible for causing the accident. This can either work in your favor or, in some cases, against you. If you were involved in an accident that was caused mainly by the actions or negligence of another driver, you might file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
It is no secret that insurance adjusters can make things tricky and often do not have your best interests in mind. Sadly, insurance companies take advantage of car accident victims, often encouraging them to settle for far less than what they are owed. Insurance companies are looking out for their own interests, not always yours. This is why you must have an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side. Never talk to an insurance adjuster without an attorney, as they may attempt to get you to settle or use your statements against you at a later day.
As you can imagine, evidence plays an integral role in determining fault and proving your case. There are five elements that help determine fault in Texas, including:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care – All drivers owe a duty of care to other drivers. This means they are required to act reasonably and operate with the safety of other drivers in mind. Drivers should be attentive, free of distractions, cautious, and avoid reckless behaviors.
- This duty of care was breached – When another driver breaches this duty of care by action or inaction, they may be held liable. Examples of breaching that duty of care include distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failure to observe traffic signs, and failure to maintain a safe distance.
- The other driver’s actions caused your injuries – Another key element when determining fault in Texas is showing the defendant’s actions were the cause of your injuries. There are numerous ways to do this, but evidence and critical witnesses will come in handy.
- Proximate cause – You must also show that your injuries were the result of the defendant’s actions or behavior. For example, if your child was injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you must be able to show that the driver getting behind the wheel while intoxicated caused your child’s injuries.
- Damages – Finally, you must also show that you suffered a hardship – [physical, mental, or emotional – as a direct result of the other driver’s actions.
UNDERSTANDING COMPARATIVE FAULT
Texas follows modified comparative fault rules, the details of which we will discuss below. There are several different elements to determining fault. Like the majority of states, Texas requires the person or persons responsible for an auto accident to be responsible for compensating the injured party. Because Texas requires the at-fault driver to compensate those who were injured, there is a minimum coverage amount set in place. The coverage amounts are separated into the following three categories:
- The coverage for each injured person ($30,000 limit)
- The coverage amount per accident ($60,000 limit)
- The coverage amount for property damage per accident ($25,000 limit)
CAR WRECKS IN DALLAS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Car accidents happen at an alarming rate here in Texas and throughout the United States. In some cases, your injuries may not show up immediately, but this doesn’t mean you can’t file a lawsuit. Given the complex nature of these types of cases and the fact Texas is a comparative fault state, it helps to have an experienced attorney on your side. We will help you understand comparative negligence and how determining fault will impact the compensation you deserve. We know how difficult these types of cases can be and are here to answer your questions and assist in any way we can. Texas has its fair share of weird driving laws, but knowledge is power and can save you in the event of an accident. Contact Shamieh Law today to learn more.