If you are injured in a car or truck accident, a very important thing that you need to ask yourself after the accident is whether or not the state you’re living in is a fault-based or no-fault car insurance state.
This is because fault laws in a state can have a big impact on how much you can recover after an accident, as well as from whom. At the office of The Francis Firm, our experienced injury attorney can help you to navigate fault laws in Texas. Here’s an overview of what you need to know--
What Is a No-fault State?
In a no-fault state, each driver who is involved in a crash will turn to their own insurance company for compensation after the crash, regardless of whose fault actually caused the accident. In this way, the state maintains “no-fault” insurance; both drivers maintain the right to recovery, even if they caused the crash.
One of the major benefits of this type of insurance system is that drivers are excluded from compensation if they contributed to the crash. It also helps to avoid high-cost litigation. One of the major downsides is that injured parties can only recover certain damages types. For example, a person cannot file a claim for pain and suffering damages against their own insurance company under no-fault rules unless your medical bills reach a certain level or if your injury is deemed sufficiently serious, depending upon the state’s statutory threshold.
Is Texas a No-fault State?
Texas is nota no-fault state. Instead, Texas maintains a traditional fault-based system of recovery, also known as a tort liability system. This means that when an accident occurs in Texas, the not-at-fault party can recover damages for their injuries and costs in one of the three ways:
- They can file a claim with any applicable coverage under their own insurance (such as Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) or Med-Pay coverage);
- They can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company; or
- They can file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver.
Based on fault rules and liability in Texas, a driver who causes an accident will be liable for the damages that result.
Fault and Shared Fault Rules in Texas
In a tort liability state like Texas, shared fault rules often come into play, too. Texas adheres to a modified comparative fault rule with a 51 percent bar. This means that in Texas, a party who contributed to their accident and injuries through an act of their own negligence can still recover compensation so long as they are not 51 percent or more at fault; however, their recoverable damages award will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.
For example, if you are involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, but it is found that you slightly contributed to the accident--in a proportion of five percent--because you were texting at the time of the collision, you can hold the drunk driver liable for 95 percent of your damages. You will be responsible for the remaining five percent (your degree of liability).
The Importance of Hiring an Accident Attorney After a Texas Crash
Fault laws in Texas--and the fact that you must prove the fault of the other party involved in your accident in order to recover 100 percent of your settlement--means that hiring an attorney after a crash is of the utmost importance. A skilled attorney will know how to investigate your accident, what evidence will be necessary for your claim, how to build your case, which experts to use, and how to dispute any claims of fault made against you.
Remember that every day you wait to call a car accident lawyer, evidence that’s critical to your case is at risk of being lost. At the Francis Firm, we are available to review your case free of charge today. Call us now or send us a message to learn how we can help.