While Texas crashes are often classified as “accidents,” these events are usually preventable and involve the negligence of an at-fault party or entity. After a Texas collision, many people underestimate the importance of establishing fault. Is Texas a no-fault state, or is Texas an at-fault state?
Those asking this question will quickly learn that Texas’ at-fault framework can drastically impact how a crash victim secures compensation after an accident. Further, accident victims must understand the importance of disputing fault in a Texas car accident case.
In addition to answering questions about fault, an experienced car accident attorney can help auto accident victims learn about the Texas car accident laws that can impact their personal injury claims.
The Difference Between At-Fault and No-Fault States
Auto insurance laws play a significant role in the remedies a car accident victim has after a collision. Most states follow either the “at-fault” or “no-fault” insurance system. The primary difference between at-fault and no-fault states is whether the injured party has the right to sue and who pays for the victim’s damages.
In at-fault states, also known as “tort states,” drivers who cause a car accident are responsible for compensating injured parties. Generally, accident victims recover damages from the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, in some cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may deny the claim, or the policy might not cover the full extent of the victim’s damages. In these cases, the injured party can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
Under the no-fault system, fault does not play a role in seeking compensation. The injured party in these states must secure compensation through their auto insurance provider.
In addition to at-fault and no-fault insurance systems, a few states follow the choice-based insurance framework. Under this system, the law allows drivers to choose whether to be part of a fault-based or no-fault system.
Is Texas an At-Fault State?
Texas is an at-fault state. Under the state’s at-fault-based insurance system, the accident victim must seek compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company fails to pay for the victim’s damages, the driver may be personally responsible for the victim’s losses. If Texas were a no-fault state, the victim would recover compensation from their insurance company.
Determining Fault After a Texas Auto Accident
After a Texas car accident, insurance companies generally investigate the circumstances around a car accident and determine what parties might have been at fault. If the fault is in dispute, the victim may pursue a personal injury claim against the insurance company or at-fault party. A judge or jury may establish fault and apportion liability in these cases.
Comparative Fault in Texas Personal Injury Claims
While fault might be apparent in some cases, multiple parties may be responsible for the accident and subsequent injuries in others. Moreover, at-fault parties may defend against negligence claims and attempt to reduce their liability by imputing fault on the victim.
Establishing fault is particularly important in Texas personal injury claims because the state follows the modified comparative negligence standard. Under this framework, a victim can sue for damages even if they are partially at fault for an accident. However, the state’s modified comparative rules bar recovery if a person is more than 50% at fault for an accident.
Evidence to Establish or Dispute Fault
In light of the state’s at-fault insurance system and comparative fault rules, it is critical that those involved in an accident work with an attorney gather relevant evidence and present a compelling case for compensation. Some significant physical evidence in a Texas auto accident includes the following:
- Debris from the scene of the crash;
- Photographs of any vehicle damage, specifically the points of impact;
- Documentation of the victim’s injuries; and
- Pictures and videos of the accident or aftermath.
Similarly, witness testimony plays a crucial role in establishing fault. Some examples of witness testimony include statements and depositions from the following parties:
- Drivers involved in the incident,
- Responding police officers,
- Emergency responders,
- Medical professionals who treated the victims, and
- Expert witnesses.
An experienced attorney can help accident victims and their families gather relevant evidence, secure expert witnesses, and prepare a legally sound case for compensation. Further, a personal injury attorney can help accident victims fight against claims of comparative fault.
Disputing Fault After a Texas Accident
Collecting and presenting evidence is only one aspect of disputing fault after a Texas accident. Those involved in a crash should take steps to preserve their rights and limit their liability. An attorney can assist accident victims through the following steps:
- Contacting the insurance company to dispute fault;
- Utilizing the insurance company’s dispute resolution process;
- Requesting an amended police report; and
- Defending against any tickets or citations related to the accident.
Texas no-fault insurance does not exist. Therefore, it is important to defend against erroneous fault claims.
Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney About Your Injuries Today
Is Texas a no-fault state? Because it isn’t, you need to defend against any allegations that you caused the accident. Otherwise, your damages award could be reduced; you could even be prevented from recovering altogether.
At Armstrong Lee & Baker, our Texas car accident lawyers have extensive experience helping accident victims recover financial compensation for what they’ve been through, always keeping an eye on how we can make the recovery process as straightforward as possible.
To learn more and to schedule a free consultation today, call 832-402-6637. You can also connect with us through our online contact form. Calling is free, and we take all personal injury lawsuits on a contingency basis, meaning we will not bill you for our services unless we can recover compensation on your behalf.
Who is “At-Fault”?
To determine which driver was “at-fault” in causing an accident, insurance companies typically look at the circumstances surrounding the particular accident to see which party was negligent or comparatively more negligent.
A person is negligent when he or she fails to take precautions that a person of ordinary prudence would take under the circumstances.
In assessing each party’s negligence, the insurance companies look at a variety of factors, including the following:
Importantly, police officers also use these factors when they are called to an accident scene to write a report or issue citations.
Often, the crash report issued by the responding police officer will provide the officer’s description of the events surrounding the collision, as well as any citations issued to the involved drivers.
If the other driver was cited for a moving violation, there is a good chance he or she is the “at-fault” party. If you were the party that received the citation, then, unfortunately, you will probably be found at least partially “at-fault.”
However, that’s not necessarily the end of the story. A skilled attorney may be able to mitigate or even nullify the prejudicial effect of a bad police report, especially where the investigating officer has relied on bad evidence or an inaccurate (or dishonest) eyewitness.
This list is only a starting point in assessing your percentage of negligence versus the negligence of the other driver. We know that a car accident can be an overwhelming experience.
If you were injured in a car accident and are having trouble assessing your level of fault in the accident, a skilled personal injury attorney can help guide you through the process.
Remember also to check out the following helpful tips:
- Four Benefits of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Insurance
- Three Types of Property Damage You Can Recover After an Accident
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident or pedestrian accident and needs to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney, contact the lawyers at Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP at 832-402-6637 to discuss your case.