Can I Be Sued for a Car Accident in Texas?
Car accidents can happen at any time. Addressing the repercussions can be a long and challenging bout, but handling it with careful attention can make the process smoother.
Texas is an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents. That means the driver responsible for the accident is liable to pay for damage of any kind. Payment often comes from the car insurance company, which is why drivers must be insured to get behind the wheel.
In Texas, the minimum insurance limits must cover the following:
Minimum of $30,000 for bodily harm to an individual or a minimum of $60,000 to more than one person
Minimum of $25,000 for property damage
However, some situations can turn into a more serious legal matter, causing a victim to sue the at-fault driver for the accident.
Therefore, it is legal for someone to be sued for a car accident.
A Texas car accident lawyer can guide defendants through their cases and strengthen the chances of a more reasonable outcome.
Why Some Victims Sue After Car Accidents?
Understanding the possible reasons for the suit can help defendants get a better sense of the case.
There are several reasons a car accident victim may sue the at-fault driver. Many motives stem from complications with the insurance company.
Interestingly, if an auto insurance company tries to deny liability or jump through hoops to avoid paying, the blame is placed on the policy owner. Coverage that does not pay for the damage of the accident is also the at-fault driver's responsibility.
Unfair Settlement Negotiations
The other driver in a car accident may sue for unreasonable settlement negotiations They may not be happy with the compensation the company is willing to provide, and so they have cause to take more legal action.
Denied Insurance Claim
The car insurance company may deny liability, meaning it refuses to believe the policyholder is to blame for the accident. Therefore, it does not have to pay for the damages.
The car insurance provider might take the accident to court because it thinks the other driver is at fault. As such, the company allows a jury to settle who is to blame and should pay for damages.
Texas car accident laws include the component of comparative negligence. This is the rule that each party involved in a car crash is responsible for the percentage of the damage they caused.
Looking deeper into comparative negligence, if the damage of a car accident in Texas totals $100,000 and a driver involved is found to be 40 percent at fault, then they recover 60 percent of the priced damages - which would be $60,000.
Insurance Company Has a Strong Defense Against the Claim
Overall, if the car insurance provider has a strong reason to not pay for the claim - besides what it listed above - it may be in its best interest. One such example would be not paying because of the statute of limitations. The other driver would be outside their legal rights to seek compensation.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The state law explains that victims of bodily injury or property damage have up to two years to sue. That means that car accident lawsuits can legally happen within two years after an accident in Texas.
As such, it is beneficial to have trusted Dallas car accident attorneys on hand if a car crash victim decides to seek further legal compensation.
Can a Car Accident Lawsuit Turn into a Criminal Lawsuit?
Some car accident cases can become more than just a personal injury lawsuit or a property damage claim.
A car accident lawsuit can turn criminal if the at-fault driver did any of the following:
Drove under the influence
Left the scene
Texted while driving
Caused "substantial and unjustifiable risk to others"
If the car accident results in severe injury or death, the suit becomes more than just a car crash suit.
Moreover, if any drivers involved in a car accident in Texas believe they have committed a felony, they should contact a lawyer right away.
What Damages Can Be Compensated in a Car Accident Claim?
The victim of a car accident in Texas often seeks fair compensation for the damages caused by the accident. The at-fault driver's insurance company takes responsibility for payment, including any personal injuries or property damages. A car accident attorney can advise on how pain and suffering is calculated in Texas.
The state does not have a maximum settlement amount for a claim. As such, a victim could be awarded a lot of money to reach a fair settlement.
Some possible things the compensation would go toward include:
Vehicle damage or any other property damage
Any medical expenses, including medical treatment, medications, and more
Mental, physical, and emotional trauma
Loss of quality or enjoyment of life
Lost wages and benefits
A fair settlement may also include the defendant paying punitive damages. A jury determines whether this is necessary, though it is rare. Punitive damages are reparations for intentional misconduct or negligence regarding the accident.
Unlike standard compensation awards in Texas, there is a cap amount for these damages.
What to Do After Being Sued for a Car Accident
Once the Texas court accepts the other party's claim, the defendant receives a notification of the suit. They have 20 days to respond before entering a default judgment. If the case goes to a default judgment, the claimant only has to prove the value of the damages to collect their compensation.
After being notified of a lawsuit, the defendant must contact their auto insurance company. The company then provides instructions for filing a complaint against it. However, the policyholder has a limited amount of time to complete this.
The company typically provides a lawyer, but they may prioritize the interests of the company over the defendant. As such, anyone who has been sued should contact a car accident lawyer for a reliable defense.
What a Lawyer Can Do to Help
According to Texas law, a citizen can defend themselves in a car accident case. However, this is ill-advised as Texas judges expect they have a respectable knowledge of the courtroom and legal structure.
As such, a lawyer can be extremely beneficial when settling these matters.
First, a lawyer can review the defendant's case and provide insight regarding the probability of winning. The defendant should keep any relevant documents that could benefit their cases, such as medical bills, the police report, and any significant medical records.
The quickest and most economical option for settling matters of the car accident aftermath is negotiating a settlement. Personal injury lawyers and car accident attorneys can help both parties reach fair financial compensation.
However, if both parties fail to negotiate and come to an agreement, then the case can go to court. A lawyer can represent the defendant so that the presentation of evidence is professional and well-versed in legal understanding.
Some lawsuits may be dropped because of failure to comply with filing paperwork. A lawyer can recognize these inconsistencies and ensure all paperwork is filed legally, ultimately upholding the defendant's rights.
Is It Possible to Prevent Being Sued for an Auto Accident?
There is no way to fully prevent car accidents or a victim from suing over an insurance claim. However, the remedy to both of these situations is to practice safe driving habits. As such, any property damages or suffered injuries may not be as severe.
Drivers should follow all posted signage on the roads, avoid distracted or drunk driving, and refrain from speeding.
Lawsuits often appear when an insurer believes it should not have to pay for any damages, but the at-fault driver becomes even more responsible if their policy does not cover the total cost of the damages. Purchasing more insurance can protect drivers from having to pay out of pocket for any property damage or injury claim.
Most importantly, there is no full-proof way to prevent a car accident victim from suing the at-fault party. However, the responsible driver should consider contacting an experienced lawyer for sufficient defense and fair compensation payment.
Contact Us - We Go to War for You
As an at-fault state, Texas relies on the responsible party to pay for any damages caused in the event of a car accident - whether this comes from their insurance company or their own wallet. However, this means trusting the judgment of the insurer, which can lead to upsetting the victim and possibly a lawsuit.
Car accident victims have a legal right to sue the at-fault party over the scenario if they feel they are not receiving fair compensation. A car accident lawyer can also answer questions like, "How long do I have to sue after a car accident in Texas?"
As such, a defendant must have an experienced lawyer on their side during car accident claims. They can help clarify the legality of the suit and how to best go about a defense.
Additionally, a lawyer can help determine comparative negligence, which is the settlement that both parties involved must take responsibility and should pay for their part of the casualties. This can be beneficial to the defendant.
Contact us for trusted and experienced legal help during a car accident lawsuit. We go to war for you!