Successfully Proving Liability
To win your claim against the other driver, whether through an insurance settlement or lawsuit, you, your insurer, or your attorney must show that:
- The other driver had a duty of care toward you (by law, all drivers must exercise reasonable care and attention toward others)
- The other driver breached their duty of care (that is, they failed to exercise reasonable care and attention)
- This breach of care resulted in your injury
Texas Insurance Requirements
Texas law requires all drivers to carry minimum liability insurance known as 30/60/25 coverage. The 30 stands for a personal injury limit of $30,000 for one person injured in an accident, while the 60 refers to the total personal injury cap of $60,000 for all persons injured in an accident. The 25 refers to $25,000 of liability coverage for damages to the other driver’s vehicle and property.
If an accident results in claims exceeding these limits, the driver will be responsible for making up the difference. Therefore, it is always a wise choice to purchase higher limits.
State Laws Affecting Personal Injury Claims
You should be aware that the Texas statute of limitations for a personal injury legal claim is two years from the date of the accident. Insurance companies, however, are unlikely to honor a claim that is not filed within a few days of the accident. Their policies contain stipulations about timely reporting, which can void your claim if you wait too long to inform them of your accident or injuries.
Modified Comparative Negligence
You must also take into consideration the Texas legal standard of modified comparative negligence. While the other driver may have ostensibly caused the accident resulting in your injuries, you too can be held liable for any part you played in the accident.
Say, for example, you have been rear-ended at a stoplight, but at the time of the accident, one of your brake lights was not functioning. The insurance claims adjuster, or jury in a trial, will use the modified comparative negligence standard to assess your level of fault in the accident.
If you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, your insurance settlement or court reward will be reduced by 20% to account for your level of fault for the accident. If you are awarded compensation for medical expenses and lost wages in the amount of $100,000, and you’re judged to be 20% at fault for the accident, you will only be eligible to receive $80,000 — as the $100,000 settlement will be reduced by 20%.
Additionally, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will not be allowed to recover any compensation.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In Texas, wrongful death is said to have occurred under any of the following circumstances:
- An injury causes another person’s death or a fetus’s failure to be born alive
- The injury is caused by another person's or entity's "wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default"
- If the deceased had survived, they would have been eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit.
State laws allow the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, or parents to file a wrongful death lawsuit within three months of the person’s death. After that, the deceased’s personal representative, who has been named in that person’s will or trust, must file the lawsuit on behalf of the survivors entitled to compensation.
Work with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you file a claim with your insurance company or with the other driver’s insurance company, you will soon be contacted by those companies’ claims adjusters. Claims adjusters are professionally trained to protect the parent company’s bottom line. They have been known to use every trick in the book to get you to say or do something that they can use to pin the blame on you — in whole or in part — so they can reduce your settlement or deny your claim altogether.
Don’t go it alone. Let me handle the big insurance companies and their adjusters. I will be able to investigate and assess fault in the accident to determine if you’re better off filing a claim with insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. No matter what your circumstances may be, I’ll do everything I can to fight for the compensation you need and deserve. Don’t wait. Call or reach out to my office today to schedule a free consultation.