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Know the Law: Is Texas a No-Fault State?

In 2021, there were no days in Texas that did not record a fatal auto accident. The state logged at least 4,489 fatalities and 19,448 people with severe injuries.

Suppose a motorist is involved in a car accident. They can usually do one of two things. They can either file an insurance claim from their insurance provider or the at-fault party’s insurance company. You should know what insurance law prevails in your state. They can either be a fault or no-fault state. 

Currently, 12 states have implemented the no-fault insurance system. These are Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Utah.

Meanwhile, Washington, DC, and the remaining states implement a fault system. Texas is one of these fault or tort states. 

These principles are vital in determining who is liable for damages and injuries in an auto accident. Similarly, they influence the number of accident lawsuits and how efficiently individuals recover compensation for their losses.

Regardless, motorists can file an insurance claim if they sustained injuries or damaged their vehicle from a car accident. Usually, law firms offer free consultations to potential clients to review their cases. Personal injury lawyers can assist in navigating legal processes and negotiating fair compensation for their car accident cases.

Key Takeaways
  • Texas is a fault state, meaning the at-fault party is responsible for damages to a third party.
  • Texas laws follow modified comparative fault rules. It allows insurance companies or the court to assign fault to all parties when appropriate.
  • Accident victims can recover compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and emotional trauma related to the accident.

Fault vs. No-Fault States

In the US, states can either be fault or no-fault insurance states. These dictate how it will handle car accident claims.

In a tort or at-fault state, the motorist who causes the auto accident is liable for paying the other party for their losses. The majority of states utilize this auto insurance system based on tort liability. Each insurance company shells out money proportionate to the policyholder’s degree of fault.

For instance, you caused a crash that resulted in property damage and bodily injuries to another party. The injured party can file a claim with your liability insurance coverage to pay for the damages. 

In general, insurance companies will only pay up to your policy limits. You may have to dip into personal funds if the other party’s repair or medical costs exceed this limit.

On the other hand, no-fault states allow motorists to pursue a claim with their own insurance company. The system compensates accident victims for minor injuries regardless of who was liable for the accident, reducing costs and delays.

Typically, no-fault states bar injured victims from pursuing a car accident suit unless they meet an injury or monetary threshold. These strict thresholds aim to minimize costly litigation that often drains the resources of all parties involved.

However, no-fault states still assign liability to motorists. Additionally, no-fault or personal injury protection (PIP)  insurance only covers bodily injuries. It does not pay for property damage and other expenses resulting from an auto accident.

Suppose you were in an auto accident in a no-fault state. Then the insurance company of all parties involved will pay for their policyholder’s medical expenses. 

However, this coverage does not compensate for vehicle damage. The at-fault driver may be liable for car repairs, for which they can use their liability insurance.

Texas Is a Fault State

The state of Texas follows a fault-based insurance system. Suppose a motorist caused an auto accident in Austin that injured the other party or damaged their property. In that case, liability insurance protects its policyholders financially by covering the other party’s vehicle repair and medical bills.

Texas law requires motorists to prove they can pay for any accident they may cause. Most drivers do this by carrying auto liability insurance

As a requirement, motorists must carry the minimum coverage of at least:

  • $30,000 for physical injury or death of one person in one event
  • $60,000 for physical injury or death of two or more persons in one event
  • $25,000 for property damage or destruction of others in one event

Suppose an uninsured driver causes a car crash. In that case, they must be personally responsible for paying damages to the other party.

Types of Auto Insurance Policies in Texas

Insurance companies in Texas offer eight types of coverage. These coverages are liability, collision, comprehensive, medical payments, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, towing and labor, and rental reimbursement. 

The state only requires liability insurance. Motorists can purchase other insurance types according to what suits them best. Most policies generally cover vehicle damage, attorney’s fees, lost wages, etc.

However, most policies do not cover the following scenarios:

  • The policyholder renders paid ride-hailing or food-delivery services.
  • The policyholder operates in Mexico
  • The policyholder races or drives for business.
  • The policyholder causes intentional damage to their vehicle.

Additionally, car insurance will not cover damage to accessories or equipment that are not permanent.

Liability insurance

Liability insurance has two coverage types: bodily injury and property damage liability.

Suppose you are liable for the auto accident. Then the bodily injury liability covers costs related to physical injuries or death of the other party. On the other hand, property damage liability helps cover expenses for destroying another party’s property.

Texas allows motorists to purchase higher liability coverage than required. It ensures they can pay off damages if they cause a multi-vehicle accident.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

Personal injury protection

Personal injury protection or PIP coverage is like medical payments coverage. Both pay for the policyholder’s and their passengers’ medical bills. However, unlike the medical payments coverage, it also pays for lost income and other non-medical costs.

PIP typically covers medical costs such as hospital and doctor’s bills, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Sometimes, it can also provide for other relevant expenses like transportation to medical appointments.

Usually, auto insurance policies in Texas include PIP coverage. If you do not want to purchase this insurance, you may write to your insurance company to exclude it from your policy.

Collision insurance

Collision coverage would pay for the policyholder’s vehicle repair or replacement if they caused an auto accident. As its name implies, collision insurance repays for car damage if it collides with another vehicle or object in an auto accident. 

Usually, collision insurance applies in the following accidents:

  • Collision with another car
  • Collison with an object, such as a tree, guardrail, or fence
  • A single-vehicle accident, such as a rollover

Collision coverage generally reimburses the policyholder for car accidents they did not cause. It covers incidents out of a driver’s control, such as driving over potholes or other road hazards.

Comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to vehicles due to anything other than collisions. One example is when a tree branch falls on your car, breaking the windshield. In general, this coverage is an add-on and optional. You can use it to support other insurance policies, such as collision or liability insurance.

Comprehensive auto insurance covers the following incidents:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Hail
  • Windstorms
  • Fire
  • Flying or falling objects
  • Windshield damage
  • Earthquakes

Usually, leasing companies require clients to purchase comprehensive insurance.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection

Suppose the at-fault party in a car accident does not carry liability insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for damages. As the accident victim, you can use your uninsured or underinsured motorist protection coverage to pay for your costs.

Texas does not require this coverage. However, this insurance policy is beneficial for victims of hit-and-run accidents. You may avoid out-of-pocket expenses for car repairs or medical bills with uninsured motorist protection.

Like personal injury protection coverage, insurance policies in Texas typically offer this insurance coverage. You may write to your company if you opt to go without uninsured motorist coverage.

How Texas Determines At-Fault Parties in Motor Vehicle Accidents

In car accident cases, it is essential to have systems in place to designate liability. It dictates which party pays for injuries and damages concerning the accident. Depending on the case, various parties may be responsible for the incident.

In some cases, two parties may share liability for the auto accident. In an event like this, Texas state follows comparative negligence rules.

Comparative negligence reduces a plaintiff’s compensation in negligence claims such as car accident cases. Courts employ this principle and award compensation proportionate to the negligence each motorist contributed to the incident.

In the US, states may implement one of three negligence rules: contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence, and modified comparative negligence.

 States that follow contributory fault are the strictest of all. Suppose the court finds the plaintiff contributed to the incident by at least one percent. Then they bar the plaintiff from recovering any damages.

Only the District of Columbia and four other states implement this rule: Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia.

Under pure comparative negligence rules, the court allows the plaintiff to pursue damages regardless of how much they contributed to the incident. 

For instance, the court determined the plaintiff is liable for 99 percent of the crash. Then the plaintiff may still recover one percent of the damages.

Texas implements modified comparative negligence rules. Under this principle, plaintiffs may recover damages under one condition. The court must determine their liability for the accident is less than 50 percent. Most states follow this rule, including Colorado and Utah.

How To Establish Fault in a Car Accident

Establishing fault is crucial when filing a car accident case. Most of the time, the initial steps you take after a car accident make or break your claim. You may follow this guide to know what you can do immediately after a car accident:

  1. At the scene of the accident: Immediately call the police and obtain a copy of the police report. Often, the police report details the elements of the accident scene and provides the officer’s opinion regarding who was liable for the incident. While at the accident scene, take the time to collect the other party’s information. Request their name, contact information, insurance company, and policy number. You can also take a photo of their driver’s license and insurance card.
  2. After getting home: Immediately contact your insurance company and report the incident. When the company assigns an insurance adjuster for your case, you can also request their contact details. Suppose you went to seek medical treatment. Keep all medical bills and records if your insurance company asks for them.
  3. Repairing your car: Usually, your insurance company will provide you with a list of body shops to choose from and give you a repair estimate. If it costs more to fix your vehicle, the body shop will provide your insurance company with an appraisal. When your company agrees with the estimate, they will pay for the extra repairs.
  4. The other motorist was at-fault: You can report the auto accident to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Their insurance policy should reimburse your vehicle repair costs and medical bills.

The at-fault motorist does not have insurance or drove away: This scenario will trigger your collision coverage and pay for any damage to your vehicle. Likewise, if you have medical insurance, it should cover any physical injuries you sustained from the accident. Your uninsured or underinsured motorist protection coverage, if any,  will cover the excess.

Did you know?

You violate Texas law if you do not have auto insurance and get in an auto accident. The police officer may issue a ticket and fine you up to $350. If it happens again, you may be subject to a $1000 fine and a suspended driver’s license.

Book a Free Consultation With a Car Accident Lawyer

Texas recognizes a fault insurance system when processing car accident claims. You can make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to cover the costs of a car accident. However, it does not eliminate the possibility of facing other challenges. For example, insurance companies may delay or decline to pay your damages.

When this happens, seeking legal representation from a personal injury lawyer is advisable. The Personal Injury Center can provide access to a network of Texas lawyers specializing in car accident cases. 

You can also browse their legal articles to learn about Texas fault laws and how to file a car accident claim successfully.

Let a personal injury lawyer handle your car accident case. Contact The Personal Injury Center to find an attorney for you.

FAQs on Texas Being a No-Fault State

Generally, your policy will still cover their injuries under two conditions. One is you gave your permission to use the car. The other is your friend has a valid driver’s license. 

However, if your friend is a long-term user and not named in your policy, your insurer might refuse to pay for damages. It is also the case for employees who drive company-owned vehicles. Check your policy for restrictions for letting other people use your car.

Yes. Texas requires all drivers, including motorcyclists, to carry liability insurance for accidents they may cause.

Accident victims must file personal injury claims, such as car accident cases, within two years of the incident.