Texas Car Crash

Legal Insights: Fault and Liability in Texas Car Crash Cases

Car accidents can be incredibly stressful, marked by worry and confusion about what comes next. However, understanding the liability laws that apply in Texas can make filing a claim easier.

After any Texas traffic accident, you should know state laws when making a claim, especially a deadly crash. These include the following scenarios:

  • Circumstances that would necessitate reporting a motor vehicle crash
  • Filing deadlines for a car accident lawsuit
  • Effect of the modified comparative fault rule on a claim

The article will explain negligence liability, commercial entity liability, and strict liability laws for car accidents. It will relate specifically to cases in Texas. By learning more about your rights and responsibilities, you’ll be better prepared and more confident moving forward in Texas car crashes.

Key Takeaways
  • Fault and liability laws in a Texas car crash help victims of negligent accidents get compensation.
  • Texas’s modified comparative fault rule may affect the liability of the parties involved and the plaintiff’s award.
  • Proving fault in a Texas car crash may require the skills and resources of a local car accident lawyer.

Should you report a Texas car crash?

Suppose a Texas car crash with a pickup truck results in injury, death, or damage that renders the vehicle inoperable. Section 550.026 of the Texas Transportation Code (Code) requires any motorist in a car accident to report it to the proper authorities. 

If the crash happened in a municipality, you should call police officers from the local police department. You should contact the local sheriff’s office if it occurred outside a city. Call 911 if you are in a hit-and-run accident.

Do I need to report the accident to my car insurer?

States don’t commonly legally require policyholders to report a car accident to their insurance company. That is also true for Texas.

However, car insurance policies require the policy owner to report a car accident expeditiously. Failing to report it within the policy’s prescribed period could lead to denial of coverage. The reason is significant delays in informing the company can jeopardize the insurer’s ability to investigate a claim.

Is Texas a fault insurance state?

Some US states, including Florida and New York, follow the no-fault car insurance rule. These states mandate drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) aside from third-party liability insurance. In case of a car accident, drivers pay for their injuries, regardless of fault. After exhausting PIP limits, they can sue the other party if the accident is not their fault.

However, Texas is a fault state. Section 601.051 of the Code mandates drivers to have liability insurance or fulfill financial responsibility requirements. You can file a claim or car crash lawsuit in Dallas for financial losses against the at-fault driver in a car accident.

A few states, like Pennsylvania, have a hybrid rule called choice no-fault. Drivers can choose fault or no-fault coverage based on the insurance they get.

Things You Need to Know When Involved in a Car Accident in Austin, Texas

Modified Comparative Fault Rule

Suppose a high school student was entirely at fault for a Houston car crash. The at-fault driver is liable for all your financial losses, including medical expenses, lost income, etc. The compensation may come from the at-fault driver or their insurance company.

However, the situation changes when multiple parties are at fault for the accident in Austin, Brownsville, or anywhere else in Texas. The state applies the modified comparative fault rule under the Civil Practice And Remedies Code (Civ Code), Section 33.001. Any car accident with more than one party at fault will affect any damages awarded to a plaintiff. The court will not grant damages when the litigant is over 50 percent at fault.

Suppose the plaintiff is at fault for some part of a multi-vehicle crash on a Saturday night in San Antonio. The court will decrease the award by the percentage of fault ascribed to the plaintiff. 

For example, the court awards the plaintiff $100,000 for medical bills, vehicle damage, and non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering). However, the jury ascribes 40 percent of the fault to the plaintiff, who was speeding at the time of the crash. Under the Texas fault rule, the plaintiff will receive $60,000.

Proving Fault in Texas Car Crash Claims

When you hire a car accident attorney in Texas for your claim, one of the first things they will do is prove fault. They will collect the following evidence to achieve that:

Police report

After an accident, you should always call the authorities to file an accident report. Sometimes, the law enforcement personnel who come to the accident scene will provide information about the fault. In other cases, the other driver will receive a traffic citation. The citation can prove that the driver was negligent and liable for the accident and your critical condition.

Photographs of the accident scene

Although the immediate consequences of a car crash can be disorienting, it is critical to take pictures. Take photos of the vehicles from several angles, any injuries you suffered, and the area surrounding the accident. Capture signs of damage, the road, and the general area. Such photographs can help an accident reconstruction expert establish the circumstances leading to the crash. Photos will be essential in proving fault.

Witness statements

Witnesses to an accident can provide helpful evidence for proving fault. For instance, a witness might have seen the other driver run a red light or roll through a stop sign, which resulted in the crash. 

You should get the names and contact information of witnesses at the scene and take detailed notes of their observations. Your lawyer can get in touch with these witnesses at a later date to determine whether they can help prove the other driver is liable.

Types of Liability for a Texas Car Crash

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A car accident can result from various causes. While many cases are due to another driver’s negligence, other incidents are attributable to other parties.

Negligence liability

Negligence liability plays a crucial part in the legal implications of any car accident in Texas. Individuals who breach their duty of care may be held accountable for any resulting injury or property damage.

Depending on the circumstances, the lawyer can establish the duty of care in several ways. These include a driver’s obligation to follow traffic laws and a service provider’s responsibility to ensure a vehicle is safe to operate. 

For instance, suppose a Fort Worth auto repair shop accidentally cuts the brake line, releases the car to the owner, and a brake failure occurs. The maintenance specialist may be liable for injuries or property damage because of their negligence.

Negligence liability allows innocent victims to seek justice after being wronged by another person’s careless behavior. The car accident lawyer can help hold those responsible legally accountable.

Commercial entity liability

Commercial entities may sometimes play a factor in car accidents in Texas. For example, the court may hold different commercial entities accountable for a head-on accident. These include public and private companies, governmental, non-governmental, or for-profit organizations, and vehicles owned by a business.

You must determine who is involved in the accident to identify which type of entity could potentially be held liable. Understanding the different legal requirements associated with each can be complicated, so you should consult an experienced car accident attorney if a commercial entity is involved in your accident.

Strict liability

Texas is one of several US states that have adopted strict liability laws regarding car accidents. Strict liability in this context holds specific parties liable for damages caused by another individual despite having no direct involvement.

For example, Section 82.001 of the Civil Code describes manufacturers’ product liability in general. Suppose a Toyota tire manufacturer sells tires with a defect, and a motorist gets into an accident because of those tires. The motorist can sue the tire manufacturer under strict liability.

These laws aim to protect victims from experiencing unforeseen financial hardships, such as medical bills, property loss, and income loss resulting from an accident in which someone else was at fault.

Any person who regularly drives in Texas should know what falls under this type of legal protection. That understanding is especially critical for those involved in an accident. Knowing your rights within the bounds of these strict liability laws can help you get compensation. You can hold any negligent parties accountable should an unexpected Texas car accident occur.

Did you know?
Texas is a joint and several liability state, which applies when several parties are liable. The doctrine maintains that each party may be held individually responsible for the full extent of a victim’s losses. The liability includes the consequences of a fatal crash.

File a Claim for Personal Injury After a Texas Car Crash

Suppose a Texas car crash caused by negligence results in injuries, death, or property damage. You should act right away to protect your legal rights. You must meet the legal requirements and implications of liability specific to Texas to seek compensation for your losses.

In Texas, negligent parties are held liable for any injuries suffered due to their reckless actions. Commercial entities, such as rental car companies or ride-sharing services, may be responsible under some circumstances. Finally, strict liability laws may sometimes apply, regardless of fault. 

Seeing justice after a car accident is daunting, so solid legal assistance is vital when pursuing your case and securing the compensation you deserve.

The Personal Injury Center can help you in two ways. You can access articles for information about personal injuries, car accidents, insurance claims, and lawsuits. You can also find an experienced car accident attorney through the website by filling in a free case evaluation form. The information will help match you with law firms or lawyers in your area for a free consultation.

Victims of a Texas car crash should understand the fault and liability laws to protect their rights. The Personal Injury Center can help with their free resources.

FAQs for Texas Car Crash

Will the Texas comparative negligence rule affect a claim?

The modified comparative negligence rule binds Texas judges and juries when your case gets to court. It also guides the evaluation of a car insurance claims adjuster. They make decisions based on what will probably happen in court.

What is the number one cause of car crashes in Texas?

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) data shows that speeding caused the highest number of car crashes in Texas in 2022. Most (100,168) occurred in an urban setting.

What is the deadline for filing a Texas car crash lawsuit?

Section 16.003 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code limits the period a plaintiff may file a personal injury lawsuit to two years.