Some states operate on a no-fault accident system, where accident victims can only seek compensation through their own insurance providers so it doesn’t matter who was at fault in an accident. In Texas, it matters who caused an accident to occur. Texas is NOT a no-fault state. Instead, if you are hurt in an accident in Texas, the state believes the person or entity found at fault in the accident should be responsible for compensating victims for their damages — typically through a settlement from their insurance carrier or through litigation in court. In Texas, accident victims are allowed to hold the at-fault party responsible for compensating them for the economic and non-economic damages they suffer due to that party’s negligence or wrongdoing.
Understanding the Texas Tort System
Texas is a tort state, or an at-fault state, for accident claims. This means Texans are required to carry at least a minimum amount of insurance including:
- $30,000 in bodily injury insurance per person
- $60,000 per accident
- $25,000 in property damage insurance
In the event of a car accident, this insurance prevents an individual from being liable to pay out of pocket for another person’s injury if they are found to be at fault in an accident. But what if the amount of economic and non-economic damages the injured person experiences exceeds this amount? In that case, the law allows them to make a claim for compensation in a civil court against an individual or entity. In some cases, an injury victim’s own insurance may also pay out on a claim that exceeds the minimum required coverage of the at-fault party.
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
Texas operates as a modified comparative negligence state for accident liability. While some states operate as a no-fault state and others use the comparative negligence standard disallowing a victim to make a claim for compensation if they contributed at all to the accident’s cause, Texas has a modified system that allows victims to make a claim if they are found to be under 50% at fault in an accident. With this system, you can still gain compensation through a settlement or court award. For instance, if you are found to be 25% at fault, a compensation claim of $100,000 reduces to $75,000.
Proving Fault in a Texas Accident Claim
In order to determine liability in an accident in Texas, the injured party must prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care. For example, drivers have the duty to follow all traffic laws and drive without distractions in order to keep others on the roadway safe. Proving fault requires the following:
- Showing that the defendant owed a duty of care toward the injured person
- Proving through collected evidence such as the police report, traffic camera video, and eyewitness testimony that the at-fault party breached this duty of care through negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing
- Showing that the breach of duty of care directly led to the injury
- Proving the economic damages caused by the injury through medical records and showing the non-economic damages suffered by the injured party such as pain, suffering, and emotional anguish
An experienced Texas injury attorney can help prove fault in an accident claim in order to draft a compelling demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance provider or to prove your claim through litigation in court.
In most cases, an accident victim in Texas has up to two years from the date of the accident in which to file a claim. By filing a claim as soon as you can show the economic and non-economic costs of the accident — including any future medical expenses and lost earnings — you can maximize your chances of a successful claim.