A car accident is always an alarming experience, especially if it’s severe enough to total a car and cause serious injuries. The consequences of a car accident continue to be distressing long after the dust settles as medical bills begin coming in at the same time that serious injuries prevent a prompt return to work. The civil court and insurance system in Texas consider these consequences along with property damage and pain and suffering as the victim’s “damages” in a car accident claim. Filing a claim for damages after a car accident is confusing enough, but what if the totaled vehicle was a leased car? Having a lease agreement can leave a car accident victim stuck with continuing payments without a drivable vehicle unless they understand their rights and options in Texas.
What Does a Lease Agreement Typically Determine After a Car Accident?
When you lease a vehicle, it’s important to carefully review all terms of the lease agreement, including what happens if the vehicle becomes damaged beyond repair in an accident. Almost all lease agreements leave the leaseholder responsible for continuing to pay for the car until they’ve fulfilled the terms of the contract. This means the accident victim still owes the balance remaining on the contract even if an accident totals the car. Most car insurance policies in Texas don’t cover lease payments for a totaled vehicle, leaving the driver liable for the balance on the lease. However; if another driver caused the accident, it’s possible to hold them liable for all of the victim’s damages, including the balance of the lease agreement as well as medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. But first, it’s the victim’s responsibility to prove the other party’s negligence and liability in a Texas car accident.
Proving Liability in a Car Accident in Texas
Texas is a fault-based insurance state that requires car accident victims to prove the other party’s negligence or reckless actions caused the accident before they can recover their damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Proving liability takes a thorough investigation to document evidence. Often this means a skilled car accident lawyer in McKinney must examine the police report, study forensic evidence or photos from the accident scene, and interview eyewitnesses. In some cases, traffic camera or dashcam video becomes critical evidence to prove liability. Evidence must show the following points of legal liability:
- The at-fault party owed a duty of care to others on the road to take reasonable measures to prevent injuries
- They breached this duty through an act of negligence or recklessness
- Their breach of duty directly caused the accident and injuries
- The injury victim suffered significant damages from the injury
One of the damages an accident victim may claim is the unpaid balance owed on their totaled leased vehicle. However, the amount they can recover is limited by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. In some cases, it takes a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to bring the matter to court to recover the full amount of the lease agreement plus compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.
In less common cases, the party at fault in an accident could be a third party like the manufacturer of a defective automotive part or a negligent road maintenance agency.
An experienced Plano personal injury attorney at Carew Garcia Bohuslav Law can protect an accident victim’s best interests throughout this process by carefully calculating damages to ensure the victim recovers all available compensation.