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July 16th, 2022

Is Texas an ‘At Fault’ or ‘No Fault’ State?

These terms refer to how vehicle insurance works in various states. They’re based on whether the insurance carrier of the driver at fault should cover the accident’s costs or both parties’ insurers will partially cover their own policyholder’s losses. Texas and 37 other states have an at fault insurance system. Twelve are no fault states, and three of them allow drivers to choose at fault coverage if they wish.

Texas is an at fault or tort liability state because you file your insurance claim against the driver who caused your accident in nearly all cases. The 12 no fault states have each driver make a claim on their policy, and fault isn’t an issue. Three of these states give drivers the option of at fault or no fault coverage.

What Is No Fault Car Insurance?

What no fault insurance covers and under what circumstances you can sue the other driver vary from state to state. Generally:

  • If you need to file a claim for a loss on a no fault car insurance policy, who caused the crash doesn’t matter. In these states, the claim would be with your insurer. You would have personal injury protection (PIP) as part of your coverage. It allows you to collect compensation for lost income, medical bills, and other limited damages even if you caused the accident
  • Unless you meet specific requirements, you can’t get compensation for non-monetary issues like emotional trauma, pain, and suffering or the costs due to vehicle damage. But through a lawsuit, with limitations, you could seek those damages if the defendant caused the crash

Although initial claims may be paid quicker under a no fault system, you may need to suffer serious injuries to file a lawsuit.

What Is At Fault Car Insurance?

You’ll get PIP coverage in Texas unless you refuse it in writing. If you’re injured in an accident caused mainly by someone else, you will file a claim against their policy. If you’re successful, their insurance carrier would pay you for property loss, missed wages, past and future medical care, as well as for pain and suffering. If we can’t reach an agreement with the insurer, you may be able to file a lawsuit against their insured, the driver causing the accident.

What Happens If I Have an Accident in a State With One Type of Coverage But I Have the Other?

If someone from the 12 no fault states travels to Texas and is involved in an accident and they’re at fault, they would need to follow Texas’ at fault rules. If you’re in an accident in a no fault state, you would follow their insurance laws.

How Is Fault Determined in a Texas Vehicle Accident?

Texas’ “proportional comparative fault rule” doesn’t make fault black or white. Under state law, based on the facts, the party that’s more to blame than the other is at fault. This recognizes the fact we don’t all drive perfectly all the time. If we make a mistake, it doesn’t necessarily mean we caused the accident. As long as the facts show the other party is at least 51% of the accident’s cause, they’re at fault.

The mistake you made doesn’t prevent recovery but may reduce it. If it’s found you’re partially responsible for the accident, that share of the blame will be deducted. If 25% of the cause is your fault, your potential jury award would be cut by 25%.

Can I File a Claim Against My Policy If I’m Not at Fault?

If the party at fault doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your losses, or you’re the victim of a hit-and-run and don’t know who the other driver is, you can file a claim under your uninsured/underinsured coverage. This is included in all vehicle policies unless you turn it down in writing.

You should get this coverage and budget as much money as you can afford. It may be critical in two common situations:

  • If the other party’s known and you file a claim against their insurance, but your losses are beyond their policy limits, you can seek the compensation you’re missing from your insurance carrier
  • If the other driver fled the scene, whether they have insurance or not doesn’t matter. If you don’t know who they are, you can’t file a claim with their insurance company. You could seek compensation from your carrier instead

Paying the premiums doesn’t mean your insurance company will act reasonably and cover your claim. You may need an attorney to make this happen.

Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, LLP Helps Accident Victims Deal With Insurance Companies

Our lawyers have many years of experience helping car accident victims. Our Houston law office works with insurance providers, so you won’t have to. You can focus on your family and recovery while we get you the best outcome possible. Don’t worry about costs when you contact us – we work on contingency, and we’ll evaluate your case during a free consultation.

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