Texas is an “at-fault” auto insurance state. This means that the person responsible for an accident is also responsible to pay for damages. If you have been injured by an at-fault motorist in or near the Houston area, arrange at once to discuss your rights with a Houston car accident attorney.
What automobile insurance does the law in Texas require drivers to carry? If you are injured by a negligent driver in this state, what are your rights? Will you be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, your lost wages, and your related losses and damages?
If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of traffic accidents, auto insurance, and your rights in the State of Texas, these questions will be answered, and you will also learn what steps to take in order to recover compensation after you’ve been injured in a traffic collision.
What Auto Insurance Does Texas Require Drivers to Carry?
State law in Texas requires drivers to carry these minimum automobile insurance coverage amounts:
- $30,000 for bodily injury coverage for one person injured in a collision you cause
- $60,000 for total bodily injury coverage for everyone injured in a collision you cause
- $25,000 for property damages in a collision you cause
This minimum insurance coverage, called 30/60/25 coverage, pays for medical bills, property damage, and other losses incurred by motorists, their passengers, and any pedestrians who are injured or sustain property damage in an accident you may cause, up to the coverage limits.
Should You Carry More Than the Minimum Coverage?
You may and probably should carry additional auto insurance coverage in case a serious accident causes substantial injuries and damage. Additional auto insurance coverage protects your personal assets if you are liable for a catastrophic accident.
Always carry your auto insurance card or some other proof of insurance in your vehicle in case a police officer asks to see it. It’s illegal to drive in Texas without auto insurance, and it’s illegal to fail to provide proof of insurance when asked by a law enforcement officer.
This liability coverage doesn’t apply to your own injuries or damages after an accident. You will need extra coverage if you are involved in a crash and no other coverage applies. Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, while optional, usually pays medical bills quickly after an accident.
What Should You Do When an Accident Happens?
If you’re injured in a traffic collision, no Houston car accident lawyer will be at the scene to advise you, so take these steps to protect yourself both medically and legally:
- Summon medical assistance immediately if anyone involved in the accident is injured. If you are not treated at the scene or taken to the hospital, have a medical examination within twenty-four hours to detect any latent injuries.
- Call the police. When they arrive, ask when and how you will be able to obtain a copy of their accident report.
- Exchange personal contact and insurance contact information with the other driver. Get a name, address, phone and license plate number, and details about how to contact the other driver’s insurance company.
- Take as many photographs as you can showing the crash site, the damage to the vehicles, and your injuries. Ask for the names and contact details of any eyewitnesses. Your photos and eyewitness statements could become important evidence in a personal injury case.
Why Is an Immediate Medical Examination So Important?
A Houston car accident attorney will provide legal help later, but in the moments immediately after an accident, you must protect yourself by gathering as much evidence and information as possible.
Even if you feel perfectly healthy, an immediate medical exam will detect any latent injury that could emerge later as a serious medical condition.
If you do not have a medical examination immediately, and you’ve sustained a latent injury, it may be difficult to link that injury to a specific accident, and the other driver’s insurance company might claim that you were actually injured in another way at another time and place.
What Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?
After a medical professional has examined and/or treated you, schedule a consultation with a Texas car accident lawyer who will explain your rights and suggest the best way to proceed – which may include taking legal action to recover your compensation.
When you are advised and represented after an accident by a Houston car accident lawyer, your lawyer will investigate the accident to determine exactly what happened, which driver was at-fault, and what other party or parties may have liability.
Texas courts follow the “51 Percent Rule,” which means that a driver who is 51 percent or more at-fault for an accident cannot recover compensation. If a driver is 50 percent or less at-fault, he or she may recover compensation, but the amount will be reduced by the percentage of fault.
Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf with the liable party’s auto insurance company for the best possible settlement. In Texas, most personal injury claims arising from traffic accidents are resolved when the attorneys for both sides negotiate a settlement privately and out-of-court.
Will Your Case Go to Trial?
It’s possible that your personal injury case could go to trial if your claim is disputed or if no reasonable settlement offer is made in the private negotiations. At a trial, your lawyer will tell jurors how you were injured and will ask the jury to order the payment of your compensation.
You should act promptly if a negligent driver injures you in a Houston-area traffic collision. The statute of limitations in Texas gives you two years to take legal action, but don’t wait two years to speak with an attorney. Evidence can deteriorate or disappear. Witnesses’ memories can fade.
When Should You Contact a Personal Injury Attorney?
Moreover, if you are injured, you can’t work, and the bills are piling up, you’ll need to recover compensation as swiftly as possible. As soon as you have been examined and/or treated after an accident, if you’ve suffered an injury or injuries, contact a Texas personal injury attorney.
But if you can’t work, and the bills are piling up, how can you afford the services of a personal injury attorney?
Your first legal consultation is provided without cost or obligation. If you proceed with legal action, you will pay no attorney’s fee unless and until your attorney recovers the compensation you are entitled to as an injured victim of negligence.