Who Pays For Car Accident Compensation In Texas?
After a wreck, you can count on an experienced attorney
If you've been injured in a car accident in Texas, your expenses could be substantial. Bills may pile up while you're physically unable to work. Your medical fees could amount to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. And if you didn't cause the accident, you shouldn't have to pick up the bill.
But getting full and fair compensation for your injuries can be difficult. That's why John R. Solis, Attorney at Law created this brief guide. Attorney Solis understands how to help people hurt in car accidents get the compensation they need to rebuild their lives. Here's what you need to know.
Texas is a "fault" car insurance state
Like most states, Texas handles car accident compensation on a "fault" or "at-fault" basis. This means that if you are injured in a wreck, the motorist who caused the wreck is responsible for compensating you for your losses. There are three main ways to get compensation for your car accident in Texas:
- File a claim with your own insurance company, known as a "first-party" claim.
- File a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company - a "third-party" claim.
- File an injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
First-party benefits from your own insurance company
Under Texas law, you are only required to carry liability coverage, which compensates someone else who is injured in an accident that you cause. However, there are several optional types of coverage that could give you compensation from your own insurance carrier in the event of an accident.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): This type of coverage pays for your medical expenses and a percentage of your lost income while recovering from injuries sustained in an accident, up to the policy limit. You are not required to have this coverage, but your insurance carrier is required to offer it to you.
- Collision coverage: This type of insurance pays for damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident. You may be responsible for a deductible.
Filing a third-party claim or lawsuit
If another motorist was responsible for your accident, then they are ultimately responsible for compensating you for the accident. Texas law requires all drivers to carry liability coverage. That means that if you are involved in a wreck, you can file a "third-party" claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.
You can also file a lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver, whose interests in the case will be represented by the insurance company. In Texas, you have up to two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, with very limited exceptions. Once this limit, called the statute of limitations, has expired, you can no longer file a lawsuit. You will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to get compensation from the insurance company.
What if the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, or doesn't have enough?
While Texas law requires all motorists to carry liability insurance, not every motorist follows the law. Moreover, the cost of an accident might exceed the amount of liability coverage that the at-fault driver has. And you could be injured in a hit-and-run accident in which the driver is never found - which means you can't file a lawsuit or a claim with the adverse party's insurance company.
In situations where a known at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, or doesn't have enough, you can file a lawsuit and try to recover compensation from the driver's personal assets. But recovering compensation from an individual, as opposed to an insurance company, is a challenging and complex legal process. Moreover, as the saying goes, you can't get blood from a stone - most uninsured drivers don't have assets to take, which effectively means you can't get compensation.
If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist protection (UIM), you can file a claim with your own insurance company to compensate you for your injuries. Essentially, UIM coverage stands in for the other driver's liability coverage when the adverse driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance. This is an optional type of coverage in Texas, but it's definitely in your best interest to carry enough to make sure you are protected in the event of a wreck.
Contact an experienced attorney to help you through the process
In a fault insurance state such as Texas, getting full and fair compensation for a wreck can be a challenging process. You're likely facing an adversarial claims process with another driver's insurance company, and you need to contact an experienced attorney to help you through that process. Attorney John R. Solis can review your case and your insurance policy and help you understand all of your options to recover compensation. Call today to schedule your free consultation.