Traffic Collision Laws in Texas
If you’ve been injured in an accident and have questions about Texas car accident laws, the attorneys of Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, can help. Our lawyers have years of experience helping motor vehicle accident victims navigate the complex personal injury claims process. Let us help you pursue the financial compensation you deserve after a crash caused by another driver’s negligence. Your initial case review is free, and we’ll explain Texas’s motor vehicle collision laws and how they can affect your car accident claim. Contact us today to get started.
Understanding Car Accident Laws in Texas
When you’ve been involved in an accident, it’s important to understand the laws in Texas that may impact your case.
Accidents involving personal injury or death
Drivers of vehicles involved in accidents that cause or are likely to cause injury or death must:
- Stop right away as close to the scene of the accident as possible or immediately return to the scene. Drivers are expected to stop somewhere that does not obstruct traffic or creates as little obstruction as possible.
- Determine whether someone involved in the accident has been injured and requires medical attention.
- Remain at the scene until after they’ve rendered or obtained reasonable medical aid or assistance and provided their personal and insurance information to the driver or a responding law enforcement officer.
Accidents involving damage to vehicles
After accidents that only result in damage to another vehicle, drivers must:
- Stop as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary or return to the scene.
- Remain at the scene until they’ve provided their license and insurance information to the operator or owner of the other vehicle or to a law enforcement officer responding to the accident scene.
Immediate reporting of car accidents
If someone is injured or dies in an accident, or the accident causes damage to a vehicle to render it unsafe to drive, the driver involved in the accident must report the accident to the local police department or to the sheriff’s office.
What Does It Mean That Texas Is a Fault State?
Although every state requires all drivers to have auto insurance, some states require drivers to have “no-fault” Personal Injury Protection coverage (sometimes called medical payments coverage) as part of their policy. In these cases, drivers are required to first look to the PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage in their own policy for compensation for losses suffered due to a car accident before they can sue another at-fault driver for losses. These “no-fault” states also limit the circumstances under which injured car accident victims can sue at-fault drivers for intangible losses such as pain and suffering.
Texas is among the majority of states with a traditional at-fault system for motor vehicle accidents. In the at-fault system, injured car accident victims retain full rights to seek compensation from at-fault drivers for both reimbursable and intangible losses. The at-fault driver’s insurer should compensate the accident victim for injuries and losses, up to the limits of the at-fault driver’s policy amount. If the policy limits do not cover the full extent of the victim’s losses, he or she can also pursue compensation from the at-fault driver directly.
How Modified Comparative Fault Can Affect Your Claim
In some car accidents involving two vehicles, both drivers may share fault. However, having partial responsibility for a car accident does not necessarily prevent you from claiming compensation for your injuries and losses. Texas uses the modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, an injured party may still recover compensation from another at-fault party so long as the injured party’s share of responsibility for the accident is 50 percent or less. However, the accident victim’s compensation from the other at-fault party would be reduced in proportion to his or her share of fault.
For example, you get into a car accident and suffer $100,000 in total losses. You are later determined to have been 20 percent at fault for the accident. Your $100,000 in compensation will be reduced by $20,000 to reflect your 20 percent share of fault for the accident.
The statute of limitations in Texas generally allows you two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. This two-year period can be extended in limited circumstances, such as for minor children injured in car accidents or if the at-fault party leaves the state of Texas during the two-year limitations period (with the two-year period being paused, or “tolled”).
If you wait until after the statute of limitations has expired on your car accident claim to file your lawsuit, the court will likely dismiss your case. You will lose your legal rights to pursue compensation from the party or parties responsible for the crash.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in the Greater Houston area, contact Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, today for a free consultation. One of our knowledgeable Texas car accident lawyers can explain your legal rights and help you decide on your next steps.
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