How Is Liability Determined in Texas Car Accidents?

Liability is a major factor in car accident cases in Texas. Texas uses a conventional fault-based insurance system, meaning determining liability is necessary before a car accident victim can call an insurance company to submit a claim. The insurance provider of the at-fault party will be responsible for paying damages. Determining liability and proving it to an insurance company, judge, or jury, however, can be difficult.

An Analysis of the Evidence

Identifying and proving liability comes down to evidence. Evidence is information that can prove a claim to be true or untrue. There are many different types of evidence, including physical, demonstrative, testimonial, and documentary. The police, an insurance company or a private investigator can search for evidence that can help them determine the identity of the liable party after an auto accident.

  • Police reports
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Photographs and videos
  • Vehicle damages
  • Types of injuries
  • Medical documentation
  • Car accident reconstruction
  • Expert statements

It is possible to ascertain the liable party based on the evidence available in most car accident cases. If a police report states that one of the drivers appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, for example, and follow-up evidence of the driver’s Breathalyzer test results shows the driver was over the legal limit, this could be enough evidence to prove that driver’s liability for the collision. In general, the injured party (plaintiff) will need enough evidence to establish four main elements to have a successful car accident case.

4 Elements of Proof

Most car accident claims center on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is a party’s failure to meet the expected standards of care. In general, if a person is negligent and this causes a car accident, that person will be liable for victims’ damages. A victim can only recover compensation in Texas, however, if he or she proves the other driver was responsible. This requires proof of four elements, in most cases.

  1. Duty to exercise care. The allegedly at-fault party (defendant) must have owed you a legal duty of care, such as the duty to drive safely and to reasonably prevent vehicle collisions.
  2. Breach of duty of care. The defendant must have failed to uphold his or her duty of care to you. A violation could describe anything a reasonable person would not do in the same situation, such as drive drunk or distracted.
  3. The defendant’s failure to fulfill his or her duties of care must be the main reason your car accident happened. If another driver collided with you at an intersection because of a traffic light malfunction, for instance, the city could be responsible for the crash, not the other driver.
  4. Losses connected to the accident. You must have proof of real, compensable damages from the car accident. These can include personal injuries, medical bills, lost earning opportunities, physical pain and emotional injuries.

Collecting damages from a driver or another party after a harmful car accident in Texas takes proving fault. Enough evidence to satisfy the four elements of proof could result in compensation for you as a crash victim. It may be worthwhile to hire a lawyer to help you with the burden of proof during an auto accident claim in Texas.

How a Lawyer Can Help

The burden of proof in a civil car accident claim is lighter than in criminal cases. Rather than having to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you or your lawyer must only establish that your version of events is more likely to be true than not true. Meeting this burden of proof still requires evidence, however.

Hiring an attorney can give you a resource to use to collect evidence and build a case against the defendant. Your attorney may be able to visit the scene of your auto accident, analyze the evidence against the defendant and help you prove your case. Contact a San Antonio car accident attorney soon after a car accident in Texas for assistance determining and proving another party’s liability.

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