Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a car owner extends, at times, into the intimidating world of law. Some car owners aren’t aware of the regulations and factors that come into play when addressing a car accident. From reporting the accident to taking part in settlement claims, all car owners should be aware of the car accident laws and processes in their state.
Reporting to Your Insurance Company
Report a car accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. No matter the state, this step is key in initiating a successful claims process. If a driver waits too long to report an incident, the insurance company could deny their claim. The amount of time that an insurance company gives a driver to report their accident is dependent on the severity of the accident – this can be as little as one to two days post-accident.
In Texas, an insurance company must respond to the claim submission within 15 days. This timer begins after you submit all the required paperwork. If your insurance company denies the claim, they must provide written explanation as to why they denied it. You can appeal the insurance company’s denial of compensation if you possess adequate evidence.
In some cases, settlement negotiations must be made with the company. The evidence you’ve collected, such as the police report or any medical records, plays a significant role in determining how much the settlement is. You can negotiate with insurance adjusters to make sure that the compensation you receive is fair, however, this is easier done with the help of an experienced lawyer.
Filing a Police Report
Texas law states that it is necessary to immediately report accidents that result in damage that prevents vehicles from safely driving after the incident, or if it causes considerable injury to either driver or passenger. Minor accidents do not need to be reported immediately. However, it the accident caused some form of bodily injury, or property damage up to $1,000, drivers must file a police report (via Crash Report form CR-2) within ten days following an accident. Filing a police report is also necessary if a driver chooses to pursue personal injury claims.
Is Texas a No-Fault State?
Texas is not a no-fault state. This means that the at-fault driver is liable to pay for any damage or injury they caused during the accident. Most residents purchase liability insurance to address this, which covers damage up to $25,000 and injury up to $30,000 per person (capped at $60,000).
If both parties caused injury or property damage, Texas’ comparative fault rules dictate the dollar amount a driver pays for their own contribution, and how much they receive in return for damages the other driver caused. A driver can only recover damages if they are responsible for 50% or less of the damages incurred. For example, if the court finds the driver responsible for 25% of the damages caused by a car accident, and the claim compensation was originally $20,000, the driver would only take home $15,000. The percentage of damage directly dictates the percentage of compensation removed from the claimant’s total reward.
Personal Injury Claims
Because Texas is an at-fault state, an injured driver can file a personal injury claim against the other driver for acts of negligence. This includes distracted driving, in which any activity that the other driver took part in that deterred their focus is grounds for the claim. The Texas court requires the claimant to file a personal injury claim within two years of the incident. If the claimant is filing against a government-owned party (i.e. public transit), they must submit the claim between 60 and 90 days after the injury. In the state of Texas, this time limit does not begin until the injured driver first discovers their injuries, documenting them via medical examination.
Car accidents are stressful, but not understanding the different aspects of car accident law increases this stress tenfold. Keep informed about the specific car accident laws in your state and save yourself the extra headache.