Liability for Car Accidents in Texas
Texas is an "at-fault" car insurance state. This means that the party responsible for the accident (the at-fault driver) will pay for the medical bills, vehicle damages, and other accident-related losses suffered by the injured victims. In order to seek damages for your injuries, you can:
- File a claim with your own insurer
- File a third-party claim against the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver
- File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver
Texas Insurance Requirements
Pursuant to Texas Transportation Code Section 601.072, Texas motorists are required to have a minimum amount of liability with the following coverage limits:
- $30,000 for bodily injuries per person per accident
- $60,000 for total bodily injuries to two or more persons in a single accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
State Laws Addressing Personal Injury Claims
Here are some laws addressing personal injury claims in Texas, including the amount of damages that may be recovered and the time limit for filing claims.
Statute of Limitations
According to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 16.003, car accident victims, including drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, passengers, bicyclists, or electric scooter riders, must file their injury claims within two years from the date of the accident or injury.
Modified Comparative Fault State
Texas follows the modified comparative negligence rule, with a 51% bar. Under the system, you may recover damages if you were partially or equally (50% or less) responsible for your injuries. However, the amount of compensation that may be recovered will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For instance, if the jury awards $20,000 in total damages against the at-fault driver, and you were found to be 30% liable for the car accident, your damages will be reduced by $6,000. You will only be allowed to recover 70% of $20,000 ($14,000). Under Texas's modified comparative negligence principle, you will be barred from pursuing compensation if you were 51% or more responsible for the accident.
According to Texas Transportation Code Section 550.062, any motor vehicle crash shall be reported to the nearest local police department or law enforcement office if the accident results in:
- An injury to a person
- The death of a person, or
- Property damage of $1,000 or more
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death can be described as an avoidable death that occurred as a result of the negligent, careless, or wrongful actions of another person. According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 71.002, a wrongful death action may be brought if the "wrongful act, carelessness, neglect, unskillfulness, or default" of one party causes the death of another person.
No amount of financial compensation can bring back the deceased person or fill the void left by their death. However, filing a wrongful death claim can provide the surviving family members with the much-needed financial boost to cover funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, loss of consortium, and outstanding medical expenses.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 71.004, a wrongful death action may be filed by any of the following parties:
- The surviving spouse
- The adult children of the deceased person
- The deceased person's parents
- The personal representative or executor of the deceased person's estate
Under Texas law, a wrongful death action must be commenced within two years from the date of the victim's death.