In the U.S., most states are split into two categories when it comes to car accidents: fault states and no-fault states. This simply refers to how compensation and insurance works after an accident depending on who caused the accident. In a no-fault state, all drivers are generally expected to cover damages and injuries they personally suffer, no matter who caused the accident.
In a fault state, however, compensation is calculated depending on who is at fault.
Texas is a fault state, but each fault state works differently when it comes to car insurance.
What Car Insurance is Required in Texas?
Requirements for car insurance vary per state, partially based on whether the state has a fault or no-fault system. In Texas, all drivers must carry at least:
- $30,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $60,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 property damage liability
Liability insurance is specifically geared to cover damages and injuries you may cause someone else in an accident. If you are declared at fault for an accident, this insurance guarantees that you will be able to provide compensation for those involved in an accident.
Keep in mind that liability insurance will not cover damages to your own vehicle or injuries you and your passengers may suffer after an accident. To cover your own damages in a single car accident or an accident where you or at fault, you will need additional coverage such as:
- Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage provides compensation for damages to your vehicle caused by incidents no including collision, such as fire, wind, hail, lightning, smoke, theft, vandalism and more.
- Collision Coverage: Collision coverage provides compensation for damages to the vehicle caused by a collision with another vehicle or object.
- Medical Payments Coverage: Medical payment coverage provides compensation for medical bills you and your passengers may face after an accident.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: The requirement for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can be claimed, but this is not recommended. If you are involved in an accident with another driver who does not have insurance and is yet at fault for the accident, this insurance can guarantee that you will be compensated.
How is Car Accident Fault Decided in Texas?
Each state has a different system for declaring fault. The system in Texas is known as a “modified comparative fault” system. Primarily, eyewitnesses are used to determine fault, although traffic cameras may be used to clarify fault, as well. Insurance providers can also help to declare fault once they’ve been contacted about an accident.
After fault is decided, the amount of compensation provided will be based on two things: the dollar amount of damages caused and the percentage of fault. For example, you may be declared at fault for 80% of the damages in an accident while the other driver is responsible for 20%. This may mean that you will be responsible for covering 80% of your damages (through insurance) while the other driver must cover the remaining 20%.
However, if it is obvious that the accident was fully caused by one party, Texas operates under a comparative negligence law. This means that the victim can file a claim for their damages, injuries and other losses directly through the other driver’s insurance provider.
Can You Receive Compensation Even if You’re at Fault for an Accident?
If you are considered over 50% at fault for an accident, you may not receive any compensation from the other party or their insurance provider. However, victims of an accident can still file a lawsuit against the other driver for additional damages and suffering.
When Should You File a Claim with Your Car Insurance Carrier?
It is important to inform your insurer about an accident as soon as possible. Some car insurance policies have a time limit in which you must contact your insurance provider after an accident. Be sure to know this time limit so that you don’t miss it and risk having a claim denied. The insurance provider will want to investigate the incident and help determine fault before deciding on compensation. You should also seek medical care immediately and encourage everyone involved in the accident to do the same, as any delay can affect the car insurance claim. This is important whether you are determined at fault or the other driver is at fault, as it affects how you can file an insurance claim and the compensation you may or may not receive.
When in an accident, make sure to document everything and contact the police and your insurance provider as soon as possible.
Also Read: Why Do Car Insurance Companies Want to Know Who Will be Driving the Car?
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