It’s not always easy to determine who’s responsible for a car accident. Between bad faith, ignorance of road rules, lack of clarity about one’s own behavior and the potential absence of witnesses, determining who is responsible for a car accident and thus who should provide compensation can be challenging.
For this reason, it’s important to know when you can be held liable for a car accident and what the law in Texas says about co-responsibility for a car accident.
How Is Liability Determined in a Car Accident?
Sometimes when a car accident occurs, one of the drivers involved is automatically blamed. But how do you know for sure who is at fault? Do you have to fill out an accident report and how? In case of disagreement between drivers, what can be done? And what does car insurance cover?
No one wants to be involved in a car accident. Beyond damage to the involved vehicles and the risk of injury, determining who is at fault is an additional source of stress. In these situations, what determines whether or not you are at fault? To find out, it’s important to understand Texas law regarding car accidents.
Texas Law Regarding Car Accident Cases
Under current regulations, Texas is considered an “at-fault state,” meaning that the party held liable for a car accident must compensate the victim according to the amount of damages he/she is responsible for.
Damages, which are covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance in a state like Texas, include personal injury, medical bills and lost wages, as well as property damage such as auto repair.
In the state of Texas, minimum liability limits are described by 30/60/25 insurance coverage, which means the following:
- $30,000 per injured person
- Up to $60,000 per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
When Can You Be Held Liable for a Car Accident?
When driving a car, you should be aware that any inappropriate behavior can result in a car accident. You can be held 100% responsible for a car accident under these circumstances:
- For colliding with another vehicle traveling in the same lane if you turn out of a road under construction, public parking lot or property.
- For opening the door and crashing into another car in the process.
- For braking suddenly at a red light and crashing into the vehicle stopped in front of you.
- For entering a roundabout and striking a moving vehicle.
- For backing out of your parking space and colliding with another car moving through the lot or road.
- For failing to stop at a red light or stop sign and causing a collision with another vehicle, or entering a lane reserved for oncoming traffic and colliding with another vehicle.
If a driver commits any of the above actions and collides with you, you won’t be held liable for the accident.
It’s important to keep in mind that road rage constitutes a traffic offense (according to the Penal Code), in addition to causing a car accident.
Car Accidents Caused by Natural Hazards
In some situations, natural hazards can impact your ability to drive. The sun may blind you, rain may cause hydroplaning and strong wind may make driving difficult, among other hazards. There are many possibilities that can impact your driving.
How can you determine if you’re at fault for a traffic accident caused by any of these scenarios? Unless your insurer tells you otherwise, if you collide with the vehicle in front of you while blinded by the sun, you’re still 100% responsible for the collision.
The same applies if strong wind pushes you into an oncoming lane. Don’t forget to mention these weather conditions in a report, so that your insurer can take them into account.
However, certain natural hazards that cause damage or loss to your car are covered by your car insurance if you have the necessary riders, typically described as either “all risks” or “accidents without collision or rollover.”
Driver actions that cause car accidents
Car accidents can cover a wide range of incidents. Many car accidents are caused by driver carelessness or disregard for the safety of others, such as driving over the speed limit.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the most common and serious car accidents in the region are due to:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failure to yield the right-of-way
- Distracted driving
- Failure to obey stop signs
- Fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel
If you’re in a car accident involving any of the above actions, it’s essential to prove the liability of the other party in order to get compensation for injuries or damages.
What Cases Do Not Get Compensated?
In Texas, you can recover compensation for a car accident that you’re partially at fault for, unless your percentage of fault is greater than the percentage that isn’t your fault. This is also known as the 51% rule: if you’re 51% or more at fault for the accident, you can’t recover compensation.
Mandatory Insurance Coverage in Texas
Texas law requires all drivers to have insurance coverage. If you’re at fault for a car accident, your coverage is used to pay other parties who have been injured.
Texas requires that drivers have at least $2,500 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. However, you can extend your PIP coverage to up to $10,000. When filing a claim under PIP, your total payment depends on the dollar value of the coverage you choose. The policy limit extends to each person injured in an accident and includes the full amount of benefits for all expenses.
What Should You Do in the Event of a Car Accident?
At George Salinas Injury Lawyers, we’ll help you build your claim, negotiate a settlement and get you the maximum car accident compensation benefits possible. We’ve recovered over $500 million in damages for our car accident clients. The expenses associated with an accident can be high, so you won’t pay us unless we win your case.
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