Under Texas law, you bear the financial liability for any personal injuries caused by your negligent or intentional actions. You face two risks when you get blamed for causing an accident in San Antonio, Texas. First, you may need to pay for someone else’s losses. Second, you may lose the right to seek compensation for your injuries.
A personal injury lawyer can often assist you in these situations. They understand the law and how to assemble a case to get a fair outcome based on what happened in your accident and who contributed to it.
How Injury Claims Work
Most injury cases start with an insurance claim. Liability insurance is an agreement between a policyholder and an insurer. If the policyholder incurs a liability within the scope of the insurance contract, the insurer agrees to pay it.
Liability insurance covers many types of accidents. Some examples include the following:
- Auto liability insurance covers car accident claims
- Homeowners liability insurance covers premises liability and dog bite claims
- Business liability insurance covers slip and fall accident claims
- Professional liability insurance covers medical malpractice claims
Claims get assigned to insurance adjusters. Claim adjusters protect the insurance company by ensuring they do not accept any claims they do not have a legal obligation to pay.
To protect their employers, adjusters employ several tactics, including:
- Delaying their work
- Denying claims
- Defending any lawsuits filed against the policyholder
Under Texas law, insurers must attempt in good faith to settle claims when their liability has become clear. But until you reach that point, they will fight vigorously against your claim.
Shifting the Blame to You
One of the most effective tools for delaying, denying, and defending claims is to blame you for your accident. Under Texas’s doctrine of comparative negligence, a claimant cannot collect damages if they bear more than 50% of the blame for their injuries. Stated slightly differently, you can pursue a claim unless you bear 51% or more of the blame for your accident.
In addition to potentially blocking your claim, your share of the blame reduces the damages you can recover. If the insurer successfully shifts 35% of the blame to you, it cannot avoid paying your claim. But it only needs to pay for 65% of your losses.
Thus, every percentage point holds incredible significance to you and the at-fault party’s insurer. The insurer will fight to shift as much blame to you as possible. Every bit of blame that sticks to you will reduce the insurer’s liability and the damages it must pay.
Some ways the insurer and at-fault party can shift blame to you include blaming you for any of the following:
Causing the Accident
The cause of an accident includes every act that:
- Naturally and logically fell within the chain of events that led to the accident
- Foreseeably could produce an accident
The act must also be intentional or negligent. An intentional act happens when you intend to make harmful contact with the other driver. Examples of intentional acts include road rage, assault, or even some types of horseplay.
Negligent actions happen when you fail to exercise due care. If your actions in any way fail to meet the standard of reasonable care, they may help shift the blame to you. Such actions can include traffic law violations. Thus, speeding, disobeying traffic signs and signals, or failing to yield the right of way might shift some of the blame to you.
But you do not need to violate traffic laws to bear the blame for an accident. Legal but unreasonably dangerous actions can also shift the blame to you. For example, eating while driving is legal everywhere in Texas. But any reasonable person would see that eating something that requires two hands creates an unreasonable risk of crashing.
Causing Your Injuries
Even if you do not contribute to the accident, the other party and their insurer might blame you for your injuries. For example, if you were not wearing a helmet during your motorcycle crash, the driver who hit you might blame you for the head injuries you suffered.
Worsening Your Injuries
Similarly, suppose that you suffered an injury in a crash but did not seek medical attention. The other party and their insurer can blame you for worsening your injuries. This accusation can also happen if you fail to follow your doctor’s orders. Thus, you might share in the blame for your injuries if you played tennis after injuring your knee in a car crash and tore a ligament.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help if the Insurer Blames You
If you truly share no blame for your accident or injuries, your lawyer will investigate your crash and gather evidence to show the other party was at fault.
The evidence that may help you could include:
- Accident reports
- Witness statements from passengers and bystanders
- Video footage from security or traffic cameras
- Inconsistencies in the other driver’s statements
- Physical evidence from the scene, such as skid marks and vehicle damage
You may also need expert testimony explaining how the evidence proves your version of the story. Experts can give opinion testimony. A crash reconstruction expert can apply scientific and engineering principles to the evidence to form an opinion about how the crash happened.
How an Injury Lawyer Can Help if You Share the Blame
If you and the other driver share blame for the crash, your lawyer has a slightly different job. First, they need to rebut any claim that you were the sole cause of the crash and prove that the other driver also played a role in causing it. Second, they need to negotiate for a fair allocation of the blame for the crash.
This task can present challenges. Insurers have no standard method for allocating blame, and all of the drivers involved will try to minimize their share of the blame and maximize everyone else’s blame. A good lawyer will have solid facts and legal arguments to fight for a fair allocation based on what happened.
Combat Allegations of Fault With a San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer
You will need a lawyer with experience and negotiating skills. You also need to have an open and honest discussion with the lawyer about your accident. Attorney-client confidentiality covers everything you disclose to your attorney. You should discuss all the facts, including ones that are embarrassing or detrimental to your claim.
When you get blamed for an accident, standing up to insurers can turn your case around. Contact George Salinas Injury Lawyers at (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation to discuss your crash and how we can help.