Texas Car Accident Attorneys
Injured in a car accident in Texas? Find attorneys for all auto accident and injury cases statewide. We work with very experienced attorneys handling claims anywhere in Texas. If you have been injured in a auto accident, we can help you recover monetary compensation. You may be entitled to more compensation than you realize. Even in a simple car accident there may be several insurance companies who can pay your claim. In addition to medical bills, you may be entitled to a substantial tax-free settlement package for pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has been harmed they may be able to collect from any person, or business responsible for causing the injury. We can also help if a loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death. Free Consultation. You do not pay anything until your attorney wins.
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Texas Car Accident Law
Pursuing Texas Auto Accident Claims
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Texas Car Accident: Elements of a Claim
If you are involved in a car accident and wish to file a claim in a Texas court against the person you believe responsible for the incident, you should familiarize yourself with the basic laws the State of Texas employs in determining liability and awarding damages to plaintiffs.
Every individual operating a motor vehicle within Texas has a duty to exercise reasonable care in the operation of that motor vehicle. The burden of reasonable care makes drivers accountable for acts which they knew would likely result in injury to person or property and for acts which they should have known would likely result in injury to person or property. Texas state law identifies a driver's failure to use reasonable care as negligence.
In an attempt to clarify the negligence standard, Texas courts have stated that "whenever [an] automobile driver should as [a] reasonable man foresee that his conduct will involve unreasonable risk of harm to other drivers or to pedestrians, he is then under [a] duty to them to exercise [the] care of [a] reasonable man as to what he does or does not do." Thus, the foreseeablitity of an accident becomes an important question in determining whether a driver acted negligently.
Another legal standard that Texas courts have developed to more specifically describe legal negligence is the "proper lookout" standard. According to Texas law, a motorist's "proper lookout" describes the duty of a driver to observe, in a careful and intelligent manner, traffic and the general situation in the vicinity, including speed and proximity of other vehicles, as well as rules of the road and common experience. In other words, "proper lookout" requires a driver to see what a person exercising ordinary care and caution would see under similar circumstances, and to take those steps necessary to guard against an accident. At its simplest, the "proper lookout" standard requires a driver to pay attention to the road and other drivers in an effort to avoid accidents. Failure to observe the "proper lookout" standard is legal negligence. Negligence represents the first requirement for a successful lawsuit.
Once you have established the negligence of a party, you must show that their negligence caused the accident that resulted in your injury. "Causation," in a legal sense, can be a complex issue, but suffice it to say that if the negligence of the party resulted in the injury to person or property for which you have sued, causation exists.
Finally, in order to maintain a suit as the result of an automobile accident, you must prove that you have suffered damages. Damages include economic injury, such as lost income or wages, medical and funeral expenses, lost support and services, and replacement value or repair costs of personal property damaged in the accident. In addition, damages may include non-economic injuries such pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience as a result of bodily injury that result from the accident.
A Texas court may reduce your damages, if the defendant can establish that actions on your part contributed to the accident. This principle, known as "comparative negligence," holds that a court can reduce your damage award by the percentage for which a jury found you responsible for the accident. For example, if you establish damages in the amount of $10,000, but the jury finds that your negligence constituted twenty percent of the reason the accident occurred, then the court would reduce your damage award by twenty percent, to $8,000.
When and how long after the accident you have to file a Lawsuit
You should note that Texas law requires a plaintiff to file suit within a specified period of time, depending on the type of claim the plaintiff makes. For claims concerning personal injury, seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages, Texas law specifies a two-year statute of limitation. Regarding claims of property damage, such as damage to the plaintiff's automobile, or other property, Texas specifies a four-year statute of limitations. This means that for personal injury claims, you may only file your suit within two years from the date of the accident and for property claims within five years from the date of the accident. Texas law prohibits any suit filed after the expiration of the statute of limitations. If you think that you might have a claim against another party as the result of a car accident, you should consult a qualified attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your suit is filed within the applicable statute of limitations.
Parties you can Bring Lawsuits and Claims against.
Texas law allows you to sue not only the operator of the vehicle but also the employer of the operator of the vehicle, if the operator was acting in his capacity as an employee. In cases where the owner of the vehicle was not the operator, you may also be able to sue the owner in addition to suing the operator. In order to sue the owner, however, you must establish that the owner was a passenger at the time of the accident, or that the operator acted as an agent of the owner during the time in which the accident occurred. Texas law also holds owners liable if the plaintiff establishes that the owner knew or should have known that the person the owner allowed to operate the vehicle was a reckless, incompetent, or inexperienced driver.
Texas Auto Insurance Laws
Texas law mandates a certain minimum automobile liability insurance coverage for all automobiles registered in the state. Depending on the terms of the individual policy, liability insurance typically covers the cost of property damage, including the cost of repair or replacement for any property damaged as the result of an accident. Liability insurance also pays medical bills and lost wages as a result of bodily injuries incurred in an accident.
Texas law requires that each car registered in the state have a minimum of $20,000 in insurance coverage for one person injured in an accident, and a minimum of $40,000 for all persons injured in an accident. In addition, Texas requires a minimum $15,000 in coverage for property damage. Unlike some other states, Texas law does not mandates coverage for when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver. Such coverage typically pays medical bills and lost wages for you and your passengers, in a case where you cannot collect these damages from the driver at fault for the accident.
Beginning in January 2002, Texas now allows auto insurance companies to offer Texas drivers a choice between purchasing auto insurance for the traditional fixed installment at an annual rate, and the more innovative cents-per-mile rate. Whereas under the traditional system a car owner purchases insurance at an annual rate irrespective of the frequency with which the owner uses the car, under the cent-per-mile system, an owner pays for coverage only for those miles driven.
A cents-per-mile rate works in this way: An insurance company assigns your car to one of its rate groups according to your zip code, car use and type, driver type, and other information about your household. Your car might be put into a group paying $500 a year. If the company determined that the average for cars in your group was 10,000 miles a year, the alternative mile rate for your group would be 5.0 cents a mile. If you chose the mile rate instead of the annual rate, you might initially buy 2,500 miles for $100 (= 5.0¢/mi. x 2,500 mi.) plus a nominal expense fee. The insurer would add these miles to your car's current odometer reading to determine the mileage at which coverage would end. Before you drive all these miles, you would have to buy more miles to remain legally insured. Texas designed this system to make compulsory insurance more affordable, thereby reducing the incidence of illegally uninsured motorist.
Beyond compulsory insurance, you may wish to purchase additional insurance coverage. As the owner of an automobile, a court may hold you personally liable for any damages in excess of your insurance coverage for any accident your vehicle caused through negligent operation. Purchasing additional coverage could protect your personal assets in case of a suit.
Basic Reparations or Medical Payments Coverage, Collision Coverage, and Comprehensive Coverage are three types of additional, optional insurance coverage. Basic Reparations Coverage covers bodily injury and medical expenses of an at-fault driver who does not have medical insurance. Collision coverage pays for damages incurred by the at-fault driver in accidents involving collision. Finally, Comprehensive Coverage pays for damage to a vehicle not caused by collision, including damages caused by theft, vandalism, flood, fire, and explosion.
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