Do You Have To Sue To Recover Damages From A Car Accident In Texas?
In a perfect world, the insurance company would give you a generous settlement after you’ve been injured in a car accident. Unfortunately, many times, insurance companies try to blame you for the accident so they don’t have to pay damages, or they offer a low-ball settlement that won’t come close to covering all of the expenses you’ve incurred since the accident.
You don’t have to sue to recover damages from a car accident in Texas, but many times, it’s in your best interests and the interests of your family to sue for damages. Hiring a good lawyer can make all the difference.
If you’ve been injured in car accident, make sure you get the legal representation you deserve by consulting with a Dallas car accident lawyer. Fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Fault and 51% Modified Comparative Fault Rule
Texas is one of 21 states that follows the 51% modified comparative fault rule when it comes to who is entitled to damages after a car accident. If the accident is completely not your fault, you are entitled to 100% damages. For instance, you were a pedestrian crossing the street in the crosswalk, with the sign saying “Walk”. A car comes speeding down the street and runs into you, disregarding the red light and the pedestrian right of way. The driver of the vehicle that hit you would be 100% at fault.
But 9 times out of 10, both parties in an accident can be found somewhat at fault. For instance, maybe your brake lights are out, and the person speeding behind you rear ended you when you braked to avoid hitting a deer.
According to the 51% Comparative Fault Rule, you CAN recover damages, even if you are partly at fault. Texas uses the rule to apportion fault and award damages. This rule is also referred to as “proportional responsibility.” If you are more than 51% at fault, you cannot sue for damages. But if you are 50% or less responsible, you can claim damages.
So using the example above, here’s how it works:
- You and the other driver can both be held responsible that were your fault – you for no brake lights, the other driver for speeding and tailgating.
- The legal system assigns you each a fault percentage, based on the circumstances of the accident.
- The damages you receive as the victim in an accident will be reduced by your fault percentage.
So let’s use round numbers, because that’s easy to understand.
- The jury determines the speeding driver is 80% responsible, and you are 20% responsible, for having broken brake lights.
- The jury awards you $100,000 in damages.
- Since you were found to be 20% at fault, your damages are reduced by 20% (i.e. $20,000) for a resulting $80,000 in damages.
Types of Damages
In Texas you can collect two types of damages – economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the following.
This includes visits to the Emergency Room, ambulance costs, hospital costs, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, chiropractor visits, prescription drug costs, and more. Be sure to keep copies of your medical bills so you can prove your medical expenses in your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
If you were out of work for any length of time, you can claim lost wages in your damages. You will need to provide pay stubs and proof from your workplace that you were not at work or drawing a paycheck.
Disability or lost capacity to earn
This is when you were injured so severely that you are unable to perform your previous job, whether due to paralysis, brain injury, amputation, or other serious injury.
If your vehicle was totaled or suffered other damage, you can recover costs. You will need to provide the bills from the auto repair shop.
Non-economic damages are harder to calculate in dollars. These damages compensate you for the intangible mental and physical issues caused by the accident. They can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety and stress
- Loss of a child or loss of companionship
- And more
Awarding non-economic damages is very subjective, and no two juries will decide the same thing, although the judge will give them some guidelines. Keeping a diary or a journal to document how you are feeling can be produced as evidence at trial and can help your case.
Statute of Limitations
In Texas, you have a limited amount of time to file a legal claim after a traffic accident. This is called the statute of limitations. It’s important to be aware that if you wait too long to file a lawsuit, you lose your right to sue for damages. For more details, check out this article on the statute of limitations for car accidents.
We Represent Claims Involving Just About Any Motor Vehicle
We talk a lot about car accidents, but we will also represent you in many other motor vehicle accident cases. Whether the vehicle that hit you was a truck, a bus, a motorcycle, a taxi, or a self-driving car, we can help. Our goal is to help you get the largest financial settlement you can, to compensate you for your injuries, future medical costs, pain and suffering.
If you’ve been injured in a Dallas area traffic accident, you need to talk with a Dallas car accident lawyer to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. We represent you – not the insurance companies. Call our firm at 214-305-8277 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.