How Is Liability Determined In A Car Accident in Texas?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Dallas, and it was through no fault of your own, you may be wondering how you can properly establish liability in order to sue for damages. First thing’s first, Texas law dictates that you must file a report with the local police department (if the police are not present at the scene) or the local sheriff’s office. This report must be filed within 10 days of the accident.
Reporting an Accident to Your Insurance Company
There are no laws in Texas that dictate when to file an insurance claim, or that you even have to. However, your insurance company probably includes a clause within the contract you signed that states that you must make them aware of an accident as soon as it occurs. The sooner your insurer knows about the accident, the sooner they can take the necessary steps to investigate.
If you don’t report the accident within a reasonable amount of time (say, within a few days of its occurring), then you may be forfeiting your chance to collect for damages. Your insurer may deny you coverage, no matter who was at fault.
In other words, even if you are laid up in the hospital as the result of another driver’s mistake, you must find a way to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Else, paying for that hospital stay may be entirely your responsibility – when you didn’t even do anything wrong.
Even if the accident was a minor fender-bender, you should still report it. This is because, should you realize you can’t afford to fix the issue, the insurance company may still cover you as a kind of reward for reporting your accident in a timely manner. This is, of course, if the repair falls under a category that your insurance company actually covers.
One of the best ways to prove that the other driver was at fault for your accident is to take photographs. The insurance company – and a judge, if it goes that far – can determine who was at fault simply by the impact of the damage, and the angles at which the damage occurred. You should therefore take pictures from as many different viewpoints as possible.
Don’t just take pictures of your car. Take pictures of the roadway to prove the conditions at the time of the accident. For instance, icy roads may explain a no-fault collision, but dry roads on a sunny day may prove the other driver’s liability.
If you can – that is, if the driver remains at the scene – be sure to take pictures of his or her car as well. Having a clear picture of the damage to both vehicles can help insurance companies piece the puzzle together. This is a process known as “accident reconstruction.” An expert may be needed to testify to such details in the event your case needs court intervention.
Building Your Case
When you’re still at the scene of the accident, take down as much information as you can about anyone who may have witnessed the accident, such as their names, addresses, and phone numbers. You and/or your attorney may need this information later on to help support your claim, especially if these witnesses may be needed to testify in court. If the police are present, they can help secure a statement from each witness and provide you with a copy.
In the event you may need medical attention, it is imperative that you seek help as soon as possible. In much the same way that you need to report the accident in a timely fashion, so too must you be able to show that you received treatment immediately following the accident.
If you wait too long – say, if your neck starts to hurt a week later – you may not be reimbursed for your out-of-pocket costs. The insurance company may even reject your claim, stating that your injury could have resulted from anything, and was not necessarily a result of the accident.
Your medical records can show the severity of your injuries and can also help prove the other driver’s liability. For instance, if you were hit on the passenger side, and your right shoulder requires significant medical attention, this can help prove the severity of the impact, as well as the speed the driver was going when s/he hit you.
Placing Blame Where Blame is Due In The State Of Texas
When attempting to collect damages from another driver after suffering a car accident in the state of Texas, you are more likely to be successful if you can prove the other driver was at fault, or liable. You also have a better chance of collecting on your insurance claim the earlier you file one with your insurance company.
The earlier you file your lawsuit, the more time you allow for negotiations. This is preferable to being rushed into a settlement that is for less than you deserve simply because time is running out.
If, however, you would like assistance filing your lawsuit, you may want to consider contacting a Dallas truck accident lawyer. We can help you better understand how the process works so that you can make the decision that’s best for you. Whether you choose to retain a lawyer or go it alone is entirely up to you. Contact us for more information, and we can help you decide what your next steps should be.
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