Who Is Ultimately Responsible for your Auto Repair After a Car Accident in Dallas?
The answer to who is ultimately responsible for your auto repair after a car accident in Dallas depends on who you ask, to a certain extent. An auto repair shop will say you, as the vehicle owner, are ultimately responsible for paying your auto repair bill. But that can mean your insurance company pays them directly, or you pay the bill and get reimbursed if you win damages from the other driver’s insurance company.
If you’ve been injured in an accident or are having difficulty getting a reasonable payment from the insurance company, you would be well advised to seek legal advice from a Dallas car accident lawyer, who will be able to help you navigate the system.
Who Is At Fault Determines Which Insurance Company Pays
While the police may issue citations after an accident, and give a narrative of their opinion in the police report, the police report is not the final word in determination of fault. In some car accidents, such as rear end collisions, it is easy to determine who is at fault. In other cases, it will require some investigation on the part of the police and your legal team. Reviewing the police report, accident scene photos and interviewing witnesses can all help determine who was at fault in the accident.
You may already know this, but Texas is a so-called “fault” car insurance state. This means you can file an insurance claim against the other driver’s insurance, or if a reasonable insurance settlement can’t be reached, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. But Texas also has a modified comparative negligence statute, or proportionate responsibility statute, where drivers can share fault.
Talking With the Insurance Company
Your auto insurance policy requires you to report it if you have been in an accident, whether it was your fault or not. Some insurance companies have mobile apps that allow you to do this immediately after an accident. In other cases, you will need to call and report it. During the call, report just the facts of the accident, but do not admit any fault. Your insurance company will use any admission of fault against you to deny your claim, or reduce any payout. If you are eventually found to be 51% or more at fault, your insurance coverage will pay for your auto repair.
If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, refer them to your Dallas car accident lawyer. In this way, we can protect your interests. Don’t agree to a settlement without consulting your lawyer. Whatever you do, don’t sign a release saying you won’t file a claim. If the other driver is eventually found to be at fault, their insurance will pay for your auto repair.
If the other driver is at fault but is uninsured, you will have to turn back to your own insurance coverage. Hopefully, you paid for uninsured motorist coverage, or U.M. coverage. You are not required to carry this additional liability insurance, although your insurance company is required to offer it.
The Role of Liability Insurance
Texas has a financial responsibility law that requires drivers to pay for damages in an accident that they cause. Most drivers carry at least the following minimum liability coverage.
- $30,000 for each injured person;
- $60,000 total for injuries per incident;
- $25,000 for property damage (this includes damage to your car)
So you can see, if your brand new car is totaled in an accident where the other driver was at fault, and they have only the minimum coverage for property damage, you might need to sue them for damages.
If you are at least partially at fault in the accident, but less than 51% at fault, you can sue for damages. But any award you receive will be prorated for your percent of fault. Let’s say the police assign you 10% at fault, and you’re awarded $50,000 to cover the total loss of your brand new vehicle. Your compensation would be reduced by 10%, so your award would actually be $45,000 (905 of $50,000).
Keep in mind that in Texas, you only have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit to claim damages after a car accident. The other driver’s insurance company may try to drag out the claims process to avoid paying you the amount you need. Working with an experienced Dallas car accident attorney ensures you file your lawsuit on time, and get the compensation you deserve.
Talk to Experienced Pintas & Mullins, a Dallas car accident law firm, for Free
Speaking to one of our experienced Dallas car accident lawyers is free and could help you recover damages. We can meet with you in our office, your home, or your hospital room — whatever is convenient for you.