Filing an injury claim to receive a settlement has never been a walk in the park. In Texas, a set of state laws, as well as the fine print of your car insurance policy, will govern the administration of car accident injury claims. When an accident occurs, it might not always be solely another person’s fault – it could be shared fault or entirely your fault. In such a situation, you may be confused on what your right are and if it’s possible to file a claim for injuries you’ve sustained. This article seeks to shed some light on the matter.
In Texas, if your insurance policy includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP), you have the right to claim compensation regardless of who was at fault at the time of the accident. Texas law does not require that all insurance policies offer PIP; you have to elect it when you choose your policy. PIP comes in handy in the event of an accident where you are largely at fault, as it will cover your medical expenses, the cost of hiring a caregiver if need be, and a significant amount of your lost income. In the event that you have elected not to include PIP in your coverage, your insurance company must be able to prove that you have waived the coverage.
Notably, Texas is a “tort” or “at fault” State – this means that drivers responsible for a collision are required to pay for the injuries they cause to other people. However, the amount that the injured party is compensated is discounted by the percentage of their responsibility. In other words , if the injured party is 10% responsible for the accident, the proper award for damages – regardless of whether this takes place in a settlement or in a courtroom – is discounted by 10%. If the injured party is 50% responsible, the other party does not have to pay at all. In short, if you are looking to file a claim against another driver’s insurance policy, you will need to show that you were less than 50% responsible.
This is referred to as modified comparative negligence. It’s important to seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to determine the likelihood of fault, as determined by a judge or jury.
If you are less than 50% responsible for the accident, there are two very important factors that you should to consider when filing a claim:
Carefully Documenting your Damages
This important factor is often overlooked by accident victims. To avoid losing a significant amount of your insurance, you must document all of your damages, beginning as soon as the accident happens. It is advisable to take pictures of the vehicle damage and the scene of the collision before the vehicles are towed or moved out of the way. Additionally, it is wise to document any skid marks or debris, as it may be helpful to determine how the accident occurred. It is always a good idea to call the police, and the police department’s crash report will come in handy as evidence.
In addition to documenting the property damage, you should also document your injuries as best you can. Any bruises, scrapes, cuts, or bleeding should be captured in pictures. You will also need copies of your medical bills and records to send to the insurance company.
The Statute of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations is a law that limits the amount of time a person has to file a personal injury lawsuit in the event of an accident. Each state has its own time limit and Texas provides for a 2 year statute of limitations for auto accident personal injury cases. As such, it’s advisable to consult with an auto accident lawyer as soon as you or your loved one is involved in a crash to ensure that you safeguard your right to compensation before the deadline. In fact, if you have missed the 2-year window, your insurance company will not be willing to negotiate an agreement with you, as you will not have the option to go to court and file a lawsuit.