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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Exploring the Tort Liability System in Texas: What Does "At-fault" Mean in Car Accident Law?

According to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 19,515 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2023 alone.

Many of these collisions were caused by a driver making a mistake or a careless decision or by someone breaking the rules of the road.

In most states, the driver who was to blame, or "at fault," is responsible for compensating victims for the damages and losses they suffered. Therefore, it's important to determine who acted in a way that caused that car accident.

This article contains valuable information to help people understand what "at fault" means under Texas car accident law. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help with questions like what does no-fault mean in car accident law?

Understanding What "Fault" Means

Understanding What "Fault" Means

When a person is "at fault" for a car collision, they're to blame or responsible for the accident and the damages that victims suffered.

In terms of a car accident claim, the at-fault driver is the one who was negligent or careless, which means they did or failed to do something and caused the crash as a result.

A driver is considered "negligent" when they commit the following:

  • Speeding

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)

  • Failure to properly maintain equipment

  • Driving on the wrong side of the road

  • Violating a pedestrian's right of way

The Importance of Determining Fault

In most states, people who are at fault for a car accident or their insurance companies must pay for the losses of other drivers, passengers, or any other individual who is injured.

Although this may be different based on the tort liability system that each state follows, the driver who caused the accident will always be held responsible for such damages.

In some cases, both drivers can be held responsible for the accident. If the state follows a comparative negligence method, a percentage of blame is assigned to each party. This is what Texas does.

Other states follow contributory negligence laws, which means that an injured person won't be able to recover compensation if they're found to be at least 1% at fault for the accident. That's why it's important to prove liability.

No-Fault States vs. Fault States

When handling car accident claims, each state follows a tort liability system to determine liability and damages. Under the laws regarding insurance and personal injury, some states are "no-fault," and others are "at-fault."

What is an At-Fault State?

At-fault states follow a traditional fault-based system to handle car accident claims. That means the driver who caused the crash is responsible for compensating injured parties for their damages or losses.

Paying Compensation in At-Fault States

Liable drivers can pay compensation to victims through an insurance claim or out of pocket. In such states, victims must prove fault, which means they're legally required to demonstrate that the other party caused the accident.

Can Victims Sue Liable Drivers in At-Fault States?

An injured person can also sue the other driver for any type of damage or loss resulting from the collision, such as medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.

What is a No-Fault State?

In a no-fault state, victims don't have to prove that the other person caused the car accident to receive compensation. Instead, they can file a claim with their own insurance company for the cost of their injuries.

Drivers are legally required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in most no-fault states. This type of coverage allows policyholders to obtain compensation from their own insurance companies regardless of who caused the car accident.

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

Typically, PIP insurance pays only for medical bills and other injury-related losses after a motor vehicle accident. Therefore, drivers in no-fault states often purchase collision coverage for car repairs and property damage.

Although injured people can pay for their own medical bills through personal injury protection insurance in no-fault states, the driver who caused the car accident is still responsible for damages to the vehicle. That's why people are required to carry property damage liability coverage.

Differences Between Property Damage Liability Coverage and Collision Coverage

Although these types of insurance cover property damage and car repairs, the truth is that they're different.

While collision coverage pays for repairs to policyholders' own vehicles, property damage liability coverage covers the costs to repair damage caused to someone else's car.

However, drivers' right to sue for car accident injuries is limited in states that follow a no-fault system.

Under no-fault laws, victims may only be able to sue if their injuries are considered severe or their medical bills exceed certain thresholds.

Is Texas an At-Fault State for Car Accidents?

Yes, Texas is an at-fault state for car accidents. That means victims can hold the other party accountable for their damages or losses if they have been negligent, careless, or reckless.

As mentioned, at-fault drivers may pay for such compensation through their car insurance policy. If they don't have enough coverage to pay for injured parties' medical expenses, victims can file a car accident lawsuit to hold them accountable for such damages and recover the difference.

Determining Fault in a Car Accident Case

Fault can be difficult to determine. Therefore, in a Texas car accident case, the following elements must be proven to establish liability:

  • The driver who caused the accident had a duty of care to the victim

  • The driver failed to uphold that duty of care, causing a car crash

  • The driver's actions resulted in injuries to the victims and property damage to their vehicles

Proving fault in a car crash case often begins at the accident scene. Lawyers and insurance adjusters review traffic laws and evidence to establish liability. This may include police reports, photographs, witness statements, and traffic tickets. They can also advise on average chiropractic care car accident settlement Texas.

Are Drivers Required to Carry Insurance Coverage in Texas?

Are Drivers Required to Carry Insurance Coverage in Texas?

In most at-fault states, including Texas, drivers are required to carry a certain amount of insurance.

This state lists minimum liability limits as 30/60/25 coverage, which means the minimum amount of insurance should be as follows:

  • $30,000 in bodily injury per person

  • $60,000 per car accident

  • $25,000 in repairs for property damage

Get In Touch with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

In Texas, people injured in a car accident caused by someone else can take legal action to recover compensation. However, victims should prove that drivers were at fault. Therefore, they need help from the best car accident attorneys in Houston.

An experienced car accident attorney can help injured parties build a solid case and gather sufficient evidence to prove fault, hold responsible drivers accountable for their actions, negotiate settlements with the other party's insurance company, and recover compensation for the damages they suffered.

Looking for an experienced car accident lawyer in Houston, Texas? Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys today!


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