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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

What Does No-Fault Mean in Car Accident Law? A Good Lawyer Can Help

Important laws in the United States usually vary significantly from one state to the next. As such, when it comes to liability coverage, states are generally divided into fault and no-fault states. However, a few states allow citizens to make their own choice between the two options.

When seeking compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company or their own insurance company, victims need to be clear on what the law says regarding insurance coverage in the place they live.

However, insurance law is not the easiest to understand. Without a car accident lawyer by their side, victims can be taken advantage of, sometimes even by their own insurance companies.

That is why reliable law firms, such as Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are ready to help victims to seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other financial losses. Victims can call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys right now at +1 713-999-4150 and set up a free consultation.

What Is a No-Fault State?

What Is a No-Fault State?

What does no-fault mean in car accident law? Unlike what the name may imply, no fault has nothing to do with who was responsible for the accident necessarily. Here, the most important things to understand are the no-fault insurance laws of each state.

A no-fault state requires each party involved in a car accident to pay their own insurance company to cover their costs. In other words, each driver must have personal injury protection (PIP coverage).

This means if two drivers are involved in a car accident in a no-fault state, it is their own insurance companies that will be liable for damages. One advantage that no-fault states have is that they can avoid high-cost litigation caused by car accident insurance claims.

On the downside, victims in no-fault states can only recover compensation that does not exceed the no-fault coverage limits. As such, if the cost of medical expenses or property damage exceeds their no-fault car insurance, they will have to pay the difference from their own pockets.

It is important to note that PIP coverage covers personal injuries sustained by each driver, although there are other forms of auto insurance coverage, such as collision coverage, that will cover the cost of property damage as well.

Is Texas a No-Fault State?

Texas is not a no-fault state. Unlike some states, Texas laws require the at-fault driver to be held liable for the damages suffered by the victim. This is a traditional fault-based system that is also known as the tort liability system.

In a fault state such as Texas, the victims are entitled to receive fair compensation for their injuries and other damages. They can recover compensation in one of three ways, which are:

  • File a claim against their own insurance company if they have the right kind of car insurance policy, such as personal injury protection.

  • File a lawsuit against the at-fault driver

  • File a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance policy provider

Including Texas, 38 states in the US are no-fault states, meaning this is the most popular way of handling car accident insurance claims in the country.

The at-fault driver in a fault state is required to have a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage that will be used to compensate the injured person and cover their damages. The minimum insurance coverage amount is divided into three categories, which are:

  • Coverage amount per accident

  • Coverage amount for property damage per accident

  • Coverage amount for each injured person

These amounts may also differ from one fault state to another. In Texas, the effective minimum liability coverage amount is structured as follows:

  • Up to $60,000 per accident

  • $30,000 for each injured person

  • $25,000 for property damage per accident

If damages exceed these minimum coverage amounts, the injured parties are entitled to sue the at-fault driver's insurance company or the defendant for the difference.

Such an additional lawsuit on top of the insurance claim usually leads to either a settlement offer or a trial. This is the exact situation that a no-fault state would avoid.

In Texas, when a personal injury claim is made against the at-fault party, the state's modified comparative negligence laws will be used.

Modified Comparative Negligence Rules in Texas

Unlike a no-fault state, it is important to determine who the at-fault party is in a car accident so that they can be held liable for the damages not covered by auto insurance coverage.

The modified comparative negligence rules in Texas mean that each party involved in the car crash is often assigned their own fair share of the blame. This means if the victim is found to have been partly at fault for the accident, the amount they receive as compensation will be less their portion of the blame.

Dealing with modified comparative negligence laws makes handling such cases in Texas a lot more complicated than they would be in a no-fault state.

Common Types of Auto Insurance in Most States

The following are some of the types of insurance coverage policies that drivers are expected to have:

Liability Coverage

Used mainly to cover property damage and bodily injury, liability coverage is the most common type of car insurance coverage required by the majority of states in the US.

Personal Injury Protection or PIP Coverage

Personal injury protection (PIP insurance) is used to cover medical bills and all other expenses that can be directly linked to the injuries caused by the car accident. In some cases, if the injuries prevent the victim from going to work, PIP insurance will also cover lost wages.

Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Coverage

The at-fault driver can be uninsured or underinsured. In such cases, having uninsured motorist coverage will allow the victim to seek compensation from their own insurer to cover the costs of medical bills, lost income, property damage, and other losses. This type of car insurance coverage is not a requirement in Texas.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage is reserved for fixing or, in extreme cases, replacing the victim's damaged vehicle after a car accident. It also applies in cases where the victim collided with a stationary object, such as a tree or lamp post.

Comprehensive Coverage

This type of insurance coverage allows the policyholder to recover damages up to the value of the property they lost due to theft, vandalism, or fire.

Medical Payments Coverage

If anyone else was in the vehicle at the time of the accident, medical coverage will cover the cost of their medical bills.

Gap Coverage

Gap coverage is usually optional in most states. It is meant to cover the cost of car hire in cases where the original policyholder's new car is totaled in a car accident.

What If the Insurance Company Refuses to Pay?

The insurance company is not always willing to pay damages to the victim without a fight. Whether or not the victim is at fault, insurance companies will always look for ways to pay the least amount of compensation or deny any liability at all.

In such cases, victims will need the help of a good attorney to help them seek fair compensation by:

  • Determining fault

  • Gathering evidence

  • Fighting for victims in court

If the insurance company and the victim fail to reach a settlement, the personal injury attorney will have no choice but to file a car accident lawsuit and seek damages against the liable party. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help with questions like what does at-fault mean in car accident law?

Steps To Take After a Car Accident in Texas

In Texas, if victims want to give themselves the best chance of winning compensatory damages in a personal injury claim, they need to know the right steps to take. This means that in the aftermath of the car crash, victims must:

  • Seek medical treatment

  • Obtain a doctor's report

  • Gather evidence and pictures of the accident scene

  • Get the contact information of potential witnesses

  • Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer with knowledge of both fault and no-fault laws

Possible Damages Victims Can Recover

Possible Damages Victims Can Recover

In at-fault states, such as Texas, victims can seek damages from the liable party. The compensation they can receive will usually cover the following:

  • Medical expenses

  • Lost income

  • Property damage

  • Loss of future earning potential

  • Wrongful death

  • Burial Expenses

  • Cost of long-term care

  • Pain and suffering

  • Loss of consortium

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Is Ready for War

Understanding both fault and no-fault insurance laws is something that is beyond the majority of victims, which leaves them vulnerable to manipulation by insurance companies. While Texas is not a no-fault state, there is still a lot about its legal system and personal injury cases that require a good attorney to handle. They can also answer questions such as what is the average settlement for a car accident while pregnant?

As such, when suing the at-fault driver or their insurance company for damages caused by a car accident, victims need an attorney who is ready to go to war for their rights. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has been doing just that for many years.

Victims can call the law firm's Houston, TX offices to schedule a free consultation.


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