Texas Auto Accident Laws & Resources
From Dallas to Texarkana to San Antonio, Texas is replete with thousands of miles of roads that millions of Texans travel each year. Roads in Texas span from the south Texas Hill County to the panhandle and far out west to the Big Bend desert.
More than 15 million drivers are licensed in Texas, with each averaging approximately 9,000 miles of driving per year. In this huge and populous state, there are plenty of car accidents. If you drive through Texas or live here, it is important to understand the laws and regulations of driving in the Lone Star State.
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- How Much Is My Car Accident Settlement Worth?
Car accidents are common in Texas, with 3,722 fatalities in 2020 alone. Those involved in car accidents may seek compensation for their losses, but navigating the Texas car accident settlement process may be difficult. Understanding state specific laws regarding car accident settlements is key when making a claim, as these rules dictate what damages may be recovered and how to negotiate a fair agreement. This article provides an overview of the Texas car accident settlement process, so those affected by an accident can make informed decisions about their rights and options.
Types of Damages that May Be Recovered in a Texas Car Accident Claim
In Texas, those affected by a car accident can seek compensation for any losses or damages.
- Economic damages: These are the costs you have incurred as a result of the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
- Non-economic damages: These are the losses you have suffered that cannot be easily quantified, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages: These are awarded to punish the at-fault driver and deter them from future reckless behavior. Punitive damages are not available in all cases.
How to Negotiate a Fair Texas Car Accident Settlement Agreement
Here are some tips on how to negotiate a fair settlement agreement:
- Do your research. Before you start negotiating, it’s important to understand your legal rights and the value of your case. This means gathering all of your medical records, bills, and other documentation. It also means understanding the laws in your state regarding car accident settlements.
- Be prepared to walk away. One of the most important things to remember when negotiating is that you’re always free to walk away from the table. If you’re unhappy with the offer, don’t hesitate to say no.
- Be reasonable. While you should be prepared to walk away, you also need to be reasonable in your demands. If you’re asking for an unrealistic amount of money, the other side will also likely walk away.
- Be patient. Negotiation can be a long and frustrating process. It’s important to be patient and persistent. Don’t give up if you don’t get the offer you want right away.
- Hire a lawyer. If you’re uncomfortable negotiating independently, have any serious injuries, or fault is difficult to prove, you should probably hire a car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand your rights, negotiate a fair settlement, and file a lawsuit if necessary.
Statistics and Notable Texas Car Accident Settlements
Car accident statistics for 2016, according to the Texas Department of Transportation:
- The number of car accident fatalities in 2016 was 3773, which was an increase of 5.45% to 3578 in 2015.
- There were 12,897 serious injury crashes in Texas in 2019 with 15,843 people sustaining a serious injury*.
- There were 14,202 serious crashes in the state that year, and 17,582 people having serious injuries.
- The total number of vehicle miles traveled in the state in 2016 was 261.994 billion, which was an increase of 1.5% over 2015.
- Fatalities in rural area accidents was 51% of the total fatalities for 2016. This was a total of 1942 deaths in rural accidents.
- There were 638 people killed in head on collisions.
- There were no days in Texas in 2016 without at least one road death.
- There were 1.44 deaths per hundred million vehicle miles traveled in 2016, a 3.6% increase from 2015.
- One person was killed over two hours and 20 minutes.
- One person was injured every two minutes.
- Approximately 44% of traffic fatalities in Texas in 2016 involved people not wearing seatbelts.
- 265,076 people were hurt in traffic accidents in 2016.
- There were 455 people killed due to distracted driving, which was a decrease of 5% from the year before.
For 2014, it was reported that Houston was the worst city for driving. There were 60,472 crashes in the city, which was almost 20,000 more than other towns in the state. There were 227 fatalities and 1222 injuries.
One of the most notable settlements in a Texas car accident in recent years was a $31.5 million judgment against an auto body shop that made an incorrect repair on a 2010 Honda Fit. The couple who was severely burned and injured in a resulting accident was awarded the large judgment in a 10-2 verdict. This is allowed if the same 10 jurors agree on all parts of the damages and verdict. The roof caved in during the accident, which was attributed to an improper repair by the auto body shop.
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Texas Accident Settlement Taxes
Texas does not have a personal income tax, so it will not tax your personal injury settlement.
Texas Negligence Laws
To recover damages for injuries in Texas, you must prove the other driver was at fault for your accident injuries. This state has what is called a modified comparative negligence rule. This means the jury or judge will determine the degree of fault for all drivers in the accident. If you were not more at fault than the driver that is being sued, you can recover damages. Note that the court will reduce your damages according to your degree of fault for the accident.
Texas is a fault state. This means the party that is found to be at fault for the accident is responsible for paying for the injuries and damages of the other party.
It is important to be aware of the concept of gross negligence in Texas. In legal circles, gross negligence in this state is considered an act that is so extreme that it shocks one’s senses. There is no exact standard for what gross negligence is under state law, but the idea encompasses callousness, recklessness and maliciousness that go well beyond civilized behavior. There is no legal definition provided in the statute because the courts want juries to determine this standard by a case by case basis.
One of the most obvious examples of gross negligence is an accident involving a drunk driver. Another possibility is someone who suffers a severe injury by a person engaging in a street race.
If the jury or judge decides the case involves gross negligence, exemplary damages can be awarded on top of regular economic and noneconomic damages in a car accident lawsuit. For exemplary damages, they are limited to the greater of $
200,000; two times the amount of economic damages plus $750,000; or two times the amount of economic damages plus the amount of non-economic damages.
Texas Car Accident Settlement Calculator:
Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident or otherwise injured in Texas? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Car Accident Settlement Calculator.
Reporting A Car Accident In Texas
1) Report the accident:
When you encounter a car accident in Texas, and you are a party to it, report it immediately to Texas DOT if an officer does not investigate the said event and when it involves injury or death or property damage of over $1000.
Once all the requirements are met above, you must submit the report within 10 days after the date of the accident. The Crash Report form, also called the Blue Form, should be filled by the parties involved, including your insurance agent. The report should be submitted to DOT. What you need to answer the form are the following:
- Names, addresses, and birthdates of the parties involved in the accident.
- The place and time of the car accident.
- Driver’s license and plate information of the parties involved in the accident.
- Names and addresses of the insured and the name of the insurance company.
- The weather and road conditions when the accident happened.
- The summary of the accident.
Remember that reporting the accident is the most important part of the process. You will be penalized if you won’t report the said event.
2) Get a copy of the accident report.
You can easily get a copy of the car accident report filed by the police officer on the scene once you filed the Crash Report from the Department of Transportation’s Crash Report Online Purchase System of Texas. Before you can get a copy, you will be asked to give some essential information and pay the fees. You can get a report copy online.
Texas Car Accident Statute Of Limitations
The Texas Car Accident Statute of Limitations is within two years from the date of the accident. Whether it is for personal injury claims or Texas car accident settlements, those who filed, such as the drivers, pedestrians, passengers, bicyclists, and motorcyclists injured in accidents, can avail of this period.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Texas
Texas requires each driver to carry a minimum of auto insurance coverage. The minimum standards for this state are as follows:
- Texas requires each driver to carry a minimum of auto insurance coverage. The minimum standards for this state are as follows:
- $30,000 in bodily injury per person for each accident
- $60,000 in bodily injury for all parties for each accident
- $25,000 for property damage
- $2500 for personal injury protection
- $30,000 and $60,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
In this state, you can reject PIP and uninsured motorist coverage, but this is not recommended. There are many drivers in Texas without insurance. If you are injured in an accident by someone with minimal or non existent coverage, you could be forced to pay for your own injuries and damages.
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Third-party Liability Laws in Texas
Third-party liability in Texas car accidents is when there is another individual who is involved in the accident other than the drivers. Under this circumstance, third-parties are usually covered by the insurance of the negligent party. You should be able to check with your insurer the options when you become liable to a third-party. On the other hand, you will receive compensation if you are the third-party in car accidents.
Other Texas Driving Laws
There have been many changes to driving laws in Texas in recent years:
- The state has a texting ban for both novice and adult drivers.
- There is a ban for using handheld phones and texting for all drivers in school zones; a violation is assessed a $200 fine.
- The minimum fine for not stopping for a school bus is $500. Many school buses have cameras and will document your license plate.
- The penalty for leaving an accident scene in Texas now carries a maximum fine of $10,000, and a jail sentence from two to 20 years.
- Drivers in Texas must move over or drive 20 MPH below the speed limit when a Texas Department of Transportation worker or vehicle is present on the road.
Caps on Damages in Texas
There are some limits on damages in Texas in a car accident. The limit on damages is $100,000 if the accident happens in the scope of a government worker’s job. For exemplary damages, they are limited to the greater of $200,000; two times the amount of economic damages plus $750,000; or two times the amount of economic damages plus the amount of non-economic damages.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking Compensation After an Auto Accident in Texas
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when seeking compensation after an auto accident:
- Not getting medical attention right away. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. This will help document your injuries and ensure you get the necessary treatment.
- Not exchanging insurance information. This is essential if you want to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Make sure you get the other driver’s name, address, insurance company, and policy number.
- Not reporting the accident to the police. Even if the accident seems minor, it’s a good idea to report it to the police. This will create a record of the accident and help you if you need to file a claim later.
- Talking to the other driver’s insurance company without a lawyer. The insurance company will be looking out for their own interests, not yours. They may try to pressure you into accepting a low settlement offer. It’s important to have a lawyer present when you talk to the insurance company.
- Admitting fault. Even if you think you’re at fault for the accident, avoiding admitting fault to the other driver or their insurance company is important. This could damage your case and make getting the compensation you deserve more difficult.
- Signing any documents without reading them first. Before you sign any documents, read them carefully and understand what you’re signing. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
- Not keeping track of your expenses. If you’re injured in an accident, you’ll likely have a lot of expenses. Ensure you track all your expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses. This will help you when you’re negotiating a settlement.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve after an auto accident.
Where Major Cities in Texas Rank in terms of Best & Worst Drivers Rankings?
When it comes to worst drivers, Texas is included in the Top 10 Report of Smart Asset together with other states such as Mississippi, California, and South Carolina. Texas has three different measurements that make it one of the worst drivers. First, it has 1.29 or the 17th-highest percentage of fatalities for every 100 million miles driven. Second, it has 85.8% or the 15th-lowest rank in terms of insured drivers. Third, it has a 1.50 ratio or the 14th-highest ratio for ticket-related and gasoline-related searches on Google.
Dallas, one of the major cities in Texas, also belongs to the cities where there are worst drivers. In fact, according to a study, 46% of Dallas drivers are more likely to get into car accidents in the city. Allstate Insurance Co. also reported that Dallas is in the 15% cities that are at the bottom for having safe-driving records. This report has 200 major cities in the United States.
Houston, on the other hand, reports 640 people who die from road accidents while 2,850 people get injuries. When talked about the 12 biggest locations with weak spots, Houston is in the middle of big metros in all categories. Every week there is an average of 11 fatal wrecks and 12 deaths in this city. With all factors taken into account, this city becomes the most deadly metro in Texas and it’s never good news for those who are using Houston roads daily.
On its Traffic Fatalities Report, Austin had 74 number of fatalities in 2017 and 2018. This city in Texas is considered one of the worst. It ranked 30th in the whole country as claimed by QuoteWizard. Some say one of the reasons why the traffic and drivers here are so bad is because its busy highway is the only road accessible for many to cross into the other half of Austin.
In 2017, San Antonio, Texas reported that it had a 26% decline in terms of vehicle fatalities compared to 2016. There were 53 fewer deaths. The city saw that its programs to reduce car accident deaths are working and the government still hopes that the existing programs will continue to help the city control its road accident cases.
Texas Car Accident Resources
If you are in a car accident in Texas, you will need to deal with a lot of anxiety and stress. Below are some common resources and tips that can help you to get through this difficult time.
- You are required to submit a Driver’s Crash Report within 10 days of an accident if the accident caused injury or death or involved damage of $1000 or more.
- If you have been hurt in a car accident, you will want to know how much your claim is worth. Use our online tool at Lawsuit Info Center to help you determine what your injuries may be worth.
- If you have been in an accident with a tractor trailer, these commercial vehicles are required to carry more coverage. Talk to a personal injury attorney today to determine what your case could settle for
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