How Car Accident Compensation Works in Texas
Experienced Dallas car accident lawyers explain how the system works
The financial impact of a serious car accident can be huge. One study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that every fatal car accident costs families at least $1.4 million in expenses and lost income.
And even in cases involving so-called minor car accidents, injury victims might be faced with thousands of dollars in medical bills and other accident-related expenses. This is why it’s critical that injury victims clearly understand how the compensation process works for car accidents.
Our dedicated Dallas car accident attorneys at The Marye Law Firm can guide you through this complicated process, one step at a time. For more than two decades, our law firm has helped injury victims get the money they rightfully deserve for their accident-related expenses. As a result, we understand how the process works and can demand the compensation you deserve to get your life back on track.
How much is my car accident worth?
The total value of your car accident claim should add up to the total financial impact of your accident. This might sound straightforward. But many people might not realize just how much money they’re eligible to receive for their accident.
Part of the issue has to do with the scope of your accident claim. In many cases, people only take into account short-term expenses immediately after an accident. Such expenses might include emergency medical care, including surgery, as well as the cost of repairing or replacing their damaged vehicle.
But that’s often only the start. When determining the total financial impact of your crash-related expenses, you must think long-term. Even if such expenses occur years after your accident, your car accident settlement or verdict should take them into account. You should not have to pay for them out of pocket.
What can I be compensated for?
When thinking long-term about car accident compensation, it’s important to include all past, present, and future anticipated expenses or lost income due to your accident. Such expenses are also divided into three, main categories – economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. “Damages” is a legal term for financial compensation.
Economic damages can include:
- The total cost of all medical treatment due to your accident, including:
- Emergency medical care
- All surgical procedures
- Follow-up doctor’s appointments
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medications
- Medical devices, including wheelchairs
- In-home medical care if necessary
- Repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle
- Replacement income if you cannot work due to your car accident injury
- Lost future income if you cannot return to work due to a permanent disability
- Reasonable costs for replacement services if you cannot perform certain duties due to your car accident injury, including childcare, home cleaning, and yard work.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering in certain circumstances
- Mental anguish in some cases
- Loss of companionship in certain cases
Punitive damages are awarded to the injury victim and are meant to punish the at-fault party to deter other people from causing similar serious accidents in the future. They’re not common in car accident cases, but can sometimes be awarded if the conduct that caused your injury was especially egregious.
What types of compensation are available?
In general, you will be compensated for your accident either in the form of a settlement agreement or a jury verdict.
The insurance company for the at-fault driver normally makes a settlement offer, which is a one-time payment for all of your accident-related expenses, including future ones. Once you accept a settlement offer, you cannot ask for any additional money for your accident ever again, even if your expenses increase dramatically in the future.
If you decide to not accept a settlement offer – or you are not offered one – you can choose to pursue the compensation you deserve in the form of a jury verdict. To obtain a jury verdict, you must file a lawsuit in response to your car accident seeking damages.
After you file a lawsuit, your case may eventually go to court – but you can still settle at any time. If you win your court case, a jury will award a verdict in your favor. How much money you receive is up to the jury to decide. This is why it’s important that you have a lawyer representing you who understands how the car accident lawsuit process in Dallas works.
How does Texas’ at-fault car insurance system work?
Like most states, Texas has an at-fault car insurance system. That means the at-fault party is responsible for paying for your car accident-related expenses if you did not cause your collision. What makes Texas different from some other at-fault car insurance states is Texas has a “modified comparative fault” system, also sometimes referred to as “modified comparative negligence.”
Under Texas’ modified comparative fault system, you can be compensated by the at-fault party as long as you are not at fault by 51 percent or more. However, if you were partially at fault, the compensation you receive will be reduced by that amount.
For example, if your car accident claim is valued at $100,000 and you are found to be 20 percent at fault, you would only receive $80,000 since your injury claim would be reduced by 20 percent. This is why it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side who understands how Texas’ modified comparative fault system works.
Who’s responsible for paying for my accident?
If another driver caused your accident in Texas, the at-fault party (and their insurance company) is responsible for paying for all your accident-related expenses. You may be able to seek financial compensation directly from the at-fault driver in certain cases, especially if the driver does not have insurance and you are seeking compensation for an uninsured driver accident – but usually, the goal is to get compensation from the insurance company.
But just because the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for your accident doesn’t mean you will automatically receive the money you rightfully deserve. Often, the other driver’s insurance company will do everything they can to reduce or even deny your injury claim.
If this happens, it’s critical that injury victims take strong legal action right away. That way, they can demand the money they deserve for their accident – and not have to pay such expenses out of pocket. That’s why it’s important for injury victims to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about their legal options.
Can other parties pay for my accident?
Depending on the circumstances of your car accident, you may be able to seek financial compensation from other sources. In particular, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking damages (compensation) from:
- Vehicle manufacturer or car parts manufacturer – Such companies may be responsible for compensating you for your accident if a defective car part played a role in causing your car accident. Defective brakes and tire blowouts are especially common and often occur due to mistakes made by car part manufacturers.
- Liquor store, bar, or restaurant – If a drunk driver caused your accident, you might be able to seek financial compensation against a bar, restaurant, or liquor store if one of these businesses sold alcohol to the driver who was clearly intoxicated at the time. In such cases, you may be able to file a “dram shop” claim against the business.
These are just a few additional sources you might be able to seek compensation from for your accident. Other funding sources might be possible. That’s why it’s critical that you talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options.
Know your rights. Contact our law firm
The clock is running. In Texas, you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit or take other legal action. This is due to the state’s statute of limitations deadline for taking legal action in response to your accident.
Don’t miss out on your opportunity to demand the money you rightfully deserve. Contact us and schedule your free case evaluation with a Dallas car accident lawyer at our law firm. Our focus is simple – to secure the maximum financial compensation for you.
The Marye Law Firm – we’re serious about winning your case.