Determining Fault After a Car Accident in Texas
The aftermath of a car accident is often confusing and stressful, making the process of determining who was at fault difficult. It’s made even more difficult when you realize that fault is determined separately by insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, and courts of law. If you believe the other driver was negligent and caused the accident, you’ll need to prove it with the help of a Dallas car accident attorney, but first you need to understand how these three important entities determine who is at fault.
How Do Insurance Companies Determine Fault?
Texas is not a no-fault auto insurance state. Whichever driver is found to be at fault can expect to be responsible for covering the property damage expenses and medical bills for everyone involved in the accident. If the costs go above your auto insurance limits, you’ll be required to pay for the rest out of pocket, and of course, you can anticipate skyrocketing premiums. For these reasons, a good attorney is especially important.
Insurance companies decide who’s at fault by looking at Texas’s legal explanation of negligence. A driver is negligent when they act with a lack of caution compared to that of a reasonable person in similar circumstances. Insurance adjustors will research the accident, talking to witnesses, viewing any damage to the vehicles, and examining medical reports.
Your insurance company may decide to assign partial blame to each driver, splitting costs based on each person’s percentage of fault. There’s a Texas rule called modified comparative negligence that only allows a driver to recoup their losses if they are found less than 51 percent responsible for the accident.
How Do Law Enforcement Agencies Determine Fault?
A police report is created by the cops who investigate your accident. They’ll interview witnesses and drivers to get a clear picture of what happened. However, police reports don’t always state who is at fault for the accident. Even if they make their best judgment on who caused the crash and issue a citation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that person will be found liable in a court of law, though it can be used as evidence of negligence. When in doubt, speak to your Dallas car accident attorney.
How Do Courts Determine Fault?
In a lawsuit after an automobile accident, the court will determine fault based on whether the defendant was negligent under Texas state law by failing to exercise caution leading up to the crash. Witnesses will be called, including law enforcement officers who created the police report, other involved drivers, people who saw the accident happen, and expert witnesses like accident reconstruction specialists and medical doctors.
Insurance company decisions may be offered as evidence, but they do not determine the case’s outcome. In addition, police reports may be considered inadmissible because they are deemed hearsay. Once all of the evidence has been presented, the jury or judge will decide whether the defendant is required to compensate the plaintiff for their losses and injuries.
A judge or jury may take prior accident cases into consideration when making their decision, and a traffic citation may convince them that the person who received it was the negligent party. This is particularly helpful if you were injured by someone who broke traffic laws.
If you’re being sued for injuries in a car accident and worry that you may be at fault, a Dallas car accident attorney at the Law Office of Dorothy Hyde can help protect your rights. Keep any negative information you gave your insurance company or police on the scene from being used as evidence against you by calling us for a consultation as soon as possible at 214-883-1700. We offer an aggressive defense and sound legal advice to prevent the lawsuit from overpowering your daily life.