Yes. Under Texas law, if you were a passenger involved in an Austin auto accident, you can file a claim with the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. This driver is known as the at-fault driver.
You can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance, even if you were a passenger in the at-fault driver’s vehicle. You also may have other options to recover for your injuries.
If you were injured in an Austin auto accident as a passenger, you should obtain immediate medical care. You may be more injured than you think, and injuries can worsen without treatment.
You also may want to speak to an Austin auto accident attorney, particularly before speaking to any of the other drivers or their insurance companies. It is important to understand your rights so you do not waive them or say something that can be used against you.
A passenger riding in a vehicle in Texas is generally not responsible for accidents caused by the driver. So passengers in vehicles usually do not owe any duty of care.
However, in very limited circumstances, courts may decide that a passenger’s behavior contributed to the accident.
Negligence is the legal term for carelessness. In certain cases, a passenger’s own carelessness might be seen as contributing to their own injuries:
A passenger who does not act to prevent an accident might be seen by a judge or jury as contributing to the accident (and helping cause their own injuries.)
Under Texas law, this is known as contributory negligence.
Passengers who contribute to an Austin auto accident may not be able to recover money for their injuries. Under Texas’ comparative fault rules (also known as proportional responsibility), people who are more than 51% at-fault (mostly responsible for the accident) cannot win a negligence lawsuit in Texas.
Under Texas law, at-fault drivers must pay for bodily injuries and property damage arising from auto accidents they cause. This includes injuries to passengers in their own vehicle.
As a passenger, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance.
Under Section 601.072 of the Texas Transportation Code, all drivers and registered vehicles on the roads of Texas must carry certain minimum liability insurance coverage. This covers injuries to passengers caused by that driver.
In many cases, the insurance is not enough to pay for your injuries and property damage. Texas can be a very dangerous place to drive, and auto accidents in the Austin area are sometimes catastrophic. Medical costs have continued to skyrocket, and your injuries may require ongoing treatment.
In that case, you may have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for your damages.
In Texas, when there is more than one at-fault driver, they generally share financial responsibility equal to their responsibility in causing the accident.
This is often known as comparative fault (or proportional responsibility).
Therefore you may be able to file a claim against both drivers’ insurance.
This is important, since in many cases the insurance policy is not enough to pay for all of your injuries and property damage.
In Texas, many people carry Personal Injury Protection insurance (known as PIP) on their auto insurance policies. This pays for injuries to the insured person, no matter who caused the accident.
Many PIP policies also cover injuries to passengers in the insured driver’s vehicle. If the driver of the vehicle you were riding in carries PIP coverage, you may be able to file a claim.
If your own auto insurance policy includes PIP coverage, you or your attorney can also file a claim with your insurance company for your medical bills and missed wages, even though your automobile was not involved.
Keep in mind that your PIP insurance premiums may go up if you file a claim, even if you did nothing wrong. Your insurance company may also resist paying for the claim.
When the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance, or when that driver’s insurance policy does not provide enough coverage to pay for your bills, you can also file a claim with your uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance policy (known as UM/UIM).
If you are a named insured driver on someone else’s policy (your spouse or parents), you can often file a UM/UIM claim.
UM/UIM is not required under Texas insurance law, but it can be a good idea to purchase that insurance. Many drivers in Texas do not have insurance, and those who do often carry the bare minimum under Texas law. It can be easy to wind up with medical bills that exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, particularly if more than one person is hurt.
In most cases, it is wise to speak with an Austin auto accident attorney before consulting the insurance company or speaking with the at-fault driver. This even includes passengers.
At-fault drivers are sometimes our friends or relatives, but if they were driving unsafely, you are still entitled to compensation if you were injured.
Even if you have no intention of filing a lawsuit or a claim, you can discuss your case with an Austin auto accident attorney to understand your rights before making a decision.
A personal injury attorney can also help prepare what to share with the insurance company representatives, so they do not use something you say against you.
We offer a free consultation with a seasoned personal injury lawyer. It is entirely confidential, and there is no obligation to hire us or file a lawsuit. We will listen to your story and explain your options under the law.