The Fault System - Who is at fault in the event of a car accident and what does an "at-fault" state mean?
In Texas, drivers pay for the accidents they cause. If you are injured in a car accident, you have three options for getting paid for your injuries. First, you can file a claim with your own insurance company. This is called a “first-person” claim. You may also file a claim with the other driver's insurance company in what is known as a “third-party” claim.
Your third option is to take the other driver to court and try to prove that they were at fault in the accident. In your lawsuit, you can seek money damages for your injuries, for your pain and suffering, and for damage to your property.
Some states are “no-fault” states. This means that if there is an accident, a driver's no-fault insurance pays for their medical expenses and certain other damages (except car repairs) regardless of who was at fault. Under the no-fault system, you can’t be sued for causing the accident except in special circumstances, such as when a person is killed or seriously injured in the accident. Texas is an at-fault state, so this doesn’t apply.
Statute of Limitations
If you decide to sue the other driver, it’s important to know the statute of limitations on your claim. That is, how long after the accident you have to start your lawsuit. In Texas, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file your initial claim in the civil court system.
You should also know that Texas uses “comparative fault.” Texas is a “51-percent modified comparative fault” state. That means that if you are injured in an accident that was partially your fault, you can still sue for payment. If you are 51 percent or more at fault in the accident, your claim can be denied. If you are 50 percent or less at fault, your claim is still valid. For example: a person who gets into a car with a driver who is visibly drunk will probably bear some percentage of the fault for his or her own injuries.
If you have questions about whether you can or should sue after an auto accident, contact the lawyers at Justinian and Associates today.