With over 29 million people living in Texas, car accidents continue to impact families across the Lone Star State. Texas car accident laws were created to guide victims through the legal process after a crash, such as:
- Determining liability
- What damages you may qualify for
- How the state of Texas regulates car insurance
Statistics for car accidents in Texas are staggering, with crashes happening much more frequently than the average state:
- 4,000 fatal crashes occur every year.
- There were 15,299 serious injury crashes in Texas in 2022, with 18,880 people sustaining a serious injury.
- The annual vehicle miles traveled in Texas during 2022 reached 289.965 billion, an increase of 1.66% over the 285.224 billion traveled in 2021.
It’s smart to know Texas’s accident laws when talking to an auto accident lawyer about your case. Each crash is different and requires the expertise of an attorney to get the most out of your settlement.
How to Report a Car Accident in Texas
If you’re involved in a Texas vehicle collision and sustained an injury, call 911 immediately.
Under Tex. Transp. Code § 550.026, anyone involved in an accident involving any of the following must report to the nearest Texas authorities:
- Bodily injury
- Heavy vehicle damage where it cannot be safely driven
550.026 also lets you know what type of police department to call when making your report:
(1) local police department if the collision occurred in a municipality;
(2) local police department or the sheriff’s office if the collision occurred not more than 100 feet outside the limits of a municipality; or
(3) sheriff’s office or the nearest office of the department if the collision is not required to be reported under Subdivision (1) or (2).
If you’re unsure whether the crash caused injury or property damage, contact your nearest law enforcement agency. Texas law requires you to file a Crash Report, Form CR-2 within 10 days of the accident if a police officer:
- Didn’t investigate the accident, or
- The accident resulted in injury, death, or property damage of more than $1,000.
What to Do After a Car Accident
According to Tex. Transp. Code § 550.021, you’re required to stay at the scene or as close to the scene of the accident as possible. If the car is located away from the accident, return to the location of the accident immediately. If you leave the scene, you risk sustaining a hit and run charge.
While there, you’re legally obligated under Texas car accident law to render reasonable aid to anyone hurt resulting from the accident. Remain on the scene until authorities come and fulfill their duties pursuant of section 550.023.
When authorities arrive, exchange information between the other drivers involved in the accident if able, such as:
- Contact information
- Driver’s license number
- Auto insurance information
- Vehicle information
When talking with the other driver, keep the interaction brief and cordial. You don’t want to accidentally admit fault and risk lowering your settlement.
You’ll need witness information as well for your insurance company and your attorney. You can make written accounts about what happened or take pictures of the surrounding area. Pictures of road and weather conditions may prove helpful when proving negligence against the other driver.
Should I Report to Insurance Companies or File a Claim?
After exchanging info and talking with the authorities, report your claim to your auto insurance company. The deadline to file your claim depends on your insurance policy, but you still need to report for your accident settlement to go through.
Texas doesn’t have a law on whether (or when) policyholders should report a crash to their car insurance company. But if you are involved in an auto accident, call your auto insurance company.
Texas Car Insurance Laws
Texas law requires vehicle owners to have the following minimum amounts of liability car insurance coverage. Tex. Transp. Code § 601.053 lets drivers use a digital device to produce evidence of coverage:
- $30,000 for bodily injury liability per person injured in an accident you cause
- $60,000 for total bodily injury liability when two or more people are injured in an accident you cause, and
- $25,000 for property damage per accident you cause.
This basic “30/60/25” coverage pays the medical bills, property damage, and other costs for people injured or damaged vehicles in a car accident that you caused.
Additional Insurance Coverage
The basic liability coverage mentioned above doesn’t apply to your own losses after a car accident. You will need additional coverage for that if no one else’s coverage applies and you were at-fault. Examples of additional insurance coverage offered in Texas include:
- Collision coverage for repairs or replacement for your damaged vehicle
- Comprehensive coverage pays for vehicle damages caused by theft, vandalism, or storm damage.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides additional protection if you’re in an accident with someone who has no car insurance, or whose coverage won’t pay for your medical bills and other losses.
- Finally, Personal Injury Protection covers your own medical expenses, regardless of who is at-fault for your accident.
Texas Laws on Modified Comparative Negligence
If the other driver was entirely at-fault, they’re entitled to compensate you for all losses as a result of your accident.
If you were partly at-fault, however, you should know that Texas follows a modified comparative fault system. Your compensation is reduced by a percentage equal to your share of fault. If the case goes to trial, your damages award is reduced by a percentage equal to your share of fault.
For example, if the judge rules you’re 20% at-fault, your original settlement will be reduced by 20% of its total. This is why you need an auto attorney, because you need legal representation to prove your liability after an accident.
Is Texas a No-Fault State?
Texas is an at-fault state according to Texas car accident law, meaning all parties must pay for the damages they’re responsible for after an accident. You can make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in court.
Talk to an attorney about the details of your unique case to decide which course of action to pursue.
Texas Statute of Limitations After a Car Accident
The statute of limitations sets a time limit on the right to bring a lawsuit. In Texas, most car accident lawsuits need to be filed within two years of the date of the crash. If you’re too late, your claim might get barred from court and you won’t receive a settlement.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
There are few situations in the state of Texas in which a lawyer can extend the statute of limitations in your case. If you meet these requirements, you may be able to extend your deadline to file a claim:
- The injured victim is a minor
- The accident occurred on a weekend or holiday
- The victim has a severe disability
- Fraud was discovered
These situations change depending on your state’s laws, so consult with your attorney for more information.
Types of Damages in a Texas Car Accident
Your settlement is dependent on the amount and severity of your damages according to Texas car accident law. Most damages from car accidents fall under economic and non-economic damages. Qualifying for these damages requires evidence and competent legal representation to prove your liability after a car accident.
Economic damages are the monetary, measurable losses you suffered from a car accident. Common examples of economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Vehicle repairs and maintenance costs
- Lost income or wages
- Loss of use of property
- Lost employment opportunity
Non-economic damages are your non-measurable losses from a car crash. Examples of non-economic damages include:
IMPORTANT: Car accident victims in Texas may not realize they qualify for a higher payout than an insurance company initially offers. Contact an auto accident attorney to make sure you are getting the right payment amount.
How Much Can I Get for My Car Accident Claim?
The average car accident settlement for claims with bodily injury was $22,734 in 2022 according to the Insurance Information Institute. However, the actual amount you receive is due to factors unique to your accident.
These include the extent of your losses, the severity of your injuries, and the fault of the drivers involved.
LegalASAP Will Connect You to a Texas Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are incredibly complicated to deal with on your own. One misstep in your paperwork and problems show up in the future. Not only will an attorney clear up the complex legal process for you, but you may receive a higher settlement than if you agreed to the insurance company’s first offer.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann