Category: Car Accidents

5 Things To Do if You’re at Fault for a Car Accident in Texas

5 Things To Do if You’re at Fault for a Car Accident in Texas

A car accident can be difficult to handle, even if the crash was not your fault. If the accident turns out to have been your fault, however, you might end up with legal problems in addition to financial and medical problems. Under these circumstances, you need to observe certain guidelines to protect yourself. 

If you are involved in this situation, you can always reach out to an experienced car accident attorney to handle your case and assist you with your claim in order to minimize your liability. Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to protect yourself.

Context: Negligence Law

Negligence is a legal term that means something like ‘carelessness.’ It is the most common basis for a personal injury claim. You will probably face a negligence claim if you are at fault for a car accident. To win a negligence claim against you, your opponent must prove:

  • You owed them a duty of reasonable care (such as the duty to drive safely),
  • You breached your duty of care (by breaking a traffic safety law, for example),
  • Your opponent suffered physical harm (in a car accident), and
  • It was your bad driving that caused the harm your opponent suffered.

Car accidents don’t always work this way, of course. You might have caused the accident by running into the street as a pedestrian, causing one car to swerve into another to avoid you.

Context: Texas Contributory Fault

Contributory fault is Texas’s way of distributing compensation when more than one party is at fault. Under the Texas system, you lose entitlement to compensation in exact proportion to your percentage of fault for the accident. You will lose 20% of your compensation, for example, if you were 20% at fault. 

Texas, however, applies a cutoff at 50%. If you were more than 50% at fault, your compensation will be zero. Even if the accident was mostly your fault, however, the lower your percentage of fault, the less compensation you will have to pay. 

5 Steps To Take if You’re Responsible for a Car Accident

Even in the (often overwhelming) aftermath of an accident, you must remember to take the following 5 actions:

  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Texas law requires you to do this in most cases. If the accident was your fault, the other driver will insist upon it. 
  • Gather information at the scene of the accident (unless the seriousness of your injuries prevents this). For example, photograph everything that might be relevant, such as the position of the cars after the accident, skid marks on the road, and even the sky (if weather was a factor). 
  • Cooperate with the police. The police will probably send an officer to investigate and file an accident report. Although you normally can’t use a police report in court, either side can use it in settlement negotiations. Be polite, and tell the truth even if the accident was your fault. Stick to the facts, however, and avoid any conclusions like, “The accident was my fault.” 
  • Seek prompt medical attention. You might have suffered an injury in the accident without realizing it. That’s reason enough to seek prompt medical treatment. If the accident turns out to be partly the other driver’s fault, you might need your medical treatment records to support a counterclaim against the other driver.
  • Report the accident to your own insurance company. Under the terms of your policy, you probably have to report the accident to your own insurance company, even if they will not be paying the claim. 

Taking these steps can protect you against some of the worst legal consequences of a car accident.

What Not To Do After a Car Accident That Was Your Fault

Following are some examples of actions you should not take:

  • Do not leave the scene of an accident. Most of the time, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Texas. 
  • Do not admit fault, even to be polite, and do not apologize for the accident.
  • Don’t yell and scream at anyone, particularly the police. Do not try to fight anyone, no matter how angry you are. “Road rage” could subject you to punitive damages.
  • Don’t talk about your accident on social media. The other side can use your social media posts as evidence against you.

At some point, you might need to negotiate your liability. Avoiding these no-nos can help you protect your bargaining position. 

A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help  

A car accident lawyer can help you minimize your liability for a collision, even if it was mostly your fault. In a best-case scenario, your lawyer might even be able to prove that the accident was the other driver’s fault after all. The best way to explore your options is to seek an initial consultation with an attorney.

How Often Do Car Accident Cases Go to Court?

How Often Do Car Accident Cases Go to Court?

If you are injured in a car accident, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking damages – at least in most states. However, the chance that your case will go to trial is minimal.

In 2021, there were over 6.1 million police-reported car accidents in the United States. That same year, there were 109,741 traffic accidents reported in Missouri, to name just one state as an example. Even though thousands of car accident lawsuits are filed each year, only a small percentage goes to court.

In a study in the early 1990s, researchers found only 3% of the personal injury cases filed when to court. Statistics are difficult to find, but it’s safe to say that most personal injury cases don’t go to trial. Therefore, your accident case is far more likely to settle than to go all the way to a jury trial.

Why Do Car Accident Cases Go to Trial?

You go to trial to settle a dispute. Insurance companies and at-fault parties dispute liability for a car accident claim to avoid paying the victim for damages. There could be complex legal questions about liability, including allegations of contributory negligence. There could also be issues related to the value of damages, including the severity of a person’s injuries or their failure to mitigate damages. 

At the heart of the dispute is money. Insurance companies and at-fault drivers try to limit the amount of money they must pay to settle the claim. Therefore, a common reason car accident cases go to court is that the insurance company for the at-fault driver refuses to negotiate a reasonable settlement amount. 

When you file a car accident lawsuit, your case could take more than a year to go to trial. During that time, your case goes through several phases, including:

  • Filing a complaint and serving the defendants
  • Waiting for responses, answers, and counterclaims to the complaint
  • Filing responses to counterclaims or third-party claims
  • Engaging in discovery (i.e., the exchange of information and documents with the other party and gathering evidence from third parties)
  • Settlement negotiations, which could include mediation
  • Pre-trial motions and hearings
  • Trial and jury verdict
  • Appeals

The insurance company may believe it has a better chance of taking the case to court instead of paying a settlement. However, as you can see from the statistics, insurance companies are not thrilled about going to court.

The Advantages of Settling Car Accident Cases Without Going to Court

For the most part, injured victims and insurance companies are motivated to settle car accident cases through negotiations or mediation. The advantages of a personal injury settlement include:

  • Settlements are often quicker than taking a case to trial
  • Filing a lawsuit, preparing for trial, and arguing a case in court is more expensive
  • Personal injury lawsuits are more time-consuming than settlements
  • Trials can last for days or weeks and be very stressful for the parties involved
  • Jurors are unpredictable and could return a verdict for the other party even though your evidence is strong
  • A jury verdict does not guarantee payment
  • The other party could appeal the jury verdict dragging the case on for years

Personal injury settlements are private. Trials are a matter of public record. Some parties prefer to keep the dispute and the personal injury settlement confidential. Additionally, when a party agrees to settle a car accident lawsuit, they do not need to admit fault or negligence. 

How Do I Know Whether To Accept a Car Accident Settlement or Go to Trial?

Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer is the first step in protecting your fights and increasing your chance of receiving fair compensation for damages. Personal injury lawyers understand how insurance companies handle claims. They know the laws that apply in your case and how those laws could impact the outcome at trial.

Your attorney will diligently try to settle your case through negotiations because that is generally the most efficient way to get you money for your claim. However, there could be legal reasons to file a lawsuit and go to trial. 

Your attorney will explain the risks and benefits of accepting a settlement versus going to trial. With your lawyer’s help, you can decide which option is in your best interest based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case.

Whom Can I Sue if an Uber Driver Hits Me

Whom Can I Sue if an Uber Driver Hits Me?

Getting into an accident with an Uber driver is rarely an easy experience. You could end up with significant medical bills, lost wages, and other types of financial losses on top of your pain and suffering. And with this type of accident, you might not be sure what your options are for compensation.

The good news is that you’ll generally have a party to file a lawsuit (or insurance claim) against after a collision with an Uber vehicle in California and Nevada. Whom exactly you will sue will come down to the facts and circumstances of the situation. The sections below will fill you in on the details.

Considerations Under California and Nevada Law

It’s helpful to note at the onset that California and Nevada are both considered “at fault” states when it comes to car insurance. Some states follow “no-fault” rules instead; in those states, you cannot file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless the accident is especially serious, as defined by state law. In at-fault states like Nevada and California, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party after a car accident. 

That said, another important consideration is that, as of now, Uber drivers are considered independent contractors in both states. This means in the vast majority of cases, you won’t be able to file a lawsuit against Uber directly in order to obtain compensation. 

However, you might be able to file a claim against Uber’s insurance policy, your own car insurance policy, or the driver’s personal insurance policy. You might also be able to file a lawsuit against the driver directly. The best course of action is highly case and fact-specific.

Uber’s Insurance Policies

Uber has three different policies in place, which vary depending on what the Uber driver’s status was at the time of the crash. 

The Driver Is Offline

If the driver is not online at the time of the accident – meaning their driver app is off, and they are not working – then the driver’s own insurance policy will apply to the case. In these circumstances, you may file a claim against that policy (or your own policy, or both), or you may file a lawsuit against the driver. Your best course of action will come down to the terms of the policy in question, your own car insurance policy, and whether the Uber driver will be able to compensate you for the accident.

The Driver Is Available and Online

If the driver is logged into the Uber app and is available to pick up a passenger but has yet to do so, Uber provides limited coverage in the form of:

  • $50,000 in bodily injury per person
  • $100,000 in bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage per accident

Note that this coverage will only apply if the driver’s own coverage does not. In this circumstance, you may be able to file a claim against this limited policy or the at-fault driver’s policy. You may also sue the at-fault driver if this coverage is not enough to cover all of your damages. 

The Driver Is En Route To Pick Up a Passenger or During a Trip

If the Uber driver has already picked up the passenger or has accepted the ride request and is en route, Uber’s maximum insurance policy will apply:

  • $1,000,000 in third-party liability
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage and/or first-party coverage
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage, up to actual cash value with a $2,500 deductible

In this sort of situation, it is likely your best course of action to file a claim against that lucrative insurance policy. But again, it is impossible to make that assessment without knowing the facts of the case.

Schedule a Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer To Discuss Your Case

If you’ve been involved in a car accident with an Uber driver, you likely have options for compensation. In at-fault states like California and Nevada, you won’t be limited to your own car insurance policy. 

In general, your options will come down to the driver’s status at the time of the crash in conjunction with the terms of your and the driver’s personal insurance policies. A personal injury lawyer can help you assess your options and from there, determine the course of action that sets you up best for a favorable outcome. 

Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, so it won’t hurt to contact one for legal advice.