Guide to Filing a Lawsuit after a Car Accident in Texas

Must-know information if you're hurt in a car accident in Texas and want to file a lawsuit

In Texas, there are many laws concerning car accidents. The more familiar you are with these laws, the better chance you have of winning your personal injury lawsuit.

Serious car accidents happen every day in Texas.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 1 person was injured in a car accident in Texas every 2 minutes in 2017, and 1 person was killed every 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make sure you are properly compensated following a car accident in the Lone Star State.

Let's take a closer look.

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Common causes of car accidents in Texas

The vast majority of car accidents are caused by negligence, mechanical failure, or various external factors. Some of the most common causes of car accidents in Texas include:

  • Driver error. Most accidents can be attributed to this cause. Negligent driving includes speeding, running stop signs or red lights, driving while distracted, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or failing to yield.
  • Dangerous roads. If roads are not maintained properly, government entities can be held liable for accidents that occur because of this in certain cases.
  • Mechanical failure. Defective or recalled parts can easily cause an accident or make the damages from an accident much worse. Manufacturers can often be held liable for damages caused by defective parts or products.
  • Dangerous weather. Hazardous weather conditions like heavy rain, ice, or hail can cause slippery roads or low visibility, and these situations often cause car accidents.
Facing factsIn Texas, 449 people were killed in accidents involving distracted driving in 2017.

Common car accident injuries

Medical expenses are 1 of the chief damages that victims can receive compensation for after a car accident. Car collisions are responsible for numerous injuries that range from mild to severe. These injuries include:

  • Whiplash and neck injuries. Whiplash is the most common injury from car accidents, and it's caused by a sudden jerk of the neck while the body remains stationary. Neck injuries are most often the result of rear-end collisions.
  • Head or back injuries. Car accidents make it easy to receive serious head or back injuries including skull fractures, herniated disks, or even full or partial paralysis.
  • Brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can easily result from a car accident. These sorts of injuries commonly have long-term effects on victims.

What to do after a car accident

Following a car crash, you'll understandably be distracted and perhaps a little disoriented. Nevertheless, there are certain steps you should take immediately that will make your life easier should you choose to file a lawsuit down the road.

  1. Call 911. This step should always be your first priority. Make sure everyone in your car is safe and check on any others who may have been involved in the accident. Call the police and request an ambulance for anyone who is seriously injured. If the police aren't called, and there's an injury or damage to your car, you'll need to file a Driver's Crash Report
  2. Cooperate with police. When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, be cooperative and don't forget to ask for a copy of the police report for your records.
  3. Gather evidence. Before leaving the scene of an accident, be sure to gather as much information about the accident as possible. This means taking pictures from several angles and distances, asking eyewitnesses to provide contact information, and exchanging insurance information with the other driver(s) involved. Keep this information safe because it will be needed if a claim for compensation is filed.
  4. Receive medical attention. Even if you don't think you are seriously injured, you should seek medical attention following an accident. Pain can remain hidden until days or weeks after the accident.
  5. Contact your insurance company. Call your insurance company to tell them about your accident as soon as possible. Answer questions honestly, but don't admit fault. If the accident was your fault and you decide to file an insurance claim, Texas law requires that your insurance company reject or accept your claim within 15 business days of getting all the information it needs from you.

Post-Accident Journal Form
Sample accident journal/diary to help you document the effect on your daily life
Download in PDF format

Enjuris tip: If the other driver didn't stop after your accident, they may have committed a third-degree felony in Texas. Don't put yourself at greater risk by attempting to chase down the driver. Instead, call the police and describe the vehicle.

Filing a car accident lawsuit in Texas

If the car accident wasn't your fault and the at-fault driver's insurance company refuses to give you the compensation you deserve, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit.

To recover damages through a car crash lawsuit, you'll have to show that the other driver was negligent. This means you'll have to prove the following:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care (all drivers owe others on the road a duty to exercise reasonable care and attention).
  • The other driver breached their duty of care (in other words, the other driver failed to exercise reasonable care and attention).
  • The breach caused your injuries.

To file a lawsuit, you have to file in the Texas civil court for the jurisdiction where the crash happened, or where the defendant resides. Your attorney can advise you where to file for best results. Experienced attorneys know the local courts and judges, and may have an idea for the best venue for your specific case.

Enjuris tip: Texas state law requires you to file a personal injury claim within 2 years from the date of the accident, so don't delay!

Once you file your lawsuit, the defendant (i.e., the at-fault driver) will have the opportunity to reply to your complaint. In most cases, the insurance company that provided coverage to the defendant will respond to your claim on the defendant's behalf.

Once your attorney receives the defendant's response, settlement negotiations will likely begin.

Insurance companies like to avoid the expense of a lengthy trial, especially if it's obvious that the defendant is responsible for the accident. Consequently, you may receive a fair settlement offer shortly after the lawsuit is filed.

Enjuris tip: You can't change your mind after you sign on the dotted line to accept a settlement offer. So, be certain that all of your accident damages have been accounted for before signing.

If liability is unclear, both parties will engage in what's called “discovery.” Discovery refers to the exchange of information and evidence about the case between the parties. As part of the discovery process, you'll probably have to turn over any medical records related to your injuries.

The parties can choose to settle the case at any point during the discovery process, but if they don't, your case will go to trial.

Car accident damages

Remember, in order to receive compensation, the at-fault party must be proven negligent. Once liability has been established, you can recover damages, including:

  • Medical expenses. Any immediate or future medical expenses can be compensated for in a car accident case. This includes hospitalization after the accident and any therapy or medications needed during the recovery period.
  • Lost wages. You may receive compensation for any missed time at work due to your recovery from your injuries.
  • Pain and suffering. Emotional trauma is a real possibility after a serious car accident. You may receive compensation for anxiety, depression, or other similar injuries.
  • Wrongful death. If a loved one is killed because of a car accident, family members can receive compensation for funeral costs, loss of companionship, loss of income, etc.
Enjuris tip: Texas is a modified comparative fault state. This means that your damages are reduced by the percentage of your fault for the accident. What's more, if you're deemed to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you can't recover any damages.

If you're injured in a car accident in the Lone State State, there's a lot to consider. Think about reaching out to an experienced Texas attorney to discuss your case. In most cases, you won't be charged for an initial consultation.

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What does an injury lawyer do?

A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more

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