I've been in a car accident - what now?     Free e-Book     Get your copy

Guide to Filing a Lawsuit after a Car Accident in Texas

Want to sue after a car accident? See what lies ahead in Texas

Must-know items if you’re hurt in a car accident in Texas and wanting to file suit

Getting into a car accident is an awful thing, no matter where you are. But if you have been in a Texas car accident, there are things that you must know right away.

In Texas, there is a specific legal process to follow after a car accident. The closer you stick to the guidelines we lay down here, the better your chances of prevailing in a personal injury settlement or lawsuit.

Deal with the immediate aftermath

There are two absolutely critical items you need to do right off the bat after the crash:

  • Call the police and file a police report.
    Texas law requires that a crash report – Form CR-2 – be filed if there is an accident that happens where there is injury or death, or if property damage exceeds $1000. If for some reason the police do not come to the accident scene, you would need to go to the nearest police station to file.

  • Get medical attention if there is any chance whatsoever that you have been injured.
Enjuris Tip: Did you understand how important these two things are? Please do both! If you fail to do either, you could seriously screw up your potential Texas legal claim later.

The police might issue a ticket to the other driver if they caused the wreck. They also will write an accident report that might provide crucial evidence to establish liability.

Always call your car insurance company after an accident, even if the other driver caused it. Tweet this

As far as seeing a doctor, this is essential so that you can have any injuries treated. And, your injuries must be documented immediately after a crash by a Texas physician.

Nothing proves your injuries to an insurance company, or a Texas civil court judge and jury, like a written statement from your doctor.

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

If the other party did not stop after the accident, they may have just committed a third degree felony in Texas.

Call your insurance company – deadlines to pay your claim

Call your car insurance company and tell them what happened. Always do so, even if you are 1000% sure the other guy caused the wreck. You might need your insurance company to help if the other driver lacks insurance or is underinsured, and especially if it was a hit and run.

Enjuris Tip: You will usually exchange insurance information with the other driver. What should you do with that? How do you handle the other driver’s insurance company?

However, you should not provide any written or recorded statement to any insurance company at this point. If there are serious property and personal injuries involved, you will want to be represented by a Texas personal injury attorney when you make any statements.

Texas law states that the insurance company must respond after receiving your claim in writing. If your insurance company agrees to pay your claim, it must do so within five business days.

(Maybe) file a lawsuit

With your attorney talking to the auto insurance companies all along this process, there may be a settlement before a lawsuit is filed. We’ll get to that. But let’s assume that you decide to file suit for compensation for your damages, including:

  • Personal property damage – your car may have serious damaged or be ruined.

  • Medical bills – if you have suffered broken bones, head trauma or other serious injuries, your doctor and hospital bills could run into the tens of thousands of dollars. (Learn options for paying bills in the meantime.)

  • Lost wages – anyone with major car crash injuries is entitled to recover lost wages past, present and future in Texas.

  • Noneconomic damages that can include physical pain and suffering, mental or emotional pain/anguish; loss of consortium, or the ability to have marital relations.

  • Punitive damages if the conduct of the defendant was particularly reckless. However, Texas law states that the punitive damage award cannot be greater than four times the amount of actual damages, or $200,000. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in Texas courts.

To file suit, you have to file in the Texas civil court for the jurisdiction where the crash happened, or where the defendant resides. Your attorney may advise you where to file for best case 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 two years from the date of the accident. Don’t delay!

Service of process

Service of process is the act of telling the defendant that there is a claim filed against them. If more than one defendant is involved, you may serve notice to several people.

Answer

The defendant can reply to any accusation you have made and submit their own documents to court. If the defendant ignores your suit, you win automatically.

Most times, the insurance company that represents the defendant will respond to your claim.

Settlement negotiations

As noted above, you and the insurance company or defendant may settle at any time during this process. You and your attorney will negotiate with the other side to see if they will cut you a check for a reasonable amount to cover your stated damages.

Insurance companies like to avoid courtrooms and juries if it is clear that their client is liable. The insurance company might give you a fair offer in exchange for giving up the lawsuit.

Enjuris Tip: You cannot change your mind after you sign on the dotted line to accept a settlement. There are no do over’s here. So, be certain that all of your accident damages have been covered.

Trial

If the case cannot be settled, then the case will go to trial. You will need to talk to your attorney about the wisdom of going to trial. Trials can take a long time. And there always is a shot that you will lose, and you get nada. Keep this in mind if you are offered a settlement.

A car accident is always going to be a major stress or worse. But if another party has caused your injuries, you have legal remedies available in Texas.

More resources on car accidents and Texas attorneys

Have questions about your accident and the law? Get answers!
Downloads:

Free personal injury guides for download to print or save. View all downloads.


Tell your story:
Tell your story or ask a question - What would you want others to know? Tell us what happened in your accident, and how life has changed for you.

Find an attorney:
Search our directory for personal injury law firms.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.