Common Misconceptions about Car Accident Claims in Texas
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TDOT), every 1 minute and 7 seconds a car crash occurs in the state, with 1 person injured every 2 minutes 34 seconds, and 1 person losing their life every 2 hours and 15 minutes. In 2021, the TDOT reported the second deadliest year on record since 1940, with 4,480 traffic fatalities.
Insurance coverage and filing a claim for accidents and injuries can be confusing, even overwhelming. Texas drivers typically harbor misconceptions about what their auto policy will or will not do. The insurance companies are proactive in trying to reduce their liability by minimizing the extent of your injuries and maximizing the extent of your fault in the accident.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a traffic accident in or around Houston, Texas, contact the car accident & personal injury attorneys at Ellis & Thomas, PLLC. Don’t let the insurance company and its claims adjusters try to lowball your settlement. We will fight for the full compensation due to you.
Ellis & Thomas, PLLC also proudly serves clients in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, and Brazoria County.
Common Misconceptions about
Auto Accident Claims
The minimum coverage for automobile liability insurance in Texas is what is known as 30/60/20. This means that to drive in Texas, you must have coverage for $30,000 for injuries to a single individual, $60,000 for injuries to all persons affected, and $25,000 for property damage.
PIP coverage is optional in that you can reject it when you purchase your policy. Texas law requires that you be offered at least $2,500 in PIP coverage for you and your passengers. You can buy higher limits if you like, but since the average auto accident injury can top $20,000 in medical and other expenses, the required minimum might not be enough.
With this basic background information, here are some misconceptions about car accidents in Texas:
1. My insurance company will be responsible for covering medical costs and damages to my vehicle.
If you don’t reject the PIP portion of your policy, you will receive minimum reimbursement for any injuries you or your passengers suffer. There is also an option called medical payments coverage that you can purchase. Your basic policy will not cover damages to your vehicle unless you add collision coverage to your policy.
Remember, since Texas is an at-fault auto insurance state, if the other driver is at fault for the accident, you can press a claim against their insurance policy. If need be, you can also sue them.
2. I was just involved in a collision but I feel okay, so I don’t need to seek medical attention.
You may not feel anything right after an accident. An adrenaline rush can mask any injuries or pain you may be prone to, but those injuries and symptoms can appear hours or even days later. It is always advisable to have a check-up whenever you’re involved in a traffic accident.
Additionally, if you need to file a claim, you will need the documentation from your exam and subsequent visits and treatment. If you wait too long to be evaluated and then submit a claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, they can use that to say that your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
3. If the accident is minor, I don’t need to report it.
Texas law requires that if an accident results in any injury or fatality, or if vehicle damage is more than $1,000, you need to report it to local police. They in turn may send an officer or officers out to do a crash report. If the police do arrive, try to get a copy of their report once it’s finished. This can be useful in filing a claim or a lawsuit.
4. I was partially at fault, but that won’t affect my ability to recover damages.
Texas law observes what is called the modified comparative negligence (or fault) rule. This rule establishes a percentage of fault for each driver in an accident.
Say you are rear-ended, and you suffer neck and back injuries, but one of your brake lights wasn’t functioning. This could result in your being assigned 20 percent (or more, or less) of the fault. Accordingly, if you win a $20,000 judgment or seek a settlement for $20,000, the final compensation will be reduced by 20 percent. You’ll end up with $16,000.
If you’re deemed more than 50 percent at fault, you can obtain nothing from the other driver. Comparative negligence is thus known as “the 51 percent rule.”
5. I don’t need to hire an attorney to file a claim.
This is another common misconception. You can certainly file with your own insurance company or with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, but the next phone call you’ll get will likely be from one of that company’s claims adjusters. Claims adjusters are professionals who are trained to protect the parent company’s bottom line, and thus they employ an arsenal of questions and techniques designed to get you to say something they can use to minimize or deny your claim.
An experienced attorney can handle the claims adjusters without falling victim to their tricks, and thus can negotiate a better settlement for you. You’ll be much better off—both emotionally and financially—if you rely on a knowledgeable attorney.
How Ellis & Thomas, PLLC Can Help
You don’t want to deal with claims adjusters on your own. If they ask you how you’re doing when they call and you say “fine” or “good,” that to them means you’re not as injured as you claim to be. Let us deal with the claims adjusters. Our attorneys have helped countless others like you pursue the fair compensation they deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in or around Houston, contact us immediately. The initial consultation is free. We’ll listen to your story, assess the situation, and advise you of your best options moving forward.