Houston auto accidents lawyers are well aware that Texas is a “fault” insurance state. That means the laws regarding auto insurance requirements are stricter for motorists who register their car in Texas, including possible penalties for drivers who fail to purchase the minimum permissible automobile insurance coverage.
What is a Fault State?
A fault state, according to the Texas Department of Insurance, compels drivers who cause an accident to pay for their own damages as well as any damages they have inflicted on another driver, passengers or pedestrians. In the event of a motor vehicle accident, injured parties have the right to file a “first-party” claim with their insurance companies. They can subsequently choose to file for compensation from the insurer of the driver who was at fault in what is called a “third-party” claim. Houston car crash attorneys refer to the insurance company as the “second party” in these situations. Any people injured in the crash can decide to take the case to court by filing a lawsuit seeking monetary reparation for injuries, damage to property, suffering, pain, emotional distress, rehabilitation costs as well as loss of present and future wages.
States that have “no-fault” instead of “fault” insurance require the insurer to pay the damages no matter who was the cause of the mishap. To step outside the no-fault system, an injured person must meet certain threshold requirements. In some states, the threshold is determined by the monetary amount of damages, and other states base the threshold on the severity of the victim’s injuries. States that have both a monetary and severity threshold will allow a liability lawsuit if either threshold is reached. No-fault insurance does not pay damages for pain, suffering, lost opportunities or inconvenience. It will also not pay for victims’ medical bills or lost income greater than the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefit limits on their insurance policy.
Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements for Drivers
Texas drivers must carry enough auto insurance to meet the state’s financial responsibility requirement. The minimum coverage permitted is $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 for bodily injury per accident if two or more people are injured and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This is referred to as “30/60/25” coverage. Your 30/60/25 coverage will pay the medical bills, property damage bills and other costs if you are determined to be at fault for a collision in which another person is injured and/or their property is damaged.
You may carry extra insurance in the event of a very bad accident resulting in very large bills. It is wise to protect yourself by over-insuring. If a court decides that you were at fault, you could be responsible for any expenses that exceed your insurance policy’s limits. Having higher insurance limits can protect your personal property and assets if you cause an accident.
The law requires that you carry documents in your vehicle proving that you have car insurance in the event of a traffic stop by a law enforcement officer. Not having your proof of insurance with you can result in fines or other penalties if you are involved in a crash.
Texas Laws for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Motorists are not required to carry insurance protecting them from uninsured or underinsured drivers, but insurance companies must offer Texas drivers such coverage. A $250 deductible applies to any of these claims. After that is paid, the insurance company will pick up the balance of the bills.
State laws vary quite a bit, so if you are new to Texas, you should contact a lawyer with experience handling auto accident claims Houston. The attorney can explain the laws of Texas and your responsibilities under them.