Jason Stephens | June 16, 2021 | Car Accidents
Texas is an at-fault state for automobile accidents. That means the party responsible for the collision is financially liable for damages caused by the crash. However, what happens when there are three cars involved in the accident? Who is responsible for paying your damages?
Texas Drivers Are Required to Have Liability Insurance
Under Texas law, all drivers must have minimum liability coverage in case of a car accident. Liability insurance compensates accident victims when you cause a car wreck.
State law requires that drivers have at least:
- $30,000 in coverage for injury or death to one person
- $60,000 in coverage per accident
- $25,000 in coverage for property damage
However, you can purchase higher liability insurance limits. The Texas Department of Insurance cautions that minimum coverage amounts may not be sufficient to pay damages if you are in a multi-vehicle accident.
If you do not have enough liability insurance to compensate the victims for damages, you could be personally liable for paying the rest of the claim. The victims could file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for all damages not covered by your insurance policy.
Comparative Fault Laws in Texas
Texas has adopted a modified comparative fault standard for car accidents. The law states that a person cannot recover compensation for damages if they are more than 50 percent responsible for an accident. However, anyone who is 50 percent or less responsible is eligible to recover compensation for their damages.
Therefore, the first step is to determine who caused the crash. In most cases, the driver who broke traffic laws is the at-fault driver. For example, a driver who fails to yield the right of way, crosses the centerline, or fails to stop at a crosswalk would be liable for damages caused by the accident.
However, when a car accident involves multiple vehicles, determining who caused the crash can be difficult. More than one driver could be at fault or causing the crash.
Therefore, a comprehensive accident investigation may be necessary to identify each factor that led to the collision. These factors must be broken down into percentages of fault to determine who can recover damages and who must pay them.
Examples of Comparative Fault in Action
It might be easy to figure out what happened in some accidents. For example, say a chain-reaction car accident involves three vehicles. Say the driver of the third vehicle was texting while driving. As a result, he slammed into the car in front of him, causing that car to slam into the rear of your vehicle.
In this case, the third driver would be liable for your damages and the damages sustained by the middle driver. The middle driver’s vehicle may have caused a rear-end collision with your vehicle, but that driver was not responsible for the triggering event.
On the other hand, say a motorcyclist is speeding. Then say a vehicle fails to yield the right of way and crashes into another car, sending that car into the path of the motorcycle. The fault for the motorcycle crash is more difficult to determine. If the motorcyclist’s excessive speed contributed to the cause of the accident, the rider may or may not be able to recover damages.
The determining factor would be whether the rider was more than 50 percent at fault. If the rider was less than 50 percent at fault, he could receive compensation for some of his damages, but maybe not all of his damages under contributory fault laws.
What Should You Do After a Multi-Vehicle Car Accident?
Do not admit fault or say you are sorry for the accident. Call 911 to report the crash and wait for the police to arrive. Do not discuss the crash with anyone at the accident scene other than the police officer.
Answer the officer’s questions, but do not embellish. Just state the facts as you know them without offering further explanation. While you are waiting for the police officer to arrive, try to take a video of the accident scene or take pictures. Make sure to include the location of each vehicle involved in the accident.
It can also help to ask eyewitnesses for their names and contact information. The police officers may not take statements from each witness, or witnesses may leave before the police officer arrives.
Next, seek medical treatment for your injuries and contact a multi-vehicle car crash lawyer to discuss your case. Multi-vehicle accident cases are complicated. The accident investigation is crucial.
Each driver’s insurance company will fight to avoid liability for the claim. In many cases, the insurance providers argue over liability, which leaves accident victims in the middle of a protracted insurance dispute.
Having an experienced car accident attorney handling the case can give you a better chance of receiving a fair settlement for your damages and avoid being blamed for a crash you did not cause. Your lawyer has access to resources and experts who can help establish the cause for the accident and assign blame in the correct percentages.
Your goal is to be blameless. However, if your actions contributed to the cause of the car crash, your goal is to reduce your percentage of fault as low as possible, but definitely under 50 percent. An attorney can help you if you are being blamed for causing a car crash.