When an automobile accident occurs, the driver responsible for causing the accident is generally responsible for the damage caused by the crash. This system is a fault-based system for personal injury claims. Accident victims seek compensation for their damages from the at-fault party.
Texas is an at-fault state for motor vehicle accident claims. Drivers are required to purchase minimum amounts of liability insurance. Liability insurance compensates an accident victim for damages caused by the car wreck.
What happens when you are being blamed for an accident that was not your fault? Why would an insurance company try to shift blame to an accident victim? The most common reason for blaming the victim for causing the accident is to avoid paying an injury claim or reduce an injury claim’s value.
Modified Comparative Fault Standard for Texas Accidents
Comparative fault is a method of dividing damages between negligent parties who are responsible for causing an accident. Each party shares liability for damages based on their percentage of fault.
When a victim is partially at fault for the cause of a car accident, the victim is not barred from receiving compensation for damages. However, the victim’s compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault the victim has for the cause of the accident.
The jury found that the accident victim was 45 percent at fault for the cause of the traffic accident because the driver was distracted. Had the driver not been distracted, he might have been able to avoid the collision.
If the accident victim’s damages total $100,000, the most the person could receive as compensation would be $55,000 ($100,000 less 45 percent). The person’s negligence in contributing to the cause of the accident resulted in the compensation being reduced by almost one-half.
If an accident victim is 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of the accident, they are barred from receiving any compensation for their personal injury claim.
How Does the Insurance Company Blame the Accident Victim?
In many cases, insurance claims adjusters interview accident victims to obtain more information about the accident. The claims adjuster may gain permission to record the conversation. In other cases, the claims adjuster might request a written statement from the accident victim.
During the conversation, the adjuster might ask numerous questions about the victim’s habits. The adjuster might ask the victim to describe a typical day. He may also ask the victim to go through what happened the day of the accident, beginning with what time the person woke up and got out of bed.
The questions might seem more like idle conversation than questions related to the car accident. However, these questions elicit information from the accident victim that the company might use to blame the accident on the victim.
It is best to avoid talking to an insurance adjuster until you have a chance to talk with a car accident lawyer. Giving a written or recorded statement can lock you into a set of facts that you might not be able to correct later in the case.
How Can a Lawyer Help You?
Many people are unfamiliar with the laws governing personal injury claims. They are also not aware of the tactics and tricks used by insurance adjusters to gain information that could be used against the victims. Lawyers help accident victims avoid mistakes and errors that could benefit the insurance company’s plan to blame the victim.
Lawyers handle all communications with the insurance company. If the insurance company requires information to process a claim, it must contact the victim’s personal injury lawyer instead of the victim.
In addition to handling all communications with the insurance provider, a lawyer also investigates the cause of the car accident. An attorney collects and analyzes the evidence to determine how the car wreck occurred and who was responsible for each factor contributing to the accident.
By gathering evidence that proves the other driver caused the accident, an attorney makes it much more difficult for an insurance company to blame the accident victim. Steps that an attorney might take when investigating an accident include:
- Requesting copies of the accident reports and police reports
- Interviewing and taking statements from eyewitnesses
- Discussing the victim’s injuries with physicians and medical providers
- Searching for video evidence of the crash, such as traffic videos and video from nearby surveillance cameras
- Working with accident reconstructionists and other experts to determine the cause of the accident
- Gather evidence from vehicle data recorders
The steps that the attorney might take during the investigation depends on the case. Insurance companies have enormous resources that accident victims do not have to investigate a case. However, the accident victim can even the playing field by hiring a personal injury attorney who has the resources, skills, and experience to take on a large insurance company.
Why is it Important to Fight Allegations of Fault for an Accident?
Accident victims can sustain severe injuries because of an accident. Some accidents result in catastrophic injuries and permanent impairments. The damages from a car crash can be extensive.
If you are injured in an automobile accident, you deserve full compensation for all damages. The types of damages recoverable in a personal injury case include:
- Medical expenses and costs
- Cost of occupational, physical, vocational, and other therapies
- Loss of wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, benefits, and other income
- Decreases in earning potential because of permanent impairments
- Physical pain and suffering
- Disabilities, scarring, impairments, and disfigurements, including amputations, brain damage, and spinal cord injuries
- Mental anguish and emotional suffering
- Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life
- Other expenses related to your injuries and recovery
A lawyer understands how to secure the full value of your pain and suffering damages. Your attorney works with you to document your damages to ensure that all financial losses and other damages are included in a settlement demand.
Money cannot undo the damage caused by a negligent driver. It cannot fully compensate you for the pain and suffering you experience because of the accident and your injuries. However, a financial award can reimburse for losses and provide resources for you and your family to move forward.
Comparative Negligence Can Also Apply in Other Personal Injury Cases
The theory of comparative fault is not exclusive to motor vehicle accidents. An insurance company might try to blame a person for contributing to a slip and fall accident, dog bite injury, boating accident, defective product injury, or workplace injury.
Comparative fault could be used in any personal injury case to reduce the amount of compensation the victim might receive for their injury claim.
Contact Our Texas Personal Injury Lawyers if You Are Blamed for an Accident
If you are being blamed for an accident, contact a Texas personal injury lawyer for help. Most lawyers offer free consultations. You can get the information you need to protect your best interests and legal rights as you seek compensation for a personal injury claim.