What Should I Do If Someone Sues Me After a Car Accident in Fort Worth, TX?
There are about 35 accidents a day in Fort Worth, TX, so if you’ve been in a car accident, you’re certainly not alone. We all make mistakes, and you may even be responsible (or partly responsible) for the accident.
Texas is an at-fault state when it comes to automobile accidents, which means that the person who caused the accident can be held responsible for paying damages to the injured party. This is usually handled between insurance companies by paying out claims. But, there are times when a lawsuit might be filed.
I Have Insurance – Why Am I Getting Sued?
Understandably, you might be confused as to why you’re getting sued in the first place if you had insurance as required by law.
In Texas, you must carry at least:
- $30,000 of coverage for bodily injury per person;
- $60,000 of coverage for bodily injury per accident; and
- $25,000 of coverage for property damage.
You may hear this referred to as 30/60/25 coverage. Damages in a motor vehicle accident add up fast, and you may choose to carry additional coverage.
Insurance companies offer Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which covers medical expenses regardless of fault. But, it’s not required in Texas, and some people may decline it. And even if they have PIP, it may not cover all of their damages.
The Claim Exceeds Policy Limits
Insurance only covers up to your policy limits. If the injured party’s damages exceed your policy limits, they may sue you personally to get more money.
It’s easy to see how medical bills may exceed the minimum coverage requirements. And many people seek damages for lost wages and pain and suffering. All of that adds up quickly.
Your Insurance Company Denied the Claim
Even if the damages don’t exceed your policy limits, insurance companies will find all kinds of excuses not to pay. If your insurance company denies the claim or offers a settlement that the injured person doesn’t think is fair, the injured party might choose to file a lawsuit.
Your Insurance Company Disputes Fault
Don’t be surprised if you get sued even though you weren’t in the wrong. If your insurance company isn’t paying because it doesn’t believe you caused the accident, they may refuse to pay the claim. That could prompt the other driver to file a lawsuit.
If the case goes to court, under the comparative negligence law in Texas, compensation to the injured party will be reduced according to their share of responsibility for the accident. So, if the plaintiff was 20% responsible, their financial award will be reduced by 20%.
If the plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for an accident, they are barred from recovering any compensation in Texas. If the insurance company likes its odds of paying less (or nothing at all), it may be willing to take a case to court rather than settle the claim.
What Damages Can an Injured Party Claim in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
If someone is injured in a vehicle accident, they can usually seek compensation for economic damages (financial losses) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering).
Compensatory damages may cover:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
- In-home nursing care
- Home medical equipment
- Cost of domestic services
- Anxiety and depression
- Physical pain
- And more
Punitive damages are another form of damages, but they’re rarely awarded. The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the victim, but to punish the defendant for malicious or grossly negligent conduct.
What Should I Do if I Get Served with a Lawsuit in Fort Worth?
If you get served with a lawsuit after a car accident in Fort Worth, notify your insurance company right away. They’ll need a copy of the lawsuit.
It’s in your best interest to talk to a reputable Fort Worth car accident lawyer. The insurance company will have its own lawyer to defend your lawsuit, but it can help to speak to a lawyer who is more accessible and devoted to protecting your interests. Remember, your insurance company will likely try to deny the claim, which could leave you personally responsible.
And, you may have your own injuries that you need to be compensated for – whether that’s through your insurance or the other driver’s. Just because you’re being sued doesn’t mean that you are actually at fault. A good personal injury lawyer can protect your rights and make sure you are treated fairly.
What Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident in Fort Worth?
If you are involved in a car wreck in Fort Worth, you can’t know if you’re going to be sued or not. Regardless of the circumstances, there are steps that are important after any traffic accident.
Call for Help
This is obvious if it’s an emergency (call 911). But under Texas law, you’re required to report an accident if there was an injury or death, or if it looks like the property damage to any party is $1,000 or more. It’s best to err on the side of caution and call the police and stay at the scene until they arrive. They can write a formal report and help get medical attention to anyone who needs it.
Do as much as you can to take pictures and get contact information from everyone involved in the accident. Get the name of their insurance company as well. Almost everyone has a camera on their cell phone these days – so snap a few photos of your injuries, the vehicles involved, and any other property damage (such as a telephone pole or damaged sign).
Don’t Admit Fault
It’s best to just collect what information you can at the accident scene and not discuss the accident with anyone. You might be tempted to apologize (especially if you think you were partially at fault), but it’s best not to say anything that can be interpreted as admitting fault. The reality is that many accidents are confusing and chaotic, and you probably don’t know what exactly happened. Admitting fault can put you on the hook for damages that you might not be responsible for.
See a Doctor
Even if you don’t think you’re injured, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention as soon as possible after your accident. Emotions and adrenaline run high after an accident, and you may not realize you’re hurt. Internal injuries aren’t easily detected. If you are involved in a lawsuit, documentation of medical treatment is essential.
Call a Reputable Fort Worth Car Accident Attorney
If someone sues you after a car accident, contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Most personal injury lawyers in Fort Worth offer free consultations. So, you have nothing to lose by getting a free case evaluation. It can put your mind at ease and give you a good idea of what to expect.
If you think you were at fault, a lawyer can explain exactly how to handle the next steps. If you suffered any injuries or damages of your own, they can help you get the compensation you’re entitled to.