If you live in Houston and you’ve been involved in a car accident, you might be prepared to sue the other driver. Before doing so, you need to know how Texas determines fault in accidents and find a car accident attorney to take up your case. Assigning fault will have a big impact on how your case is made and who will be responsible for damages at the end of the day.
Fault in Rear-End Accidents
The majority of accidents that occur are fairly minor rear-end accidents caused by a lack of attention at red lights or in traffic. In these simple cases, fault is almost always assigned to the person in the rear vehicle. The responding officer will generally cite that person for following too close or traveling too fast for conditions, making them unable to stop in time. In other cases, the rear driver was distracted and can also be cited for cell phone use or something similar.
While most rear-end accidents do not result in major injuries or death, they can still cause sufficient harm to the driver who was hit. This is often seen in the form of whiplash, or strained neck and back muscles as a result of the impact. More serious is when the rear vehicle is traveling so fast that multiple vehicles are shoved together, resulting in compounding injuries to multiple parties. The more serious the accident, the more likely you are to need the support of an attorney to reach a fair settlement.
Fault in Left-Turn Accidents
The second most common scenario has to do with left-hand turns. Since left turns require crossing traffic, there is much greater opportunity for serious accidents to happen. In these cases, it is up to witnesses and officers to determine who was actually at fault. If the turning driver did not leave enough space before advancing through the light, the fault will be placed on them. If the other driver was trying to get through the yellow light or traveling too fast, they may be at fault.
Cases like these are far more likely to result in serious injuries and lawsuits, so it is imperative that fault is assigned properly. You will want to take pictures of the accident scene and make sure that witnesses stick around to give statements whenever possible. Even so, fault can be extremely difficult to determine in these kinds of accidents, and you may need a Houston car wreck attorney to take up your case.
Complex Accidents in Houston
Aside from those two common situations, there are also myriad other situations where a car accident turns serious enough to warrant lawsuits. If serious injury or death occurs, investigators will attempt to recreate the accident to determine what went wrong and who is at fault. Getting this right is extremely important because Texas is an at-fault state for accidents, and they use the modified comparative negligence doctrine to determine compensation. This means that officers will assign a percentage of fault to each party, oftentimes giving both parties some responsibility for the accident if it was avoidable.
From there, any settlement will be reduced by an amount equal to the percentage of fault assigned to you. Now, if the evidence is very clearcut, the officer may still assign 100% fault to the other party, but this is not usually the case. Most often, one party or the other holds the majority of the responsibility to cover the damages to the other party. Depending on the type of injuries you suffered and your insurance policy, you will be left to seek compensation after the fact.
Why You Need a Car Accident Attorney
Whether you are found entirely responsible for the accident, or only partially culpable, you will want a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Your attorney will help ensure that medical bills are paid and damage to your vehicle is repaired, and can even help reduce the amount of fault assigned to you by showing that the other party’s actions were a larger contributor to the accident.
Another important part of Texas law has to do with receiving compensation from the other party when you are primarily at fault. If you are found to be more than 51% responsible for the accident, you will be unable to claim any damages against the other person. Having an attorney can help you fight back if you feel that you’ve been unfairly punished and left without recourse.
In an ideal world, determining fault in a car accident would be as easy as looking at the two vehicles and deciding who initiated the wreck. Unfortunately, most accidents involve a wide range of contributing factors which makes it difficult to lay the blame solely on one driver. In these cases, fault is assigned and drivers are left to fight with their insurance companies over what should be covered and who should pay.