Brian White | August 14, 2023 | Personal Injury
No one likes the idea of being sued. However, if you are involved in a car accident (or other personal injury incident) in Texas, that is what could happen to you.
Since Texas is a fault state for accident claims, the people involved in a car accident can sue the other parties seeking compensation for damages. However, being sued for an accident in Texas is different from being liable for damages. The party suing you must prove their case in court before you are legally responsible for paying their damages.
Can I Be Sued for an Accident in Texas if I Have the Required Car Insurance Coverage?
Texas drivers are required by law to purchase minimum amounts of liability insurance. Liability insurance coverage compensates an accident victim for medical bills, pain, suffering, lost wages, and other damages when an insured party causes a car accident.
The required insurance coverage in Texas is as follows:
- $30,000 ($60,000 per accident) bodily injury coverage
- $25,000 property damage coverage
Drivers may purchase additional insurance coverage in higher amounts and optional insurance coverage. It is generally in a person’s best interest to purchase the highest amount of insurance coverage they can afford. High-net-worth individuals may want to consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy to help protect their personal assets if they are sued.
When you cause a car accident, your insurance provider investigates the crash to determine if you are at fault. If you caused the accident, your insurance provider negotiates with the accident victim to pay their claim. You have no say in whether the insurance company accepts or denies a claim, nor how much the company pays to settle the claim.
If your insurance company denies the claim or refuses to pay a settlement amount the injured party will accept, you might be sued by the injured party. The lawsuit claims that you caused the accident and should be held liable for the injured party’s damages.
If a jury awards damages to the injured party, your insurance company is only liable up to the policy limits. Therefore, suppose you have minimum liability insurance coverage, and the jury awards the injured party $200,000 in damages. Your insurance company is responsible for $30,000, and you are liable for the remaining $170,000.
What Happens if Someone Sues You for a Car Accident in Houston, TX?
Generally, your insurance company hires a defense lawyer to respond to the lawsuit. You have the right to consult with a Houston car accident lawyer of your choosing at your own expense. Even though the attorney the insurance company hires represents you in the lawsuit, you might want advice from an independent attorney.
After your lawyer files a response to the lawsuit, both sides engage in discovery. Discovery allows the parties to a lawsuit the opportunity to gather additional information and evidence to support their allegations. The process could take several months to complete.
In many cases, the parties engage in settlement negotiations after completing discovery because they better understand each side’s strengths and weaknesses. A settlement would resolve the lawsuit. The case proceeds to trial if there is not a settlement.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits in Texas?
Generally, an accident victim has two years to file a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident in Texas. If the person misses the deadline, you can ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
However, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations that could change the date. Always consult a Houston car accident attorney to determine the exact date for the statute of limitations in your case.
What Should I Do if I’m Sued for an Accident in Texas?
The injured party must serve you with a copy of the lawsuit. If you receive a lawsuit, contact your car insurance company immediately. Your insurance provider should give you instructions for submitting the complaint to the company.
You must act quickly. Failing to respond to the lawsuit by the deadline in the Summons could result in a default judgment. In that case, you could be liable for the entire amount awarded in the default judgment if the failure to respond was your fault.
Confirm with your insurance provider that it will hire a lawyer to respond to the lawsuit. You need to cooperate when the lawyer contacts you about the car accident. Failing to cooperate could also mean you are liable for the entire amount of the judgment.
As mentioned above, it might be wise to consult a Houston car accident lawyer that you choose to learn about your rights. You want to ensure that your best interests are protected. The only way to ensure that is to hire a lawyer with no conflicting interests.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer to Help You With Your Claim
For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – East Fwy
11811 East Fwy, Suite 630-06
Houston, TX 77029
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – South Loop
2600 S Loop W, Suite 293
Houston, TX 77054