Man with insurance agent after car accident

Common Misconceptions About Car Accident Claims in Texas

Tormey & McConnell April 12, 2024

Car accidents are a common and unfortunate aspect of modern life, and Texas, with its sprawling highways and bustling cities, experiences its fair share of collisions. Despite their frequency, working through the aftermath of a car accident can be confusing and overwhelming. Misconceptions about what to do after a car accident only add to the confusion, leading many drivers to make assumptions that could jeopardize their ability to receive compensation or damages for their injuries. 

At Tormey & McConnell, we aim to dispel the common misconceptions surrounding car accident claims in Texas. Whether you're a Texas driver or have recently experienced a car accident in the state, understanding how to act after a car accident can greatly influence the outcome of your case. 

Misconception 1: "I can't file a claim if the accident was partly my fault."

Texas is a modified comparative fault state, meaning that even if you were partially responsible for an accident, you can still pursue a claim. This doctrine, known as proportionate responsibility in Texas, acknowledges that fault is often shared in accidents and states that your degree of fault will directly impact your compensation.  

For example, if you were awarded $100,000 in damages and were found to be 20% at fault for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by 20% to $80,000. However, if you're found to be 51% or more at fault, you will not be entitled to recover damages. 

Misconception 2: "My insurance will cover all my accident-related expenses."

While having insurance is mandated by Texas law, there are significant distinctions in the types of coverage and the extent to which they will pay out. Most insurance policies in Texas include liability coverage, which pays for damages sustained by other parties when the policyholder is at fault. However, your own medical expenses and vehicle damage are typically covered by personal injury protection (PIP) and comprehensive insurance, respectively. 

Check the details of your insurance policy, including your deductibles, coverage limits, and any exclusions. For instance, some policies may not fully cover the cost of a rental car or specialized medical treatments. If your insurance does not provide ample coverage or you don't have certain types of insurance, we recommend adjusting your plan or considering additional coverage options. 

Misconception 3: "I have plenty of time to file a claim after an accident."

In Texas, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim is generally two years from the date of the accident. This may seem like a generous amount of time, but you should act swiftly. Delaying your claim could result in crucial evidence being lost or witnesses becoming unavailable. 

Timeliness in filing a claim not only aids in evidence collection but can also expedite the claims process. In the event of a severe injury or wrongful death, the emotional toll can often delay action, but could potentially impact your ability to seek fair and equitable compensation. 

Misconception 4: "I don't need a lawyer; the insurance company will take care of everything."

While designed to protect their policyholders, insurance companies are also businesses that aim to minimize payouts. The claims process can quickly become adversarial if an insurance company disputes the circumstances or the extent of your claim. 

An experienced car accident attorney understands the tactics used by insurance companies to undervalue claims and can negotiate on your behalf. Additionally, legal representation signals to the insurance company that you're serious about obtaining fair compensation, which often leads to more amicable settlements. 

Misconception 5: "I must accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company."

Insurance companies often make low initial settlement offers in the hope that claimants, especially those not represented by legal counsel, will accept them out of urgency or frustration. However, these offers seldom reflect the actual value of the claim.  

It's in your best interest to consult with an experienced attorney who can evaluate the offer in light of your actual damages and pursue a counteroffer that better addresses your needs. A lawyer's knowledge of valuing claims can make sure you're not shortchanged and that the final settlement covers all your accident-related expenses. 

Misconception 6: "I have personal injury protection (PIP), so I don’t need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance."

Filing a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance is typically the most effective course of action for obtaining full compensation for your damages. While PIP is convenient for the immediate coverage of any injuries and medical consultations, it often has limitations that prevent it from fully addressing larger medical expenses or lost wages. Combining PIP with a liability claim can offer more comprehensive coverage. 

If you suffer an injury in a car accident, you can use your PIP to cover your initial medical bills and lost wages quickly while you negotiate with the at-fault driver's insurance for non-immediate expenses and additional compensation. 

Misconception 7: "The process is the same for all car accident claims."

No two car accidents are alike, and the variables surrounding each claim can significantly alter the process and outcomes. Factors such as the type of accident, the nature of the injuries, the extent of property damage, and the parties involved all influence how the claim is handled.  

Additionally, Texas laws and regulations governing car accidents can change over time. Therefore, it's essential to work with an experienced car accident attorney who has an in-depth understanding of the constantly evolving laws and requirements in Texas and who can provide personalized representation that can maximize the effectiveness of your claim and increase the likelihood of a satisfactory outcome. 

Seek Experienced Legal Counsel

Car accidents and the subsequent claims process are complex issues that can often lead to misconceptions about what to do after a collision. However, with the right information and a clear understanding of the law, you can make sure your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve. 

Remember, every car accident claim is unique and should be evaluated by a legal professional based on the specifics of your case. If you require legal assistance with a car accident claim, we urge you to contact us at Tormey & McConnell for a free consultation. Located in Amarillo, Texas, we proudly serve clients throughout Canyon, Dumas, Pampa, Hereford, Childress, and Borger. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to help you through your car accident claim.