If you were in a car accident in Houston, TX, you likely have a million thoughts and concerns running through your mind. A common question many drivers have is, “Will the other driver sue me?” Instead of letting worries overwhelm you, contact a car accident law firm and seek legal advice from professionals who can put your mind at ease.
Can You Be Personally Sued Because of a Car Accident?
Since Texas is an “at-fault” state, you will be liable for the personal and property damage the other driver or drivers sustained if you are found responsible for the accident. That means there is a possibility that you could be personally sued following an automobile accident. The potential for the other driver to bring a lawsuit against you is one of the reasons it is crucial to contact a car accident lawyer immediately following a collision where you are wholly or partially at fault.
Without the help of a car accident law firm, you may have difficulty navigating any claims filed against you by the other driver and find yourself facing repercussions that are too severe for your role in the accident. Drivers may face lawsuits after a collision because of the following reasons:
Inadequate Insurance Coverage
Texas law requires you to have automobile insurance that covers a minimum of $30,000 for one person’s bodily injuries and a minimum of $60,000 for multiple people’s physical injuries. In addition, your insurance will also need to cover at least $25,000 in property damages.
Suppose you do not have insurance that meets these requirements. In that case, you will be responsible for paying for the damages personally and likely experience consequences such as fines and vehicle impoundment.
Insurance Company Conflicts
Both drivers’ insurance companies will be involved in the claims process after an accident. Your insurance provider will pay the other driver’s medical bills and property damage if you are found to be at fault in the collision.
Unfortunately, sometimes insurance companies undervalue claims or deny liability. If your insurance company refuses to pay some, or all, of the other driver’s claim, the other driver may sue you for their damages since they cannot file a lawsuit against your insurance company.
Slow-Moving Insurance Companies
Sometimes insurance companies put off paying an accident victim’s hospital bills and lost wage claims for an extended period. This delay can force the victim to file a lawsuit against you if they have bills piling up and no way to pay them.
If your insurance company offers the victim a fair settlement and compensates them promptly, you will likely not run into this issue. However, many insurance companies delay paying victims, which can negatively impact the at-fault driver.
Find an Independent Car Accident Law Firm in Houston, TX
When you are sued following a collision, your insurance company will typically assign you an insurance defense attorney. While the insurance company’s lawyer is technically handling your case, it’s critical to remember that their job is to protect the insurance company’s interests, not look out for you. Therefore, they will be approaching the lawsuit intending to pay the victim as little as possible, regardless of whether that is ethically correct or damaging to you.
The only way you can be sure someone is looking out for your interests is by hiring a lawyer from a car accident law firm to represent you in the lawsuit. Having unbiased legal counsel can prevent you from becoming collateral damage if your insurance company decides to give the other driver the runaround.
Being Sued After an Accident: FAQ
How Do I Keep From Being Sued?
While you cannot keep a car accident victim from suing you, you can reduce your chances of causing a collision. The majority of car accidents can be prevented by driving responsibly, following the rules of the road, avoiding distractions, and refraining from driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
If you are concerned about the potential of a lawsuit being brought against you, purchasing more car insurance can provide you with peace of mind. With higher insurance coverage, there is a greater likelihood that your insurer will completely cover the other driver’s injuries.
What Do I Do After Being Served With a Lawsuit?
Once you have been served with a lawsuit, you must report the suit to your insurance company. They may have a defense attorney they will assign to your case, or you may need to hire a lawyer. Hiring your own lawyer can be wise, even if they give you an attorney. However, before you do so, you will want to ensure that hiring independent counsel will not void any agreements you have with your insurance company.
You will have to file an answer against the lawsuit on time; otherwise, the court assumes you are admitting to the other side’s claim. In Texas, you have until 10:00 a.m. on the first Monday that falls 20 days after the date you were served with the lawsuit. That means if you were served on the first of the month, a Saturday, you must file by 10:00 a.m. on Monday, the 24th.
What Happens If I Don’t Have Insurance?
The Texas financial responsibility act requires you to meet minimum insurance requirements. If you fail to do so, you will need to hire an attorney to represent you during the lawsuit, and you will be responsible for paying their fees yourself. While you are allowed to represent yourself in the state of Texas, choosing to do so will only make your situation more complicated.
If you don’t file the paperwork by the deadline, you can have a default judgment taken against you. You will be expected to know and abide by all the laws in the courtroom, and the victim’s lawyers will not be able to offer you any guidance since they represent the opposing party. Unless you have an exceptional understanding of Texas laws surrounding car accidents and personal injury law, choosing to represent yourself will go poorly.
What Damages Can I be Sued for in a Collison Lawsuit?
In Texas, there is no limit to the compensation a victim can receive for damages in a collision claim. Damages are the losses the victim suffered from the accident. Economic damages are the financial losses the victim experienced due to the crash, and non-economic damages represent the pain and suffering that occurred due to the incident.
Some damages commonly sued for in car accident lawsuits include:
- Cost of medical care and treatment
- Lost wages
- Damage to vehicle and personal property
- Decreased earning capacity
- Loss of quality of life
- Scarring, disabilities, and disfigurement
Can You be Sued After an Insurance Settlement?
Once victims have agreed to a settlement, they cannot typically file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. An exception to this rule would be if the defendant (the at-fault driver) committed fraud or behaved coercively.
This occurrence is rare and would not surprise you since you would know that you had committed fraudulent acts. As long as you have behaved ethically during the claims process, you can relax once the other driver has agreed to a settlement from your insurance company and feel confident that you will not be facing a personal lawsuit.
Experienced Car Accident Attorneys in Houston, TX
It’s vital to seek legal advice following any car accident. However, finding a lawyer to represent you should be your priority if you’re the responsible party. A car accident attorney can provide you with the support and representation you need to defend yourself against unjust lawsuits.
Hiring a skilled legal team ensures you don’t end up paying for damage that isn’t your responsibility. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC to discuss your situation today.