The Basics of Texas Car Accident Law
There are four elements of a Texas car accident case: duty, breach, causation, and damages. The burden of proof lies with the victim (called the plaintiff) to prove these elements. In a perfect world, after we are injured in an accident, the responsible party would compensate us for our losses right away. This is not the law in car accident cases. The law says that the responsible party (called the defendant) is presumed to owe the plaintiff absolutely nothing, until the plaintiff presents proof to the contrary. You’ll need evidence to prove each of the four elements of your case. Forgetting or providing insufficient evidence on even one of these elements will result in your losing your case. We’ll explain each of these elements to give you an idea of what you’ll need to prove to win.
Duty and Breach
In Texas, all drivers owe each other the duty to drive as a reasonable person would drive. In order to prove you’re entitled to damages, you must demonstrate that the defendant did not act as a reasonable person would. Neglecting this duty of care for even a moment can leave a driver liable for the harm that his carelessness causes. For example, driving drunk, running a red light, and racing on the highway are all examples of actions that would probably constitute a breach of the duty of care.
Your second burden of proof is showing that the other driver’s carelessness caused your injuries. Meeting this burden typically involves heavy use of evidence gathered during a thorough investigation. When our Austin accident attorneys take a case, we always do a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident. We take measurements and photographs at the accident scene, as well as speak to witnesses and obtain the police report. We gather all evidence in a way that will make it admissible later in court.
Finally, you need to prove that you’re owed damages. Don’t get the word damages confused with injuries. The term injuries refers to the harm you’ve suffered—your broken leg or your smashed headlight. “Damages” refers to the value of that injury. Think about the cost of fixing your headlight and your medical bills for your broken leg, and you’ll start to get an idea of what your damages might be. Proving damages can be challenging, especially when your injuries consist of ambiguous pain or an injury which will take many years to treat. Damages must always be supported by evidence.
The Effect of Insurance
All drivers in Texas are required to carry liability insurance. Unfortunately, many drivers choose to ignore this law and don’t purchase insurance for their vehicles. Even if the driver at fault is insured, the amount of insurance drivers carry varies greatly and can greatly affect the amount that you may be able to recover for your injuries. If the driver responsible for the accident is uninsured, he will be responsible for compensating you for your injuries personally. Both situations involve their own intricacies. Our Austin accident attorneys have dealt with both cases, and have dealt with insurance policies of every value. Call us for help with the challenges of either case. We offer free consultations and there is no fee unless we win.