A Tourist’s Guide to Car Accidents in Texas

Most travelers to Texas don’t try to cover the whole state in one trip and for good reason. Texas is a wide, sprawling state with diverse areas and plenty to see in and experience no matter where you go. The metropolitan area of Houston alone covers 10,062 square miles, which is larger than the entire State of Massachusetts. In fact, the City of Houston proper is larger than New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Miami.

car accident quizWith so much to do and so much area to cover, most tourists and travel experts agree that you need a car when visiting Texas. In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a car accident while visiting Texas, it is important to understand your legal rights an options. We can help answer any questions you have about how car insurance claims work in Texas, what areas to pay extra attention to during your travels, and how to handle a car accident during your stay in the Lone Star State.

Where Do Most Car Accidents Happen in Texas?

According to the most recent crash data from the State of Texas, car accidents, including serious injury crashes and fatalities, have unfortunately been on the rise in recent years. Based on 2021 data, one person was killed in a car accident in Texas nearly every two hours. One person was injured due to vehicular traffic every two minutes and 12 seconds, and finally, at least one reportable crash occurs roughly once every minute in Texas. Over 15,000 car accidents were recorded in 2021 that resulted in serious injury throughout the State of Texas.

Paying attention while sightseeing is especially important. Pedestrian fatalities rose by just over 15% in recent years throughout the State of Texas. Remember to always look both ways when crossing streets and to be particularly mindful of intersections, light changes, and crosswalks. The summer month of August is especially deadly, as are other popular travel times around holidays such as Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and the winter holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. The 78 hour periods surrounding these holidays in Texas tend to come with a heightened risk of vehicle collisions.

driving accidentFor sightseers, the City of Houston, Texas saw the highest amount of car accidents according to the most recent annual Texas motor vehicle crash statistics. Houston reported 66,988 car accidents in 2021 alone, with over 40% of those crashes involving injuries. The most dangerous intersections in Houston, TX are found along FM 1960 and SH 6, according to local studies. Some other dangerous areas are located inside the 610 Loop, including the Hermann Park traffic circle.

Tourists especially are at risk in some of the more confusing traffic areas of Houston. According to UH Department of Mechanical Engineering associate professor Ashutosh Agrawal, “People who are living there will get used to that intersection, but imagine the number of people who come to that region for the Texas Medical Center or for the Hermann Park or for the Houston Museum District. They’re not used to that kind of intersection.”

For tourists in Houston, the 10 most dangerous intersections throughout the city are:

  • Pease Street and Fannin Street
  • Bissonnet Street and Westchester Avenue
  • Main Street and Montrose Boulevard (Mecom Fountain Roundabout)
  • FM 1960 and W. Lake Houston Parkway
  • S. Gessner Road and Westpark Drive
  • Spencer Road and Highway 6
  • Highway 6 and Bellaire Boulevard
  • Treaschwig Road and FM 1960
  • Clay Road and Barker Cypress Road
  • Highway 6 and Westheimer Road

What is the Number One Cause of Car Crashes in Texas?

Travelers to Texas might not realize that two of the most dangerous roads in America are located in Texas: Interstate 35 and Interstate 45. On I-45 between Galveston and Dallas, there is an average of 56.5 fatal accidents for every 100 miles of roadway. The Houston area is the most dangerous, with 73 reported deaths on I-45 through Houston in one year.

With hundreds of miles to cover, drivers tend to rush on these busy highways. However, speeding is the leading cause of car accidents in Texas, above even distracted driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What many drivers do not realize is that moving at a higher rate of speed leaves less time to respond to changing road conditions and rapidly shifting situations. Speeding is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors you can engage in, whether as a visitor or resident of Texas.

How Do You Handle a Car Accident in Texas?

After a car accident in Texas, the first thing you should do is move out of traffic and into a safe location. Be careful with accidents that occur on busy roadways, and ensure that you can move yourself safely to the shoulder or another protected area.

Seek medical attention at the scene of the accident, and do not hesitate to go to the hospital from the scene if paramedics advise you to do so. Once you have done so, be sure to document the incident as completely as possible.

In Texas, it is important to exchange information with everyone involved in a collision, as well as with any potential witnesses who might be able to describe the situation as well or better than those directly involved in the crash. If possible, take photographs or video of the area, as well as any damage that occurred.

As a traveler, be mindful that your insurer might have different policies and coverage options for damage that occurs while out of state. Contact your insurance carrier to inform them about the situation and see what the specifics of your policy entail. Some policies offer “broadening clauses,” which allow them to increase your limits in order to adjust to different car insurance laws while traveling across state lines.

When in doubt, discuss your legal options with a local car accident lawyer. An accident involving one or more out-of-state drivers will still fall under Texas law, as long as the incident occurred within the state limits. A local attorney lawyer can help you understand how fault is generally assigned under Texas state law. Fault tends to differ greatly from state to state, and you may find that there are greater opportunities to recover non-covered losses for travelers who are not considered to be at fault for an accident in the State of Texas. Meanwhile, there are also greater liability concerns for at-fault drivers, especially if your insurer denies you out-of-state coverage.

Is Texas a No-Fault State?

Texas is not a no-fault state. Texas is considered an at “at-fault,” or “tort” state. In Texas, a driver can file a lawsuit to recover even basic medical expenses, unlike in no-fault states where insurance carriers are responsible for covering immediate medical costs after an accident. Under Texas state law, drivers who are considered “at fault” for the accident are legally required to pay for any injuries or damage they have caused. Furthermore, Personal Injury Protection insurance is not required in Texas. These combined factors mean that being involved in even a minor car accident in Texas may necessitate working with a lawyer.

Does Texas Car Insurance Cover Out-of-State Drivers?

Texas requires drivers to carry liability insurance, meaning that the policy a Texas driver carries will pay for damage and injuries done to the other party in the event of an accident. Texas car insurance covers out-of-state drivers who are injured in an accident. However, if you also do not carry Personal Injury Protection from your home state, you may need to file a claim with the Texas driver’s insurance in order to receive compensation for medical bills and other expenses.

Texas is modified comparative negligence state, meaning drivers who are considered to be 51% or more at fault cannot collect from the other party’s insurance. However, if a driver is less than 51% at fault, they can collect damages, but their compensation will be reduced by their assigned percentage of liability for the collision. For instance, a driver who is considered to be 10% at fault for a Texas accident can still recover up to 90% of their losses after the crash.

Filing a Texas Car Accident Lawsuit as an Out-of-State Driver

Contact a local car accident lawyer to understand the specifics of filing a lawsuit as an out-of-state driver in Texas. Our firm can help you recover your costs if you are injured in Texas, as well as ensure that the other driver is held accountable. Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for more information.