Car Accident Lawyer Houston, TX
Attorneys for Car Accidents in the Houston and Katy Area
A Houston car accident lawyer can help put your life back together and get you on the today to recovery if you have been injured in a car wreck. Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. today for a free consultation. 1-800-298-0111.
Over 36,000 people die in car accidents each year across the United States. In 2019, there were 439,388 auto accidents in Texas resulting in 1,876 deaths, 10,054 serious injuries, and 56,112 known non-incapacitating injuries according to a report from the Texas Department of Transportation. 68,682 of those traffic accidents occurred in the Houston city limits. If you live and/or work in Houston, odds are you have been or will be involved in a car accident. With more than 40 years of experience, the auto accident lawyers at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. have helped thousands of clients get the compensation they deserve for their injuries and property damage.
Why Choose Us?
We handle car accidents every day. We offer a free consultation and we charge no fees unless we make a recovery. We will fight to make a recovery for you while assisting you to obtain the medical care you need to get on with your life. Watch the video below to learn more:
Types of Auto Accident Injuries & Claims Handled By Our Law Firm
Not all car accidents are the same. They vary depending upon the vehicle you are operating, the vehicle the other driver is operating, the insurance coverage available or the driver’s mental state and/or degree of intoxication. Not all lawyers you hire for car accidents and injuries are the same either. Don’t you want an accident attorney with decades of experience handling the tricks that adjusters will throw at you? Here are some of the different types of automobile accidents we handle:
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Dram Shop Accidents
- Motorcycle Collisions
- Uber/Lyft or Rideshare Accidents
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help?
Having an auto accident lawyer on your side can be the difference between winning and losing your case. A Houston car accident lawyer can also help make your road to recovery easier by:
- helping you get the medical care you need
- cutting through the red tape and filing all available insurance claims
- pursuing compensation for all of your losses
- locating the responsible parties
- investigating the causes of the wreck
- proving liability
- drafting a demand letter
- negotiating a settlement
- negotiating liens
- litigating the case
Why Should I Hire a Local Car Accident Attorney?
If you were involved in an auto accident and suffered injuries or property damage, you cannot leave it up to the other party or their insurance company to compensate you. It is their job to devalue your case.
Sadly, many people wait to talk to an automobile accident lawyer until after they have attempted to handle the case on their own with a friendly insurance adjuster who promised they would take full responsibility. These same adjusters will often return with an offer that doesn’t even begin to cover your out-of-pocket expenses and may stop returning your emails and calls when you do not sign your rights away.
These tactics cause you to delay in collecting and preserving critical evidence you should have gathered from the start. Even worse, they cause you to delay in getting the medical care you need. The absence of evidence and the delays are then used against you to justify a low-ball offer when it comes time to settle the case. This is why you should get a lawyer involved right away, especially when you have sustained injuries. Even what seems to be a simple rear-end accident can be a battle with insurance companies in Texas. Read Who is at Fault in a Rear-End Accident?
How Much Does Hiring a Lawyer Cost?
Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. work on a contingency fee and way pay all the litigation expenses upfront. This means that you pay nothing unless we make a recovery in your case. And, if we do not make a recovery in your case, we eat our expenses. Upon a recovery, in addition to our expenses being reimbursed out of the proceeds, our attorney’s fee is 33.33% if we settle prior to filing a lawsuit, 40% if a lawsuit must be filed up through trial, and 45% if the case goes to trial and goes up on appeal.
Contact a Houston personal injury lawyer at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., today for a free consultation.
What Should I Do Right After a Car Wreck?
The six steps you should take after a car wreck are:
- Assess the injures and seek medical care
- Move the vehicles out of the road if it can be done safely
- Contact the police and request a report be done
- Photograph the scene and injuries
- Obtain a copy of the police report
- Call a car accident attorney
Should I Seek Medical Attention Immediately After a Wreck?
If you are involved in an automobile accident you need to assess all injuries and determine if an ambulance is required. Often, individuals experience a rush of adrenaline after a car accident and do not feel their injuries until time has passed. Remaining safe after a car accident is the most important thing, so any injuries sustained should be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Should I Move the Vehicle Out of the Roadway?
If you can steer it, clear it. That is the rule in Texas. If you can safely move the vehicles out of traffic to a safe area, you should do so. If you cannot do so safely, you can wait for the police to arrive to assist in this process.
Should I Contact the Police After a Car Wreck?
Always call the police when an accident occurs. Regardless of the severity, be sure to request an accident report. This helps ensure no facts about the accident can be skewed. Some habitually bad drivers use fake insurance information and may change their story after the accident. This is just one step you can take to protect yourself from this kind of negligence.
What Should I Photograph After an Auto Collision?
Take photos of everything involved in the car accident. Use your phone to take pictures of the following:
- The vehicles
- The defendant
- The other driver’s insurance card and driver’s license
- The police officer’s name and badge number
- License plates
- Business cards of the wrecker driver, witnesses, and officer
One of the great aspects of smartphones is having a quick convenient way to document things at your fingertips.
From property damage to insurance cards, documenting each aspect of the initial accident can help ensure you are fully protected. Storing the information in your phone can be beneficial since little things like cards and written notes can be lost easily in the wake of a car accident. Additionally, you should just down in the notes section of your phone the name, address, and phone number of any eyewitnesses.
How Can I Obtain a Crash Report?
All police reports associated with car accidents in Texas eventually end up in the Texas Department of Transportation’s Crash Reporting and Analysis for Safer Highways (C.R.A.S.H.) where you can download them online. The time it takes to get a report may vary depending upon what city or county department the report comes from, but 7-14 days is the norm unless there are special circumstances. Sometimes, you can obtain a copy of the police accident report sooner by contacting the local department that investigated the collision.
If you have trouble obtaining a report or do not have computer access, we can help you obtain a report from any city in Texas.
Download a Free Car Accident Checklist
We have created a free one-page checklist that you can keep in your glove box in the event you are involved in a collision. This will help remind you of everything you need to document when the time comes. Download the free Car Accident Checklist now.
How is the Value of an Auto Accident Claim Determined in Texas?
There is no exact formula for determining the amount of a car accident settlement in Texas. Factors that contribute to a settlement amount include:
- The severity of a person’s injuries, including scarring, disfigurement, pain, and emotional duress.
- The cost of necessary medical expenses and predictable future medical expenses
- The total amount of your property damage
- The total amount of your lost wages and lost earning capacity
- How much you contributed to the cause of the accident
- Your lawyer’s ability to present evidence and argue your case
Each accident has unique circumstances that will impact the amount of a claim. As a “fault” insurance state, the laws in Texas allow an injured person to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Furthermore, Texas law requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. However, the presence of insurance coverage does not mean a person will recover the entire amount of the policy.
How Much Do You Get for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident?
There is no strict formula for determining the value of a person’s pain and suffering. The amount of pain and suffering you can recover depends not only upon the severity of your injuries and how they might impact your life in the future but also upon other factors such as the amount of insurance coverage, degree of liability, and ultimately what a jury decides. Insurance companies do not always offer compensation for pain and suffering and may even reduce compensation for medical bills for injuries like whiplash or soft tissue pain.
The Car Wreck Claim Process
Dealing with the insurance company on your own carries many risks. Insurance adjusters must lookout for the best interest of the company’s shareholders and may try to convince you to minimize your injuries and property damage in order to get a quick settlement. Some of the most adversarial adjusters may even try to wait you out by not responding to your phone calls or email.
A knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate the claims process effectively and save you time and frustration. However, for minor accidents with minimal injuries, it’s important to know how the claims process works. The infographic below illustrates the cycle of a typical car accident insurance claim.
As you can see from the information on this page there are a number of risks you take by not having an attorney for car accidents on your side to explain all of the consequences of your actions and the decisions the insurance adjuster may push you to make.
Being in an accident and having to deal with an opposing insurance company for the first time can be both confusing and frustrating. Below is an infographic explaining the typical claims process after an auto collision:
The typical life of a
car accident claim
How Much Auto Insurance is Required in Texas?
Title 7 of the Texas Transportation Code sets minimum coverage amounts for Texas drivers at $30,000 for injury to one person in an accident, with a total of $60,000 for two or more people injured. It must also provide $25,000 for damage or destruction of property.
While Texas law requires this level of insurance, there are many circumstances where this insurance would be insufficient. For instance, hospital bills for severe injuries can easily add up to $75,000 or more, or a car accident may cause damage to several vehicles or buildings that exceed the $25,000 minimum. Still, other accidents may involve drivers without insurance at all. For this reason, we recommend additional coverage for any driver who can manage it.
Supplemental insurance should include underinsured motorist coverage and collision coverage.
It is important to remember that liability insurance only covers the other party’s injuries and property damage. If you are at fault for the accident and are also injured, your liability coverage will not compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, or damage to your car. Supplemental insurance policies include:
- Collision Insurance – this policy will cover the cost to repair your car if you cause an accident
- Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Insurance – this policy covers your injuries and property damage when you are involved in an accident that was caused by a driver without insurance or whose insurance did not cover all of your damages.
- Comprehensive Insurance – This policy covers the cost to repair or replace your car if it is stolen or damaged by weather, fire, or other incidents not included in collision insurance.
- Medical Coverage Insurance – this policy will cover medical and/or funeral expenses incurred from an auto accident regardless of fault. If you collect from an insurance claim against the at-fault party, you must reimburse your medical insurance coverage company.
What is Auto Insurance Bad Faith?
An insurance company is prohibited from engaging in certain tactics to deny or delay claims under state Insurance Codes, particularly when it is your own insurance company. Violations of these provisions are considered insurance bad faith. These actions may include:
- Making slow, late, or incorrect payments
- Denying valid claims
- Canceling policies or refusing renewals
- Denying of necessary medical treatment
- Lying about policy coverage
These tactics are unethical and often illegal. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) sets strict standards for insurance companies that protect consumers and accident victims. If you believe an insurance company has treated you unfairly, you can file a formal complaint with the TDI.
Having an attorney on your side can help you steer through these unethical tactics. At Simmons and Fletcher, we know the law and we know how to get insurance companies to pay what they owe you. Simply having a good car attorney on your side will often discourage insurance adjusters from engaging in these tactics.
Why Won’t My Auto Insurance Company Pay for My Medical Care as I Go?
Auto insurance companies often refuse to pay your medical as you get the care because it is in their best interests for you to not get the care you need timely. By doing so, you reduce the potential settlement value of your case. They also know that delays and gaps in care make juries second guess whether you were really hurt. Thus, stalling your case is in their best interest and saves them money in the long run.
Do I Need a Lawyer if the Insurance Company Accepts Full Responsibility for the Collision?
Accepting full responsibility does not mean the insurance company will pay you a fair settlement for your pain and suffering. Having a lawyer to advise you can keep the adjusters from getting away with tricks that devalue your claim.
When an adjuster tells you ‘we take full responsibility,’ it does not mean they will pay all of your medical bills and compensate you fairly for other losses from your car accident. Liability is rarely the biggest fight. Insurance adjusters know that just because their client is liable for causing the accident, doesn’t mean they must pay for all of the medical care you receive.
Is the Other Insurance Responsible for All of My Medical Bills?
Texas law only requires the other party to pay for ‘reasonable and necessary medical care’ that is caused by the collision. If you fail to seek medical care promptly or you seek alternative medicine instead of medical care that conforms with accepted medical care guidelines, defendants can use your actions or omissions against you to convince a jury to not award you all of your bills. Your best course of action is to seek prompt, appropriate care if you have been injured.
Do I Need a Lawyer if the Insurance Company Pays My Property Damage?
Payment of property damage to your vehicle is not an admission of liability for your personal injuries suffered in an accident. A lawyer can still fight for compensation and advise you on how not to do things that might harm your case.
Don’t be fooled into thinking an insurance adjuster is going to treat you fair on your personal injury claim just because they promptly paid for the damage to your car. Paying for property damage before denying an injury claim is a common tactic used to try to prevent a jury from ever seeing photos of the property damage. When your case goes to trial, you are typically not even allowed to tell the jury that the insurance company paid for the property damage their insured caused.
Do I Need an Attorney if the Police Ticketed the Other Driver?
A traffic citation is not admissible to prove fault unless the offending driver admits to the crime in open court. Since they usually plead no contest, rarely are traffic tickets admitted into evidence. Moreover, the fight is often over damages, not fault.
Should I Give a Recorded Statement?
Do not ever give a recorded statement without having an attorney who represents you present. Recorded statements can be used against you. Your own company’s insurance adjuster or the other parties involved may use recorded statements to deny your claim or trick you into settling your claim before you know all of the long-term effects associated with your injuries.
Can the Insurance Company Refuse to Disclose Policy Limits?
Each state is different. In many states like Texas, insurance companies do not have to tell you how much insurance coverage their insured has unless you file a lawsuit and force them to disclose the policy limits under oath. Thus, if your damages are likely to exceed $30,000 (the minimum limits required), you may need to file a lawsuit to find out how much coverage there really is.
Do I Have to Reimburse My Health Insurance Company?
You may have an obligation to pay back your health insurance company out of any settlement or judgment. If you have health insurance, the policy usually contains what is known as a “subrogation clause.” In plain language, this means that both you and the car insurance company may have an obligation to reimburse your health insurance company out of your settlement. The insurance adjuster does not have to tell you before you accept a settlement offer that a chunk of that offer must be paid directly by the auto liability insurer to your health insurer, leaving you with little or nothing. See: Do I have to pay my health insurance company back out of my settlement?
Should I Sign a Release Without Legal Counsel?
It is best to have an attorney review all releases before you sign so that you completely understand what you are giving up. When you sign a Release, it is legally binding. When an insurance adjuster offers you a settlement in exchange for signing a release, you are giving up all of your rights specified in the release for injuries you know of now, as well as those you discover in the future. Don’t sign a property damage release until you are sure they have covered all of the damage and you have verified that your bodily injury claim is not incorporated in the release.
Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
While we urge you to hire an accident attorney to deal with the insurance adjuster for you, here are some helpful tips if you choose to deal with them on your own.
- Don’t delay. Don’t wait to get medical attention or a quote for car repairs. Long delays can negatively impact your case and make adjusters less likely to take your claim seriously. If you suspect an injury, go to a doctor immediately and get documentation of the costs you incurred and any diagnosis or treatment plans. Get a detailed quote for a reputable auto shop to repair your car.
- Get a Free Consultation. Even if you choose not to hire a personal injury attorney, the advice you receive during a free consultation can get you started in the right direction and prepare you for the process ahead.
- Avoid hostility. This can be trickier than it sounds. If you’re trying to deal with an insurance adjuster, chances are you’re injured and worried about how to pay medical bills and get your car fixed. You may be unable to work or without insurance coverage to help get you on your feet. Playing polite may seem impossible, but anger and threats will not move your case forward. Even if the adjuster seems rude or callous, try to remain calm and professional.
- Be prepared. Insurance adjusters answer to shareholders who want to increase their own profits and keep payouts low. The adjuster’s low settlement offer isn’t a personal insult. Be prepared to decline an unfair offer and offer evidence for why a larger settlement is necessary.
- Remember that settlements are forever. Once you sign a settlement offer and accept the check, it’s too late to hire a lawyer to get more money. Make sure the settlement covers your current and future damages. If you cannot return to work for some time because of your injury or require ongoing medical treatment, make sure your settlement covers those expenses.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Car Accident?
Texas law allows for the recovery of many kinds of damages. If you have suffered injuries due to an auto collision, you are entitled to assert a claim for the following damages:
- Lost Wages & Lost Wage Earning Capacity
- Pain & Suffering
- Mental Anguish/Emotional Distress
- Medical Expenses
- Scarring & Disfigurement
What Damages Can My Spouse Recover in a Car Wreck?
When you suffer a serious injury, spouses have the ability to assert claims for the following:
- Loss of Consortium
- Loss of Household Services
- Loss of Spousal Support
- Loss of Inheritance
- Wrongful Death
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Car Accident
When an insurance company refuses to compensate you for valid damages, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit. The attorneys at Simmons and Fletcher can guide you through the process of a personal injury lawsuit and get you the compensation you deserve.
While most Houston drivers have experience with car accidents, few have had to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you have failed to reach an agreement with the insurance company and believe a lawsuit is the next right step, you need to hire a qualified, experienced car wreck lawyer. You do not want to face the insurance company’s legal team in court alone. Once you contact a lawyer, here are the steps involved in a lawsuit:
- Filing a Petition
- Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Arbitration
- Personal Injury Trial
- Jury selection
- Opening statement
- Presentation of evidence
- Closing argument
To read more about the lawsuit process, please read “What Happens When I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?”
Houston Traffic Accident Laws
The statutes in chapter 550 of the Texas Transportation Code govern Houston traffic accidents and injuries. They outline the duties of the people involved and the procedures to follow to ensure you can collect any damages owed to you. The most important sections for someone involved in an accident in Texas include:
Sec. 550.021. ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH. (a) The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident that results or is reasonably likely to result in injury to or death of a person shall:
(1) immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible;
(2) immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident;
(3) immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident and if a person is involved in the accident,
whether that person requires aid; and
(4) remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Section 550.023.
Sec. 550.022. ACCIDENT INVOLVING DAMAGE TO VEHICLE. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:
(1) immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic more than is necessary;
(2) immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and
(3) remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Section 550.023.
Sec. 550.023. DUTY TO GIVE INFORMATION AND RENDER AID. The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of a person or damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:
(1) give the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;
(2) if requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license to a person described by Subdivision (1); and
(3) provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.
Sec. 550.026. IMMEDIATE REPORT OF ACCIDENT. (a) The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be normally and safely driven shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the accident to the:
(1) local police department if the accident occurred in a municipality;
(2) the local police department or the sheriff’s office if the accident occurred not more than 100 feet outside the limits of a municipality; or
(3) sheriff’s office or the nearest office of the department if the accident is not required to be reported under Subdivision (1) or (2).
Additionally, Chapter 16 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code sets a two-year time limit for an injured person to file a lawsuit for personal injuries.
Learn more about when you have a duty to stop and render aid.
Can An Attorney Still Help if I am Placed at Fault for the Auto Collision?
If you are placed at fault incorrectly, a car wreck attorney can still help you with your claim. However, you will likely need strong evidence backing up your version of the facts. As long as you do not plead guilty to the ticket, the ticket is not admissible against you in court. This allows a jury to determine who is truly at fault.
Have You Won Any Cases Where the Plaintiff Was Placed at Fault on the Police Report?
We have had success in several cases, particularly where our client is not present at the scene due to being rushed to the hospital and the defendant lies about how the wreck happened. We also handled a case commercial motor vehicle case in which Christopher Fletcher was successful in making a recovery where a semi driver lied about our client crossing the center dividing line and colliding with his 18-wheeler. It all comes down to what the facts show.
Can a Lawyer Help if I am at Fault for the Collision?
If you are truly at fault for the collision, you will not be able to make a recovery against the other driver. However, you still have the right to file a personal injury protection claim against your own policy as well as a property damage claim against your policy if you have comprehensive and collision coverage. You may or may not require a lawyer for these claims.
What Are the Top Causes of Car Accidents?
Some of the most common causes and contributing causes to auto collisions are:
- Drinking and Driving
- Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road
- Distracted Driving
- Drowsy Driving
- Changing Lanes When Unsafe to Do So
- Failure to Stop for a Traffic Control Device
- Failure to Yield Right of Way
- Following Too Close
- Malfunctioning Traffic Signal Lights
- Texting While Driving
- Vehicle Defects
- Weather Conditions
Keep in mind that there are many reasons automobile accidents happen. There can be more than one cause of an automobile collision. Juries are often asked to sort out multiple causes and apportion liability among two or more drivers.
Additional reading on accidents due to weather conditions.
What are Common Injuries Caused by Car Accidents?
Some of the more common injuries caused by car accidents include:
- Aggravation of a Preexisting Condition
- Amputation/Limb Loss
- Back, Neck, and Spine Injury
- Fractured Bones
- Disfigurement & Scarring
- Herniated, Bulging & Protruding Discs
- Mental Anguish
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Tempomandibular Joint Injury (TMJ)
Despite all the technology related to safety engineering in automobiles such as crush factors and airbags, there are many ways people are injured every day in car accidents. If you have suffered from any of the above, more information on the effects of those injuries can be found on the related injury page.
Questions to Ask After an Auto Accident
While we urge you to hire an auto accident attorney to deal with the insurance adjuster for you, here are some helpful tips if you choose to deal with them on your own.
Is everyone OK? This is usually the first question people ask after an accident and it is the most important. Check on the safety of all of the occupants in your car and the other vehicles involved as well.
Should I call the police? Yes. Though it may make more sense to move the vehicles out of the roadway first, you should always contact the police after an accident. Be prepared to show your license, registration, and proof of liability insurance, even if you are clearly not the at-fault driver. The police will need this information to complete the accident report.
Does anyone need immediate medical attention? When you call the police, you will need to answer this question first, so they know whether or not to dispatch an ambulance. If you have any doubts at all, it is best to ask for medical assistance than to refuse and find you’re injured after the fact.
Can we move the vehicles out of the roadway? The law requires you to safely move your car out of traffic, if possible. Safely is the keyword here. Pushing a car from the center lane on I-10 at 7 a.m. isn’t safe for anyone. Call a wrecker for assistance. Try to document the scene with photos and/or video before you move the cars if you can do so safely.
Are there any witnesses? If anyone has stopped or witnessed the accident, attempt to get their name and contact information. After the accident has been cleared, check nearby businesses to see if they have security cameras that may have recorded the incident. Even if they do not want to give you access to the video, make note of the business and the position of the camera in case your attorney needs to subpoena the footage.
Should I contact my insurance company? Yes! Even if you do not plan to file a claim, inform your insurance company. We’ve seen it time and again. Two people involved in a minor accident agree there is not enough damage to get police or insurance involved. Days later one finds out that the other tried to make a claim against their insurance. While one person moved on and all but forgot about the fender-bender, the other filed a fraudulent police report and insurance claim and now it’s a case of he said/she said. Always let your insurance company know, even if you don’t plan to file a claim.
Texas Auto Collision Facts
- In 2018, a person died as a result of a car accident in Texas every 2 hours and 25 minutes.
- 368 fatal accidents occurred in Harris county in 2018, resulting in 389 fatalities.
- The City of Houston had 64,126 reported car crashes with 197 fatalities.
- The City of Katy had 597 reported car crashes with no fatalities and 9 suspected serious injuries.
- There were 96,151 crashes attributed to distracted driving throughout Texas, 12,027 in Harris County. Bexar County, with 22,585, reported the highest number of crashes due to distracted drivers.
- Harris County had 3,186 DUI crashes in 2018. These crashes resulted in 121 fatalities.
What Does a Lawyer Consultation for My Car Accident Cost?
Most car accident attorneys offer free consultations. Thus, It costs you NOTHING to speak to our lawyers. You need to know the consequences of your actions before you go down the wrong path and do damage to your own case. At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., we offer a 100% FREE initial consultation. You can come in and speak with an attorney about your car accident. We will tell you what to expect and what to look out for.
At the end of your car accident consultation, if you decide not to hire us, you do not owe us a dime. If you do decide to hire us to be your car accident lawyer, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means our fee is a percentage of the recovery we make on your case. If we do not make a recovery, you do not pay us a dime. Call 1-800-298-0111 to set up your consultation today.
Texas Autonomous Vehicle Liability Issues
Are Driverless Passenger Vehicles Legal in Texas?
Texas law specifically states that ‘no human is required’ to operate a fully autonomous vehicle on a public roadway. Texas Transportation Code 545.453 further states:
1) the vehicle owner is the vehicle operator under the law, and
2) the vehicle is considered a licensed driver under the law.
Who is Liable When an Autonomous Vehicle Causes an Accident in Texas?
When an autonomous vehicle causes a collision in Texas, the most likely liable person is the vehicle owner. The owner of the vehicle is considered the vehicle driver for purposes of traffic safety law compliance, thus, in the event of a traffic violation that would be considered negligence, the owner may be held liable for the vehicle’s actions. Texas Transportation Code 545.453.
Can the Manufacturer of an Autonomous Vehicle be Held Liable When a Driverless Vehicle Crashes?
If the collision was due to a defect in the vehicle or its navigation system, then there may be a direct cause of action under Texas product liability law against the manufacturer or designer. However, under Texas product liability law, there is a rebuttable presumption that the product manufacturer or seller is not liable for any injury if the product manufacturer or seller establishes that the product’s formula, labeling, or design in question complied with applicable mandatory federal safety standards. To get around the presumption, one must prove that:
(1) the mandatory federal safety standards or regulations applicable to the product were inadequate to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury or damage; or
(2) the manufacturer, before or after marketing the product, withheld or misrepresented information or material relevant to the federal government’s or agency’s determination of the adequacy of the safety standards or regulations at issue in the action.
Only after this is met, does the injured party get to move forward and try to prove there was a product defect. This burden is extremely high and such a case very costly to pursue.
What Are the Minimum Insurance Requirements for Autonomous Vehicles in Texas?
Autonomous vehicles are only required to carry the same minimum insurance limits as vehicles with drivers in Texas. So, a passenger car need only carry a 30,000/60,000 liability policy whereas commercial vehicles must comply with the state and federally mandated requirements for commercial motor vehicles. Fleet operators may also operate fully automated vehicles under a self-insured plan that complies with Texas self-insured laws. Texas Transportation Code 545.454(b)(5).
What if I Only Have Property Damage?
If you have damage to your vehicle but no one was injured, you will likely need to handle the claim on your own. Like most personal injury lawyers, we do not take cases that involve property damage but no injuries. However, you can download a copy of our free property damage claim guide to help you get the most out of your claim on your own.
Why Do Lawyers Not Take Property Damage Only Claims?
The reason many lawyers do not take property damage only claims is that the law is pretty clear that the obligation of a party who is 100% at fault is simply to return the car to pre-accident condition. This means that if the car is totaled, they pay you the fair market value as of the day of the wreck. If it is not totaled, they pay to repair it. If you have to pay a lawyer out of the property damage settlement, you will likely not be left with enough to repair or replace the vehicle.
If you would like to learn more about filing car accident claims, please read: Tips for Filing Claims Against Insurance Companies
What Clients Say About Us
Review: 5/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “This firm is very efficient and nice to work with. I was kept in the know on every aspect of the case. I would recommend this firm for their knowledge and expertise.”
– Rebecca P., actual client.