If you were recently injured in a car accident in Texas due to another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for vehicle damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. But how much the insurance company is willing to pay out is largely dependent on their policy limits – and how hard you are willing to fight for the compensation you deserve.
That’s where Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group comes in. Our Fort Worth car accident attorneys won’t let big insurance companies push you around. We will do everything in our power to get the at-fault driver’s insurance company to “tender their policy limits” – that is, offer the maximum amount available under an insurance policy to resolve a claim.
In this article, our Fort Worth personal injury attorneys explain Texas car accident policy limits, what happens if your losses exceed the insurance company’s policy limits, and how our experienced legal team can help get you maximum compensation.
Texas Car Accident Policy Limits
In the state of Texas, as with other states, policy limits refer to the maximum amount of money that an insurance company will pay out for a specific type of claim on an auto insurance policy. This limit is pre-set when the policyholder purchases their insurance policy and will be documented in a driver’s auto insurance policy.
These limits can have a significant impact on car accident cases because they often determine the maximum amount of compensation that a person can receive from an insurance company following an accident.
There are generally three types of Texas car accident policy limits in car insurance policies:
- Bodily Injury Liability per Person: This is the maximum amount insurance will pay for one person injured in an accident. The minimum required limit in Texas is $30,000.
- Bodily Injury Liability per Accident: This is the maximum amount insurance will pay, in total, for all people injured in a single accident. In Texas, the minimum required limit is $60,000.
- Property Damage Liability: This is the maximum amount insurance will pay for property damage caused in an accident. The minimum required limit in Texas is $25,000. This is for the damage to the property of another person, not your own vehicle.
Again, these are just the minimum requirements. Drivers often have the option to purchase insurance with higher limits, which can provide additional protection in the event of a serious accident.
If the cost of an accident exceeds the policy limits, the at-fault party could potentially be held personally liable for the excess amount. That’s why many attorneys and insurance professionals advise carrying more than the minimum required insurance.
It’s crucial to be aware that policy limits will often set the ceiling for what you can recover from the at-fault driver’s insurance. If your damages exceed their policy limits, and the at-fault driver does not have substantial personal assets, it could be challenging to recover the full amount of your losses. That’s why it is important to contact a seasoned personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if you have been injured in a car accident.
Minimum Auto Insurance Policy Limits in Texas
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, Texas law requires drivers to have at least a certain amount of auto insurance coverage to legally operate a vehicle. This mandatory coverage falls under what’s known as 30/60/25 coverage. Let’s break down what those numbers mean:
Bodily Injury Liability per Person ($30,000)
This is the first “30” in the 30/60/25 rule. It means that in the event of an accident where you are at fault, your insurance will cover up to $30,000 in bodily injury expenses for each person who is injured.
Bodily Injury Liability per Accident ($60,000)
This is the “60” in the 30/60/25 rule. It means that if you cause an accident, your insurance will cover a total of $60,000 in bodily injury expenses, regardless of how many people were injured. So if three people were injured, for example, they would collectively be able to receive a maximum of $60,000, not $30,000 each.
Property Damage Liability ($25,000)
The final “25” in the 30/60/25 rule stands for property damage liability. This means that your insurance will cover up to $25,000 in damage caused to another person’s property in an accident. This typically refers to vehicles but can also apply to structures, like homes, fences and other types of property.
So when you hear that the minimum auto insurance policy limit in Texas is 30/60/25, it means $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 for total bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
Again, these are the minimum requirements. Many drivers choose to carry coverage beyond the minimum to protect themselves financially in case of a significant accident. Remember that these minimums are for liability coverage, which pays for injuries or damage caused to others in an accident. Texas does not require collision or comprehensive coverage, which pays for damage to your own vehicle, regardless of who caused the accident.
Maximum Insurance Policy Limits in Texas
While Texas law does specify minimum insurance policy limits for auto insurance, it does not establish a maximum insurance policy limit. The maximum policy limits are typically dictated by the insurance companies themselves, based on their assessment of risk and the insured person’s willingness and ability to pay premiums.
Insurance companies offer a range of policy limits above the minimum state-required amounts, and these can be adjusted based on a variety of factors. The higher your policy limit, the more coverage you have in the event of an accident, but this also means higher premiums. Here’s a breakdown of what you might typically see offered by insurance companies:
Bodily Injury Liability
Many insurance companies offer bodily injury liability coverage of up to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident, though some may offer even higher limits.
Property Damage Liability
Property damage liability coverage is commonly available up to $100,000, but again, some companies may offer higher limits.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
This coverage, often referred to as UM/UIM coverage, is optional in Texas, but it protects you if you’re involved in an accident with a motorist who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the damages. The maximum limits for this coverage are often similar to those for bodily injury liability.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payments (MedPay)
These optional coverages pay for medical expenses for you and your passengers regardless of who was at fault in an accident. Insurance companies typically offer PIP and MedPay limits ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, though higher limits may be available.
It’s important for drivers to choose the policy limits that are right for their specific circumstances. While higher limits provide more protection, they also come with higher premiums. Drivers need to balance their need for security in case of an accident with what they can afford to pay for insurance.
If the damages in an accident exceed the at-fault party’s policy limits, the injured party may be able to sue the at-fault party directly for additional compensation, which we will discuss further below.
Recovering Maximum Compensation in a Texas Car Wreck Claim
Recovering maximum compensation for a car wreck claim often requires careful preparation, strong evidence, and strategic negotiation. Here are key steps in the process to ensure a successful car wreck injury claim:
Take Immediate Action at the Scene
Safety comes first. Make sure you, your passengers and other drivers are safe. If anyone is injured, call 911. Document the accident scene as much as you can, including taking photographs of the vehicles, damage, skid marks, traffic signs, and any injuries. Gather contact and insurance information from the other driver(s) involved. Also, obtain contact information from any witnesses.
Seek Medical Attention
Seek immediate medical attention, even if your injuries don’t seem severe. Not only is this crucial for your health, but medical records also provide key evidence of the injuries sustained from the accident.
Report the Accident
Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Be factual but avoid admitting fault or providing more information than necessary, which could jeopardize your claim. It’s also required by Texas law to report any accident that results in injury, death, or property damage over $1,000 to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Hire an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
A personal injury lawyer who specializes in car accident claims can provide invaluable assistance. They understand the law, know how to negotiate with insurance companies, and can represent you if it becomes necessary to take the case to court. In fact, it’s probably best to hire a car accident lawyer before you contact the insurance company.
Investigation and Documentation
Your personal injury lawyer will conduct a detailed investigation, gathering all available evidence, such as police reports, medical records, accident scene photos, witness statements, and possibly expert testimony.
Your lawyer will use their experience and experts to determine the total extent of your damages. This includes medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Keep all bills, receipts, and proof of lost income.
Your lawyer will likely start by sending a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company, outlining the facts of the case, the nature of your injuries, the treatment received, and the amount of compensation sought. Negotiation with the insurance company typically follows, aiming to reach a settlement that adequately covers your damages and losses.
Lawsuit and Trial
If a fair settlement can’t be reached, your lawyer may file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This leads to the discovery process, pre-trial motions, and ultimately, a trial where a judge or jury will decide on the issue of fault and the appropriate compensation.
Collecting the Judgment/Settlement
If you win the case, the final step is to collect the judgment from the at-fault party or their insurance company.
While these steps provide a general outline of the process, remember that every case is unique and may require different strategies. Please consult with a personal injury attorney at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group for advice tailored to your specific situation.
Dealing with Non-Disclosure: How to Discover the Other Party’s Texas Car Accident Policy Limits
Insurance adjusters often hesitate to disclose policy limits. They may fear that revealing the limit could incentivize the claimant to inflate the claim to match the policy limit. However, Texas law mandates insurance companies to disclose policy limits after a claim is made if certain conditions are met.
In Texas, if an insurance company refuses to disclose its policy limits, the claimant has the right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Once a lawsuit is initiated, the claimant can use the legal discovery process to obtain this information.
What Does it Mean When an Insurance Company “Tenders” Their Policy Limits?
“Tendered policy limits” in a personal injury case refers to the process where an insurance company offers the maximum amount available under an insurance policy to resolve a claim.
This means they are offering to pay the full amount of the policy limits to the injured person (or the person making the claim, often through their lawyer) in an attempt to settle the claim. Once the policy limits are tendered, the insurance company typically has no further obligation under the policy, and any additional compensation would need to come from the at-fault party’s personal assets.
For instance, if a person is injured in a car accident and the at-fault driver’s insurance policy has a limit of $50,000, the insurance company may decide to tender that full amount if it believes the claim’s value exceeds $50,000. Again, this often happens when the damages clearly exceed the policy limits, and the insurer wants to avoid potential litigation.
In general, whether to accept a tender of policy limits can be a complex decision and often involves considering various factors, including the likelihood of collecting a larger amount from the at-fault party directly, the costs and risks associated with litigation, and the financial situation of the injured person. It’s extremely important to consult with a personal injury accident lawyer to understand the pros and cons of accepting or declining a tendered policy limit.
When Damages Exceed the Policy Limits in Texas Car Accidents: Your Options
In serious or catastrophic accidents, damages sometimes exceed the at-fault party’s policy limits. In these cases, you have a few options which our attorneys can help you pursue.
File a Claim with Your Own Insurance Company
If you have certain types of coverage, such as Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company for the amount that exceeds the at-fault driver’s policy limit. UIM coverage is specifically designed to cover this gap and protect you if the other driver’s policy doesn’t fully cover your losses.
Sue the At-Fault Driver
In some cases, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver directly for the amount that exceeds their insurance policy limits. This could be a feasible option if the driver has significant personal assets. However, this can be a lengthy, complex process, which should be handled by an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Med Pay or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
If you have Medical Payments coverage (Med Pay) or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) as part of your own auto insurance policy, these can provide additional funds to help cover medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
In certain situations, you might agree to a structured settlement, where the at-fault party’s insurance pays you a certain amount over time, rather than a lump sum. This could potentially allow you to receive more than the policy limits.
It’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss these options and decide the best course of action for your particular situation. Laws and insurance policies can be complex, and professional guidance is essential to help you successfully navigate this challenge so that you are compensated long-term.
How Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group Can Help.
Texas car accident policy limits can be complicated, and you shouldn’t try and handle your claim or negotiate with insurance companies alone. Insurance adjusters are notorious for denying, delaying, and undervaluing claims.
That’s why it’s important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side who knows how to maximize the value of your claim. At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, we understand the complexities of policy limits in Texas car accident cases and deal with insurance companies daily. Our team will handle every aspect of your case, including conducting a comprehensive investigation, determining the full extent of your damages, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing you in court if necessary.
We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no cost for a consultation, and there is no legal fee until we win your case. Contact Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group today at (817) 207-4878 (HURT). Don’t wait – your path to recovery starts with us.
FAQs on Personal Injury Cases and Car Accident Claims in Texas
In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is generally two years from the date of the accident.
Yes, Texas follows a modified comparative fault rule. You can recover damages as long as you’re not more than 50 percent at fault. However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Yes, if negotiations fail, you can sue the at-fault driver and their insurance company. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your claim.
Ensure safety, call the police, seek medical help, document the scene, exchange information with the other party, notify your insurer, and consult with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Avoid giving a recorded statement without legal counsel, don’t sign anything, and don’t accept the first settlement offer. It’s highly recommended that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if you have been injured in an accident and let them handle everything.
Your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can provide compensation in if the other driver lacks adequate coverage.
You may be eligible to recover economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc.), non-economic damages (pain and suffering), and in some cases, punitive damages.https://versusinjury.com/economic-damages-in-texas-personal-injury-cases/
We will guide you through the entire claims process, negotiate with insurers, gather evidence, calculate full damages, and represent you in court if necessary. Call 817-207-4878 (HURT) for a free consulation.