In the State of Texas, everyone in your vehicle is required to wear a seat belt at all times. This is for the safety of all – seat belts save lives. Texas takes a modified comparative fault approach to car accident claims, which means that the other driver must be found at least 51 percent to blame for the accident before you can recover on your damages through that driver’s insurance policy. Further, your compensation can be reduced by the percentage of fault you are deemed to share. It is confusing, but taking a closer look can help.
Because of the way Texas's car insurance works is complicated, it helps to consider an example. If a motorist runs a stop sign and injures you in the process, that driver is obviously at fault. The fact is, however, that the jury could also pin some blame on you for not exercising optimal evasive actions to avoid the accident in the first place – 10 percent, for example. Nevertheless, the other motorist remains mostly to blame, and your compensation will be reduced only by that 10 percent.
If, on the other hand, you were involved in the same accident but were not wearing your seat belt at the time, the jury may determine that you exacerbated the severity of your injuries and can increase the percentage of fault allotted to you – to 30 percent, for example. In other words, not wearing your seat belt can significantly reduce the compensation you receive in your car accident case.
Now Is the Time to Listen to Your Attorney – Not to the Insurance Company
The insurance company involved in your claim is motivated to keep your compensation as low as possible. That is how for-profit companies work. While you may share a percentage of the fault in your case, this does not mean you are not entitled to the correct percentage of adequate compensation. Do not be taken in by the insurance representative’s rhetoric – you have important rights.
Your Settlement Offer
Take any of the following actions by the insurance company as a warning sign that it is attempting to compensate you with considerably less than the amount to which you are entitled:
- Offering you a swift settlement for much less than you were expecting
- Denying your claim outright
- Employing lengthy delays in the claims process
If you have been seriously injured, you need to seriously consider your damages in their totality before you even think about accepting an offer from the insurance company. An experienced personal injury attorney will help ensure that your damages are accounted for and that the insurance company adequately addresses your claim.