Texas Car Accident Laws and Regulations

Andrew Dunn
Written byAndrew Dunn
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Andrew Dunn

Andrew Dunn is a veteran business and finance writer with more than a decade of experience covering the industry for publications including The Charlotte Observer and Business North Carolina magazine. His work has been recognized numerous times by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the N.C. Press Association. Andrew earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a certificate in business journalism and a minor in Spanish. He lives in Charlotte, N.C

Evelyn Pimplaskar
Evelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
  • 10+ years in insurance and personal finance content

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Evelyn leads Insurify’s content team. She’s passionate about creating empowering content to help people transform their financial lives and make sound insurance-buying decisions.

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Updated February 8, 2023

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Texas is an “at-fault” state when it comes to car accidents, meaning the driver determined to have caused the wreck is financially responsible for all damages — both injuries and property damage. State law requires all drivers involved in a car accident to immediately stop their vehicles and provide their contact and insurance information, making it easier for both drivers to file an auto insurance claim.[1]
In Texas, you have a legal right to be treated fairly by your auto insurance company. In most cases, insurance companies have 15 days after receiving your information to approve or deny your claim.[2]

How to report a car accident in Texas

More than 239,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes statewide in 2021, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, with many thousands more involved in accidents where no one was hurt. 

If you’re in a car accident in Texas, here’s how to handle it:

  • Immediately stop your car and check for injuries. If someone is hurt, care for them.

  • Move your vehicle off the roadway, as much as safely possible. 

  • Exchange information, including name, contact details, driver’s license information, license plate numbers, vehicle identification numbers, and insurance policy information.

  • Note the location of the crash and collect contact information for any witnesses.

You’re not always required to notify the police to report the wreck. However, you must call the police if one of the following applies to your wreck:

  • Someone was injured or killed.

  • The cars can’t be moved.

  • One of the drivers is intoxicated.

  • One of the drivers doesn’t have a license or insurance.

  • One of the drivers leaves the scene of the accident.

If the police are called, an officer will respond to investigate the accident. They will file a formal report of the wreck if someone was injured or if property damage exceeds $1,000. The officer may also file criminal charges against one or both drivers.

When to file a car insurance claim in Texas

If you’re involved in a car accident in Texas, it’s a good idea to notify your insurance company as soon as possible — even if you don’t believe you’re at fault.[3] Explain the circumstances of the accident, and send pictures of the scene and any damages if possible. If a police officer investigated the crash, send your insurance company a copy of the accident report, as well.

Depending on your policy, your insurance company may handle things from there. If you’re not at fault in the accident, the other driver’s insurance company will be responsible for paying for injuries and damages — and your insurance company will ensure that this is taken care of. 

However, you may be responsible for filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company yourself. If the other driver’s insurance company accepts that its customer was at fault in the accident, you may get a check to cover your damages and repair your car.

If the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t believe they were at fault, or otherwise refuses to pay, you may need to file a claim with your insurance company. You’ll need to have collision coverage to be covered in this scenario. Collision coverage pays to repair or replace your car if you’re at fault in an accident.

What is a No-Fault State in Auto Insurance?

What is a No-Fault State in Auto Insurance?

Most insurance companies will have a deadline after an accident for filing a claim. Make sure you meet this deadline to be covered. Insurance companies are required to confirm they’ve received your claim within 15 days. Your insurance company can then request information from you, including medical reports. The insurance company may also send out an adjuster to examine your vehicle and estimate the cost of repairs. 

In most cases, your insurance company must approve or deny your claim within 15 days of receiving all the information it needs. However, your insurer may take up to 45 days to make a decision, if the company notifies you in writing of the reason for the delay. After approving a claim, your insurance company has five business days to send you a check. 

Is auto insurance an obligation in Texas?

Texas drivers are legally required to show proof that they can be financially responsible for accidents they cause.[4] In most cases, this is done with liability insurance. Texas law requires that liability insurance policies include:

  • $30,000 per person for bodily injury

  • $60,000 per accident for bodily injury

  • $25,000 per accident for property damage

If you’re in a car collision in Texas and don’t have proper insurance, you can be fined up to $350. This fine can be higher if you’ve been ticketed for driving without insurance in the past.

How to Get a Texas Drivers License

How to Get a Texas Drivers License

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What is the Texas car accident statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that outlines how soon after an accident you must bring a lawsuit seeking damages. The Texas car accident statute of limitations is two years. 

After two years, you’re no longer able to bring a civil lawsuit claiming personal injury after an accident. Similarly, after two years you can no longer be sued for personal injury in an accident you caused.

Keep Reading: What to Do After a Car Accident: 7 Steps to Take

What is the comparative negligence rule in car accident cases in Texas?

Comparative negligence comes into play if the car accident is partially your fault and partially the other driver’s fault. In Texas, you can receive damages from the driver even if you’re partially at fault in the accident. However, you can’t receive any damages if you’re mostly at fault — 50% at fault or more.

A legal court may be necessary to determine the percentage of fault that should be attributed to each driver. However, an independent third party may also be used. Your insurance company will likely have policies that dictate how fault will be determined after an accident.

Who pays for a car accident in Texas?

In Texas, the driver at fault in the accident is responsible for paying for the injuries and property damage it causes. In most cases, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance will cover these costs. 

However, in some wrecks, the driver at fault won’t have enough insurance coverage to pay for all the injuries and damages, or not have insurance at all. In this case, the driver not at fault will need to file a claim with their own insurance company. 

Most auto insurance policies have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that can pay to repair your vehicle and cover medical costs. Your insurance company may sue the other driver to recover some of this money.

Who’s at fault in a car accident in Texas?

Generally, the driver who caused the car accident is at fault — and responsible for paying for the damage caused. However, some cases are more clear-cut than others.

For example, a driver texting on their phone who rear-ends the car in front of them will nearly always be at fault. A driver who runs a red light and T-bones a car passing through a green light will usually be at fault, as well.

Other accidents are trickier. Say a driver is turning right from a stop sign onto a larger, busier road. A speeding car hits the driver as he pulls out. Because the car was speeding, that driver may be found partially at fault. 

In some cases, companies that employ drivers may also be held liable after an accident. In 2020, two young children were killed near Sulphur Springs, Texas, after the vehicle they were riding in was struck from behind by an 18-wheeler. The driver of the tractor-trailer and the company who employed him were both sued, with attorneys alleging that the company inadequately trained and monitored the driver after hiring him. The case was settled in August 2022 for $150 million, with both the driver and his employer accepting fault.

Important Information

Speeding is a factor in nearly a third of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

How do you prove fault in a car accident in Texas?

Since Texas is an at-fault state, it’s important to determine who caused a traffic accident and who’s responsible for paying. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, proving fault may be a simple, quick process or a long, drawn-out one.

Insurance companies typically begin the process, assigning claims adjusters or other accident investigators to gather facts and piece together who’s at fault. They’ll review any police reports and witness statements, and examine the damage to both vehicles. They may also interview you or witnesses. In serious crashes, the insurance company may hire accident reconstructionists to outline how the crash occurred.

With that information, your insurance company will make a determination of fault in the accident. The insurer will also total up damages and come up with a proposed settlement. Any money you receive will depend on your insurance policy, who’s at fault in the accident, and the extent of injuries or damage in the wreck.

If you disagree with the insurance company’s determination or don’t feel that you’re getting enough compensation, you may choose to hire an attorney and sue the insurance company or other driver. The case may also go to court if the insurance companies involved disagree about who’s at fault. 

In court, a judge or jury may determine who’s at fault in the accident based on all the evidence presented at trial. 

When is a Car Considered Totaled?

When is a Car Considered Totaled?

Should you hire an attorney after a car accident in Texas?

Texas car accident laws can be complex. If you’re in a serious accident, you may want to hire an attorney to help you navigate the process. This is especially true if someone’s injured. An attorney can help you make sure you’re treated fairly by your insurance company and adequately compensated for the pain and damages you’ve suffered.

You may also choose to contact the Texas Department of Insurance’s Consumer Protection division if you feel you’re not being treated fairly by your insurer. The state of Texas has a legal bill of rights for personal auto insurance customers, which includes laws governing how insurers must handle claims. You can call the Texas Department of Insurance’s “Help Line” for free to get advice on how to move forward with a complaint.


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Sources

  1. Texas State Legislature. "Texas Transportation Code."
  2. Texas Department of Insurance. "Consumer Bill of Rights - Superseded by Commissioner’s Order No. 12-0862."
  3. Texas Department of Insurance. "Automobile insurance guide."
  4. Mansfield Texas. "Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility."
Andrew Dunn
Andrew Dunn

Andrew Dunn is a veteran business and finance writer with more than a decade of experience covering the industry for publications including The Charlotte Observer and Business North Carolina magazine. His work has been recognized numerous times by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the N.C. Press Association. Andrew earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a certificate in business journalism and a minor in Spanish. He lives in Charlotte, N.C

Evelyn Pimplaskar
Edited byEvelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
Evelyn Pimplaskar
Evelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
  • 10+ years in insurance and personal finance content

  • 30+ years in media, PR, and content creation

Evelyn leads Insurify’s content team. She’s passionate about creating empowering content to help people transform their financial lives and make sound insurance-buying decisions.

Featured in

media logomedia logomedia logo

Compare Car Insurance Quotes Instantly

Secure. Free. Easy-to-use.
Based on 3,806+ reviews
4.8/5
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