Getting into a car accident on a city street or highway in the state of Texas can be a traumatizing experience. In the minutes immediately following the crash, you will likely feel quite shook up and a little frightened.
With so many thoughts running through your head, you may not know what to do next. Through it all, however, you should try to remember that there is one thing that you should never do—admit fault.
Why Should You Refrain From Admitting Fault?
If you believe that you were responsible for causing a car accident, you may think that apologizing to the other driver and admitting fault is the right and honorable thing to do. In reality, however, you have no way of conclusively knowing if your actions were the sole cause of the crash.
The only way to know for sure is by allowing the police or your insurance company to conduct a thorough investigation. If you choose to admit fault in the immediate aftermath of your crash, it is unlikely that such an investigation will ever be carried out. Instead, the accident report will probably place all of the blame squarely on your shoulders.
Should you receive 100 percent of the blame for the accident, you may also end up footing the bill for 100 percent of the other party's injuries and property damage.
What Other Factors May Have Caused Your Car Accident?
Car crashes are complicated. It is quite rare for them to be caused by just one factor. So, even if you believe that you are at fault for your accident, there is a good chance that there were some other contributing factors at play that may reduce your liability.
If you refrain from admitting fault for your crash and allow the police or your insurance company to conduct their investigation, they could find that the accident was partially or completely caused by:
- Treacherous road conditions
- Inclement weather conditions
- Medical problems
- Malfunctioning or defective vehicle parts
They might also find that one of the following actions on the part of the other driver contributed to the accident:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
Again, the only way to know exactly how and why your accident occurred is to allow the investigation to take place.
What Happens if Other Factors Are Partial to Blame for Your Car Accident?
If you accept 100 percent of the blame after a car accident in Texas, you will be 100 percent liable for any injuries sustained by the other party. However, if the police or your insurer finds that other factors contributed to your crash, your liability can be reduced.
To determine liability after an accident, the state of Texas uses a system called proportionate responsibility. This system essentially means that if you were only partially at fault for the crash, you will only be liable for a portion of the other driver's damages.
If the police find that your speeding was 75 percent to blame for the accident, while the other party's distracted driving receives 25 percent of the blame, you will only be on the hook for 75 percent of their damages.
Should the investigation show that you were only 40 percent at fault for the accident, with the other driver picking up the remaining 60 percent of the blame, you may be able to file a compensation claim against them.
It is important to remember, however, that an investigation and distribution of blame is only likely to occur if you do not admit fault.
What Should You Do After You Get into an Accident?
Now that you know that you should not admit fault after you get into a car crash in the state of Texas, you may be wondering what you should do instead. Well, once you have received the medical attention you need, your next step should always be to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. They will be able to provide you with the information you need to know to limit your liability after your accident.
Your lawyer will work with the police and your insurance company to ensure that a thorough investigation is carried out. Should they have any doubts about the findings of this inquiry, they can also conduct an independent investigation into the crash.
Once blame has been established, your attorney can then communicate with your insurance company to resolve the situation. Having a legal expert speak on your behalf will prevent your insurer from using any manipulative tactics to decrease their liability and increase yours.
So, what should you do if you get into a car accident in Texas? Do not admit fault and contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible. It really is that simple.
Brian White is a car accident and personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX. As the founder of Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C., he assists people injured due to the negligence of others.