We often write about car accidents with a focus on the at-fault driver and the injured driver. But what about the other vehicle occupants? If a passenger is injured in a car accident in Texas, can he or she get compensated for the resulting injuries and expenses? In short, the answer depends on the circumstances that caused the crash. If you recently suffered passenger injuries after being in a Texas auto accident, you should contact the experienced Houston car accident lawyers of QueenanLaw for assistance with your claim. You could be entitled to compensation.
What to Do if You Suffered Passenger Injuries in a Car Crash in Texas
An automotive accident is a shocking, sometimes traumatic event. In the high-stress chaos that follows a crash, it's easy to forget what to do (and avoid doing) in order to give yourself the best chance of recovering injury compensation. You should:
- Accept immediate medical care if you feel even slightly injured.
- Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
- Give a truthful statement to the police.
- Try to take photographs and/or video footage of the vehicle damage and crash site, assuming it is safe to do so.
- Save all of your medical records and documents, such as prescription slips.
- Contact an experienced Houston personal injury attorney to discuss the possibility of getting compensated.
You should not:
- Estimate, speculate on, or make up any details or information you're not certain of.
- Tell the insurance company you were not severely injured. Only your doctor can make that determination.
- Accept a low settlement offer that doesn't adequately cover your expenses.
- Leave the scene of the accident until you have spoken to the police.
For more detailed information, see our previous article on what to do after a car accident in Texas.
Getting Compensated: Filing an Insurance Claim for Your Medical Bills
Negligence is an important legal term. When a person is negligent, it means they did not exercise the normal and reasonable precautions that were necessary to minimize the risk of a foreseeable injury or death. Negligence arises in all types of personal injury and wrongful death matters, but in the context of a car accident, may involve:
- Driving while distracted by text messages, smartphone apps, food, makeup, radio stations, or other distractions.
- Excessive speeding.
- Failing to stop at a stop sign.
- Falling asleep at the wheel.
- Following another vehicle too closely, resulting in a rear-end collision.
- Running a red light.
If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by the other driver's negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, your lost income, and your pain and suffering. This applies regardless of whether you were a driver or a passenger.
Like most states, Texas is a fault state with regard to auto insurance, which means you must prove the other driver's negligence in order to receive compensation from his or her insurance company. State law requires all drivers to carry, at bare minimum, the following types and amounts of coverage:
- $30,000 per injury victim
- $60,000 per accident (for personal injury)
- $25,000 per accident (for property damage)
This coverage, called auto liability insurance, is sometimes described as “30/60/25.” Assuming the at-fault driver is in compliance with Texas' car insurance requirements, his or her insurer should be able to provide coverage up to these amounts (which may be higher if the driver decided to purchase more than the mandatory minimums imposed by state law). UM/UIM coverage (Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist coverage) is an optional form of insurance that will help pay for your expenses if you're hit by a driver who doesn't have sufficient insurance, doesn't have any insurance, or commits hit and run.
Additionally, you may also have a claim under your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which is called a first-party claim because it is made with your own insurer. (By comparison, a claim you make with the at-fault driver's insurer is called a third-party claim.) Unless you specifically opted out of Texas' PIP coverage requirements in writing, you should have at least $2,500 in coverage. PIP coverage is meant to help pay for medical expenses incurred by drivers and vehicle occupants, regardless of fault for the crash.
Schedule a Consultation with a Houston Car Accident Lawyer
Regardless of whether you were the driver or a passenger, you may have a right to be compensated if you were hurt in an accident for which you were not at fault. If you believe the driver of the other vehicle may have been responsible for causing the crash, you should call our friendly and knowledgeable Houston auto accident attorneys at (817) 476-1797 for a confidential legal consultation. We're here to help you understand your legal rights as an injured passenger in Texas.
A respected, aggressive Houston car accident attorney at QueenanLaw can handle your car accident claims in Dallas, Houston, Forth Worth, and Arlington, Texas.