What is the Difference Between First-Party and Third-Party Lawsuits in Texas?
Filing a lawsuit is not a simple feat. You might have to differentiate between first-party and third-party claims and lawsuits, depending on your injuries and legal claims. An attorney can help you get your case off the ground.
First-party lawsuits often involve plaintiffs suing people who are supposedly on their side. For example, after an accident, you might sue your own insurance company for not paying compensation in accordance with your policy terms. Third-party claims, on the other hand, tend to be filed against the people you believe are responsible for your injuries. When you need to file either type of lawsuit, it largely depends on your unique circumstances, and you should speak to an attorney to make sure. Presenting evidence in each kind of case also differs. In first-party lawsuits, you might need evidence demonstrating how the defendant failed to live up to their end of an agreement. In a third-party lawsuit, evidence tends to revolve around negligence and injuries.
For help understanding what kind of case you have, call our Arlington, TX car accident lawyers at (817) 476-1797, and our team at The Queenan Law Firm can arrange a free evaluation of your claims.
First-Party and Third-Party Lawsuits for Injuries in Texas
Not all lawsuits are the same. The nature of your lawsuit varies greatly based on who you name in the case and the nature of your relationship. In some cases, the defendant is directly responsible for your injuries. In others, you were injured because the defendant failed to hold up their end of an agreement of some kind. Our Houston car accident lawyers can help you identify the defendant and the nature of your claim so you can get the compensation you need.
First-party claims are often filed against insurance companies or similar defendants. The insurance company often has a policy with the plaintiff, which is the focal point of the case. Many first-party lawsuits involve plaintiffs who claim that their insurance company did not pay compensation according to the policy terms. This is a breach of contract case, as policies are contracts between insurance companies and customers.
Perhaps one of the most common examples of a first-party claim is when an insurance company refuses to pay after a car accident. Texas allows drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. Unlike other states with PIP coverage, it is optional in Texas rather than mandatory. When drivers file PIP claims, they file with their own insurance companies, not the other drivers. If the insurance company refuses to pay per the policy terms, the customer can sue them in a first-party claim.
A third-party claim is typically filed against a party you do not have a relationship with but still caused your injuries and damages. One of the key differences between first-party claims and third-party claims is that third-party claims involve defendants whom you do not have a relationship with. Even so, that does not mean they do not owe you a duty of some kind.
In the world of insurance, a third-party claim may be filed with another person’s insurance company rather than your own. Continuing with the car accident example, if you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance – which is very common – and they wrongfully deny your claim, you can file a third-party lawsuit against them.
When You Might Need to File a First-Party or Third-Party Lawsuit in Texas
As discussed above, third-party and first-party lawsuits are common in car accident cases. A first-party case might be necessary when your own insurance company is refusing to cover your damages. The fact that your claim is denied does not automatically mean you can file a lawsuit. To have a valid case, the insurance company must deny your claim wrongfully, meaning they are going against the terms and conditions of the policy.
Many, if not most, first-party lawsuits involve PIP claims gone wrong. As said before, a PIP claim is paid by your own insurance company. PIP policies often cover a variety of damages, including medical bills and vehicle damages. A hallmark of PIP claims is that they often pay out to customers regardless of fault. Even if you are the direct cause of your own accident, you should still be covered by your PIP policy. If your insurance company denies your claim because of fault, you should sue, as this is not legal.
You might also file a first-party lawsuit if the insurance company did something shady behind your back. For example, if they changed the terms of your policy without notifying you, they may be acting in bad faith. Bad faith dealings are a common reason for many first-party lawsuits.
You might need to file a third-party claim when the other driver or their insurance refuses to cover your damages. Third-party claims are trickier because they are often based on fault. The other driver’s insurance might only cover your damages if you can prove the other driver caused the accident. If you have enough evidence to establish the other driver’s fault, but their insurance company still denied you, a third-party lawsuit might be in order.
Presenting Evidence in First-Party and Third-Party Lawsuits in Texas
The evidence you need in each case may differ, and an attorney can help you find the evidence you need for your specific case. In a first-party lawsuit, your key evidence is your insurance policy. The policy contains the terms and conditions we believe the insurance company violated by refusing to cover you. As such, a copy of your official insurance policy is necessary.
In a third-party lawsuit, the main issue is usually the other party’s negligence. As such, we might need more evidence from the accident scene. Photos and videos from the crash site, witness statements, and copies of the police report are vital to your case. An attorney can help you find what you need and use it to help you win your case and get the compensation you rightly deserve.
Contact an Attorney About Your Potential Lawsuit Today
For help understanding what kind of case you have, call our Dallas car accident lawyers at (817) 476-1797, and our team at The Queenan Law Firm can arrange a free evaluation of your claims.