Each year, around 3,500 people are killed in motor vehicle crashes in Texas. And that number is only a fraction of the more than 38,000 annual accident-related fatalities on US roadways. These fatalities can involve passenger cars, semi trucks, 18-wheelers, motorcycles, or pedestrians. They usually also involve insurance companies.
When your loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death that resulted from a fatal car accident, the first place you’re likely to turn to for compensation is the at-fault driver’s insurance company. But whether car insurance will pay for damages related to the death of your loved one isn’t always clear.
In Texas, car insurance companies are only required to pay out when the driver they insure is at least 51 percent responsible for the crash. Determining whether you can recover compensation for an accident-related fatality can be complicated, but a wrongful death lawyer near you can help you understand your options and clear up any confusion.
Car Insurance Coverage
Texas requires all drivers to have some liability insurance coverage. At a minimum, drivers must have:
- $30,000 for each person injured in an accident
- $60,000 per accident for all injuries suffered
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
In addition to covering vehicle replacement or repair and medical care, liability insurance also provides compensation for things like lost future earnings, funeral and burial costs, and pain and suffering. Following the death of a loved one, you may be able to seek compensation for any of these from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
What Happens If the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
There may be times that the other driver doesn’t actually have an insurance policy or doesn’t have a large enough policy to cover your wrongful death claim. Unless the at-fault driver was on the clock for work at the time of the accident and you can seek compensation from their employer, you may have to turn to your loved one’s insurance company to file an insurance claim.
If you or your loved one have any of the following types of insurance coverage on your policy, you may be able to receive compensation.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. With this type of coverage, you may be able to get compensation after an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance, a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for all of your damages, or a hit-and-run driver. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage covers expenses related to bodily injury and property damage.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage helps to reimburse for medical expenses, lost wages, and other non-medical expenses. All Texas auto insurance policies automatically include PIP coverage.
- Medical payments coverage. If you or your loved one have an insurance policy that includes medical payments coverage, it covers medical and funeral costs related to a car accident. It applies to all family members, any passengers in your car, and anyone else who was injured in the accident, no matter who is determined to be at fault.
If you’re planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s important to know whether both parties are covered by sufficient insurance and the types of coverage that are available. Wrongful death lawyers near you can help you understand all the involved insurance policies and what coverage applies. If you were involved in the accident and injured, a lawyer can also help you file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover the difference in compensation between what insurance covers and the total cost of the damages.
Determining Fault in a Wrongful Death Accident
Before you can get reimbursement for wrongful death, the insurance companies need to complete an investigation to determine who was at fault. If they determine another driver’s negligent or reckless conduct led to the death of your loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Determining fault may mean re-creating the scene of the accident, gathering witness statements, and reviewing any available police reports. It can take months, or even years, for insurance companies to make a decision on who is at fault, especially when it’s not a clear-cut case.
In Texas, damages are awarded based on how much at fault each person is found to be. That means the amount of money you recover through insurance may be reduced by your percentage of fault. If, for example, the other driver was speeding and ran a red light at the time of the accident but you were on your cell phone while turning into the intersection and didn’t see the car coming, you may be considered partially at fault. If you were determined to be 20 percent at fault for the collision, that means the most you’d be able to recover is 80 percent of the damages.
When it comes to wrongful death, there are likely to be a lot of costs (both financial and physical). Insurance companies may delay their determination or try to make you settle for less in order to avoid having to pay out the full amount. A wrongful death lawyer can help make sure that doesn’t happen, and that the determination of who was at fault gets made correctly and in a timely manner.
How FVF Can Help
When a loved one has been in a fatal car accident, it can be devastating for those they leave behind. The last thing you want to do is deal with car insurance companies and file a wrongful death lawsuit. At FVF, our compassionate attorneys have years of experience managing wrongful death cases. We will make sure that your claim gets settled or a lawsuit gets filed before the statute of limitations runs out.
We can also negotiate with insurance companies so you don’t have to, and make sure that you don’t accept a low-ball settlement amount. When you’ve experienced a devastating loss, you deserve the time to grieve without being pressured by ruthless insurance companies.
Our wrongful death lawyers are here to listen and offer advice and guidance on how to proceed with your case. We offer no-cost consultations and will never pressure you to hire us. Contact us today to schedule your free, remote consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Austin.