Beyond medical bills and lost wages, car accidents create all kinds of complications and secondary expenses. If you have been involved in an accident recently, you may be wondering how the incident will affect your insurance premium. As your car accident lawyer in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, or Austin will tell you, the answer depends on the terms of your policy and whether or not you were at fault.
How Will a Car Accident Affect Your Insurance in Texas?
If you were not at fault for the accident, filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy should not affect your own. The only exception would be if you receive a safe driver discount. In that case, having any accident might disqualify you from receiving the lower rate.
If you were responsible for the accident, your premium is likely to go up. Insurance companies follow a business model of charging higher rates to drivers who are statistically more likely to get into a crash and require a payout on their policy.
At-Fault vs. No-Fault States
Determining which party must pay for the damages incurred in a car accident is done on a state-by-state basis. In some states, each party must submit a claim to his or her own insurance, regardless of who was at fault. Texas, however, is an at-fault state, meaning that the person who caused the crash is responsible for all of the damages, including those sustained by the driver, any passengers, and anyone else who may have been harmed.
What Is Comparative Fault?
Not all accidents are straightforward. Sometimes, there is evidence that multiple drivers made mistakes. For example, if you ran a red light and were hit by someone who was speeding, both you and the other driver could be held partially accountable. This principle is referred to as comparative fault.
How Does Comparative Fault Affect Insurance Premiums?
In Texas, the driver who contributed the most to the accident pays for whatever percentage of the damages he or she caused. For example, if he or she was found to be 60% responsible, he or she would pay an amount equal to 60% of the value of the damages, usually with insurance. If you are found to be partially at fault, your premium could go up as a result, even if you were assigned the lesser portion of the blame.
Can an Car Accident Lawyer Help in a Comparative Fault Case?
If you want to avoid a spike in your insurance entirely, your best bet is to work with a personal injury attorney. By bringing a strong case against the other driver, your attorney may be able to eliminate any suspicion that you played a role in the crash. Even if you are unable to avoid sharing the blame, working with a lawyer will increase the chances of the other driver being allocated the higher percentage, supporting your case for compensation.
The Driver Responsibility Program
Insurance companies refer to the Texas DMV’s Driver Responsibility Program when they determine if they need to raise a customer’s premium and by how much. Any time a driver commits an infraction, he or she receives points. Causing a car accident results in three points being added to your record. These points stay with you for three years.
If you have many infractions against you, your insurance company may qualify you as a high-risk driver. In addition to causing one or more accidents, receiving several speeding tickets or getting caught committing other violations can contribute to your high-risk status. High-risk drivers are required to pay higher premiums and may even be denied insurance. Serious offenses such as drunk driving and road rage are handled more severely than minor infractions.
How Much Does Insurance Go Up After an At-Fault Accident?
After an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance typically goes up around 50%. In the case of a DUI, it could increase to as much as three times the amount it was prior to the conviction.
How Should You Handle Communications With the Insurance Companies?
The way you communicate with the insurance companies can have a major impact on your ability to receive compensation for your damages and whether or not you are found partially liable for the accident. Without going to law school, you cannot be expected to know what kind of statements might jeopardize your claim. Fortunately, an attorney who has a strong track record of dealing with insurance companies can handle most of the communications for you.
Report the Accident to Your Own Insurance
Even if you plan to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, it is important to get in touch with your own provider immediately after the crash. The two companies may need to work together to investigate the accident. Additionally, you may need to rely on your own policy if the other driver is under-insured, and many companies specify that claims will be invalidated if the accident is not reported within 24 hours.
Do Not Speak With the Other Insurance Company Directly
You are not legally obligated to speak with the other driver’s insurance company or anyone who represents the other side without your lawyer present. If you do communicate with representatives of the liable insurance company directly, you open yourself to receiving questions that may result in you being held accountable for comparative fault. One of the advantages of working with a lawyer is that he or she handles sensitive communications on your behalf.
Prepare for a Recorded Statement
There is a chance that one of the insurance companies may ask you to give a recorded statement. If the request comes from the other driver’s insurance company, you have the right to decline. If it comes from your insurance company, your policy might obligate you to honor the request. Your car accident lawyer can help you anticipate the questions and prepare your answers to best avoid casting doubts on the validity of your claim.
Review Your Case With a Car Accident Lawyer
If you are concerned that seeking damages after a car accident could cause your insurance premium to go up, speaking with a lawyer in San Antonio, Houston, Austin, or Dallas can help you weigh the pros and cons. Unless you were at fault, you will likely find out that receiving compensation from the other driver will have no effect on your insurance at all.
If you are concerned that there could be arguments against you, your lawyer can help you look for evidence that you did not cause the crash. Knowing how to show that the other driver was at fault and how to protect the validity of your claim can help you win compensation and keep your driving record clear.
We Provide the Best Legal Representation in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Austin
If you have been injured in a car accident, having a personal injury attorney review your case can help you work out the issues relating to your medical bills, your right to compensation, and your insurance premiums. If you need to negotiate with the insurance company or take the other driver to court, we will fight to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. To discuss your claim with us, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC.