Not every car accident in Texas needs to be reported to the authorities. However, if you have been in a serious road collision, you are obligated to report the accident to the authorities. Not doing so could result in a misdemeanor, or worse, hit-and-run charges.
Texas Law & Requirements for Reporting a Car Accident
Section 550.062 of the Texas Transportation Code makes clear that if you have been involved in a car accident that resulted in injury, death, or $1,000 or more worth of damages, you must report the incident to the authorities.
Wait at the scene of the accident until a police officer arrives. Even if both you, and the other driver, seem fine at the time, some injuries can surface after the date of the crash, so make sure you ask the officer for a copy of the report and exchange your details with the other driver.
If a police officer does not investigate the scene, then you need to file a crash report with the Texas Department of Transportation no later than the 10th day after the accident.
How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim in Texas?
The statute of limitation for car accident claims in Texas is usually two years from the date of the incident. After the two years have passed, you’ll no longer be able to file a claim. It’s important to speak to a lawyer before you make your claim in the event the insurance company tries to delay your case.
Where Minors Are Involved
Because a person under the age of 18 cannot file a lawsuit for themselves, the statute of limitations would begin from the date of their 18th birthday. This doesn’t stop a parent or guardian from filing a lawsuit on their behalf, but it does mean that if they do not, the minor may choose to do so for up to two years after their 18th birthday.
Where the Guilty Party Dies Before a Lawsuit Is Filed
If the person who was responsible for the car accident passes away, then the statute of limitations is paused for a year to give time for their estate to be handed over to a representative.
Where a Person Is Incapacitated Due to Injuries
If someone was injured to the point of being unable to file for a lawsuit and had no family, friends, or relatives to help them, they may be able to receive an extension on the statute of limitations.
Where the Claim Is Against A Texas Government Worker
If your accident was caused by someone who works for the state of Texas, the statute of limitations is only six months. In addition, some local governments impose an even shorter deadline—90 days in the case of Houston.
In all cases, the sooner you file for a claim, the higher your chances of success. If you’ve been involved in an accident, you don’t have to wait—you can get a free case review from a lawyer today.
In the Case of Injury or Significant Damage to the Vehicle – Report Immediately
If you have been involved in an accident that has caused considerable damage, bodily injury, or possibly death, you must report the accident to the police immediately. You are also required to check on the other person/s and call for aid if they need it.
If you fail to stop your vehicle and call the police after being involved in a collision—even if it wasn’t your fault—this would be considered an offense.
- In the event that a person has died, the offense would be a felony of the second degree.
- In the event of serious bodily injury, the offense would be a felony of the third degree.
- In the event of injury, the offense would still result in up to 5 years in jail, and a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Make sure to photograph any injuries you’ve suffered and also any damage done to your vehicle. If there were witnesses, get their contact information, too. Exchange details with the other driver.
Finally, file a claim as soon as possible. This will ensure that the memory of the accident is still clear in everyone’s minds, raising your chances for a successful claim.
It Is Better to Pay for Repairs and Especially Treatment Immediately
Lawsuits and trials can be a long and complicated process. It doesn’t make sense to wait for the at-fault driver’s damage payment to come through if it means you are left in pain, or without a vehicle.
Having a lawyer on your side will help with the process, and they’ll be able to answer any questions you might have, but it’s still important to get the treatment you need as soon as possible.
Obtaining Payment from the Insurance Company
Texas uses a fault-based system to determine liability for car insurance. This basically means that the at-fault driver will have to pay—through their insurance—for expenses and damage to the vehicle.
The law requires that all drivers in Texas have, at a minimum, liability insurance. This will be enough to repair another person’s car, plus both your and the other driver’s medical bills.
Liability insurance must include:
- $30,000 for injuries per person (up to a total of $60,000 total per accident)
- $25,000 for property damage
After the accident, you should file a claim with your insurance provider as soon as possible but remember to gather as much information about the accident as you can, including photographs, contact details of witnesses, and a copy of the police report.
Texas Insurance Code stipulates that insurance companies have 15 days to confirm that they have received your claim, request any other relevant information, and make clear whether they have accepted or rejected your claim. If they have rejected your claim, they need to tell you why.
After the initial response, however, insurers can opt to extend this period to 45 days, if they have good reason to do so.
If your insurance claim is approved, the provider must settle the payment within 5 business days.
Why Is It Important to File a Claim Immediately?
The sooner you file a claim with the insurance company, the sooner you are likely to get paid. Your chances of a successful claim begin to diminish the longer it takes for you to take action.
For example, if there is a significant period between the accident and your claim, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to argue that your injuries are not related to the accident, or that they occurred between the accident and the date of the claim.
Filing an Accident Report in Texas with an Attorney
For the best possible outcome, you should try to file an accident report as soon as possible after the accident has occurred. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can make sure that the process is taken care of as efficiently as possible, thereby speeding up the procedure and maximizing your compensation.
Get started right now with a free case review.
Ben has vast experience in defending criminal cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has countless criminal charges dismissed and pled down. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.