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How Fault is Determined in a Wichita Falls, TX Car Accident

Offered by Hoover Rogers Law, LLP

Establishing liability after a wreck is critical, but it can be complicated

A verified car accident lawyer can find the facts that matter to your case

When a car accident occurs in Wichita Falls, Texas, determining fault is key to having a successful case outcome. Fault in a car accident typically stems from a driver's negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle.

This can be difficult to prove in many cases. However, an experienced Wichita Falls car accident lawyer can get to the bottom of it and build a case for the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with a verified lawyer today to learn how they can help you find your way forward after being injured in a crash.

Is Texas a "no-fault" or at-fault state?

Texas operates under an “at-fault” or tort system for car accidents. This means that when a driver causes a car accident, their insurance provider is responsible for paying for the resulting damages and injuries. 

Unlike no-fault states, where each driver's insurance covers their own losses regardless of who is at fault, Texas law allows crash victims to seek compensation from the at-fault party for their medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.

What traffic laws apply in Wichita Falls, TX?

Texas has several traffic laws that can help determine who was at fault in a car accident. 
For example, speed limits vary depending on the road type and location. Generally, residential areas have a 30 mph limit, while highways may have limits of 75 mph (even up to 85 mph). Exceeding these limits can be strong evidence of fault in a collision.

The Texas Transportation Code outlines specific right-of-way rules. For example, drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and to vehicles already in intersections. When drivers fail to adhere to these rules, they can be found at fault if their actions result in an accident.

Additionally, Texas law prohibits texting and driving statewide, which is considered a “primary offense.” This means that drivers can be stopped by law enforcement and cited specifically for texting while driving. Plus, handheld devices are banned while driving in many Texas cities, including school zones. 

What is comparative negligence in Texas?

Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which can affect how fault is assigned and compensation is awarded in car accidents. The threshold for seeking compensation is set at 50%. If you’re more than 50% at fault for a car accident, you’re typically barred from seeking compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. 

However, if you’re 50% or less at fault, you can seek damages, but your compensation would be reduced proportionately by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re awarded $100,000 in damages but are found to be 30% at fault, you would be eligible to receive $70,000 in compensation.

How must fault be determined in a Texas car accident?

To determine fault in a Texas car accident, four key criteria must be established: 

  • Duty of care: Drivers have a legal obligation to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. This includes following traffic laws, maintaining vehicle control, staying alert and attentive, and adjusting their driving to current road conditions.
  • Breach of duty: This occurs when a driver fails to meet the standard of care expected of a reasonable person in similar circumstances. Examples include speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, and running red lights.
  • Causation: This involves proving that a driver’s breach of duty directly led to a crash and resulting injuries. In Texas, this is considered “cause-in-fact,” which means a crash wouldn’t have occurred without the at-fault driver’s breach of duty.
  • Damages: Damages are the actual losses suffered as a result of a car accident. To establish fault and seek compensation in Texas, you must prove that you incurred damages due to the other driver’s actions.

What evidence supports fault determination?

When you’re injured in a car accident in Wichita Falls, TX, it’s in your best interests to seek help from an experienced attorney. A lawyer can gather key evidence to support your claim, including but not limited to:

The police accident report

A police accident report serves as an unbiased account of your car accident. It includes details such as the date, time, and location of the crash, as well as the officer's observations of the scene. 

The police report typically includes information on road conditions, weather, and any traffic violations or citations issued. It may also contain statements from drivers and witnesses, preliminary fault assessments, and a diagram of the car accident scene. 

Visual evidence

Photographs and videos can provide compelling evidence in a car accident case. Visual evidence of vehicle damage, skid marks, road conditions, traffic signs, and the overall crash scene can help reconstruct the events leading to a collision. 
Additionally, surveillance footage from nearby buildings or dashcam recordings can offer unbiased, real-time documentation of a car accident as it occurs (if available).

Witness statements

Eyewitness statements can provide valuable third-party perspectives on a car accident and offer insights that may not be available from the involved parties. These statements can corroborate or challenge the accounts of the drivers involved and help determine fault. 
Witnesses may also have observed key details such as a driver's behavior before a crash, traffic signal status, or road conditions that the drivers might have missed or remembered incorrectly. 

Digital evidence

An attorney can subpoena digital evidence to help determine fault after a crash. For example, GPS data can provide information about a vehicle's speed, direction, and location leading up to the crash. Cell phone records can indicate whether a driver was using their phone at the time of the crash and prove distracted driving. 
Social media posts or messages related to a car accident can also be valuable, especially if they contain admissions or contradictions to official statements. This type of evidence is often timestamped and difficult to manipulate.

Medical records

Medical records provide a professional, detailed account of the physical impact of a crash. They typically include emergency room reports, diagnostic test results (such as X-rays or MRIs), treatment plans, medication prescriptions, and ongoing care requirements. 
They also establish a timeline of medical care, which can help link your injuries to the car accident. In cases where injuries are not immediately apparent, medical records can document the progression of symptoms over time.

Expert testimony

These experts' credibility and specialized knowledge can be particularly persuasive in cases or when fault is heavily disputed. Their testimony can clarify technical details, challenge or support other evidence, and provide a foundation for determining liability and damages.

For example, crash reconstruction specialists can use physical evidence, witness accounts, and scientific principles to create detailed models of how your car accident occurred. Medical experts can explain the nature and long-term implications of your injuries and their impact on your life.

How do specific scenarios affect fault determination?

Certain types of car accidents have common fault patterns, though each case is unique. For example, in most rear-end collisions, the driver who hits the vehicle in front is presumed to be at fault. However, this isn’t always the case. A driver can be found at fault if they stop suddenly in an unreasonable or reckless manner or if their brake lights don’t work.

Drivers making left turns generally must yield to oncoming traffic. As a result, the turning driver is often found at fault in left-turn accidents unless the other driver was speeding or ran a red light.

Additionally, fault in multi-vehicle collisions can be complex. Multiple drivers may share fault in these scenarios.

What should I do after a car accident in Wichita Falls, TX?

Taking the right actions immediately after a car accident can impact fault determination and protect your rights. These steps include:

  • Documenting the crash scene: If possible, get photos of vehicle positions and damage, as well as visible injuries at the scene of the crash. 
  • Avoid admitting fault: Avoid admitting fault at the crash scene or when speaking to insurance companies. Such statements can be taken out of context and used against you later. 
  • Getting immediate medical attention: Don’t wait to get medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor. Delaying medical attention could worsen your condition and make it difficult to seek compensation for your injuries.
  • Seeking legal help: Don’t handle your car accident claim or speak to the other driver’s insurance company without the help of an experienced lawyer. An attorney can handle all aspects of your case so you can get fully compensated for your damages.
  • Following all legal and medical advice: Listen to your lawyer and doctor. Also, don’t discuss your case with anyone other than your lawyer, and never post about it online or on social media. 
  • Keeping all relevant documents: Keep all medical bills, receipts, pay stubs, vehicle repair estimates, doctor appointment logs, prescriptions, and a journal detailing your pain and suffering. 

Get legal help from a verified Wichita Falls, TX, car accident lawyer

A car accident lawyer can be your strongest advocate if you've been injured in a collision in Wichita Falls, Texas. Insurance companies often prioritize their bottom line over your well-being. They might use tactics to shift the blame onto you, minimize their payout, or deny your claim altogether. 

An experienced attorney understands these strategies and can shield you from unfair treatment. Plus, there is no financial risk for you. Car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don't pay any upfront costs for their services. Their fees are contingent upon winning your case, so if they don’t win, you don’t pay. It’s that simple.

To get started, contact a verified Wichita Falls car accident lawyer today and set up your free consultation. They can provide honest answers to any questions you have and advise you on what steps to take next.

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