Generally, the answer is no. You cannot sue the at-fault driver’s insurance company in Texas. You are required to sue the driver responsible for the accident, not their insurance company. Texas is not a “direct action” state. A “direct action” is where an injured person may sue the insurance company rather than the at-fault driver. In Texas, you cannot directly sue the other party’s insurance company even though the insurance company should ultimately pay for the judgment entered against their driver.
After a motor vehicle accident caused by the negligent actions of another driver, however, you may file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance company in hopes that they reimburse you for your damages. Be careful speaking with an insurance adjuster from the at-fault party’s insurance company. They are not looking out for your best interest. The insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible for your damages. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums and not paying for personal injury claims. I encourage you to engage an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer versed in negotiating with insurance companies to maximize your recovery.
Insurance companies maintain complete control over handling the at-fault driver’s claim. This language is in the insurance policy. That means the defendant’s insurance company provides and pays an attorney to represent the liable driver (the defendant in the lawsuit) and hopefully ultimately pay for your damages. The insurance company investigates the facts of the case and directs the litigation. The insurance company is, however, responsible for paying when a judgment is entered against the driver who caused the crash.
Can you talk about the defendant’s insurance company at trial?
If pre-litigation negotiations are unsuccessful, then you must file a lawsuit to recover your damages. Texas law requires you to file a lawsuit against the liable driver directly and not their insurance company.
Even though the defendant’s insurance company is providing an attorney and hopefully paying for your damages, you cannot tell the jury about this in a trial. The jurors are not allowed to know that even though they see the injured plaintiff, the defendant, and the defendant’s attorneys in the courtroom, the defendant’s insurance company is running the case for the at-fault driver. The insurance company gets to hide behind its policyholders and remain entirely excluded from the trial. Before your trial starts, the judge orders all of the parties and attorneys, not to mention the defendant’s insurance company. If the defendant’s insurance company comes up in testimony, evidence, or argument, the court can order a mistrial and potentially issue a contempt court order.
The rationale for this rule is that if the jury finds out that the defendant has an insurance policy and is paying for her attorney, then the jury may find for the plaintiff because the defendant’s insurance company (who has money) must pay for the judgment and not the individual defendant. This rule protects at-fault defendants because if the jury does not hear the defendant had insurance—as they would expect to hear at trial—some jurors are reluctant to find against an individual even though the facts and law justify that verdict. Another result of this rule is that it implies Texas jurors cannot make a fair and impartial decision based only on the facts and the law. Insurance companies get to hide behind their own clients who pay premiums to the insurance company so that if they do cause an accident, the insurance company will pay for those damages.
What if there are many cars in the accident?
You may find yourself in a car accident with multiple cars. When this happens, there may be many parties involved in your case. Determining the correct at-fault parties and which insurance policies apply can be complex. It’s crucial to identify the correct party to sue. Ensuring that the proper insurance companies are involved in your claim and, ultimately, your lawsuit is critical. In complex situations like multi-car accidents or cases involving hit-and-run drivers, the legal strategy and the parties involved can vary, underscoring the importance of having an experienced car accident attorney at your side who has a strategic approach to the particular facts and law at issue in your case.
An Exception or when you may be able to sue your insurance company.
An exception to this general rule is that you may be able to sue your own insurance company if it does not properly compensate you for the insurance coverage you have paid for, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection, or collision coverage. And you may have additional claims if your insurance company acts in bad faith. This situation can arise if the at-fault driver does not have any or enough insurance to cover your damages and you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Even in this situation, you cannot sue the liable driver’s insurance company. However, you can file a claim with your insurance company under your insurance policy. If your insurance company does not pay you as it is supposed to, you can file a lawsuit against your insurance for damages. This process allows you to recover damages even when the at-fault party does not have enough or any insurance to cover the damages you suffered in the car accident. But you must purchase underinsured motorist coverage in Texas, which is not automatically included in your insurance policy.
To ensure your case is handled properly, the best course of action is to partner with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney from the Law Office of Shane McClelland. For almost 20 years, Shane has served injured people in car accidents and their other personal injury-related needs. He would love the opportunity to do the same for you if you have been in a car accident or endured another personal injury. Call our office at (713) 987-7107 or fill out our contact link today for more information.
How a Dedicated Attorney Can Help Your Case
The Law Office of Shane McClelland proudly offers a personalized approach to your personal injury case. This means you get the guidance of a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney through the entirety of the legal process, from the initial consultation to the final settlement offer or judgment at trial. We will walk arm in arm with you every step of the way. From the beginning of your case to its resolution, whether through settlement negotiations or litigation, our focus is on navigating the complexities of personal injury lawsuits and litigation on your behalf. This allows you to concentrate on your recovery while we handle the legal challenges.
We understand the importance that financial compensation and restitution can make after a personal injury accident, which is why we fight so diligently for you to recover every single penny you deserve. If an adequate agreement cannot be reached, we are prepared to take your case to trial before a jury of your peers. For a free case evaluation to discuss the possibility of suing the negligent party after your accident, contact us today. Schedule your no-cost consultation by calling (713) 987-7107 or by using our online contact form.