In Texas, if you have suffered a personal injury as the result of someone’s negligence, you sue the person or entity who caused the personal injury. Not the insurance company of the person who caused the injury.
How Does this Affect Me?
Badly. Not only does Texas law prohibit you from naming the insurance company as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, it also prohibits you from telling the jury that the at-fault party had insurance.
So? Why Is That a Big Deal?
Well, picture the following scenario: You’re involved in an automobile collision caused by a sweet older lady or innocent looking teenager. You’re significantly injured in the accident and incur a large amount of medical bills. If your case goes to trial, we will be asking a jury to find the defendant (sweet older lady or innocent teenager) negligent. Ok, no big deal, right? But what about when we ask the jury to find that the lady or teenager should pay you $100,000 for medical bills and $300,000 for pain and suffering and mental anguish? The jury may have a knee jerk reaction and think, there is no way the defendant should have to pay that money.
Now, as experienced personal injury lawyers, we have ways of navigating through the rules, and in our experience, we have found that most juries realized there is insurance behind the scenes. But, you never know. Regardless, its important to understand what you’re up against in order to determine what you case is worth.
The Auto Insurance Company is Treating Me Poorly
Not surprising. The fact that one can’t sue the insurance company for the person who caused your auto accident or personal injury is often a frustrating reality for many of our clients.
In many cases, people come to us because they are fed up with the way the insurance company for the at-fault party has been treating them unfairly. The first they want us to do is sue that insurance company. Unfortunately, we cannot do that.
Why can’t I Sue the Insurance Company for the At-Fault Party?
The technical reason is because Texas is not a “direct action state.”
But that doesn’t really answer your question in depth, so let’s discuss a bit more. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident or suffered some other type of persona injury as the result of someone’s negligence, you are considered a “claimant.” You are a claimant on the policy between the at-fault party and his or her insurance company. For purposes of discussion, consider the insurance policy a contact, which it technically is.
Because of conservative legislation, a “third-party” cannot sue the insurance company of the at-fault party, aka – insured, until a judgment has been entered against the insured.
Once a judgment has been entered against the insured, the “claimant” is allowed to “step into the shoes” of the insured and sue the insurance company as a third-party beneficiary to the insurance policy. This rarely happens because almost always the insurance company will pay.
Are There any Direct Action States?
Yes. Louisiana, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, Nebraska and Rhode Island have statutes that allow a claimant to file a “direct” action against an insurance company.
What if I Want to Know More About How Insurance Works?
Read our Blog about “How Car Insurance Works.”
How Do I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have been involved in an auto accident or suffered another type of personal injury, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC today. You can reach us at the office at(817)820-0100 or contact us through the website. Click here for more information about what to look for in a personal injury lawyer.