Car Accident Settlement Timeline in Texas

Nothing generates more personal injury claims than car accidents. In 2022, there were 244,092 people injured in collisions across the state.

On average, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 1 crash occurred every 57 seconds that year. 

Fortunately, Texas law allows accident victims to take legal action against those responsible for their injuries. Most often, this means filling an insurance claim against their policy. And, from there, most cases are resolved through settlement negotiations. 

Learn about the car accident settlement timeline in Texas here.

How Texas Car Accident Claims Work

How Texas Car Accident Claims Work

When it comes to insurance coverage for a car accident, some states are “no-fault” states, but most states, including Texas, are “at-fault” states. That means that after a car accident, you can sue the at-fault driver immediately, file a third-party insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance carrier, or both. You can seek full personal injury damages, including non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

The disadvantage of the Texas at-fault system is that, unlike the situation in no-fault states, you typically have to prove fault to qualify for auto accident compensation. If you can do that, however, you can qualify for an insurance payout.

Texas law requires drivers to purchase the following minimum liability insurance coverage:

  • $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for bodily injury liability; and
  • $25,000 per person for property damage liability.

Most car accident claims result in settlement without ever going to trial. Do keep in mind, however, that nearly 15% of Texas drivers are uninsured.

The Settlement Process

The settlement process varies from case to case. The following description covers all of the major steps to settlement. Your settlement might include all of these steps, but it probably won’t. 

The Accident and Immediate Aftermath

If your injuries are not too serious, try to complete the following actions at the scene of the accident:

  • Take steps to ensure that oncoming traffic does not pose a safety hazard;
  • Check for injuries and perform any necessary emergency first-aid;
  • Call the police;
  • Share contact and insurance details with the other driver;
  • Cooperate with the police;
  • Photograph anything that might serve as evidence, including the position of the cars on the road;
  • Obtain contact details for any witnesses; and
  • Seek immediate medical treatment if you even suspect that you are injured.

Don’t leave the scene of the accident until the police arrive, unless it is dangerous to remain. The police can arrest you for leaving the scene of the accident. 

Almost any personal injury lawyer will be happy to offer you a free initial consultation if you appear to have a viable personal injury claim. A consultation would be without any obligation to hire the lawyer. 

Because personal injury lawyers don’t get paid unless they win compensation for you, you can be sure that if the lawyer offers to represent you, they believe they can win your case. 

Preliminary Investigation 

After taking your case, your lawyer will conduct a preliminary investigation of the accident. Your lawyer will seek to gather evidence such as:

  • Accident reconstruction reports;
  • Correspondence with insurance companies;
  • Insurance policy information;
  • Medical bills;
  • Medical records;
  • Your personal diary or ‘pain journal’;
  • Photographs and videos;
  • The police report;
  • Proof of income loss;
  • Traffic camera or surveillance footage;
  • Vehicle damage estimates; and
  • Witness statements

Some of the evidence that you need might be in the possession of the at-fault driver.

Medical Treatment 

You probably should not make a formal claim to the insurance company or the defendant until you have completed medical treatment. The reason for this restriction is that until you have actually completed medical treatment, you won’t know for sure how much compensation to demand for medical expenses.

The Demand Package 

A demand package is a demand letter to the insurance company plus any supporting documents, including photographs. Let your lawyer draft the demand letter. The letter should demand compensation, detail the justification for your claim, set a deadline, and threaten legal action if they don’t respond by your deadline. Give the insurance company a few weeks to respond.

The Insurance Company’s Response

The insurance company will respond by denying your claim, or by issuing a ‘lowball’ (extremely low) settlement offer. It will also send a Reservation of Rights letter in which it reserves the right to deny your claim altogether if it lacks merit.


The initial negotiation stage can last from a few weeks to a few months. Allow your lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. Remember, your lawyer cannot accept a settlement without your permission. 

Your lawyer will respond to the insurance company’s lowball settlement offer with a much higher counteroffer. From there, negotiations might start to resemble a ping-pong game of offer and counteroffer.

Filing a Formal Lawsuit 

Most car accident claims do not include the filing of a lawsuit, but many do. Remember, you can always drop your lawsuit in exchange for a settlement. Filing a lawsuit can accomplish the following goals, even if you are still seeking a settlement:

  • It encourages the opposing party to take you seriously;
  • It beats the statute of limitations deadline; and
  • It gets you access to the pretrial discovery process.

The pretrial discovery process is a court-enforced system of gathering evidence, including sworn tetimony, that is in the opposing party’s possession. It can serve as a very pwoerful stimulus to settlement.

Mediation or ADR

The term ‘alternative dispute resolution’ (ADR)  refers to means other than negotiation and litigation. Although two-party negotiation is technically a form of ADR, when people use this term they usually mean mediation, arbitration, mock trial, or some other unconventional form of dispute resolution. If you file a lawsuit, the court might pressure you to participate in mediation.

Drafting the Settlement Agreement

The first step is to reach an agreement in principle. It will then be time for your lawyers to discuss the exact wording of the settlement agreement. In general, under a settlement agreement, you agree to drop your personal injury claim in exchange for a certain amount of money. Once both sides sign the settlement agreement, it becomes a binding, legally enforceable contract.

Factors That Can Delay Settlement

The following factors, among others, can significantly extend the time you need to settle:

  • The severity and complexity of your injuries 
  • Liability disputes
  • Insurance company delaying tactics 
  • Incomplete medical treatment 
  • Legal and bureaucratic complications
  • Insufficient evidence to support the claim
  • Multiple parties involved in the accident
  • Negotiation breakdowns between parties
  • Changes in law or policy affecting the claim
  • Disagreements on the value of damages, especially non-economic damages.

It is almost impossible to negotiate punitive damages, even though courts sometimes award them.

The Right Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer Can Make a Huge Difference

It might not sound fair, but the reality is that the quality of your legal representation matters when you’re trying to settle a car accident claim. Insurance companies in particular know who the quality Fort Worth personal injury lawyers are, and their attitude towards settlement can take a turn for the better if you hire the right law firm. Contact Anderson Injury Lawyers today at (817) 294-1900.