Car accidents can be overwhelming, and the aftermath can be painful, costly, and confusing. Even more confusing is when the accident involves a stolen vehicle and determining who is liable and whether the actual owner of the stolen vehicle can be held responsible for your injuries. Damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, damage to your car, and pain and suffering such as depression, anxiety, loss of a family member’s support.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a stolen vehicle accident in Austin, Texas, then you are likely wondering who may be liable for the damages resulting from the crash. Read on to learn more.
What’s in This Guide
- Texas Law on Stolen Vehicle Crashes
- Compensation for Damages Caused by a Stolen Vehicle Accident
- The Role of Your Coverage
Texas Law on Stolen Vehicle Crashes
Each state has its laws on whether the owner is liable in the case of a stolen car accident. According to Texas transportation law, the registered owner of the stolen vehicle is generally not responsible to the third party, including victims, due to the negligent operation of their vehicle by a thief. However, there is a limited exception to the general rule, which may apply and benefit the outcome of your case.
Exception to General Texas Rule:
If the theft was “reasonably foreseeable” to the owner, then that means at the time of the owner’s actions, the consequences of their actions were reasonably foreseeable, and the theft could have been avoidable or preventable. In such a case, the owner will likely be held responsible to third parties, including you—the victim of a stolen vehicle accident.
The following are illustrative examples where a car owner has practically invited a thief to steal their vehicle:
- Where the registered owner of the vehicle leaves the car unlocked with the keys inside while the car is unattended.
- The owner leaves the unattended car running with the key in the ignition while at a gas station.
- The owner leaves their car in a secluded area with the windows open.
In these examples, such conduct on the part of the owner would make it reasonably foreseeable or likely that a thief would steal the owner’s car and harm others.
Compensation for Damages Caused by a Stolen Vehicle Accident
An experienced Austin car accident lawyer can effectively advocate on your behalf by negotiating with the stolen car owner’s insurance company to persuasively establish fault to cover the costs of your losses.
Importantly, an attorney will be prepared to anticipate and argue against any defenses raised by the other party’s insurance provider. For example, the company will likely accuse you of causing the accident, which would reduce your damages under Texas’ modified comparative negligence approach— further discussed below.
A Texas personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complex issues and legal process of dealing with liability and damages. Such an attorney is critical to ensuring your rights to full compensation are protected where the owner of the stolen vehicle is liable for your injury by gathering evidence and facts to support this position. Going without skilled legal help reduces your chances of recovery if it is determined you were mostly at fault.
Texas’ Car Crash Fault Approach
Texas is among several states that use a modified comparative negligence approach for assigning the percentage of fault and damages between parties.
- No recovery: If you are discovered to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, then you cannot recover compensation for your losses.
- Reduced recovery: If you are found to be under 50% liable, then your total award will be deducted by that percentage of fault. For example, if you were 25% responsible and you are seeking $50,000 in compensation, then that amount is lowered by 25%.
- Full recovery: Ideally, if the other party is fully at fault, then you are likely entitled to the full and fair amount of compensation for the damages you suffered because of the accident.
The Role of Your Coverage
Some of the most common and expensive consequences after a car accident are the medical costs associated with injuries. Paying off growing high medical bills is a major aspect of being compensated on any personal injury case. It is worth considering additional coverage for your peace of mind so that you can protect yourself against being left without enough medical coverage. For these reasons, it is a good idea to prepare by adding extra protection to cover injuries in the event of a car accident.
You can add coverage to your existing car insurance policy to give you sufficient coverage in the unexpected event of a car accident, especially a complex one involving a stolen vehicle.
In Texas, Personal Injury Protection is automatically included in your car insurance policy
However, you can opt-out in writing. This insurance is helpful to keep as it will cover your medical bills, loss of income, and other costs.
Collision Coverage can be used to cover damages to your personal property, i.e., your car repairs and/or replacement due to a car collision. Additionally, rental car coverage can reimburse you for the costs of renting a vehicle.
An experienced Austin car accident attorney can guide you on car insurance plan options. Additionally, your insurance plan must provide you with a Consumer Bill of Rights, which can help you understand the details of your coverage.
- Using a Vehicle’s Black Box to Help Prove Liability for an Austin Car Crash
- Filing a Car Accident Claim with an Expired Tag in Austin, TX
Speak to an Austin, Texas Stolen Vehicle Car Accident Attorney
Instead of struggling on your own to find accountant ability for your injuries, you should be focusing on healing and recovery. The dedicated Patel Firm attorneys have extensive experience with car accident cases involving stolen vehicles. We are committed to helping you navigate the complex legal issues involved in crashes that involve stolen vehicles and ensure you receive the full and fair compensation you are entitled to for your injuries. The best way to get started is to call (361) 400-2036 to schedule a free evaluation where we can discuss the details of your case and share our legal insights.