Texas Car Repairs: Paying for Car Repairs after an Accident

Reviewed by Louis Patino, JD, DC

Louis Patino, JD, DC
A former U.S. Army Combat Medic, Dr. Louis Patino is a distinguished attorney recognised by Top Attorneys of America, Expertise, and the American Institute of Trial Lawyers. He has a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Southern University and a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker College of Chiropractic.

getting car repaired after accident

A car accident can cause severe damage. If you’re lucky enough to walk away from an accident with only a few minor bumps and bruises, your car will have done its job and absorbed most of the impact. But whatever the extent of your injuries, you will likely face hefty car repair costs.

We look at your options for getting your car repaired after an accident, from using your own insurance coverage to pursuing a personal injury claim, and answer your top questions about Texas car repairs, including who’s liable for the cost and where you should go to fix or replace your vehicle.

Who’s Responsible for Paying for My Car Repairs?

Texas is a fault state, meaning every driver must carry insurance to cover the costs incurred by others when they cause an accident.

Texas law outlines the minimum liability coverage limits motorists must have:

  • A minimum of $30,000 of coverage for injuries
  • Up to $60,000 coverage per accident
  • $25,000 coverage for property damage.

Liability insurance covers all losses suffered by an injured party, whether the costs of medical treatment for physical injuries, lost wages from being unable to work during recovery, repairing vehicle damage, or replacing a totaled car.

If you cause a crash and damage another driver’s vehicle, your insurance will pay for their repairs, but it will not cover the cost of fixing your vehicle.

Likewise, if your car is damaged in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you can claim on the at-fault driver’s insurance to pay for your repairs.

Step 1: Determining Liability

Your options for getting your car repaired after an accident in Texas depend on two primary factors:

  • If you are at fault.
  • Your insurance policy.

If the car accident wasn’t your fault, you can recover your repair costs from the at-fault party’s insurance company.

If the accident was your fault or the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you can claim on your insurance — depending on your policy.

For example, if the rear of your car is damaged after a speeding driver crashes into you, the blame lies squarely with the other motorist.

If you fall asleep at the wheel due to fatigue and damage your car after veering into oncoming traffic, you should explore your policy limits to see if you can claim on your insurance. If others are injured due to your actions, they can recover their losses from your insurance.

But there is a potential third door.

If your accident was partly your fault, you may be able to cover the costs of your car repairs via a personal injury lawsuit.

For example, if one driver suddenly brakes because they were texting, and the driver in the car behind is following too closely and rear-ends them, both drivers could be liable — the first driver for texting while driving and being inattentive, and the second driver for tailgating. As long as the court finds the plaintiff (the party pursuing the lawsuit) less than 51% at fault for the accident, they can recover a proportionate amount of compensation under Texas modified comparative negligence laws.

Now you know your potential options, let’s explore the finer details of how to get your car repaired.

Getting Your Car Repaired after a Texas Accident: Your Insurer

If you’re responsible for your crash and exploring your options for paying for repairs, your next step should be to check your policy to see what’s included.

Liability coverage, as covered, only pays for losses incurred by others involved in your Texas car accident. However, you can file an insurance claim to repair or replace your car if you have collision coverage.

Should You Claim on Your Insurance if Your Texas Car Accident Wasn’t Your Fault?

If someone else caused your accident and you have collision coverage, you might be tempted to use your insurance. The process is much faster than pursuing compensation from the at-fault party, and you will not need to prove liability.

You will need to pay a deductible for your car repairs, which will affect how much you receive — at least in the short term. For example, if your policy has a $500 collision deductible and your expenses total 2,000, your insurance company will pay the difference, leaving you with $1,500.

If it’s later determined that you are not responsible for the accident, your insurer should refund your deductible and recover the cost of your claim from the at-fault party’s insurance company — a process called subrogation.

The Process of Getting Your Car Repaired after an Accident: The At-Fault Party’s Insurer

Repairing your vehicle after a car accident can be a costly job. A bumper repair can set you back up to $2,000, and if you need a frame repaired, you’re potentially looking at an eye-watering five figures. Even repairing cosmetic damage, such as a scratch, can cost several thousands of dollars.

Assuming the at-fault driver has only the minimum liability insurance coverage required in Texas, what might initially seem like a significant sum — $25,000 for property damage — can quickly be depleted.

That’s why most drivers opt for increased liability insurance — it protects their finances if they cause a severe accident. Otherwise, they’ll be left to pay from their own pocket.

This fact makes an insurance claim worthwhile for many motorists, even if they rack up substantial repair bills for a valuable car.

Recovering the costs of getting your car repaired from the at-fault party’s insurer can be time-consuming, as the driver will rarely admit liability. This means you’ll need evidence proving they caused the accident.

Evidence can come in the form of the crash report filed by police, accident photography — such as skid marks and the position of vehicles, which can indicate a late braking maneuver — eyewitness testimony, or an accident reconstruction.

The insurance company will appoint an insurance adjuster to investigate your claim. Their job is two-fold: to determine whether their customer (the at-fault driver) is liable and to assess your losses.

It’s vital to be careful about what you say to the insurance adjuster. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and the less they pay out in claims, the bigger the bottom line. It’s not uncommon for adjusters to ask leading questions and use your statements against you to justify a low payout or dispute liability.

If your vehicle has sustained severe damage in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should speak to our McAllen accident attorney. We can explain your options for getting your car repaired and recovering the cost from the person responsible and explain what other compensation you might be entitled to.

The main benefit of claiming via the other party’s insurance is you will not need to worry about your deductible, which you’ll need to pay if you claim on your policy.

Do You Need to Use the Body Shop Recommended by the Insurance Company?

Certain insurance companies have a preferred auto shop they recommend for estimates and car repairs. The benefit is the repair shop will be reputable and vetted, and the turnaround will likely be fast because the insurance company is a repeat customer. However, this comes with a downside — since the repair shop is familiar with the insurance company and wants to continue getting work, they may reduce their estimates.

You are entitled to a second opinion, so do not be afraid to consult other auto shops for estimates.

You are also not obligated to use the body shop recommended.

Section 1952.301 of the Texas Insurance Code prevents insurance companies from requiring individuals to use a specific repair service. They also cannot require that your car repairs use second-hand or aftermarket parts to cut costs.

When you receive an estimate from the insurance company, it is worth going to your chosen provider to see if they can repair your vehicle for the proposed amount. While you can choose the types of parts to be used, the insurance company only has to pay a reasonable amount for repairs, so you cannot take advantage of the opportunity to get an upgrade on the parts you had before your accident.

What If the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

Despite the law requiring motorists to hold liability insurance, many do not.

A driver may not have coverage if they’re driving someone else’s car and aren’t listed on the policy, such as if they’ve borrowed a family member’s vehicle. Sometimes, the liable driver may have stolen a car before causing an accident. Often, a driver doesn’t have insurance because they’ve missed a payment or failed to renew their policy.

Our research into 2023 Texas auto accident statistics found that 5,664 people sustained suspected serious injuries in accidents where at least one party had expired or insufficient proof of financial security — one of the rare statistics that increased compared to 2022.

As you cannot recover the cost of car accident repairs from an insurance company when the at-fault motorist doesn’t have coverage, your best option is to claim on your insurance. Collision coverage will pay for your car accident repairs if you have it, regardless of fault, but you should check specifically for uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.

This type of car insurance pays for your motor’s repairs when the at-fault driver is uninsured, or the cost of repairs exceeds the driver’s policy limits. This can happen when your vehicle sustains severe damage, and the at-fault driver has only the minimum liability coverage required by Texas law. For example, if the driver’s policy covers $25,000 for property damage and it will cost $30,000 to repair or replace your vehicle, you will receive the full amount, providing you have at least $5,000 in underinsured motorist coverage.

Texas law imposes a mandatory $250 deductible on repairs when you have UMI protection, but this may prove more cost-effective than the deductible for collision coverage.

If a driver causes your Texas car accident and is uninsured, you might assume you have a strong case for filing a lawsuit. By driving without insurance, they have violated traffic laws. This violation constitutes negligence per se — what you must prove to recover compensation. However, that doesn’t mean a lawsuit will be worthwhile.

The primary reason motorists drive without insurance is they cannot afford it. If they cannot keep up with auto insurance payments, they are unlikely to be able to afford a compensation payout. A judge can impose a lien on any other owned property or impose a payment plan, but this scenario means it can take years for you to recover compensation.

Lawsuits are also time-consuming and costly, so you may decide going to court isn’t worth the headache on the off-chance you may someday receive the money for your car repairs.

You should speak with an accident attorney if an uninsured or underinsured driver has caused your crash. We can assess your case and explore your options for getting your car repaired after your Texas accident.

Get legal advice on how to fix your car after an accident that wasn’t your fault, including who’s responsible for paying for repairs and what to do if your car is totaled. Book a free, no-obligation case review with our San Antonio and McAllen car accident attorney.

What If Your Car Is Totaled?

Sadly, the damage to your car may be so severe that the cost of repairing it is more than what your car is worth.

This is especially likely to be the case if you have an older car and sustain significant damage beyond the cosmetic.

In this case, insurers may declare a car a total loss. The Texas Transportation Code has this statute to protect people when they purchase a vehicle, so they are aware if it has previously been damaged.

When a vehicle is declared a total loss, the insurer must pay the market value of your vehicle based on its condition before your accident.

Unfortunately, insurers may use this to their advantage, even if your car can be repaired.

For example, if your car is worth $6,000, but your repair costs total $10,000, an insurer will likely deem your car a total loss — after all, they won’t want to pay $10,000 when they can pay the pre-market value and save money.

This leaves you with a choice — you can take the offer and use that cash to buy yourself a new car or hang onto a currently undrivable car that could be worth more once fully repaired.

Insurers often take possession of a car and sell it for a profit, only for the buyer to repair the car and sell it for even more.

However, you do have a third option: hire a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio to file a personal injury claim.

Filing a Car Accident Claim with a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’re in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you’re entitled to recover compensation from the at-fault party. You already know you can retrieve the costs of getting your car repaired, but a personal injury claim can also help you recover:

  • Costs for medical expenses, including initial treatment, tests, appointments, emergency room fees, surgeries, physical therapy, and transport to and from the hospital
  • Your lost wages if you’re unable to work
  • Damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and the overall impact of your injuries on your life.

As a result, a car accident settlement can be sizable. If you’re wondering how much you could be entitled to, you can use our personal injury calculator or get in touch with our Texas personal injury lawyer, who can file a claim on your behalf, gather evidence to prove who’s responsible, and negotiate the highest possible settlement.

If your car is classified as a total loss or you disagree with the insurance adjuster’s evaluation of how much it will cost to get your car repaired after your accident, our attorney can also seek independent valuations to secure a fair sum to fix or replace your vehicle.

Our car accident attorney in San Antonio and McAllen can explain your options for getting your car repaired after an accident in Texas and secure the compensation you deserve. We make the process as easy and stress-free as possible so you can focus on moving forward. To book a free, no-obligation case review and see if you have a claim, fill in the contact form or call Law Ninja Dr. Louis Patino and his team at 855-LAW-NINJA today. Se habla Español, and you don’t pay until we win.

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