What Should I Do If I’m Hit By An Uninsured Driver?
When people violate the rules, they should pay the consequences. Even children understand this simple, basic reality of life. If someone crashes into your vehicle, you expect that person to pay for the property damage as well as for any personal injuries that you sustain. That’s fair, but as any Texas car accident lawyer can tell you, far too many of us are injured each year on Texas streets and highways by drivers who break the rules by driving with no automobile insurance or with “discount” minimum auto insurance coverage.
Under Texas law, drivers in this state are required to carry automobile liability insurance. The minimum coverage is $25,000 per injured person, with a $50,000 cap for all persons who are injured in the same collision. Texas law makes motorists responsible to pay for the accidents and injuries they cause, but plenty of drivers in Texas carry no auto insurance coverage – for a simple reason. They’re broke, so even if you win a personal injury claim against a driver with no insurance, he or she can respond by declaring bankruptcy and thus escaping accountability.
Uninsured drivers are a serious problem everywhere. The Insurance Research Council estimates that 14 percent of all drivers in the United States are uninsured, and in some states the number may be as high as 25 percent. If you are injured by a driver who has no auto insurance, who has insufficient insurance, or if you are injured by a hit-and-run driver who cannot be identified or located, what are your options? In the greater Houston area, if you are injured by a negligent driver, seek medical attention first and immediately, and then arrange to consult with an experienced Houston personal injury attorney.
WHAT IS UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE?
Uninsured motorist coverage is additional auto insurance coverage that you can obtain from your auto insurance provider. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you when you are involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver, with a driver who does not have auto insurance, or with a driver who has only minimal coverage but is found to be at fault for the accident. Usually, the amount of uninsured motorist coverage that you can purchase may not exceed the amount of your standard liability coverage. The best way to protect yourself from uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run drivers is to have the maximum uninsured motorist coverage.
Underinsured motorist coverage is similar. It pays for damages when you are hit by a driver who has insurance but not enough insurance to pay for your injuries, vehicle damages, and other losses. Underinsured motorist coverage helps to cover the difference between the other motorist’s coverage and the total amount of your losses in a collision with an underinsured motorist.
After an accident, most insurance companies limit the length of time that policyholders have to make uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist claims. Sometimes, drivers have as few as thirty days to file a claim. File immediately if you learn that the driver who crashed into you was uninsured or underinsured, and if you were injured by that driver, arrange a consultation immediately with an experienced personal injury attorney.
IF YOU’RE INJURED BY AN UNINSURED DRIVER, CAN YOU SUE? SHOULD YOU?
If you are injured in a collision with an uninsured driver, and if you live in a no-fault auto insurance state, pursuing a lawsuit may not be an option that is available to you. It depends on the state as explained by a leading Palm Springs personal injury lawyer. In a no-fault state, every driver is responsible for his or her own damages and injuries. Typically in those states, you cannot sue the other driver unless you have sustained serious and costly injuries. However, like most states, Texas operates under a fault-based system of personal injury recovery and auto insurance.
Of course, even if you prevail with a personal injury claim by proving that the other driver was at fault for the collision and your injuries, you may not be able to collect any compensation from a driver who can’t even afford minimal insurance coverage. Your best protection against uninsured and underinsured Texas motorists is to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your own current auto insurance policy. Then, as soon as you learn that a driver who has injured you is uninsured or underinsured, and before you take any other action, speak to an experienced car accident attorney about your legal options.
WHAT IS COVERED BY UNINSURED MOTORIST INSURANCE?
Uninsured motorist insurance covers personal injuries, and in some states, some uninsured motorist policies also cover vehicle damages. The bodily injury part of uninsured motorist coverage may also cover injuries to passengers in a traffic collision.
A Houston personal injury attorney can discuss the details with you, but if you are injured in a traffic crash anywhere in the state of Texas, take these steps first:
Seek medical attention at once: If you are injured, medical attention must be your priority. If you do not obtain treatment at once, and if you later file a personal injury claim, the insurance company may argue that you weren’t really injured in the accident or that your injury was prior to the accident. Some injuries can remain latent or undiscovered for days or even weeks, so even if you don’t think you are injured, have a checkup as soon as possible after any traffic crash.
Do not sign any insurance documents or even speak with an insurance adjuster. Your personal injury lawyer – who is a trained and experienced negotiator – will handle all of the discussions and negotiations on your behalf.
Do not try to be your own lawyer. If you have been injured in traffic, your health and your future may be genuinely at risk. Personal injury law in Texas is complicated and sometimes baffling, and your personal injury claim is too important to be handled by an amateur. After most traffic accidents with injuries, an experienced attorney can negotiate a reasonable out-of-court agreement on your behalf.
Roughly one out of every seven drivers in the United States is driving without any automobile insurance coverage whatsoever. If you drive in the state of Texas and you do not currently carry uninsured motorist coverage, talk right away with your auto insurance agent regarding your alternatives. For responsible drivers in the Houston area and throughout the state of Texas, carrying some kind of uninsured motorist coverage is absolutely essential.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.