What You Need To Know When Hit By An Uninsured Driver
Written by Greg on July 9, 2013
In a perfect world, when anyone would cause an accident they would have plenty of insurance coverage to help compensate for the injuries and damages they caused. Unfortunately, in Texas, as many as one-quarter of all drivers have no car insurance or only limited coverage.
Because of the high number of uninsured drivers in the state of Texas, a prudent family will carry uninsured motorist coverage with decent limits. One of the reasons that the number of uninsured motorists is so high in the state of Texas is that the state has failed to regulate the profits of insurance companies writing auto policies in the state and that has led to record high prices for auto insurance in Texas.
Some regulatory agencies set specific targets for premiums based upon the number of claims paid out. In these instances, the cost of insurance coverage typically drops substantially because the insurance carrier is limited to a reasonable profit and not just what the market will bear. If there was true competition for insurance coverage the marketplace would satisfy the matter. However, with so few carriers, the result is the charges all look the same.
Regardless of why the insurance policies cost so much in the state of Texas, buying uninsured motorist coverage is essential when living in the state of Texas.
The First Step- Contact Your Own Auto Insurer
If you are hit by an uninsured driver who caused the accident, the first step is to contact your own insurance company and make a claim on your own policy as long as you have either collision coverage or underinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage puts your own insurance company in the place of the uninsured motorist’s insurer in that they will pay what the uninsured motorist is legally obligated to pay. In essence, this means that whatever legal damages you have incurred, will be covered by your own policy (subject to the terms and limitations of your policy). Your insurer will be free to pursue the uninsured driver to get back the money they paid out, should they so desire.
Recent case law has made uninsured motorist claims more difficult for families to prosecute in Texas and hold their own insurance company reasonably accountable for bad faith or abusive claim handling practices. In essence, in some instances, the family in Texas is required to go to trial and get a jury or judge verdict to perfect their right to uninsured motorist benefits, and your insurer is fighting in court to deny you compensation.
The first step to take when you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver is to check the insurance policy for your vehicle to see if you have coverage that may help. The next step will be to speak to the best personal injury attorney you can find about your case and how to move it forward. We recommend you speak with a reputable auto accident attorney as soon as possible and prior to giving any written or recorded statement to any insurance company.
For property damage claims, if you had collision coverage on your own policy, you will want to make a claim with your own insurance company and ask if they will “sue for or collect your deductible”. We recommend that you find a shop that you trust to repair your vehicle and let them deal directly with your insurance company regarding repairs. Being in the middle of the repair cost battle is a thankless job that does not accomplish much.
If You Don’t Have Full Coverage
If you do not have full coverage on your own auto policy after being in an accident with an uninsured driver, justice may be difficult to find. There are limited options available here they are:
- Try to find a personal injury lawyer to help. This will be tough because most successful personal injury attorneys don’t want the risk of not being able to collect after they win the case. But you really have nothing to lose IF you can get a lawyer.
- Go to small claims court yourself. This option is open, but if a lawyer is not willing to invest time and money in your case (because they worry they are wasting both time and money) do you REALLY want to pursue a case?
- Try to identify another insured party who might have responsibility for the wreck. An example could be a friend let a drinking driver borrow his car- a negligent entrustment case may be an option.
If you would like to speak with a Texas personal injury attorney, call us at (281) 587-1111!
Never a charge for an injury case evaluation!