One in eight people, more than 12% of U.S. motorists, drive without insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council. With over 8% of Texans driving without auto insurance, you are bound to be involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver.
If you are hit by a driver with no insurance, you need uninsured motorist coverage. Without it, you can be out of luck getting compensation for your injuries, vehicle damage, and lost wages. The Houston car accident lawyers at Johnson Garcia LLP can help you navigate the stressful circumstances of being in an accident with an uninsured driver in Texas.
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist insurance or UM pays expenses for you and your passengers when you’re in a car accident with:
- A driver who doesn’t carry the state-required liability insurance.
- A driver who doesn’t have enough liability insurance.
- A driver whose insurance company denies coverage.
Texas doesn’t require you to carry uninsured motorist coverage, although it’s offered to everyone under state law. It’s a highly recommended add-on that can be a lifesaver especially after a hit-and-run accident which can be covered by a UM policy.
How uninsured motorist coverage works
Uninsured motorist coverage puts your insurance provider in the position of taking the place of the uninsured driver.
Damages that uninsured motorist coverage can cover include:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Long-term care
Specifically, uninsured motorist coverage comes in two forms:
- Bodily injury (UMBI): Uninsured motorist bodily injury covers you and any passengers for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Property damage (UMPD): Uninsured motorist property damage coverage helps you with the cost of repairs, up to the policy limits. It could also cover a collision deductible, rental car costs or other out-of-pocket expenses.
Uninsured motorist policy minimums in Texas are:
- $30,000 bodily injury coverage per person;
- $60,000 bodily injury coverage per accident;
- $25,000 for property damage; or
- $85,000 combined limit for each accident.
Note: You must meet a $250 deductible before the UM kicks in. According to the Texas Automobile Insurance Guide, you can add more coverage in $5,000 increments.
Keep in mind, uninsured motorist coverage is also “stackable” in Texas. Stacking allows you to add insurance coverage from several auto policies or insurance coverage from family members.
What to do if you get in an accident with an uninsured driver in Texas
Being in a car accident is scary. When you’re hit by an uninsured driver, the situation becomes more complicated. Follow these steps from our Houston car accident lawyers:
Step 1- Call the police
No matter how minor the accident, contact the police. Driving without insurance in Texas is a crime resulting in penalties such as a citation, fines up to $1,100, and driver’s license revocation.
When police arrive, they will document all relevant information so make sure to gather the following:
- Driver and passenger names
- License plate numbers
- Driver’s license number
- Makes and models of vehicles
- Witness contact information
Step 2 - Seek immediate medical care
To build a strong accident claim, you will need proof of your resulting injuries. The best proof is to seek immediate medical care and maintain all medical records. Even if you feel fine, you may have hidden injuries that could develop later. Without proper medical attention, it will be difficult to obtain the compensation you may be entitled to.
Step 3 - Contact your insurance company
Normally, you would contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company because they should be financially responsible. But you can’t file a claim with a driver’s insurance provider if they don’t have insurance. Try filing an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company. Your provider may cover your medical bills and property repairs.
Step 4 - Hire an attorney and file a personal injury claim
You could hold the at-fault driver liable for your damages without insurance. But most drivers that don’t carry insurance, don’t have the funds to pay out-of-pocket. Your Houston car accident attorney can investigate the at-fault driver’s background and discover potential outlets for recovery. For example, the driver’s employer may be indirectly liable, if the driver was on-duty at the time of the accident.
Additionally, a third-party who may have played a part in the accident, such as negligent roadway maintenance crews, or defective car manufacturers, may be fully or partially responsible. Third-party liability is always an option in a car accident case, even without a fully insured at-fault driver.
Injured in an accident with an uninsured driver in Texas?
At Johnson Garcia LLP, we know uninsured motorist insurance can help you fill the gaps so you can receive the compensation you deserve for being victimized by an uninsured driver after an accident. But insurance companies do not always play fair. With over 30 years of combined experience, our Our Houston car accident lawyers stand ready to fight, even your own insurance company, for a fair settlement. Contact us online today or give us a call for a free consultation and pay nothing unless we win for you.