Car accidents are scary, and the aftermath is often stressful. This stress compounds dramatically when you find out the driver who hit you has no insurance. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence.
Across the U.S., 12.6 percent of drivers are uninsured. The state of Texas ranks third in the nation, with 1.6 million uninsured drivers on the road.
If you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in an accident with an uninsured driver, it can be difficult to know what to do next. Uninsured motorist laws vary by state, so the location of your accident will have a major impact on your legal rights and responsibilities.
Here’s what you need to know if you are hit by a driver with no insurance in the state of Texas.
Uninsured Motorist Laws in Texas
Texas law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance. This coverage pays for the other person’s injuries and expenses if you cause a motor vehicle accident. Minimum insurance coverage requirements in Texas are:
- $30,000 per injured person
- $60,000 total per accident
- $25,000 property damage per accident
It’s important to note that this coverage, also known as 30/60/25, is the bare minimum that allows drivers to operate a vehicle in Texas. In many cases, this coverage is not sufficient to pay for the actual damage that occurs. This is known as being underinsured.
The following information applies whether the driver at fault is uninsured, underinsured, or you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run.
Here are the six most important steps to take after an accident involving a driver with no insurance.
Seek Medical Attention
First, seek medical attention right away. Do not delay this due to concerns over your ability to pay. Failing to seek immediate attention can make your injuries far worse in the long run.
You may feel fine initially, but the following symptoms tend to show up a few days after an accident:
- General discomfort
Being seen by a doctor right away is not only the best thing for your health, it can greatly improve the success of future legal claims. If you wait a few days, it will be harder to prove that the problems resulted from the vehicle accident.
If possible, take photos at the scene of the accident. Document traffic flow, road signs, and anything else that might be relevant. Take photos of your vehicle damage from many different angles and distances. Take down the name and contact information of any witnesses.
Write out the details of your experience while it’s still fresh in your mind. If you miss work or suffer other financial damages, keep track of your losses. If you are suffering physical ailments, maintain a daily journal documenting your issues.
Keep the contact information of every medical professional you see and take detailed notes of what was discussed during your visit. Retain copies of all medical bills, correspondence, and payment receipts. Tack your travel expenses for medical treatments.
Check Your Own Insurance Policy
Your own auto insurance policy may include coverage for uninsured and under-insured motorists. This coverage applies to you, your passengers, and anybody who drives your car with your permission. It provides benefits up to the coverage limits for any of the following:
- Medical expenses
- Vehicle repairs
- Replacement of damaged vehicle contents
- Car rental costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent or partial disability
- Funeral expenses
If you’re not sure about your insurance coverage, contact your agent for a review.
Confirm That the Driver Has No Insurance
The next step is to confirm that the driver at fault is, in fact, uninsured. In some cases, insurance companies initially deny a claim only to end up reversing their denial and paying for it at a later time.
When engaging with insurance companies, remember that it’s to their advantage to avoid paying for your expenses. Don’t take their answers at face value. If your claim was denied, request written notification stating that the driver has no insurance.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage, simply provide the letter to your insurance company. At that point, it is their responsibility to investigate the claim.
Understand Your Potential Outcome
If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage and it’s been confirmed that the other driver has no insurance, it may be very difficult to be reimbursed for your damages. You have the option to sue the driver, but it’s likely that the reason they don’t have insurance in the first place is due to lack of income.
Taking the driver to court can result in the receipt of a judgment entitling you to collect money from the guilty party. However, this person may be able to simply declare bankruptcy and avoid paying what they owe you while retaining most of their assets. Unfortunately, there is very little recourse in this situation.
Consult an Attorney
Whether or not you have uninsured motorist coverage, it’s recommended that you consult an attorney.
Serious injuries like facial scarring or broken limbs can result in significant medical expenses. A qualified legal professional who is willing to fight for your rights will minimize the chances that you will have to cover these costs out of your own pocket.
At The Law Office of Julie Johnson, we are serious about helping accident victims. We will fight hard to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been in an auto accident, particularly with a driver who has no insurance, you can benefit from a no-cost consultation.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We will review the details of your individual case and discuss how we may be able to assist. Don’t go it alone, we’re here to help.