With more than 1.6 million uninsured drivers on Texas roads, there’s a strong likelihood that you may, at some point, get hit by an uninsured driver.
Your first instinct may be to file suit against the uninsured driver to recover the cost of your damages, but that’s actually one of the least effective approaches to getting timely, fair compensation for your injuries and your property damage.
Even if you find a lawyer to take your case and you win your lawsuit, the at-fault driver with no insurance coverage can easily file for bankruptcy, leaving you further in debt.
Chances are, if you sue an uninsured driver, they will not have the assets to cover the cost of your damages.
But don’t panic. You have many other options.
Immediately file a report with your own insurance company.
In case the uninsured driver’s vehicle was covered by another driver’s policy, your insurance company may be able to help you figure out whether there is coverage. If no insurance coverage exists, you can check with your own insurance company to see if your policy includes uninsured motorist coverage. You can also ask for detailed information regarding your minimum and maximum coverage limits for this type of claim to see if it will be sufficient to cover your damages.
Find out if the uninsured driver was on the job.
Often, businesses can neglect to verify the required auto insurance required for their employees to legally drive and conduct official business. If the at-fault, uninsured driver was conducting official business during work hours, you may have legal recourse against the employer.
Make a bodily injury claim, a property damage claim, or both.
After a car accident, you can make a claim for bodily injury and a claim for property damage. Because most accidents don’t involve significant bodily injury, you will likely want to speed up a claim that will help you get your car fixed after a collision.
This is where your own insurance policy comes in.
Filing a property damage claim with your own insurance company is likely the fastest way to get your car fixed.
While it’s unfair that you should have to file a claim on your own insurance, there are little options that are as fast and effective as filing a property damage claim with your own insurance company.
If your car is leased or has a bank lien, you should have this type of coverage — as the lender usually requires it to finance the payment of the car.
If you have a policy that does not cover property damage and you are hit by an uninsured driver, you have very few options and those options are mainly bad.
Our suggestion is to call your insurance company and ask that they provide you property damage coverage. It cost a little more, but it is more than worth it if you are hit by an uninsured driver.
If you were driving in a car that was paid off, check to make sure you have property damage coverage.
If you have other vehicles that are paid off without this type of coverage, we strongly suggest you get it because you will be glad you have it when someone causes thousands of dollars of damage or completely totals your car.
You may not get the full replacement value of a totaled car unless you have gap insurance.
Insurance companies are known to undervalue or underpay their clients for the cost of replacing a totaled car.
That’s because they agree to pay “fair market value” for the car in your policy, and often that fair market value doesn’t equal the amount of payments you have left to make, putting you in a difficult situation where you can’t purchase another car until you pay off the full balance of the totaled car, or you’re forced to roll over the remaining debt into a new car loan.
This is why we suggest that people buy gap insurance to help pay for this difference.
If you suffered bodily injury, follow the same steps.
You can choose to make an uninsured motorist bodily injury claim against your own insurance if your coverage provides it. Check with your insurance company right away if you determine the at-fault driver carried no insurance whatsoever and you were injured in the accident.
You can also make a claim for personal injury protection (PIP) or Medpay, depending on what coverage you have. PIP is an extension of car insurance available in Texas that can cover medical expenses and is designed to be paid without regard to fault, making it another viable option if you are involved in an accident with someone with no car insurance.
MedPay is less common and designed to complement standard coverage, and be complicated to navigate.
Are you eligible for the Crime Victim’s Fund?
The Texas Crime Victim’s Fund may cover part of your expenses if the type of accident you were involved in includes any of the following crimes: Failure to Stop and Render Aid, DWI, Manslaughter, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Aggravated Assault, Intoxication Manslaughter and Intoxication Assault.
However, some restrictions apply and, under certain circumstances, you may be required to pay the fund back if you obtain money from another source for the accident.
Seek help to navigate these options and negotiate a fair claim.
Beyond receiving any amount of benefits from your insurance company as a result of your accident involving an uninsured driver, you should always strive to get the fairest compensation.
Insurance companies will often negotiate claims with much lower compensation rates than what a driver is realistically entitled to. It’s important to make sure you’re treated fairly and honestly in any negotiations with an insurance company.
If your insurance company won’t treat you fairly then you should take your case to court. By way of example, we recently tried a case where the insurance company refused to pay policy limits to our client and, thus, we recommended that he go to trial.
After a four day trial, the jury awarded our client an amount far in excess of his policy limit. With this verdict in hand, we were able to force the insurance company to pay its policy limits.