Being involved in a serious car accident is terrifying and stressful, but even more so if you find out the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. By law, drivers in Houston must carry liability auto insurance, but that does not stop people from driving without it.
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Options for Compensation After an Accident with an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
Since Texas is a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents, normally, you would file an insurance claim directly with the at-fault party’s insurer. Therefore, your options for compensation after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist will likely depend on your own auto insurance coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM): Another driver is at fault and does not have liability insurance. Your insurer will help pay for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage, up to your policy’s limits.
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM): The at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits are insufficient to cover your losses from the accident. Your insurer will help pay for your expenses that go above and beyond what the at-fault driver’s policy covers.
Texas law requires insurance companies to offer UM/UIM coverage, but it is not required as part of a driver’s policy.
Collision coverage is another optional form of insurance. If you carry it, you can file a claim to help pay for vehicle damage regardless of who was at fault, but you will be responsible for paying your deductible.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you get into an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or adequate coverage, you have the right to call a personal injury attorney and file a lawsuit against them. However, many individuals who drive uninsured or underinsured do not have the financial means to pay a judgment. Therefore, pursuing a case in court may be a waste of time and money.
What To Do After an Uninsured Driver Hits You
There are critical steps to take after an accident caused by an uninsured driver:
Call the Police
The at-fault driver may ask you not to call the police, but it is always a good idea to notify law enforcement after an accident, especially if the other party does not carry auto insurance. The police report will include that fact, which can help make your claims process easier.
Seek Medical Care
When you call 911, emergency responders will arrive on the scene to treat and transport you to the hospital if necessary. On the other hand, if your injuries are not severe and you remain at the scene, be sure to see a physician as soon as possible after leaving.
You will need the uninsured driver’s contact information and also ask for it from any witnesses. Witness statements can be very beneficial when filing your insurance claim or a lawsuit.
Take pictures or videos of the damage done to the vehicles, their positions after impact, the other driver’s license plate, any traffic signs, debris, the accident as a whole, and your injuries.
Notify Your Insurer
Report the accident to your insurance company and discuss your coverage options.