A car accident can have devastating effects on your health and your finances. This is why, according to Texas law, all drivers must have an insurance policy covering at least $60,000 for injuries and $25,000 for property damage. But what happens if you get into an accident with a driver that’s not insured? How will you be compensated for your injuries and losses? The first step you must take is hiring a car accident attorney to review your case and draft a strategy.
Ask a Car Accident Attorney: What if the Other Driver Isn’t Insured?
The first step after a collision with an uninsured driver is to notify the police, who will issue a citation and revoke the other driver’s license. The police officer will create a report that you will need to provide when you file your claim with your insurance company or when you file a lawsuit against the uninsured driver.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, over four million drivers are uninsured, or their policies do not cover the mandatory limits. Based on these statistics, it’s essential to consider buying uninsured or underinsured driver’s coverage when you purchase your insurance policy.
File a Claim With Your Insurance
Suppose your policy covers uninsured or underinsured drivers (their coverage is not enough to cover your medical expenses, losses, and property damages). In that case, you will need to file a claim with them. After filing, an insurance adjuster will begin an investigation to determine liability (it’s important to note that Texas follows a modified comparative fault law, in which one of the parties has to be less than 51% responsible for the accident to recover any damages).
During the insurance company’s investigation process, adjusters may contact you asking for details about the accident. After an accident, you may continue to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed, and it’s easy to make mistakes, such as an involuntary admission of fault by saying, for example, that you were overly tired or distracted. It’s important to remember that adjusters will try to find ways to save the insurer’s money, so it’s not recommended to talk with them without your attorney present.
The Settlement Offer
If the adjuster’s investigation results show that your claim has merit, they will likely offer a settlement amount to avoid going to court. Always review the offer with your attorney before accepting. Ensure that it covers your expenses (including long-lasting treatments such as physical therapy), property damages, and present and future loss of income within your policy’s limits.
File a Lawsuit
There are two situations in which you will need to take your case to trial:
- If you don’t have uninsured coverage and want the other party to pay for your damages and losses
- If you have underinsured or uninsured coverage, but your insurance company denied your claim
Suing an Uninsured Driver
Uninsured drivers are liable for damages and losses resulting from an accident, and they also face a fine of up to $4,000 and a year in jail if they cause severe injuries or death. However, a trial against an uninsured driver may be tricky, as some people argue that they don’t have insurance because they can’t afford it (which also means they will not be able to afford to pay for your damages and expenses).
Suppose you decide to proceed with a lawsuit. In that case, it’s imperative to ask your lawyer to run a credit check on the liable party to determine if they have any assets and file a lien on those assets to prevent the other party from unloading them before or during the proceedings. If the court decides in your favor, they will set a compensation amount. Even if the other party cannot pay you a lump sum, the court will order a weekly or monthly payment plan.
How to Find a Good Car Accident Lawyer?
Accident attorneys should have experience and knowledge of state and federal laws. The best way to find an attorney is through personal recommendations (ask friends, family, and coworkers). If this choice is not available to you, consult the Texas bar association to get a list of lawyer’s in your area. Before hiring someone, review their online presence for red flags, such as angry customer reviews or news about lost cases.
If you feel more comfortable with a lawyer who speaks Spanish, you can also search for “Abogados de accidentes en Texas” to find law firms that offer bilingual services. You should know that not all accident lawyers will take a case against an uninsured driver, and if they do, they will likely ask for a retainer fee.
After a car accident, you may be in physical pain and confused about your options. You need a lawyer to help you fight for your rights.