Were you involved in a car accident in Houston with an underinsured or uninsured driver? Attorney Brian White & Associates, PC can help you recover the fair compensation you are entitled to and deserve, whether through a lawsuit with the at-fault driver or your own insurance policy. Call our Houston car accident lawyers to arrange a case evaluation and review of your legal rights. The consultation is free, and there are no fees unless we recover money for you.
Insurance: First Steps After a Crash With an Uninsured Motorist
Even if the other driver did not have insurance, you can still recover compensation for your injuries under your own uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) policy.
A UM/UIM claim is filed with your own insurance company. If the other driver had minimum coverage, and you suffered damages which exceeded the driver’s policy, you would pursue a claim first against the driver’s insurance, and then file a UM/UIM claim with your own insurance company.
Immediately after an accident, review your insurance policy language and see what type and kinds of coverage you had, including UM/UIM insurance, and PIP Insurance. If you have PIP coverage, you can file for it immediately, and it should be paid as long as your accident meets certain criteria.
If the other driver was not insured or had only minimum insurance, you may have a very small window of time to file a UM/UIM claim, as few as 30 days. Texas law prohibits insurance companies from raising premiums on policyholders who file UM/UIM insurance claims. If you have UM/UIM coverage, you should absolutely use it if you need it.
Don’t hesitate to contact the Houston personal injury lawyers at Attorney Brian White & Associates, PC, if you need help dealing with your insurance provider. Despite what the company might say in ads on TV, they’re certainly not on your side or looking out for your best interests. Our team can help you cut to the chase, neutralize tactics designed to minimize your payout, and work to secure a full financial recovery for you.
Texas is a Tort Liability State – What Does This Mean?
Car insurance is regulated at the state level, and states have very different requirements when it comes to financial responsibility for a car accident, and for minimum insurance requirements. There are four broad categories of auto insurance which states may fall under: no-fault, choice no-fault, tort liability, and add-on.
Texas is a tort liability state, which has no restrictions on personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits.
Like all states except New Hampshire, Texas has required minimum amounts of liability coverage, which pays other drivers if they are injured in a vehicle accident. Texas’ car insurance minimum requirements are 30/60/25, which means a driver must have:
- Bodily Injury Coverage: $30,000 per person (the maximum amount covering one person injured in a car accident)
- Bodily Injury Coverage: $60,000 per accident (the maximum amount that covers an accident if more than one person is hurt).
- Property Damage Coverage: $25,000 per accident (this is the maximum amount covering property damage in an accident).
These requirements are the minimum required by law to legally drive, and it’s important to remember that the minimum required does not cover you, or your vehicle. Having only the minimum required by law will likely not be sufficient.
In Texas, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a no-fault coverage offered that covers “reasonable and necessary” medical care expenses that arise out of a car accident. This is payable regardless of who is at fault for an accident. You can file a claim for these benefits before you receive a police report.
Personal injury attorneys and financial advisors always recommend having more than state minimum requirements, and always having uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to protect you.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Texas
In 2018, the Houston Chronicle ran an article titled “Out of Control: Houston’s roads, drivers are nation’s most deadly.” The article went on to say that 640 people per year are killed, and 2,850 people are seriously injured, on Houston roads. Accidents are further complicated when they involve an uninsured driver.
The Insurance Research Council reported in 2017 that an estimated 14.1% of drivers in Texas were uninsured.
Another way of thinking of this – if you get into an accident in Texas, there is about a one in eight chance that the driver will not have insurance.
When you purchase a Texas car insurance policy, the insurance company is legally required to offer you uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you do not want this coverage, you must tell the company in writing. UM/UIM cover covers both in a few possible scenarios:
- You are injured by a hit-and-run driver who flees the scene
- You are injured by someone driving a stolen car
- Your damages are beyond the at-fault driver’s liability limit.
If you are considering if you can afford UM/UIM insurance, it may be better to ask yourself if you can afford NOT to have UM/UIM insurance. If you are injured in an accident caused by someone with either no insurance or the minimum required by law, the financial consequences may be devastating.
What Happens If I Share Some of the Blame?
Texas has a modified comparative negligence statute, which states that if you are partially at fault for an accident, your damages may be reduced. Your negligence cannot be greater than the defendant’s. In other words, if you were 51% or more responsible for the crash, you will get nothing.
Insurance companies often tell victims they are at fault or partially at fault for a crash, based on something the other driver said, or their own interpretation of the police report and other evidence.
They will shift the burden of proof to establish proof to you, the victim. A lawyer can argue that you were not responsible, or were less responsible than the insurance company says you were.
It’s important to act quickly following an accident, to preserve evidence and protect your legal rights. An experienced and knowledgeable Houston car accident attorney can help you document your case and handle communications and negotiations with insurance companies.
Determining All Potential Options for a Financial Recovery
When it comes to comparative fault, there’s another side to the coin. Texas provides that everyone who contributes to an accident shares responsibility for the consequences. So, after an accident with an uninsured driver, it is important to make sure that an exhaustive investigation into the crash is performed.
Why? Your attorney can determine if there might be options for a financial recovery outside of your insurance provider.
If someone else contributed to your accident – perhaps a bicyclist, a company responsible for a defective vehicle component, or a government agency – you may have a legitimate claim for damages against them.
Once your insurance benefits are exhausted, you can turn your attention to filing a claim against other parties and working to secure a full financial award.
Our lawyers will carefully review your car accident from all angles – working to determine who, other than the uninsured motorist, might be on the hook for the costs of your injuries and suffering.
What Should I Do After an Accident With an Uninsured Driver in Houston?
The aftermath of an accident can be shocking and overwhelming, but taking a few steps can ensure your legal rights are protected, and you have the best shot to recover fair compensation.
Our Houston car accident lawyers recommend taking the following steps following an accident:
Immediately after an accident, document the accident scene and take pictures and videos, starting with the license plate and registration of the other vehicle. If you are injured, ask someone to take photos and videos for you. Photos can show property damage, vehicle damage, and injuries. If a dangerous road condition, such as a pothole, contributed to or caused the accident, photograph those, as well as other people involved in the accident.
Call the Police
Following any accident involving injury or damage to the vehicle, call the police. The police will document the facts of the accident, and provide a report detailing the incident. If the other driver was not insured, they may be cited.
Seek Medical Attention
Visiting the emergency room following a car accident is an important part of documenting the accident, and establishing a link between the accident and your injuries. If you delay seeking medical attention for several days, the insurance company may argue that your injuries were not that serious, or may even suggest a claim is fraudulent.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Your insurance policy requires you to report an accident in a timely manner. Provide the facts and ask whether you have UM/UIM insurance (if you don’t already know). If you know the driver of the other vehicle did not have insurance, you can immediately file a claim seeking damages.
You must prove two elements to recover under a UM/UIM claim:
- You must establish fault on the part of the un- or underinsured driver
- You must prove the extent of damages before becoming entitled to UM/UIM benefits.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
In many cases, having an experienced personal injury lawyer can mean recovering far more compensation than you would without a lawyer.
The insurance company will review a personal injury claim and make their determination of value, and try to get you to accept as little money as possible. If you have an experienced attorney representing you, the insurance company’s attempts to take advantage of your naivety and minimize your claim will not be successful.
Damages Available in a Car Accident Claim If the Other Driver Did Not Have Insurance
If you are involved in a Houston car accident that was not your fault, the other driver’s insurance policy will cover your medical bills and time away from work. An uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance claim can cover the same damages that would be available in a claim with an insured driver, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Following an accident, it can be difficult to know how your injuries will affect you. A skilled Houston car accident attorney can help you tell the insurance company what your case is worth, not the other way around. Before you accept any compensation offer from an insurance company, contact Attorney Brian White & Associates, PC to discuss your rights and options.
Need Help After an Accident With a Driver Who Doesn’t Have Insurance? Call our Houston Car Accident Attorneys
At our Houston personal injury law firm, we want to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to after an accident where the other driver didn’t have insurance.
Our attorneys have handled many car accident insurance claims where the at-fault party either didn’t have enough insurance or didn’t have insurance at all. We have seen insurance companies blame victims for their injuries and know how to defend these baseless allegations. We are familiar with the available avenues to recover money for medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. We’ll exhaust all options as we fight to secure a full financial award for you.
Because time to file an uninsured motorist claim is extremely limited, do not wait to contact a lawyer. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.