A car accident can disrupt your life in physical, emotional, and financial ways, especially when the collision involves an uninsured driver.
What to Do After a Collision
After a collision, remain calm so you can attend to the most important steps after a car wreck and set yourself up for success in the long run. While all accidents are different, it’s important to do a few things regardless of the circumstances:
- If you are able, move cars to a safe place, like a parking lot or road shoulder.
- Call the police, even if it’s a minor accident, so you have proper legal documentation of the crash.
- Call an ambulance if anyone seems injured.
- Obtain insurance information from the other driver. If the other driver has no insurance, it is especially important to call the police so that this fact can be documented on the police crash report.
- Document the incident with photos and written statements about what happened; be specific about vehicle damage and any injuries.
- Go to a doctor as soon as possible if you think you may be injured. This is important, not only so that you obtain the necessary medical care, but also to document any symptoms and injuries attributable to the wreck.
After the collision, it is time to think about how to move forward if you want to recover damages or compensation for medical or repair bills you have as a result of the crash. This process becomes much more complicated if an uninsured driver is at fault for the collision.
An alarming number of drivers don’t have auto insurance, even though the law in Texas requires it and imposes strict and expensive fines for not having it. Approximately 13.3% of Texas drivers are uninsured, which means more than one in every ten cars you pass on the road may be operated by an uninsured driver. Based on this information, each year, approximately 1,800 crashes here in Texas that result in serious injury involve an uninsured driver.
When an accident with an uninsured driver occurs, there are two primary paths to receiving compensation for your injuries and damage to property: sue the uninsured driver or file an uninsured driver claim against your own auto insurance.
Suing an Uninsured Driver
Suing an uninsured driver is a complex process and is rarely the best option. Few uninsured drivers have enough money or assets to cover your medical bills and other damages (if they did, they could likely afford insurance in the first place). Thus, getting adequate compensation for your injury and losses is not likely unless they are minor.
If a court determines that the uninsured driver does have enough money to pay you, a payment plan would be set up. Normally, the uninsured driver pays you small amounts of money weekly or monthly. If he or she discontinued paying on schedule, you would have to go back to court to start the process again. This is often a complex and time-consuming process.
Filing an Uninsured Driver Claim
Alternatively, you may be able to file an uninsured motorist claim under your own car insurance policy.
This is exactly why it is beneficial to carry “uninsured motorist coverage” (UM) or “underinsured motorist coverage” (UIM) as part of your own auto insurance policy. This insurance is intended to cover your losses when another driver has no insurance or is underinsured and can’t pay the amount you need for medical bills or to replace your car.
If you plan to file a UM/UIM claim, it is imperative to notify your insurance company quickly. Many auto insurance companies place deadlines for notification and claims in order for them to be covered. This is especially important if you or your passengers were injured in the collision.
When using your UM/UIM benefit, the claim process is typically the same as any other car accident claim in Texas, except the claim is filed against your own insurance company. The biggest hiccup can occur if you and your insurer cannot agree on a settlement.
Can Hiring an Attorney Help?
Hiring a car accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash can be particularly beneficial in cases with uninsured drivers. An experienced car accident attorney will have the knowledge and skills to navigate negotiations with the insurance company and work toward getting you the settlement you need to pay your medical bills and fix your car. An attorney can help you find the best path forward for your unique situation.
Crosley Law: Experienced Car Accident Lawyers
If you have been involved in an auto accident caused by an uninsured driver, you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney right away, especially if you or your passengers have sustained injuries. The attorneys at Crosley Law Firm are experienced in car wreck cases and are here for you. In fact, Tom Crosley has extensive experience handling UM/UIM cases; he has written several articles on the topic and delivered speeches on this issue for the State Bar of Texas.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 210-LAW-3000 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with us.
Texas motor vehicle traffic crash facts: Calendar year 2015. (2016, May 15). Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2015/01.pdf
Uninsured motorists. (2017). Insurance Information Institute. Retrieved from http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/uninsured-motorists
The content provided in this website/blog is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.