What happens if I'm hit by an uninsured driver?
Aug. 30, 2020
Getting into a car crash is one of the most stressful events a person can experience, especially if that crash causes a significant or debilitating personal injury. Even when a full recovery is expected, months of medical treatment and physical therapy can take their toll. If on top of that, you’re fighting an insurance company for the compensation you rightfully deserve to pay for treatment, damages and even loss of income, the stress can take its own toll. One element is consistent in this scenario, and that’s the presence of an insurance carrier for the other driver.
So, what happens if the person who caused your car crash was uninsured or underinsured?
While Texas requires motorists to carry insurance, there are instances every day where uninsured or underinsured drivers cause accidents. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that 14.1 percent of Texas motorists are uninsured, according to 2015 data measuring the ratio of uninsured motorist claims to bodily injury claims. The number of uninsured or underinsured drivers is on the rise, according to this insurance industry data.
Texas and 19 other states require that drivers carry uninsured motorist protection on their own policies. If you’ve been injured in a crash caused by an uninsured or under-insured motorist, your own insurance policy should fill the gap to protect you. Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection will also kick in if you’re involved in a hit and run accident. Unfortunately, as we have established in numerous posts, it is the job of insurance companies to MINIMIZE the amount they pay out to their claimants. Bottom line: even the best and most reputable insurance companies are businesses looking out for their profit margins. Additionally, many drivers simply don’t carry enough coverage even if they are insured. If you’ve been hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, it’s critical that you file a strong claim to be able to rely on your own auto policy.
While insurance coverage is required in the state of Texas, many drivers still don’t carry insurance OR carry a minimal amount that would not cover anything more than a minor accident. In these scenarios, you could end up paying out of pocket for the amount not covered by the other driver’s insurance company if you don’t have uninsured motorist protection.
The steps to building a strong claim are the same as any post-accident response and are especially important since you don’t know the level of insurance coverage someone carries when an accident happens. Suppose you are hit, and the driver stays at the scene and provides you with their insurance company’s information. You might think all is fine only to later learn that the individual carried minimal coverage for personal injury protection or even carried liability only insurance. These are the unknowns you’re dealing with immediately after an accident.
Here’s how to maximize your compensation if you’re hit by an underinsured driver:
Call the police immediately, especially if there has been an injury. Give police a full statement of what happened. The report will include information about the officer’s opinion of fault as well as victim and witness statements. Make sure you get a copy of the police report or at least note the jurisdiction for the responding officer so your legal team can contact them later.
Document the scene with photos. Take photos of the vehicles, paying attention to where the vehicles are on the road or in the intersection. Get photos of debris, directional signage, etc. Take as many photos as you can safely, especially if the other driver has left the scene. You need to build a good picture of what happened so you can build a strong claim with your own insurance company.
Talk to witnesses. If a Good Samaritan stopped to offer aid or to offer their witness statement, make sure they provide their statement to the police. Witnesses can be especially important if the other driver left the scene because they are uninsured.
Notify your own insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurance companies require that you notify them of an accident within a certain window of time, though this timeline may vary. Check your policy for details.
Car wreck claims can be complex and made even more complicated by an underinsured motorist. If you’ve been injured, you may need a Dallas attorney to help you determine how to pursue an adequate recovery from your Texas insurance policy. Our team offers no-cost consultations to help you make informed decisions about your rights and whether you should pursue a recovery. Talk to us to help preserve your rights.