Our High Rate Of Uninsured And Underinsured Motorists Is A Serious Problem
Last week local drivers started being stopped by police to see if they had licenses and liability insurance. It’s about time. I hope other police departments in the Dallas Fort Worth area start doing this. It’s for our own protection.
At just one checkpoint, police wrote 36 citations and ticketed 24 uninsured drivers on Bardin Road in Arlington in just a 1½-hour period.
With 1.6 million uninsured drivers, Texas was in the top five states last year. While our officials estimate that 13 percent of drivers in the state do not have car insurance, as a personal injury lawyer I have seen that this number is much higher. The Dallas News estimated the number of uninsured drivers in Dallas County at 16%.
But that doesn’t count the drivers who officially have insurance and the policy expired or is fraudulent, or the driver has been excluded from coverage, hits and runs, disappears, denies responsibility, or fails to cooperate with his insurance carrier.
The checkpoints have exposed important information about the high number of uninsured drivers driving in North Texas (photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune). What happens if you are hit by one of these drivers? Who will pay your damages?
Underinsured Drivers Are Also a Serious Problem
Not having liability insurance is just one part of the problem. Almost everyone who follows the law has inadequate insurance to pay for a severe crash and possibly a moderate collision. That’s because Texas law only requires minimum liability coverage in the following amounts:
- $30,000 per injured person,
- $60,000 for all injured people per accident and
- $25,000 for all property damage
Considering the high costs of medical care and vehicles and the number of people who might end up fighting for that money, these sums may not begin to pay for everyone’s damages.
Still worse, many people who have liability insurance buy it from high risk, subprime companies like Old American County Mutual, ACCC, and Fred Loya. These carriers are often extremely difficult to work with and are not willing to pay reasonable sums without lawsuits being filed and trials conducted. Good luck if you don’t have a personal injury lawyer.
Unlicensed Drivers Create Dangerous Conditions As Well
A related problem involves unlicensed drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued a report with the attention-getting title “Unlicensed to Kill,” that attributed at least 17,574 deaths to drivers without valid license.
As with drunk drivers, punishment doesn’t seem to make a difference. 28 percent of the time, the fatal accident involved a repeat offender with at least three suspensions or revocations in the preceding three years.
What Can You Do If An Uninsured Or Underinsured Driver Crashes Into Your Car?
You should meet with an injury lawyer who can explain how you can file on your insurance policy, if you have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorists benefits. The procedures can be complicated, and the sooner you start the process, the better.
Usually, your chances of collecting money from a driver who does not carry liability insurance are slim to none, owing to the generous exemptions provided under Texas law that allow most people to keep all of their assets away from creditors. This uninsured motorist coverage can pay for your hospital and doctor bills, your lost wages, your pain, and other damages. Without a good lawyer, your insurance company will not treat you fairly.
Berenson Injury Law handles many uninsured driver claims every year and knows how to recover compensation for injured people. We pursue the maximum possible damages under your insurance policy. During the course of our investigation, we sometimes also discover a third party who is liable to you for damages. We also negotiate with your medical providers to reduce your bills. Often, a hospital or doctor will decline to charge the patient for amounts over the available insurance money.
And if you are injured by a driver who has liability insurance but your damages exceed his policy limits, you may be entitled to additional money under this same part of your automobile policy (Part C) under the underinsured motorists provision.
If you have any questions or need help, please contact our office.