A Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer Can Minimize the Adverse Impact on Your Health and Finances
Getting in a car wreck is bad enough, but when the driver is uninsured or flees the scene, you also can get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills, tow truck, storage, and car repair expenses.
An accident caused by an uninsured driver can hurt you for years to come. But you may have several options available to you to minimize the adverse effects.
Without question, you should hire an aggressive personal injury attorney. He or she will investigate the facts and hopefully find that the other driver was covered by an insurance policy. He will quickly determine whether your own auto insurance company has a duty to pay on your claim and then pursue the maximum amount of your coverage. Finally, he will investigate whether a third party may be liable for the accident — for example, an automobile manufacturer that produced a defective vehicle.
While pursuing your options for recovery, a good attorney will also negotiate with your medical providers to reduce your bills. This can save you thousands of dollars in medical bills. The lawyer can arrange for continued care since you may not have the means to pay for necessary medical treatments and rehabilitation.
Uninsured motorist coverage has been part of the Texas Insurance Code’s Article 5.06-1 since 1967 . The law defines an “underinsured motor vehicle” as an insured motor vehicle on which there is valid and collectible liability insurance with limits of liability for the owner or operator which were originally lower than, or have been reduced by payment of claims arising from the same accident to an amount less than the limit of liability stated in the underinsured coverage of the insured’s policy.
Uninsured coverage typically provides coverage for accidents involving motorists who have no insurance, hit and run accidents, and motorists who have insurance, but their carrier denies coverage or has become insolvent.
How does it work?
The purpose of UM/UIM coverage is to place the injured party in the same position as if the uninsured/underinsured motorist had been properly insured. The standard insurance policy language provides that
We will pay damages, which a covered person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured vehicle because of bodily injury sustained by a covered person, or property damage, caused by an accident.
The owner or operator’s liability for these damages must arise out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the uninsured motor vehicle.
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage is a Worthwhile Investment
More than one-eighth of all drivers in Texas are uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute’s 2012 statistics — and I think the number is even higher. This means that at least two million uninsured vehicles registered in Texas are driving on our roads.
And most drivers carry only the minimum legal amount of insurance, which pays up to $30,000 per injured person, up to $60,000 total for all people injured in a single accident and up to $25,000 for property damage in a single accident. While this 30/60/25 coverage might be enough for a small crash, it won’t begin to cover the costs of even a moderately serious accident, especially with constantly rising medical bills. In fact, the Insurance Research Council estimates that uninsured motorist medical claims reached $110 million in Texas in 2012.
You unfortunately have a good chance of being hit by a driver who has no or inadequate insurance to pay for your injuries and your automobile repair. With the odds stacked against you that you will one day be in this situation, uninsured/ underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) coverage is a smart investment.
You can purchase a UM/UIM policy in addition to your auto liability coverage for a small additional premium. Texas law requires auto insurance companies to offer you this coverage when you sign up for or renew your basic liability policy. We have made various companies pay our clients for this coverage when we proved the company had failed to secure the required rejection of coverage.