In nearly every state in the nation, car insurance is a requirement before any driver can get out on the open road. However, it is not unheard of for uninsured drivers to be involved in accidents. If you’re a resident of Houston, and you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver, it is important to contact a car accident attorney in Houston, TX right away.
You’ve Been Hit in Houston, TX
Once you’ve been in an accident, the clock begins ticking to file a claim, seek medical treatment, and have repairs made to your vehicle. However, if you discover that the other motorist is not insured, you might have no one to call! In this case, it is still imperative that you contact your own insurance company right away and let them know that you have been in an accident. You should also ask about your policy coverage and when it will kick in.
Make Sure You Verify Their Information Immediately
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you know to exchange information with the other party, but it is also important to verify that information by getting on the phone right away. In recent years, it has become increasingly common for uninsured drivers to obfuscate the fact that they do not have current insurance by providing you with an expired policy number or bad information.
Much of this can be avoided by having an officer on the scene to take a report, but sometimes it takes days to discover that the insurance information you received was faulty in some way. You should have already made a report with your own insurance at this point, and you need to contact them as soon as you discover the issue so that they can begin working on getting to the bottom of it.
Do You Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
The first question to ask your insurance agent is whether or not you have uninsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage is required in the state of Texas and will be your first recourse if the other driver cannot provide insurance. In this case, your insurance will pick up the tab for your medical expenses up to the limits of your policy.
What About Your Car?
Unfortunately, uninsured motorist coverage is typically only used to cover medical care as a result of an accident. It is not the same as uninsured property damage insurance, which covers the repairs or replacement of your vehicle in such an accident. Uninsured property damage insurance is not typically required by law, so you will need to speak with your representative to determine if you have any coverage for your vehicle in this case.
What If They Are Underinsured?
Another common problem faced by victims in an accident is that the other person’s insurance policy simply isn’t enough to cover the extent of medical care required. In this case, you will need to determine if you have a separate Underinsured Motorist Coverage on your policy that will pay the difference between your expenses and what the other insurance company paid out.
When All Else Fails
In many cases, your insurance policy’s MedPay or Personal Injury Protection can cover the bills when no one else steps up to do the job. The amount of MedPay or PIP coverage you have can vary widely but it can often be used without assigning fault to either driver. This makes it more flexible if you are running out of options.
On the other hand, using PIP or MedPay may require that you waive your right to sue the other party by accepting a no-fault judgment in the accident. This means that you are no longer holding the other party liable for the damages caused and agreeing that your insurance will pick up the bill. It is best to discuss this option with an attorney before you move forward.
Regardless of what type of coverage you have to protect you against uninsured motorists, the most important thing is to get the ball rolling with your insurance agent as soon as possible. The longer you wait to seek assistance, the less likely you are to get the full benefits of your policy. It is not advisable to wait and seek damages from the other party through a lawsuit, which will be discussed below.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Right Away
As soon as it becomes apparent that the other party is uninsured, you should be on the phone with your car accident attorney in Houston, TX. They will guide you through the process of filing suit against the other driver for any damages caused by the accident. It is important to note that even if you file suit, you may have an uphill battle ahead of you.
Filing a Lawsuit
When it comes to filing lawsuits against uninsured motorists, you first have to prove that you have suffered sufficient damage to warrant filing suit. In most cases, this means serious injury and damage to your vehicle. Minor repairs will not be enough to get your case in front of a judge.
In addition, they may not consider your case if your insurance has already covered a substantial part of your damages, and you are only seeking compensation for a small remainder. Your attorney will have to advise you about what to expect and whether your case will be heard.
Winning the Suit
In the event that your suit goes before a judge and they agree that you are owed compensation from the other party, you still have a harder battle ahead of you. Even after you’ve obtained a judgment in your favor, you’re faced with the reality that the other party probably doesn’t have the money to give you. In fact, this is probably why they didn’t have insurance in the first place.
If the other party cannot pay the judgment, the court will determine whether they own any property that you can place a lien against. If so, then you could be entitled to compensation whenever they sell that property. This does not mean that the court will force them to liquidate their assets to pay you, so you will have very little control over when or if you do receive payment in the end.
By this point, you’re probably aware that it can take weeks or months to bring a case like this to resolution. During that time, you need to be sure that you are documenting all of your expenses and keeping track of anything that might later be used in your court case. You will want to be especially careful about documenting expenses that do not fall under your own insurance coverage through PIP or uninsured motorist policies because those will be things that you seek direct compensation for from the other party.
Accidents involving uninsured motorists are increasingly common, but there are still plenty of ways for you to get the compensation you deserve for your medical bills and your vehicle repairs. Contact the team at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC today if you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured party and you are ready to seek compensation for your medical bills and vehicle repair.