Dealing with an Uninsured Driver in a Car Accident
For Texans, the option to drive uninsured ceased over a decade ago when the Texas Departments of Insurance, Public Safety, Motor Vehicles, and Information Resources collaborated to create a database system to reduce the number of uninsured drivers in the state. The verification program (called TexasSure) hosts every vehicle’s license plate, vehicle identification number (VIN), and liability insurance policy, which makes discovering uninsured motorists easy. Despite TexasSure insurance verification, however, approximately 20 percent of Texan drivers still remain without insurance.
To the misfortune of law-abiding drivers, fellow drivers who remain uninsured are affecting their wallets. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, responsible drivers pay nearly $1 billion annually toward optional protection against uninsured or underinsured motorists on the road. Additionally, remaining uninsured presents a variety of risks when, for example, a casual trip to the grocery takes a turn for the worse.
The Risks of Being Uninsured
Uninsured individuals’ first offense citations range from $175 to $350, and subsequent citations may cost up to $1,000 and two years of license suspension. For those who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being in a collision and suffering from personal injury, the process gets complicated with uninsured drivers involved.
In the event of an auto accident, Texas law declares the at-fault party responsible for any financial expenses that result from the crash, including the other party’s medical expenses and property damage. The Texas Department of Insurance explains that basic liability coverage takes care of the following, up to the individual’s specific policy dollar amount:
- Medical and funeral costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering compensation
- Car repair or replacement costs
- Car rental during car repair
- Punitive damages awarded by the court
- Attorney fees, if applicable
- Bail, up to $250 if the insured goes to jail following the accident
If an at-fault driver is without liability insurance, covering these expenses can prove quite costly.
Protecting Against the Uninsured (UM) or Underinsured (UIM)
If you have coverage, that’s great, but with one in five drivers not insured, it’s important to know the options concerning coverage against them if a compromising situation arises. Uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage pays the insured driver’s expenses (after a deductible) from the accident as well as personal property damage caused by an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver (a hit-and-run driver must be reported to the police at the accident scene to qualify for UM coverage). The Texas Department of Insurance states that all insurance companies are required to offer insured drivers UM/UIM coverage and explain the two types of coverage available:
- Bodily injury UM/UIM, which pays for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, or partial disability
- Property damage UM/UIM, which covers auto repairs, a rental car, and damage to personal items involved in the accident.
Covering the driver, any family members, passengers, and any permitted drivers, this type of coverage is highly recommended for optimal protection of you and your family while the state of Texas continues its efforts to reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the road.
Personal Injury Cases
In the United States, auto accidents are the leading source of personal injury cases, and approximately half of the car accidents that occur will result in a personal injury claim. With these cases, it is also highly beneficial to have obtained Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage during the auto insurance process. Regardless of which party is at fault for the accident, insured drivers with PIP receive substantial benefits for treating personal injury, including coverage for medical or funeral bills and 80 percent of lost income and caregiving costs for themselves or any passenger in the car.
Since personal injury claims are filed with the at-fault party’s insurance company, insured drivers without PIP or UM/UIM coverage who seek compensation from an uninsured driver may face a more difficult time pursuing a case. However, with the correct legal action and qualified representation, the party may receive monetary justice directly from the at-fault driver.
How Hossley & Embry Can Help
If you are involved in a car accident and seek compensation for personal injury, we at Hossley & Embry are eager to help. We are ready to investigate and represent you in your personal injury claims, and we will fight for the compensation you deserve. Please call us immediately at (866) 522-9265 for a free case evaluation. You can also fill out a convenient online form, and we will be in touch promptly.
In the case of an accident, it is the driver’s responsibility to exchange information with the other party involved, including name, address, phone number, license plate, license number, insurance company name, and policy number. Additionally, some situations require a filed claim and could result in a $500 fine if not properly reported. It is in your best interest to follow Texas’ guidelines for reporting accidents to allow insurance companies to investigate properly and for the case to be litigated, if necessary.
Automobile insurance made easy. (2015, February). Texas Department of Insurance. Retrieved from http://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/consumer/cb020.html
How does TexasSure uninsured driver law affect you? (2012, January 27). Cars Direct. Retrieved from http://www.carsdirect.com/car-insurance/how-does-texassure-uninsured-driver-law-affect-you
TexasSure insurance verification. (2016). Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved from http://www.txdmv.gov/motorists/register-your-vehicle/texassure-insurance-verification
What is vehicle verification? (2016). Texas Department of Insurance. Retrieved from http://www.texassure.com/Insuranceverification.html