As a car owner, one of your worst nightmares is getting into a crash. You’re driving along, paying attention and following the rules of the road, when a careless or reckless driver ruins not only your day but possibly your immediate future.
Now you have to deal with a damaged or wrecked vehicle and injuries that require medical care. Despite doing nothing wrong, you are forced to figure out a way to pay for all of this.
Your first thought is to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. After all, that is what insurance is there for. But then you find out the driver does not have car insurance, leaving you wondering about your options.
Too Many Drivers are Uninsured
As of 2015, about 13 percent of drivers in the United States were uninsured, despite a vast majority of states requiring drivers to maintain a certain level of auto insurance, according to a survey by Insurance Research Council and The Hanover Insurance Group.
In Texas, 14.1 percent of drivers are uninsured. This is much better than Florida, which has the highest rate of uninsured drivers in the U.S. at 26.7 percent, but much worse than Maine, which has the lowest number of uninsured drivers at 4.5 percent.
Your Options After an Uninsured Motorist Hits Your Car
Utilize Your Own Auto Insurance Coverage
When you are injured and suffer property damage in a crash only to discover the other driver is uninsured, you need to carefully consider your options. There may be steps you can take to avoid shouldering the costs of the crash yourself.
Your best option is to have uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage. In Texas, insurance companies must offer you UM/UIM coverage. If you do not wish to purchase it, you have to inform the insurer in writing.
Depending on the type of UM coverage you pay for, your own insurer may cover your property damage, personal injuries, or both up to the policy limit.
Typically, UM coverage pays for expenses related to your injuries, such as your medical bills, lost wages, and pain suffering. You may need to purchase an additional UM policy to cover repairing or replacing your vehicle. However, always carefully read through your own UM policy to determine what is covered and up to what amount.
Another option is to file a claim against your personal injury protection coverage. All auto insurance policies in Texas must include PIP coverage, and if you do not want to purchase it, you must inform the insurer in writing. PIP coverage will pay for your or your passengers’ medical bills, lost wages, and other non-medical costs arising due to your injuries.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The decision to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver depends on a few things, including whether that driver has a steady income or any valuable assets.
If the at-fault driver has few or no valuable assets and has little-to-no income, then filing a lawsuit may not be helpful. You may waste your time and money fighting for a judgment that will never be fulfilled.
However, if the at-fault driver has financial means, then filing suit against them may be the best way to obtain compensation for your physical, psychological, and financial injuries.
Through a personal injury lawsuit, you will be required to prove that the other driver caused the crash and your injuries. You will have to establish the type and extent of your injuries. You also will have to establish the value of your injuries.
Our Dallas personal injury lawyers are experienced in handling car accident litigation. We will work closely with you, your medical providers, and helpful expert witnesses to establish the elements of your claim in court and to ask a judge or jury to decide in your favor.
If you win the court case against the at-fault driver, Brooker Law, PLLC also can help you enforce that judgment. We can pursue a:
- Judgment lien attached to real property, such as the at-fault driver’s home or any other land or buildings they own;
- Writ of execution, which allows law enforcement to seize the driver’s personal property and sell it for the proceeds; or
- Writ of garnishment, which allows you to garnish the driver’s wages or financial accounts.
Call an Experienced Dallas Car Accident Lawyer
Finding out the person who hit you does not have car insurance can be devastating, especially if you endured serious injuries. However, you do not have to assume you are out of options.
Your own insurance coverage may cover some or all of your property damage or medical bills. You also may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit and recover compensation for your economic and non-economic injuries. To learn more, use our online form or call (214) 217-0277 to schedule a consultation.