What to Do When You’ve Been in a Wreck With an Uninsured Driver

David W. Hodges
David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.

The state of Texas requires that at-fault drivers cover the costs of accidents they cause. In reality, however, there are some motorists who fail to acquire insurance coverage and do not have the means to pay the hefty costs of an accident—especially in accidents involving injuries. In other cases, a driver may have minimum insurance coverage that pays a portion—but not all—of the expenses. As a result, when you get into an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may still be forced to pay for property damages and medical expenses associated with the event.

When Insurance Falls Short

Currently, Texas law requires that insured drivers acquire a minimum insurance coverage of $30,000 per person, up to a total of $600,000 per accident, Red Uninsured Drivers! Traffic Signwith an additional $25,000 in coverage for property damage per accident. However, minimum coverage isn’t always enough to cover the steep costs of vehicle damage and medical bills. Motorists with minimum car insurance often cannot cover the remaining costs, causing the not-at-fault driver to make up the difference.

These sudden, unexpected and unfair expenses can easily throw an individual into debt, deplete his or her savings, or cause the property value of the wrecked vehicle to decline without payment for these damages. Fortunately, there is a way to protect yourself from these loses.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

Insured motorists who wish to protect themselves from the costs of property damage and medical expenses for not-at-fault crashes may opt to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This service pays expenses resulting from accidents with motorists lacking adequate insurance to cover accident-related costs, including the damaged vehicle, medical expenses, and property that was damaged in the vehicle. Specifically, those who opt in for this coverage receive funding for:

  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Permanent or partial disability
  • Medical costs
  • Rental cars
  • Auto repairs
  • Other property damaged in the crash

Uninsured/underinsured insurance coverage also pays these expenses in the event of hit-and-run accidents.

You May Already Have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage

In the state of Texas, if you did not specifically reject coverage for wrecks involving underinsured drivers in writing, you are likely to automatically receive the service without prior consent. If you are not currently covered for uninsured or underinsured coverage but would like to be, all insurance companies must provide the option.

While all Texas drivers do have the ability to opt out of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, to do so may cause a significant financial loss if an accident in which the other driver or his insurance cannot cover the expenses occurs. To protect yourself financially and to give yourself and your family peace of mind, it is recommended that you opt in for this service for worst-case-scenario events.

Strengthening Your Claim

Even with uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may still have to work to receive the full value of your claim. Here are some things that may help:

  • A detailed police report
  • Photos of injuries, vehicle damage, property damage, and damage to the surrounding area caused by the crash
  • Eye witnesses’ and their contact information
  • Physical evidence of damages
  • A full record of the expenses needed to replace or repair damaged property
  • Copies of all medical bills

If you have been in a hit-and-run accident or an accident with a driver who does not have car insurance or whose insurance does not cover the full cost of an accident, an attorney can help you identify the value of your claim, work with insurance adjusters and evaluate the true limits of your insurance coverage. To learn more, contact our firm today.