Although Texas law requires all motorists to carry liability insurance, many drivers simply do not. Uninsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy is the best way to ensure that you get compensation. Here is what you should know if you are hit by an uninsured motorist.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
It is not required by law, but all Texas drivers are encouraged to enroll in uninsured motorist coverage. Your insurance agent must offer it to you and, if you decline, you must do so in writing. In Texas, it will cover you against hit and run accidents as well. It will also cover your relatives and unrelated passengers, as well as any licensed driver you give permission to drive your insured vehicle.
Uninsured motorist coverage can be bundled with underinsured motorist coverage. The difference between the two is that an uninsured motorist carries no auto insurance at all, while an underinsured motorist carries minimal liability insurance that may not be enough to compensate you for damages.
Filing an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Claim
The claims process works identically to the process for a filing a liability insurance claim. You will work with an adjuster from your own insurance company to negotiate matters of comparative negligence, damages, and ultimately compensation. Like any other insurance claim, though, the insurance company will be eager to settle the claim for as little as possible. It is well worth having an experienced car accident lawyer review any settlement offer to determine if it is fair and reasonable before you accept.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, your only solution is to file a lawsuit. A skilled car accident lawyer can walk you through the process step by step to ensure that your interests are protected. The problem, though, is that the majority of people who drive without car insurance do so due to a financial hardship. Though you might win your case, you cannot collect money or assets that the other party simply does not have.
If you do not receive payment, your attorney can return to court to apply for a court order to compel payment. However, if the other party is legitimately indigent, he or she cannot be compelled to pay money that doesn’t exist.
If the court finds that the defendant has some discretionary income, but not enough to pay the judgment in full, the judge might set up a payment plan. This compels the defendant to pay a certain amount each week. Although this can help you collect some compensation, the defendant could stop paying at any time. If this happens, your attorney will need to return to court to restart enforcement proceedings.
Your attorney can help you determine whether the uninsured motorist has any nonexempt assets that could be used to fulfill the judgment. In general, though, it is always best to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. It is far easier to collect money from your insurance company than from an individual.
Ready to Get Started?
If you need a passionate and experienced personal injury attorney in the Houston area, contact Jerome Fjeld & Associates, PLLC today at (713) 572-6446 to schedule your free consultation.