You may have been in for an unwelcome surprise after your car accident when you attempted to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. You may learn they have broken the law by not purchasing insurance coverage. Of course, your first thought is that you will not be compensated for your injuries when they were at fault. Thankfully, there is a way to receive a settlement check even when the other driver does not have insurance.
Your car insurance can pick up the tab for your injuries if you have uninsured motorist coverage.
Unfortunately, you will face challenges when dealing with insurance companies because a car accident case can be complicated.
You are best off hiring an experienced Dallas car accident lawyer to handle your case. Your attorney can fight for you to receive the maximum compensation, negotiate a better settlement, and possibly file a lawsuit. Otherwise, you will lose the valuable financial reimbursement you need for your injuries. If you do not have a lawyer, you should contact one to schedule a free initial consultation. An attorney will learn the facts of your case, answer any questions you may have, and advise you of your options for financial compensation going forward.
Every State Requires Drivers to Have Insurance
State law requires that motorists have a specific minimum coverage to drive. They must stop at the scene, keep their insurance card in the car, and prepare to exchange information with the other driver in the event of an accident.
You can only control what you can do; even when you follow the law, other drivers may not. It is incredibly selfish and unfair, but people drive without insurance daily. According to the Insurance Research Council, one in every eight drivers is uninsured. They may be unable to afford insurance or do not want to spend the money. Insurance companies may find them too risky based on their past driving history. Whatever the reason, you may have to pay a price for their failure to follow the law.
A hit-and-run accident is very similar to an uninsured driver crash. When the driver does not stop, it is as if they were uninsured because there is no policy against which you can file a claim. You will be using the same coverage to pay for your injuries.
Hopefully, You Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When you purchase your auto insurance policy, you can buy coverage for accidents with underinsured or uninsured motorists. The laws of every state require that the car insurance company offers you this type of coverage, and some will include this coverage as part of your policy.
You may still be in a problematic spot even when the other driver has insurance. Most state laws have a low minimum amount of coverage, and to save money, drivers may have purchased bare-bones auto insurance, meaning they are practically uninsured. Here, your underinsured motorist coverage will function in the same way as uninsured motorist coverage.
You Still Need to Prove Legal Responsibility for the Car Accident
Just because the other driver was uninsured does not make them automatically responsible for the car accident. The same standard rules that apply to any car accident case are also in force for your accident, and you must prove that the other driver was negligent to be eligible for financial compensation.
In any car accident case, negligence means that you have proven each other these elements:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care
- They violated their duty of care by doing something unreasonable under the circumstances
- You suffered an injury
- You would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the actions of the other driver
You are the one who must meet the burden of proof to receive a settlement offer. If you cannot prove that the other driver did something unreasonable, you will not be eligible for financial compensation. It can be challenging to gather the evidence that you need, especially when you are dealing with physical injuries.
Reasons Why Another Driver Should be Responsible for Your Car Accident
Determining and proving why another driver was responsible for your crash is necessary for an uninsured motorist claim. This is because your UM policy will not cover your losses if your insurance company believes that you caused the accident yourself. Your car accident lawyer can investigate what happened and gather evidence of the other driver’s negligence and liability.
Here are several reasons why another driver might be responsible for your car accident:
- Distracted Driving: One of the leading causes of car accidents is distracted driving, which includes activities like texting, talking on the phone, or adjusting the radio while driving. If another driver is distracted and fails to pay attention to the road, they may be held responsible for any resulting collisions.
- Drunk Driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. If another driver is found to be driving under the influence and causes an accident, they can be held criminally and civilly liable for the damages.
- Fatigued Driving: Fatigue can lead to impaired reaction times and reduced cognitive function, making it dangerous for drivers to operate vehicles.
- If another driver causes an accident due to fatigue, they may be held responsible for failing to prioritize road safety.
- Speeding: Excessive speeding increases the likelihood of accidents and the severity of injuries. If another driver is speeding and causes a collision, their reckless behavior may make them liable for resulting damages.
- Aggressive Driving: Aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and road rage, can escalate situations and lead to accidents.
- If another driver's aggressive behavior causes an accident, they may be held accountable for their actions.
- Violating Traffic Laws: Failure to obey traffic signals, stop signs, and other road rules can result in accidents. If another driver disregards traffic laws and causes a collision, their violation may establish their liability.
The first step in an uninsured motorist claim is demonstrating the uninsured driver should be responsible for your injuries and losses.
You Also Need to Seek Full Compensation with the Insurance Company
Once you can prove liability, the focus will shift towards obtaining total financial compensation for your injuries. It is one thing to get a settlement offer but another to get an offer that makes sense for you to accept. It can take some time to reach an agreement that fairly pays you.
The first thing is to know how much you should seek in damages. Your car accident compensation might consist of:
- Medical Expenses: Costs related to medical treatment, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation incurred due to injuries sustained in a car accident.
- Lost Income: Compensation for income lost during recovery, including potential future earnings impacted by the accident.
- Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages accounting for physical and emotional distress, including pain, trauma, and diminished quality of life.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Compensation for the inability to participate in activities and experiences enjoyed before the accident.
- Permanent Injuries: Damages for any lasting disabilities, impairments, or disfigurement you have due to permanent injuries that will never fully heal.
- Scarring and Disfigurement: Compensation for permanent physical changes resulting from injuries, impacting appearance and self-esteem.
- Emotional Distress: Damages encompassing psychological harm, anxiety, and mental anguish from the car accident.
Damages will vary from case to case, and you never want to overlook any past or future damages. Have your car accident lawyer review your losses and calculate the full compensation you should seek from your uninsured motorist coverage.
Your Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend When They Need to Pay You
When you are doing anything that can cause insurance companies to have to pay you money, they quickly become adversarial. No matter how much their marketing literature tells you that you can trust them in a time of need, they will turn on you in a second when you want their money. You are the same to them as anyone else filing a claim; no matter how long you have been their customer, their efforts will turn to trying to underpay you.
Use Caution When Speaking with Your Insurance Company
You must be careful about speaking to and dealing with insurance companies. They may be taking notes because they know they must pay you and look for tidbits to use against you in the future. Insurance companies often try to find a way to discount your injuries so they can dispute your damages. Never say anything that indicates that the accident is even partly your fault because your insurance company will try to cut your compensation or get out of paying you entirely.
You Can Sue the Other Driver
Much of your work in your claim deals with your own insurance company. Theoretically, the other driver will be legally responsible for any uncovered damages. However, there is little chance you can enforce and collect upon a judgment against them. If they cannot or will not spend the money it takes to follow the law and protect themselves, they may have few assets available to pay a judgment. In most cases, verdicts against uninsured drivers are not worth much, leaving you to work with your insurance company.
Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
No matter what, you always need a lawyer to guide you through an uninsured motorist claim. Insurance companies may smile and try to tell you they are treating you well as a loyal customer while attempting to underpay your claim. They need to be accountable for their actions.
Your Lawyer Must Gather Information About Your Accident
Your lawyer will begin their work by investigating your car accident. They will build the necessary evidence to prove that the other driver was to blame for your accident and submit this proof as part of your claim. Without adequate evidence to back up your claims, the insurance company may deny your claim, leaving you to litigate to get any money.
Your lawyer will also submit evidence of your injuries as damages, and the insurance company will want to see the medical records that underlie your injury claims. Before submitting your claim, you must know how much you may deserve in damages. Your attorney will review your case to calculate your damages. This knowledge will put you in a stronger position when it comes time to negotiate a settlement because the insurance company will not have more information than you.
Here, your insurance company will decide whether to deny the claim or accept the responsibility to pay you and may make you an offer to settle your case. The settlement offer can be just the beginning of a long process you must go through before getting a settlement check.
You Can Negotiate for Higher Compensation
You can negotiate with insurance companies the same as with another company. They will make you lowball settlement offers you must reject; the attorney will counter with demands, and the insurance company will make you a revised offer. This process may repeat over several months before you reach a settlement agreement.
You can sue your insurance company if they deny your claim or will not pay you enough. You may have to file a lawsuit to pressure them if they are not reasonable in the settlement negotiations.
Getting Legal Help Costs You Nothing from Your Pocket
It does not cost you anything upfront to hire a Texas personal injury lawyer. You do not need to provide any retainers, nor are you sent any invoices while your case is pending. You also have no risk because you are not sent a bill for your lawyer's time if you do not win, and you only pay out of the proceeds of your settlement or jury award if and when you win. Thus, you do not have to go without legal help because trying to deal with your insurance company on your own will do nothing but cost you money.