If you are injured in an automobile accident in Houston, TX, the driver who caused the accident is responsible for the injuries and damage sustained to you and your property. However, if the driver that hit you does not carry insurance, you may wonder how you can receive the compensation you need to repair your vehicle and pay your medical bills. Working with a car accident lawyer provides you with the best chance of getting your expenses covered.
What Happens If You Were in an Accident With an Uninsured Motorist in Houston, TX?
Once you have been in an accident with an uninsured driver, there are three ways you can seek the compensation you need to pay for your expenses. When you work with a car accident lawyer in Houston, TX, they can help you determine which course of action would most benefit your situation.
Option One: File an Uninsured Motorist Claim
Texas state law mandates that drivers intentionally opt-out of uninsured driver coverage by submitting a document to their insurance company; otherwise, uninsured driver coverage is part of most plans by default. Unless you took the steps necessary to remove this feature from your policy, you likely have this coverage.
Drivers in Texas are required to have a minimum of $30,000 in vehicle liability insurance, although some drivers may choose to break this law. However, as an insured driver, even if your insurance coverage is minimal, you can still file a claim with your insurance company for up to $30,000. In addition, drivers with policies that offer more extensive coverage plans can usually claim more significant amounts from their insurance when an uninsured driver injures them.
Benefits of Working With a Car Accident Lawyer
When you work with an accident lawyer, they can explain the details of your insurance plan to you. Often, a driver’s insurance will cover more than they realize. Unfortunately, your insurance company isn’t inclined to tell you that you could get more money from them for your injuries, so it is essential to have someone looking out for your interests. They will investigate the accident and prove to your insurance company that the uninsured individual is at-fault for the accident.
Accident lawyers will also handle the paperwork needed to file your claim. Misfiling any paperwork or missing turning in vital documents can cause your claim to be returned to you. A lawyer will ensure that your claim is accurately filed the first time and help you get your money as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Finally, they will negotiate with your insurance company to get you a fair settlement for your injuries and property damage.
Option Two: Use Your Health Insurance and Pay Out of Pocket
We recommend this option only as a last resort if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver. Using your health insurance for coverage leaves you paying deductibles and co-pays, and you would not receive help with expenses such as lost wages.
Benefits of Working With an Accident Lawyer
If you decide to use your health insurance to pay for your care, a lawyer can help communicate with your health insurance provider. Your lawyer will also help you understand the coverage your policy provides and help you create a long-term plan if you require ongoing care.
Option Three: File a Lawsuit Against the Uninsured Driver
When you file a lawsuit for damages against the uninsured driver, you request that the driver compensate you with their funds because they do not have an insurance company to cover it. Your lawyer will have to prove that the uninsured driver caused the accident through their negligence and should be responsible for your injuries or property damage to win the lawsuit.
If your lawsuit is successful, you’ll be owed compensation covering your medical bills, time off work, and possibly pain and suffering. However, being owed the settlement doesn’t necessarily mean you will get it all at once. When you receive the compensation will be based on the uninsured driver’s ability to pay. It is common to set up payment plans in situations like this so that the at-fault driver can pay your expenses over an extended period.
Benefits of Working With an Accident Lawyer
Filing a claim against an uninsured driver should not be attempted without legal representation. Your lawyer will collect evidence supporting your claim and prove you were not at fault in the accident. They will also handle the lawsuit filing and represent your case in court if necessary. Additionally, they serve as a buffer between you and the at-fault party and can make the process of suing the uninsured driver much less stressful.
Which Option Should I Choose?
Talking with a personal injury lawyer is the best way to determine which option you should choose. An experienced lawyer will have seen numerous claims and be able to help predict which method of seeking compensation will be the most fruitful for you. Factors such as the type of damage you received and the extent of your injuries will influence your choice.
What Should I Do After an Accident With an Uninsured Driver?
Follow Standard Accident Protocol
Following an accident with an uninsured driver, you should take the same steps you would complete in an automobile accident with an insured driver. You will want to note the at-fault driver’s name, phone number, and license plate number. Additionally, you will want to call the police to the scene and have them file a report. Be aware that an uninsured driver may try to convince you to skip calling the police and promise that they will compensate you for your injuries instead.
Do not accept this offer, as there is nothing legally binding the other driver to fulfill their promise. A police record will be valuable in proving the other driver’s fault in the incident, and the police can also take the statements of any witnesses at the scene.
Maintain Thorough Records
Keeping track of all your medical bills and pay stubs that show you missed work due to injury will make filing a claim easier. You’ll want to ensure that you can corroborate everything you say with a paper trail that proves your claim. If you can’t prove an injury or damage, receiving compensation for it will be nearly impossible.
If you want your medical records to be accurate and support your claim, you’ll need to be honest with your doctor regarding your pain levels. While you may want to downplay your pain levels, you must talk openly with your doctor so that they can record your injuries accurately.
Hire a Lawyer Quickly
In Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Additionally, settling claims with uninsured drivers can be a time-consuming process. Therefore, the sooner you have a lawyer working on your claim, the sooner you can have the money you need to pay off your medical bills.
While it’s easy to think that an uninsured driver will never injure you or cause damage to your vehicle, it is an unfortunate possibility. The Insurance Research Council found that over 14% of Texas drivers are uninsured while operating a car, either because they are excluded from the vehicle’s policy or do not possess any automobile insurance.
If an uninsured driver injured you, seek legal guidance today. Contact the law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz, & Stogner and let us help you get the best outcome for your claim.