Car accidents are shocking and painful, often with long-lasting impacts on the entire family. Car accident survivors may experience difficult medical treatments, a delay in their return to work, and a damaged or totaled vehicle. As overwhelming as this experience may be, some car accident victims find the hits keep coming—because the person who caused the accident didn’t have insurance. The National Highway Administration states that about 1 in 8 drivers are uninsured in the United States. So, what do you do if you’re facing accident-related expenses and the motorist whose negligent actions caused the accident doesn’t have coverage?
After an accident with an uninsured motorist, it’s best to speak to an Austin accident attorney to learn your options and find the best move forward for your unique accident situation.
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim
When you report the accident to your own insurance company after the accident, ask them if you have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your insurance contract. Some people choose to opt out of this additional coverage due to the higher premiums required. However, opting out of uninsured motorist coverage requires filling out and submitting a separate form. Some Texas motorists don’t bother to follow through on the opt-out and later learn they have this coverage in place after all.
To file an uninsured motorist claim, it helps to have an attorney representing you to investigate the accident, document evidence to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault driver, calculate your damages, and efficiently file your claim.
Relying on Your Medical Coverage
If you have good medical coverage, one option after an accident with an uninsured motorist is to simply rely on your regular medical insurance to foot the bill for your medical treatment. In most accidents, an injury victim’s medical coverage may initially pay for medical care, but the amount is later reimbursed to them by the at-fault party’s personal injury protection policy on their auto insurance. When the at-fault party has no insurance, your medical insurer must still provide coverage according to the terms of your policy.
While this is an acceptable option for some accident victims, it doesn’t cover property damage to a vehicle or reimburse the injury victim for any co-pays or insurance deductible they had to cover out of pocket.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the Uninsured Motorist
A final option is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured motorist who caused the accident. Because they don’t have an insurance policy to file a claim against, the defendant in the case is the motorist themself who’d have to pay out on your claim through their personal funds. The obvious flaw in this strategy is that the majority of motorists who let their insurance policy lapse do so because they don’t have the money in their budget to afford coverage or because they aren’t licensed to drive in Texas and are driving illegally without coverage. In these common circumstances, a lawsuit doesn’t pay because it’s unlikely the uninsured motorist has access to funds to pay whatever amount a jury awards for damages.
Only in rare instances does a personal injury lawsuit benefit the injury victim if the motorist has substantial assets and simply neglected to renew their insurance coverage.