Getting Compensation for Car Accident Injuries
Summary: Texas law requires all motorists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. And yet, some Texans violate the law and drive without any coverage at all. If you are the victim of an accident and the negligent driver has no insurance—or not enough coverage to pay for your damages—it can be a very thorny problem.
The current minimum coverage amounts are $30,000 for each injured person, up to $60,000 total per accident, and $25,000 for each damaged vehicle, up to $50,000 total per accident. This basic coverage is called 30/60/25. But these minimums were established years ago, when medical treatment cost much less, as did the average cost of a vehicle. This is why it’s prudent for Texas drivers to carry additional insurance coverage that can be used when the at-fault party doesn’t have enough.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is a type of auto insurance coverage that protects motorists from this compensation shortfall. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is another option motorists should take advantage of. PIP can pay medical expenses, lost wages, and similar "out of pocket" costs due to an injury for the driver and passengers. Both optional coverages offer a compensation “safety net" if you’re hit by an uninsured/underinsured motorist, or a hit-and-run driver who flees the accident scene and cannot be found by the police.
Being Compensated Under These Special Circumstances
Let’s first talk about what happens if you have either or both of these optional policy features.
If you are hit by a negligent driver with no coverage at all or the minimum amounts of liability insurance, your policy’s UM/UIM covers you up to your policy’s limits. So, let’s say the driver is underinsured and has the minimums but your bodily injury damages exceed $30,000… your underinsured motorist coverage kicks in once the negligent driver’s coverage is exhausted. And if you need it, PIP can also supplement. The same goes for property damage. If the actual cash value of your vehicle is more than $25,000, you can also make an underinsured motorist property damage claim.
But just because you’ve purchased those optional coverages doesn’t necessarily mean your insurer will fulfill its full obligations. So if you are having any difficulty at all in collecting from your insurer, it is a good idea to call an experienced car accident attorney.
What If I’m injured by a Hit-and-Run Driver?
Almost six people are killed in hit-and-run accidents every day in the U.S. More people are fleeing accident scenes than at any other time since authorities began keeping the statistic over 40 years ago. The majority do end up being caught, but many still elude police. If you have UM/UIM and/or PIP, you can file your claim for compensation with your insurer to attempt to be compensated up to the limits of your policy. This is where your uninsured motorist coverage comes into play. But what if you don’t have UM/UIM or PIP? Then you have to hope for the following:
- The police find the driver (who will also be charged for leaving the scene of an accident)
- And that the driver has insurance coverage or financial assets you can sue for in civil court in order to pay as much of the damages as possible.
As to the negligent driver’s financial assets, seasoned car accident attorneys are not only able to investigate accident scenes for the cause, but they also investigate the identified negligent driver’s financial assets. If there are additional sources of recovery, they can inform you of the process and the likelihood of collecting. In the interim, if you have good health insurance, it can defray some of the medical expenses.
So the lessons here are simple:
- Try to have UM/UIM and PIP “riders” on your auto insurance policy in order to be fully protected.
- And at the first sign of any problems with your claim, contact an experienced car accident injury attorney.
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