A car accident injury can lead to the necessity for medical treatment and compensation for other damages. If you suffered harm in a car accident that occurred through no fault of your own, you have the reasonable expectation that the other driver’s policy will pay for your damages. What happens when you find out the other driver doesn’t have coverage, or his or her coverage is not enough to cover your damages?
Texas Insurance Minimums
The state of Texas requires certain minimum amounts of coverage when it comes to car insurance. These minimums include:
- $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident property damage
Unfortunately, not everyone carries insurance on their vehicles or pays their insurance premiums on time. Even if they do meet the minimum amounts of coverage, it might not be enough to cover the full extent of your damages.
In this case, Texas law offers recourse in the form of uninsured or underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. This coverage applies to your own policy and will compensate for damages caused by an uninsured motorist, someone who does not have enough coverage, or a hit-and-run driver. Insurance companies must, by law, offer UM/UIM coverage as part of their policy. If you do not want it, you must reject it in writing. In other words, unless you specifically refused the coverage, you have a UM/UIM policy under your current auto coverage.
Two types of UM/UIM coverage exist:
- Bodily injury coverage, which will pay for medical bills, lost wages, and intangible losses such as pain and suffering. With this type of coverage, there is no deductible.
- Property damage coverage, which will pay for your car repair, rental of another vehicle, or compensate for damage to other property within your vehicle. For property damage UM/UIM coverage, the state requires a deductible of $250, but it may be more depending on the terms of your policy.
Your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will provide compensation for any damages you, your family members, any passengers, or people driving your car with permission sustain, up to the limits set forth in your policy.
What Are My Other Legal Options?
What if your uninsured or underinsured motorist policies are not enough to compensate for the full extent of your injuries or other damages? If this applies, you have a couple of options:
- File a suit against the at-fault driver in an effort to receive compensation from his or her personal assets. Keep in mind, however, that this may not be the best course of action. Generally, people do not carry insurance when they don’t have enough money to pay for insurance premiums. It’s reasonable to assume that their personal assets might not be enough to cover the rest of your damages.
- Examine options for third-party claims. In other cases, viable grounds for a claim against a third party might exist. For example, if your accident resulted partially from improperly maintained roads or a negligently labelled construction site, you may have a claim against the government or party responsible for running the site.
Being in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist can be frustrating, but it’s not a cause for panic. Your own insurance policy provides you with an important avenue of recourse in the form of a UM/UIM policy. If this coverage does not provide compensation for the full extent of your damages, other forms of legal recourse exist. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s personal assets or pursue a viable claim against a third party responsible for your injuries.
Finally, any injury-causing car accident merits scheduling a free initial consultation with a Houston personal injury attorney. These case evaluations will give you an idea of your legal options and if you should pursue a claim for compensation.