It’s difficult enough to recover fair compensation for a motor vehicle accident injury when the at-fault party is insured – but what do you do when the at-fault party is uninsured or under-insured?
This can be a challenging question for Houston drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians who are injured through no fault of their own on our roads.
To be injured and then to discover that the at-fault party either had no insurance policy or that it had lapsed without being renewed can be devastating.
Despite this apparent “double blow”, provisions exist to help you reclaim the costs you incur from your injury. The first step should be to contact an experienced personal accident injury lawyer who is familiar with such cases in the Houston area and who can provide the help and support you need at this difficult time.
Uninsured drivers in Houston Texas
Normally, with a personal injury accident case on the Houston roads, the injured party claims damages from the insurance company of the at-fault party.
When there is no insurance policy to refer to or a third-party insurance company to approach, compensation must be sought from other sources instead.
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver in Texas, there are other options, including filing a lawsuit to recover compensation. However, this is not appropriate in all cases.
Before deciding what to do, it is essential to contact a capable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.
Auto accident and vehicle insurance laws in Texas
According to the motor vehicle accident laws in Texas, the driver who is at fault for the accident is responsible for the victim’s injuries and must pay damages, including the following:
Texas insurance laws require that vehicle owners must have the following coverage as a minimum:
- $30,000 of bodily injury coverage per person
- $60,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 of property damage coverage
In reality, many drivers elect to purchase coverage that covers them for more than these minimums. This is, perhaps, a reflection of the risks of driving on Houston’s roads.
This additional coverage may include collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or med pay coverage.
At-fault drivers who fail to purchase enough insurance or have no insurance at all often create considerable legal challenges for injured parties.
However, under Texas’ insurance laws, insurers must offer uninsured motorist coverage. It is not mandatory to purchase this coverage (you can opt-out) but if you do sign up, you will qualify for your damages to be paid if you were injured by an uninsured driver. Recoverable damages may include property damage, bodily injuries, or both.
What are your legal options if an uninsured driver hits you?
If you are hit by an uninsured driver on the Houston roads and the accident was not your fault, speak to a personal injury attorney at the earliest opportunity to find out how best to recover compensation.
There may be other options for recovering losses incurred from property damage and medical bills.
Three options that do not require legal action are:
When should I sue an uninsured driver?
Some accidents involving uninsured motorists require a lawsuit to be filed to claim your rightful compensation.
The at-fault driver’s background and financial means may require investigation before you decide to proceed, so you will likely need the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
In some cases, the driver is not uninsured because he or she cannot afford it. It is simply an oversight or a deliberate evasion of necessary expenses. In these cases, if the uninsured driver has other assets, such as a home or other property or a steady job, we can place a lien on their property or garnish wages.
If the at-fault driver has no insurance, little income, and no assets, it may not be worth filing a lawsuit.
In some cases, where liability is split, it is possible to sue the other at-fault parties to recover some of your losses.
It is important in these cases to discuss your legal options before making a decision. Seek out a personal injury lawyer who is accustomed to claiming compensation from uninsured drivers.
Do uninsured drivers go to jail in Texas?
Uninsured drivers are breaking the law in Texas. If an uninsured driver is involved in an accident and the police are called to the scene, the driver is likely to receive a ticket.
Uninsured drivers do not go to jail but they will be required to pay a fine and purchase the minimum required insurance (as outlined above). They may also have their license suspended.
What if I am the uninsured party who is at fault?
Under the car accident laws in Texas, the injured party may hold you liable for their property damage, medical bills, and other injuries.
You can also expect law enforcement to issue a traffic violation ticket and a fine for driving without insurance.
At the DeHoyos Law Firm PLLC, we’ve seen all sorts of personal injury cases, including accidents where one of the drivers is uninsured.
We will provide professional and compassionate representation in these challenging situations while holding the at-fault party or parties to account.
Call (832) 745-4878 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.