No one wants to be injured in a car accident, as the resulting physical, emotional, and financial fallout can upend your life. However, the pain is amplified when you have been injured in a crash caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. If this has happened to you, contact Patterson Law Group today to arrange a zero-cost case review of your uninsured motorist claim.
What Is UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist)?
UIM coverage is intended to cover damage you suffer in an auto accident that exceeds the amount of coverage carried by the party responsible.
It’s between you and your insurance company, included in the policy you buy on your car. It covers you or any person in your car for bodily injury (BI) damage and covers property damage (PD), so you can fix or replace your car, subject to a deductible.
UIM coverage is a good thing to have whenever you are in an accident.
It comes in handy if you are injured by someone without insurance or with minimum limits or when there are multiple vehicles and/or injured parties in a crash.
Am I Required To Have UIM In My Car Insurance Policy?
No, UIM coverage is not required.
Your insurance company is required to include the coverage in your policy UNLESS you turn it down in writing.
Insurance premiums are a constant expense and are rising. In 2018, the average cost of auto insurance in Texas was $1,152.25, that’s up 21% from 2014.
It’s understandable why people think it seems reasonable to save a few dollars each month by declining UIM coverage. Declining UIM coverage is a decision that can cost thousands of dollars down the road.
What Are The Limits Of UIM Coverage?
The limits of UIM Coverage are up to you.
Most often, your UIM limits will be the same as your liability limits.
For example, if you carry $100,000 in liability coverage, it’s common to have $100,000 in UIM coverage, too.
These days, with the cost of everything, especially medical care, on the rise, $100,000 seems like the lowest coverage most people would want. More is better.
Common Injuries from Uninsured Drivers
Some of the car accident injuries commonly associated with uninsured driver accidents include the following:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Severe cuts or lacerations
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Damage to ligaments
- Neck, spinal cord, or back injuries
- Head injuries such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
Common Causes of Uninsured Motorist Accidents
What causes these crashes? Here are some of the more common causes of uninsured driver collisions:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Distracted driving, such as texting while driving
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Unsafe merges
- Unsafe lane changes
- Following too closely
- Failure to yield the right-of-way
- Road rage
- Road racing
- Manufacturing defects
Texas Uninsured Motorist Traffic Laws
While many people drive without any car insurance, it is prohibited to do so in Texas. As an experienced uninsured motorist lawyer can explain, Texas law requires each driver to carry at least 30/60/25 liability coverage, which means $30,000 per injured person, $60,000 total per crash, and $25,000 for property damage.
Who is Liable for Uninsured Driving Accidents? Who is at Fault?
To determine who is liable in a car accident, we assess the following to determine negligence: If someone owed a duty of care to you, breached that duty, and that breach caused your crash, and you were injured in that crash, then that party may be held liable.
Unfortunately, many uninsured or underinsured people have that status because of a lack of finances. Therefore, even if the other driver was responsible for your accident, you might not recover any financial compensation from an uninsured driver at fault because they would be unable to pay you.
Fortunately, an experienced uninsured motorist accident lawyer will investigate whether or not parties with deeper pockets–such as the driver’s employer, the manufacturer of the other car’s brakes, or the bar that overserved the other driver–may also be liable. If so, the right uninsured motorist accident attorney may be able to help maximize your financial recovery despite your inability to get a dime from the negligent driver.
How to Establish Fault
To establish fault, your uninsured driver accident attorney will need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence–which means that it is more likely than not–that the defendant was negligent. Using the elements of a negligence claim listed above, the employer of the driver may be liable for your injuries. For example, their employee had a checkered driving record and was improperly vetted in the hiring process. The uninsured driver, in turn, committed a traffic violation that caused the accident in which you were injured.
What Damages Can Be Collected? Compensation? Settlement?
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another person or entity, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Here are some of the common types of damages you may be able to recoup:
- All past and future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
If an uninsured or underinsured driver caused your accident, the path to recovering these damages is usually more complex. Your attorney may need to stack multiple policies on top of one another to cover all of your damages. For instance, if you have uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage, those policies may kick in to help compensate you for your losses.
If you obtained Personal Injury Protection (PIP), then your medical bills, funeral costs, 80 percent of your lost wages, and the cost of a caregiver –may all be covered even if you were at fault for the crash. In addition, Med Pay will cover the medical costs for all the injured occupants of your vehicle–up to a specific limit, no matter who was responsible.
While it will likely be challenging to reach a settlement with the uninsured driver, an experienced lawyer may be able to help negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company on your behalf.
What Must Be Proven for Compensation?
No matter who the defendant is in your claim, to receive financial compensation, you will need to establish that that defendant was negligent in causing your accident. In civil cases, you must prove that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the defendant is liable.
What to do after an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
If you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, there are several steps you can do to help maximize your financial compensation:
- Call the police and ensure that an accident report is completed
- Seek medical attention no matter how you feel
- Take pictures of everything you can think of, including the other driver’s license plate, vehicle make and model, and driver’s license. Be sure to include your injuries, property damage, and the location of the crash.
- Gather the contact information of anyone who witnessed any part of the accident
- Schedule a consultation with an experienced uninsured driver attorney
- Limit or even halt all social media use
- While your claim is pending, live your life as if a private investigator is following you
How to File an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
If you have been injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you will file a claim against your own insurance policy. You will need to prove that the other driver did not have insurance and that the crash was caused by them. To prove these two elements, here are some items that may help boost the value of your claim:
- Any evidence that supports that the other driver caused the crash, such as eyewitness statements, pictures, and the accident report filed by the police
- Your medical records
- Evidence that demonstrates that you were forced to miss time at work
Do You Have a Lawsuit/Case?
To assess if you have a lawsuit or a case, you first need to determine whether there are any defendants with sufficient finances who may have been liable. If so, then filing a lawsuit against that party may be your best bet to maximize the financial compensation you ultimately receive.
If only the defendant (uninsured driver) can be held liable for your accident, then the value of your case plummets. Because uninsured motorists are unlikely to be able to pay you no matter the damages you suffered. If that is the case, your best course of action is to file a claim against your insurance policy, as this may be the only way to recover financial compensation.
Is There a Time Limit to File a Claim?
In Texas, you have two years from the date of your accident in which to file a claim, or you risk forfeiting all legal rights to any financial compensation stemming from this crash. This two-year period is the statute of limitations. While two years may sound like a long time, our attorneys at Patterson Law Group strongly recommend initiating the process as soon as possible. Most of the evidence is still readily available, and eyewitnesses can still remember what transpired. Please note that there are multiple exceptions to the statute of limitations, and an experienced lawyer can explain whether or not any of them may apply to your particular case.
How Does The Claim Process Work For UIM Claims?
The determination for a UIM carrier to make is simple.
First, it must determine that an uninsured or underinsured third party was legally responsible for damage to its policyholder.
Second, it must determine that the damage caused by that third party exceeds the limits of the third party’s insurance coverage.
Last, it must determine the full extent of the damage caused by the third party.
If those damages are more than the total of the underlying liability coverage and the UIM coverage, the carrier’s liability for UIM is limited to their policy.
When you’re in an accident, you should always hire a lawyer with experience in handling car accident claims. The attorneys at Patterson Law Group can assist you with filing your car accident claim. We are ready to take your call and learn the facts of your case to understand how we can help. Call us today at (817) 784-2000.
Types of Uninsured Driver
There are two types of uninsured drivers: drivers without liability insurance and drivers who are underinsured. Drivers who are underinsured do have liability insurance, but their policy limits are too low to cover the damages related to the serious injuries that you have suffered.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Uninsured motorist accident claims are complex. We recommend that you consult with an experienced Fort Worth car accident lawyer. They can help maximize the amount of financial compensation that you receive by doing the following:
- Investigate and build your case to prove which party or parties may have been liable
- Communicate and negotiate directly with the insurance company
- Ensure that all legal deadlines are met
- Stack different insurance policies on top of each other to maximize your payout
- Draft and file all legal documents related to your claim
- Advise you as to your legal rights, the strengths and weaknesses of your claim, and possible outcomes
We Fight for Our Clients
At Patterson Law Group, our attorneys are dedicated to leaving no stone unturned to achieve justice on behalf of each client. You followed Texas law by obtaining the proper insurance and followed the traffic rules, yet now you are seriously injured and unable to work, with medical bills piling up. And to top it off, the person responsible for causing this crash did not obtain minimum insurance coverage and did not adhere to traffic rules. Our attorneys at Patterson Law Group recognize the injustice and do everything we can to maximize the financial compensation our clients receive.
Contact us for a free consultation
If you have been injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist in Fort Worth, call us today to schedule a free consultation with a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer. We also have a team of Fort Worth motorcycle accident lawyers and Fort Worth truck accident lawyers. At Patterson Law Group, all our clients have access to their cloud-based files. So, they can access the latest updates with their case. We take pride in being there when our clients need us.