Car insurance or other proof of financial responsibility is mandatory for every driver in Texas. You could still, however, be at risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver. Many drivers in Texas break the insurance law by letting their policies lapse – either knowingly or unknowingly. Take the following steps if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver for the best odds of securing financial compensation.
It is a legal requirement in Texas to call the police after any automobile collision that results in an excess of $1,000 in property damage or injuries or death. If you find out that the other driver does not have insurance, call the police while still at the scene, even if it does not appear to be a serious accident. The police can penalize the uninsured or underinsured driver with a traffic citation and a fine and may suspend the driver’s license until he or she can show proof of insurance. This can prevent subsequent uninsured motorist accidents involving the same driver.
It is also important to call the police for insurance purposes. Since you will most likely be filing a claim with your own insurance provider, you need to prove that the other driver involved in the wreck does not have insurance. A police accident report detailing each driver’s car insurance policies – or lack thereof – can provide evidence that the other motorist was unlawfully driving without insurance. The accident report will also contain other facts, such as the time, date and location of the accident.
Without the at-fault driver’s auto insurance available to cover your medical bills and other losses, you will need to rely on other sources for financial compensation. If you have health insurance, this can help, but it typically requires some out-of-pocket costs. For this reason, you should try to file a claim with your auto insurance provider instead.
In Texas, if you wish to opt out of uninsured motorist coverage when purchasing a policy, you must submit a written form to the insurance provider. If you don’t remember taking this step, you most likely have uninsured motorist coverage. This can pay for your damages after being hit by an uninsured driver. After the accident, contact your auto insurance provider to find out if you have this type of coverage. If so, it can pay for your property repairs, medical costs and other losses up to the limit on your policy.
Hold the uninsured driver accountable by filing a complaint to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The DPS could suspend the driver’s license and vehicle registration to prevent him or her from continuing to drive uninsured. The DPS could also help you recover financially for your losses arising from the collision. You may have grounds to file a claim with the DPS if the accident happened within 22 months, the collision took place on public property, you have an accident report showing that the party was uninsured, the report indicates that you were not at fault, and you suffered injuries or losses worth at least $1,000.
Another possibility for compensation could be a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver or another party, such as the city government. In many cases, a driver who does not have car insurance also cannot pay a personal injury judgment. However, there are circumstances where the defendant does have the means to pay. A car accident lawyer in Dallas can investigate your specific case to search for defendants who can pay. For more information about what to do after being hit by an uninsured driver in Texas, find an experienced lawyer to represent you.