Being involved in a car accident can be emotionally, physically, and financially devastating for all parties involved. Unfortunately, whenever you have suffered injuries or property damage in a car accident with an at-fault driver that is not insured, the difficulties surrounding your accident will only be worse. There are over 1.6 million uninsured drivers in Texas everyday, making the likelihood of being involved in an accident with one of these drivers more likely than many realize. Do not navigate this difficult time on your own, instead work with an experienced Houston car accident attorney, such as Beverly R. Caruthers. Attorney Caruthers and her team will work with you to get you justice in your case so that you can comfortably move forward with your life. The sooner you reach out to share the specifics of your car accident case, the more our team can do to help you.
Whenever you have had the misfortune of being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your first reaction may be to file a lawsuit against them in order to recover the cost of your damages. Unfortunately, this is rarely as effective of a solution as drivers believe it to be. It will be difficult to get the compensation you deserve, in a timely fashion, and may end up costing you quite a bit of time, money, and resources to pursue. Working with an attorney who can help you fight your case may be enough to help you recover some of the money you deserve, but the other driver also has the option of filing bankruptcy, which may end up leaving you with attorney fees, in addition to paying for your property damage and medical bills. Many uninsured individuals struggle to pay the cost of insuring their own vehicles, and do not have enough assets to pay for the cost of your damages.
How To Recover Compensation From An Uninsured Driver in Texas
Whenever you have been hit by a driver with no insurance in Texas, there are some important steps to take in order to protect yourself and recover as much compensation as possible for your damages:
-Immediately call the police and have them make a report at the scene that proves the other driver is not insured
-Contact your insurance company and file a report letting them know everything that happened, and give them as much information about the uninsured driver as possible
-Determine if the uninsured driver was working at the time of the accident or if they were driving independently
-File a bodily injury claim, a property claim, or both if applicable to your car accident case. Supporting these claims with medical records can help you to prove the injuries you have suffered.
-Filing a property damage claim with your insurance company is typically the fastest way to get your car damages repaired
-If the car you were driving was totally paid off, make sure you have property damage coverage to protect against accidents like this
-You may not get the full replacement value of a totaled car unless you have gap insurance.
Why does it matter if the uninsured driver was working at the time of the accident?
Too often, businesses will not take the necessary steps in order to verify the employee they have driving has the required auto insurance needed to legally drive while conducting official business. If the at-fault, uninsured driver was involved in a car accident conducting official business during work hours, you may have legal recourse against the employer.
Make a bodily injury claim, a property damage claim, or both. After a car accident, you can make a claim for bodily injury and a claim for property damage. Because most accidents don’t involve significant bodily injury, you will likely want to speed up a claim that will help you get your car fixed after a collision.
This is where your own insurance policy comes in.
Filing a property damage claim with your own insurance company is likely the fastest way to get your car fixed.
While it’s unfair that you should have to file a claim on your own insurance, there are little options that are as fast and effective as filing a property damage claim with your own insurance company.
If your car is leased or has a bank lien, you should have this type of coverage — as the lender usually requires it to finance the payment of the car.
If you have a policy that does not cover property damage and you are hit by an uninsured driver, you have very few options and those options are mainly bad.
Our suggestion is to call your insurance company and ask that they provide you property damage coverage. It cost a little more, but it is more than worth it if you are hit by an uninsured driver.
If you were driving in a car that was paid off, check to make sure you have property damage coverage.
If you have other vehicles that are paid off without this type of coverage, we strongly suggest you get it because you will be glad you have it when someone causes thousands of dollars of damage or completely totals your car.
You may not get the full replacement value of a totaled car unless you have gap insurance. Insurance companies are known to undervalue or underpay their clients for the cost of replacing a totaled car.
That’s because they agree to pay “fair market value” for the car in your policy, and often that fair market value doesn’t equal the amount of payments you have left to make, putting you in a difficult situation where you can’t purchase another car until you pay off the full balance of the totaled car, or you’re forced to roll over the remaining debt into a new car loan.
This is why we suggest that people buy gap insurance to help pay for this difference.
If you suffered bodily injury, follow the same steps. You can choose to make an uninsured motorist bodily injury claim against your own insurance if your coverage provides it. Check with your insurance company right away if you determine the at-fault driver carried no insurance whatsoever and you were injured in the accident.
You can also make a claim for personal injury protection (PIP) or Medpay, depending on what coverage you have. PIP is an extension of car insurance available in Texas that can cover medical expenses and is designed to be paid without regard to fault, making it another viable option if you are involved in an accident with someone with no car insurance.
Life is full of risks. Some are worth taking, some are not. Like jumping out of an airplane: You take a class, then climb onto the plane, strap on your parachute and jump. However, you did your research, considered the consequences, and decided it was a risk worth taking. But here’s the question: Would you have jumped without the chute?
Some people take the risk of driving without insurance. If you do so in Texas, though, your risk may be a lot like jumping without a chute. The penalties are harsh—and the consequences can be devastating—no matter how you look at it.
Texas Insurance Requirements
Texas, like other states, requires all drivers to carry a stated minimum of liability coverage. In the Lonestar State, this is $25,000 for property damage, $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident for personal injury).
If you purchased your car with a loan, your lender will likely require you to have comprehensive and collision insurance coverage in addition to any legal minimums. Be sure you are aware of any insurance requirements your lender imposes on you.
Although most drivers in Texas comply with the law and carry at least these legal minimums, many do not. Some estimates put the percentage of uninsured drivers in Texas at around 20%.1 Many of these drivers are risking serious consequences.
Driving Without Insurance—First Offense
The first time you get caught driving without valid insurance in Texas, you will be cited and fined between $175 and $350.2 Until 2019, there was also a surcharge of $250 added to your annual driver’s license fee for each of the next three years after an offense. This law was repealed, however, and all outstanding fees were canceled after Sept. 1, 2019. Now the most you will pay the first time you are caught driving without insurance in Texas is $350.3
This may not sound like a lot, but it sets you up for even bigger penalties if it happens again.
The numbers go up quickly for subsequent convictions. If you are caught driving without insurance an additional time, you will be fined between $350 and $1,000.2 Repeat offenders also risk having their license revoked and their vehicle impounded.4 If that happens, you will face a long expensive battle to get your license reinstated and your car back.
So, if you have been keeping track, the costs of driving without insurance in Texas have gone from hundreds to possibly thousands of dollars in fines, fees, and additional expenses. Compare these numbers to the cost of actually keeping your policy up to date, and suddenly dropping your insurance doesn’t seem like such a good idea.
The average car insurance rate in Texas in 2020 was $1,391 per year. That’s significantly less than the costs that could add up from driving without insurance.5
The Real Costs of Driving Uninsured
So far, we have only outlined the immediate legal and financial consequences that will be imposed on you by the State of Texas for driving without insurance. But there are other—potentially far greater—costs if you are at fault in an accident.
In Texas, you can be held 100% liable for any and all physical injuries and property damage resulting from a vehicle accident that you have caused.6 Depending on the extent of the damage, these can easily reach thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. An uninsured driver could see a lifetime of accumulated assets disappear in an instant.
The Bottom Line
You should ask yourself if saving a little money per month by keeping your auto insurance low—or not having any—is worth the risk. Proper coverage is an inexpensive way to protect yourself in case of unforeseen accidents. Be sure you talk to your agent and make sure you are covered against legal and financial consequences.
Abogada de accidentes automovilísticos en Houston
At the Law Office of Beverly R. Caruthers, we fight for justice in your case! Our team refuses to let a language barrier affect your right to getting a fair insurance settlement in Houston. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident and is in need of Spanish-speaking legal advice, our team is here for you. We make it simple for those who have been injured in car accidents to navigate the legal system in order to get the results they need to continue on in their lives. Schedule your no-obligation car accident consultation with Attorney Caruthers today. Our team will work with you every step of the way to ensure your needs are being met and that you are getting the treatment you deserve in your car accident case. Don’t hesitate, the sooner you call the more we can do to help your case!
Best Car Accident Attorney in Houston TX
If you have been injured, experienced loss of income, or are unable to work because of a car accident, you can benefit from the services of a Houston car accident expert in your personal injury case. Whether you missed work due to an injury or due to not having access to a vehicle, Attorney Beverly R. Caruthers can help you! Our team works hard to bring the most efficient and practical solutions to your car accident case. Beverly R. Caruthers proudly serves and defends the Greater Houston area including but not limited to Baytown, Conroe, Crosby, Humble, Huntsville, Lake Jackson, Missouri City, Pasadena, Spring, Tomball. Our legal team is bilingual and offers Spanish speaking legal counsel for all of our clients. If you need legal representation following an incident don’t hesitate to contact Beverly R. Caruthers Law Office!