In Texas, drivers are required to show proof of being able to pay for any car accidents they cause. The easiest way to do this is to buy auto liability insurance coverage. Auto insurance financially protects drivers by paying for car repair and medical bills for the victim of a car accident the driver causes. What happens, though, if the responsible driver that causes an accident does not have auto insurance? Or if you are the victim of a hit and run accident? What if the driver only has the minimum amount of insurance and your injuries are severe or your car was totaled? If the driver that caused your accident does not have auto insurance, flees the scene of the accident, or only has the minimum amount of required insurance coverage that will not fully pay for your damages, a car crash can be financially devastating. This is when uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can apply.
What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
The majority of auto insurance policies sold in Texas include some form of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. While these types of coverage are optional, your insurer must offer them to you when you purchase your car insurance. In fact, if you do not want to include this coverage, your refusal must be in writing. Purchasing uninsured motorist coverage enables your own car insurance to pay for damages received in an accident with an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you, your family, passengers in your car, and anyone driving your car with your permission. It can pay for medical bills, funeral costs, vehicle repairs, car rentals, replacement of damaged items, lost wages, permanent or partial disability, pain and suffering, and disfigurement up to the financial limit set in your policy. This type of coverage can be incredibly beneficial if you are hit by a driver who flees the scene of the collision. In a hit-and-run accident, you are not able to get the at-fault party’s insurance information and have to rely on your own insurance to pay for any injuries and property damage.
If you are in an accident with a driver who does have auto liability insurance, they may only have the minimum amount of coverage. Only having the minimum may not pay enough for your serious injuries or significant car repairs. Medical bills can be extremely expensive and trying to repair or replace a vehicle can costs tens of thousands of dollars. If your insurance policy has underinsured motorist coverage, that can be used to cover all or part of the difference in costs once the at-fault party’s insurance liability limits are reached. When filing this type of claim, you must first file against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. The policy will pay up to its limit and then your underinsured motorist coverage can help you pay for the remaining costs.
You are able to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage at the minimum amount or in larger amounts up to the specific dollar limits of your policy. Typically, coverage is added in $5,000 increments. If you are unsure about what choice you made when you purchased your auto insurance policy, check the policy and/or talk to your insurance agent. While purchasing the minimum amount is a good idea, it is recommended that you have as much uninsured and underinsured coverage as your have liability coverage. It may be your only protection against hit-and-run drivers and uninsured drivers. While you do have the option to sue an uninsured at-fault driver for car accident damages, the driver may not have the money to pay you if a judgement is rendered.
There are currently over 15 million licensed drivers in Texas, and it is estimated that at least 14 percent of our drivers are driving while uninsured. When taking a look at the traffic around you while driving, that can be a daunting number since statistics say seven out of every 50 cars will be uninsured. When considering the full cost of a vehicle accident, having the best coverage possible is essential to staying financially safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculated the average cost of a crash-related hospitalization and subsequent medical bills over a victim’s lifetime to be $57,000. More serious accidents can result in even greater costs. If you only have the minimum amount of liability coverage and are hit by an uninsured driver, you could be put in the precarious position of not being able to pay for your medical bills. This is why having the extra protection provided by uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is so important.
Houston Uninsured Motorist Accident Lawyers
Even if you have the all the right insurance coverage, insurance companies can make it very difficult to get the full payout you rightfully deserve for your injuries. Many victims who have been hit by uninsured drivers or have been injured in a hit-and-run accident require the help of an experienced car accident attorney to fight their own insurance companies in order to get fair compensation. If you are currently fighting your insurance company to get the benefits you paid for, call our office for a free consultation to learn your rights.
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