Strategies for Recovering Compensation from Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers
When you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another person, especially in Texas, your first course of action is typically to seek compensation from the at-fault party’s auto insurance provider. Unlike many other states, Texas is not a “no-fault” state for purposes of motor vehicle insurance. Every driver in Texas is required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover the losses of another driver in a motor vehicle accident.
But making it a legal requirement doesn’t mean that someone will do it. It’s not uncommon for the at-fault party in a Texas car crash to to be uninsured or underinsured. According to the Insurance Research Council, more than two million of the 15 million licensed drivers in Texas do not have any liability insurance at all! What are your options, should you suffer losses in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist? Are you simply without recourse? Not necessarily.
Do I Have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Motorist Coverage on My Policy?
You may be able to pursue compensation through your own insurer. In Texas, while it’s not mandatory, insurance companies can offer additional coverage that provides some benefits in the event you sustain losses because of the carelessness or negligence of an uninsured or underinsured driver. It’s commonly referred to as UM/UIM coverage and is offered as a rider to your policy at an additional premium. There are typically limits to the amount of coverage you’ll get under your UM/UIM policy.
If you discover that the other driver either had no insurance or only had coverage for property damage, your first course of action should be to determine whether you added the UM/UIM coverage to your policy. Don’t expect your insurance agent to volunteer that information—the insurer maximizes its profit by minimizing its payouts. Instead, it’s a good idea to hire an experienced attorney who can review your policy and clarify your coverage.
Are There Other Potential Defendants?
When you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to take legal action against anyone who acted negligently. That may include:
- The actual owner of the other car, if it was being borrowed at the time of the crash — Under a theory of vicarious liability, the owner of the vehicle may have some legal responsibility. Typically, you will have to show that the owner knew or should have known that the actual driver posed an unreasonable risk. A common example of this is when a parent allows an inexperienced teen to drive a car.
- The at-fault party’s employer, if the accident occurred during the course of employment — Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for the acts of an employee.
- The individual or establishment serving the alcohol, if the accident was caused by a drunk driver — The dram shop and social host liability laws in Texas may impose liability on someone who either knew a person was impaired or served a sufficient quantity of alcohol to a person that would reasonably lead to impairment.
- The municipality responsible for road maintenance, if the accident was caused by a pothole, loose gravel, uneven pavement or other roadway defects
- Any party in the chain of distribution, if the accident was caused by a dangerous or defective product, such as a faulty tire, brakes or automotive part
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every personal injury client. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.