Jason Stephens | May 18, 2023 | Car Accidents
If you suffered injury or property damage in a car accident caused by someone else, you have two potential insurance options for compensation: collect from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, or collect from yous. Purchasing uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) is a way of making sure your own insurance will cover your losses even when the at-fault driver’s insurance won’t.
The Texas “At-Fault” Auto Insurance System
Different states approach car accident liability in different ways. About a dozen states, for example, apply a “no-fault” system, where an injured party generally looks to their own insurance for coverage. Texas, like most states, administers an “at-fault” system in which you can immediately file a claim for compensation against an at-fault driver’s auto accident liability policy.
Mandatory Insurance Requirements in Texas
UIM coverage is optional in Texas, but it is highly recommended. Texas requires everyone with a vehicle registered in Texas to purchase the following auto liability insurance:
- $30,000 per person for bodily injury liability;
- $60,000 per accident for bodily injury liability; and
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
This insurance only covers other people injured in accidents that an at-fault driver causes, not the at-fault driver. If one or two people suffer an injury, the coverage limit is $30,000 per person. If three people suffer an injury, the coverage limit is $60,000/3 = $20,000 per person. For additional victims, keep dividing $60,000 by the total number of victims.
Advantages of Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The three main advantages of UIM, discussed below, add up to a tremendous advantage when driving on Texas roads.
Advantage #1: When the At-Fault Driver Has No Insurance
Despite the Texas mandatory insurance law, nearly 10% of Texas drivers lack insurance at any given time. UIM covers you when one of these drivers injures you.
Advantage #2: When the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Is Insufficient To Cover Your Losses
Most uninsured motorist policies will also cover you for a collision with an underinsured motorist (read the fine print in your policy to make sure). An “underinsured motorist” typically means someone who purchased the legal minimum auto insurance and therefore has complied with Texas law. It is easy to see, however, how expenses from an accident could quickly overwhelm the limits of a minimum liability insurance policy.
Advantage #3: Hit-and-Run Accidents
Most uninsured motorist policies will cover you for a hit-and-run accident. This includes everything from a fatal DUI accident to a fender bender in a parking lot while you were busy shopping. UIM is virtually the only option to receive compensation under these circumstances.
The Disadvantages of Uninsured Motorist Coverage
There are three disadvantages of uninsured motorist coverage, only two of which apply in Texas.
Disadvantage #1: Uninsured Motorist Coverage Costs Money
UIM does cost extra, but the extra amount is minimal compared to the peace of mind it offers you. Many Texas drivers will pay less than an extra $100 per year for this coverage.
Disadvantage #2: Insurance Companies Tend To Dispute UIM Claims
Insurance companies tend to dispute UIM more than they do claims under other types of auto insurance policies. They are especially likely to dispute coverage in hit-and-run accidents because, for all they know, the claimant might be the at-fault driver trying to cash in on their own reckless driving.
Disadvantage #3: Uninsured Motorist Coverage Is Less Useful in a No-Fault Auto Insurance State
In a no-fault state, you must purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which covers your own bodily injury and lost earnings up to policy limits. This renders UIM superfluous in most instances. This disadvantage does not apply to accidents in Texas, however, since it is an at-fault state.
Hurt in an Accident? Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer
You might not need a lawyer for a minor fender bender. You definitely will need a lawyer for a wrongful death or for a catastrophic injury. Between these two extremes, how do you know when you need a lawyer? It isn’t always obvious.
What you can do, however, is schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Since almost every personal injury lawyer works on a “no win, no pay” basis, they have no incentive to exaggerate the merits of your claim.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth car accident lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 406
Fort Worth, TX 76107