What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
Have you been involved in a car accident in Fort Worth? Are you worried about recovering compensation because the other driver wasn’t insured?
Don’t panic. Contact Stephens Law Firm, PLLC for immediate legal assistance. Fort Worth car accident lawyer Jason Stephens will help you understand all of the legal options for recovery that might be available to you.
Jason Stephens has been navigating car accident injury cases in Fort Worth for more than 22 years. He knows how frustrating it can be when unforeseen obstacles block the path to financial recovery.
Fortunately, he also knows how to identify solutions, overcome those obstacles, and get his clients the money they need. That’s how he’s helped countless car accident victims secure life-changing financial settlements and awards. Stephens Law will happily fight to get the same results for you.
Call (817) 420-7000 today to arrange a free initial case assessment to learn more today.
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Doesn’t Everyone Have to Be Insured in Texas?
Yes. In order to register a car in the state of Texas, an owner must be able to provide proof of insurance. They must be able to prove that they’ve purchased minimally-required amounts of insurance, as stated under Texas state law. So, in theory, everyone driving a car should have insurance that covers, at the very least:
- $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for bodily injury, and
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
This is called 30/60/25 coverage. A car cannot be registered in the state of Texas without it.
However, many drivers are uninsured. Others are underinsured, meaning that they have insurance, but not enough to satisfy the 30/60/25 requirements. In fact, in 2015, it was estimated that 14.1% of drivers in the state of Texas were uninsured. The national average was 13.0%. So, there are more uninsured drivers in Texas than in many other parts of the country.
How are drivers on the road if they don’t have insurance. There are a few possibilities. Maybe they had insurance but it has lapsed due to nonpayment. It’s possible that the insurer revoked the policy after the drier was in one too many accidents. Or, perhaps the car isn’t registered with the state, at all.
Whatever the reason, it can still create a nightmare for you if you get into an accident with someone who is uninsured. Fortunately, you likely have other options to get the money you need.
How to Recover Compensation After an Accident With an Uninsured Driver in Fort Worth
There are a few potential ways to recover compensation after you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident with someone who doesn’t have liability insurance. It will ultimately depend on the specifics of your case. Here’s what you need to know.
From Your Own Insurance Company
Texas is a “fault” state when it comes to insurance rules. Simply put, the company that insures the driver who caused an accident is responsible for the damage it causes. However, that’s not always an option. That’s why insurance companies in Texas are legally required to offer you something called “uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.” You might also see this referred to as UM or UIM.
What is UM? Uninsured motorist coverage is something you can purchase and add to your car insurance policy. It’s supplemental to your base coverage. You’re not required to purchase it, but you must decline in writing.
If you do have uninsured motorist coverage, that will cover the costs of your medical bills and property damage – up to a limit – after a crash with an uninsured driver. It can also be used to cover your costs after a hit and run crash in Fort Worth.
From Other Negligent Parties – or Their Insurance Companies
Accidents are rarely cut and dry. You might not realize that several factors could have contributed to your crash. For example, while another driver might have slammed into the back of your car, you might not realize that part of the reason this happened was because the brakes on their car failed.
The only way to find out what really caused your accident is by making sure that it’s investigated thoroughly. If you discover that someone other than the uninsured driver shares blame, that can be great news for you.
Why? In Texas, anyone who even remotely contributes to an accident can be on the hook for the damage it causes. That means that you can seek compensation from other parties – not just the uninsured driver. The larger the role these other parties play, the more money you can potentially recover from them.
Let’s go back to the example above. You were rear-ended by a driver because they were texting and didn’t hit the brakes in time. However, the brakes on their car also failed. Even if the driver hadn’t been texting, they still might not have been able to stop in time because of the brakes.
When the accident is investigated, it’s determined that the driver who rear-ended you is allocated 80% of the blame. The car manufacturer is allocated the remaining 20%. So, the manufacturer is, therefore, liable for 20% of your damages. You can file a product liability lawsuit against them and seek a portion of the money you need.
Note, insurance companies will probably get involved. It’s best to be represented by a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer anytime you deal with an insurer – even your own. So, don’t hesitate to give Stephens Law Firm, PLLC a call for help.
From The Uninsured Driver
Just because the at-fault driver didn’t have auto insurance doesn’t mean that they’re off the hook. You can still hold them personally accountable by filing a civil personal injury lawsuit against them. In doing so, you’ll likely have to prove that you have been injured because they were negligent. Negligence means that:
- The uninsured driver owed you a duty of care
- The uninsured driver breached that duty of care to you in some way
- You have been injured, and
- This injury was caused by the driver’s conduct.
This, for instance, might entail proving that they were texting behind the wheel, speeding, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that winning a lawsuit against an individual doesn’t necessarily mean that you will recover compensation – or the full amount you’re awarded. The individual has to have money to satisfy the judgment. If the driver didn’t’ have insurance, there’s a good chance that they don’t have the money or assets to pay you when you win your lawsuit. You might get something, but it’s always a good plan to determine where else you might be able to secure a financial award – especially someone with deep pockets.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After an Accident With an Uninsured Driver in Fort Worth?
In Texas, you may have the right to file a lawsuit for damages if someone else causes you to get hurt. However, you won’t have an unlimited amount of time to do so. Typically, a two-year statute of limitations applies to car accident lawsuits in Texas. The clock begins to run at the time of the crash or whenever you reasonably discovered your injury, whichever occurs later.
There are times when the statute of limitations might be different. For example, if you learn that the crash was caused, in part, by hazardous road conditions that the city of Fort Worth knew about but did nothing to fix, you might have a legitimate claim against the government.
For that part of your claim, you’d have to comply with special rules – including an accelerated statute of limitations. You’d have up to six months to formally file a lawsuit against the city.
The statute of limitations can also be tolled – or paused – under certain circumstances. Let’s say the driver who hit you fled the scene. You only find out that they’re uninsured after they’re found by the police – three years after the accident. Is your claim barred?
No, the statute of limitations can be tolled until the driver is located. The clock would begin to run when the tolling factor – not being able to find the driver – was no longer an issue.
How much time do you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident involving an uninsured driver in Fort Worth? To make sure this question is answered properly, it’s important to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer.
A Car Wreck Lawyer in Fort Worth Is Here to Help You
Have you or a loved one been involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver in Fort Worth?
Stephens Law Firm, PLLC will help you pursue any compensation to which you may be entitled. Attorney Jason Stephens will determine all possible courses of action and fight to get you the money you deserve.
Give Fort Worth personal injury attorney Jason Stephens a call today to arrange your free consultation and learn more.