Uninsured & Under-Insured Motorist Accidents
Have You Been in an Accident with an Uninsured or Under-Insured Texas Motorist? Our Law Office Can Help!
In Texas, numerous drivers are on the roads without car insurance or without the proper level of car insurance. The Insurance Research Council estimates that Texas drivers have a 14% chance of getting into a car wreck with an uninsured driver. What happens if an uninsured driver causes a car accident?
There May Actually be Coverage
Many drivers will simply pretend not to have insurance when they cause an accident. Some drivers actually do not have insurance but many more are simply lying and are trying to scam you to keep their own insurance premiums low. While this is certainly illegal, it is also hard for police to track and the responsibility to catch the defendant falls on you.
Scam 1: They Pretend That They Don’t Have Insurance
This is quite an effective little scam whereby someone will cause an accident, claim that they don’t have any insurance, the police will arrive and issue them a citation for not having insurance (or possibly, they will be arrested), and then they will simply take their insurance card to the courthouse at a later date and will get the ticket dismissed or charges dropped. Unfortunately, many people fall for this scam. The solution is to hire an attorney that can investigate the defendant. We have ways of tracking down their insurance information and holding them accountable.
Scam 2: They Claim There is no Insurance on a Particular Vehicle
In this scam, the person who causes an accident is borrowing a vehicle from a friend or relative. They will cause an accident and the car they are driving does not have insurance but their own car does. When you have insurance on your own vehicle and you drive someone else’s vehicle, often time your insurance will cover that other vehicle as well. The way to determine whether the driver’s insurance is applicable to a car they are borrowing is to hire an attorney that can investigate and examine the policy for specific language and legalese.
Scam 3: The Owner Lets an Uninsured Driver Borrow Their Car
This is a scam that is really the handiwork of the insurance company. You will get hit by a car that the owner has insured, but the owner lent the car to a driver with no insurance of their own and that driver causes the accident. When you contact the insurance company to file your claim (you should never file an injury claim without an attorney helping you) they tell you that the claim is denied because the vehicle policy only covers the owner of the vehicle and not a friend that he or she lent the car to.
This is a perfect example of the insurance company using your ignorance of the law against you. While the insurance company is technically right (they only insure the negligent actions of the owner and not of other drivers) the borrower that caused the accident is not the only one acting negligently. The owner of the car may very well be negligent under a legal theory known as “negligent entrustment”, provided you can prove that they knowingly lent their vehicle to a driver that they knew to be likely to cause an accident. This is a very specific legal tactic that does not always apply to every case and if handled wrong may result in a countersuit against you so you must hire an experienced attorney to handle such a claim for you.
Scam 4: Excluded Drivers
The caveat to the material mentioned in Scam 3 is that people can specifically exclude certain drivers from their policy. For example, if the vehicle’s owner has a 16-year-old child living in their household, the insurance company will raise their rates whether the child is known to be driving the car or not, simply because the risk of them possibly driving the car is considerable. However, if the vehicle owner amends their policy to specifically exclude the 16-year-old driver, then the insurance company is accurate in saying that the policy technically does not cover that driver. So if this minor driver does borrow the family car and cause an accident, the insurance company will maintain that they do not cover that driver and that your claim is invalid. By excluding such a driver, the insurance policy probably would not cover the negligent entrustment claim. In such a case, filing a suit against the vehicle’s owner or the guardian of the child (usually the same) may be your only option.
Scam 5: A False Claim That the Car was Stolen
The more you know about the law, the more you realize that friends and family that give pseudo-legal advice about the law are usually wrong. Most of the “conventional wisdom” about how to avoid liability is all nonsense. One such rumor is that if someone you lend your car and they cause an accident, you can just report the car as stolen and then your insurance company won’t have to pay anything and you can just get away without any hit against your insurance policy. That is not accurate. Unfortunately, the police don’t often have the time to delve into every such accusation far enough to determine that the vehicle owner is lying. By hiring an experienced Texas car accident attorney you can ensure that scams like this are uncovered and exposed. Our attorneys have helped thousands of car accident victims and we can typically help people who are the victims of these types of scams as well.
Another Option: Your Own Policy’s Supplemental Coverage
In the event that the other driver genuinely does not have any insurance coverage, you may be able to file a claim against your own policy. Many people are rather disinterested in this since they feel like they are hurting themselves by filing such a claim. On the contrary, that is precisely what certain portions of your policy are for and, if handled properly, you will not risk hurting your insurability. Not filing an uninsured motorist claim when the situation legitimately warrants such action is like buying health insurance and then paying your doctor in cash. It just doesn’t make any sense.
It’s Not Quite That Easy
However, filing an injury claim against your own policy is not the same and filing a property damage claim. Your own insurance company will put forth great effort to keep you from receiving the compensation you deserve because, frankly, they sell the additional coverage to your liability policy (known as a “rider” or “add on”) hoping that you never use it.
The state legislature recognizes this problem with insurance companies trying to sell policies that they have no intention of paying out on. As such, they have passed laws that enable plaintiff’s attorneys to sue an insurance carrier on behalf of their clients in the event that the carrier unfairly denies a claim that a policyholder makes on their own policy. But it’s a delicate process and certainly one that only the most experienced attorneys should attempt.