UNINSURED MOTORIST (UM)
Uninsured motorist coverage will pay for your damages if the at-fault driver is uninsured. Texas law requires drivers of vehicles to have at least the minimum coverage for automobile insurance. However, 1 in 5 drivers in Texas have no insurance coverage. If you are involved in a wreck with that person and injured, you will have no ability to recover for your injuries unless you have purchased uninsured motorist insurance coverage. If you have uninsured motorist insurance coverage, then you will need to make a claim with your own insurance company to recover uninsured motorist benefits.
UNDERINSURED MOTORIST (UIM)
A large number of drivers in Texas only have the minimum insurance coverage required by law. In Texas, minimum limits required by law are $30,000 per person, up to $60,000 per accident and $25,000 in property damage. Some estimate that about 50% of Texas drivers only have the minimum automobile insurance limits required by law.
Unfortunately, many times the state minimum amount of insurance coverage is not adequate to compensate you for your injuries. In a moderate collision, your damages can add up quickly. Or worse yet, if you and multiple family members are injured, the total amount recoverable from an at-fault person with minimum limits is $30,000 per person and a total of $60,000 per accident. However, if you have underinsured motorist coverage, you can also make a claim against your own insurance company for your injuries in excess of the policy limits of the at-fault party.
What Damages Can You Recover In an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim?
If you are in a wreck with an uninsured or underinsured driver and the other driver is at-fault, you could recover the following damages:
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental Anguish
- Physical Impairment
Being able to recover money for these damages does assume there is enough insurance coverage to pay for your injuries. Today medical and hospital bills can be very high. Further, if you are seriously injured, you can be off work for a long period of time and your lost wages can dramatically increase. That is why it is so important to ensure you have enough uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage. This is the way to make sure that if you are seriously injured by an uninsured motorist or a motorist who only has the minimum liability insurance limits, you can still be compensated for your injuries by making a claim against your own insurance company for those UM/UIM benefits.
Texas--UM/UIM Coverage is Mandatory Unless You Reject It In Writing
In Texas, insurance companies are required by law to provide you with UM/UIM insurance coverage unless you specifically reject the coverage in writing. You should not reject this coverage as it is the only way to ensure you are protecting you and your family members in case you are injured by another party who either does not have insurance or only minimal limits.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance--Property Damage
You also want to make sure uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage for your property damage. Let me go back to the example of someone who carries minimum liability insurance limits. In Texas, the state required minimum for automobile property damage is $25,000. Now what happens if you are driving your new car, which is worth much more than $25,000 and it is totaled in a wreck caused by a person only with minimum liability insurance limits. The at-fault party will pay up to the $25,000 in limits. And your car is worth $40,000. Who is going to pay the remaining $15,000 value? If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage insurance, then you can make a claim against your own insurance company for the shortfall up to your policy limits.
What Happens If You Are In A Wreck With An Uninsured Driver
If you are involved in a wreck with an uninsured driver and assuming you have uninsured motorist insurance coverage, you will need to make a claim with your own insurance company. This is where the problems usually start. As opposed to taking care of their own insured, many insurance companies do everything in their power to pay as little as possible for your injuries. The result is either you settle your case for an amount that does not compensate you for your injures or you hire an attorney to pursue a claim against your own insurance company. That is when you need an experienced personal injury attorney. In fact, over the last ten years, almost half of the cases we have taken to court for a jury trial involved either an uninsured motorist claim or an underinsured motorist claim. We have the experience to handle these cases.
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