If you find yourself injured in a collision, and the at-fault driver has no insurance, what can you do?
What if the At-Fault Driver Has No Insurance?
It happens more than you think. As a matter of fact, 20% of Texas motorists have no insurance, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Texas law requires every driver to carry insurance when operating a motor vehicle. But, waving a magic wand and requiring everyone to do so by law doesn’t mean that everyone will follow through. So, what happens when you get hurt in a car wreck and the other driver doesn’t have insurance? There’s a few possibilities.
The Other Driver Isn’t Off the Hook
You may feel some desire for revenge. You want that other driver to experience some pain and suffering so they understand the consequences of their actions.
Depending on the extent of your injuries and the value of their assets, it may be worth your time to file a personal injury lawsuit and go after their personal assets.
What if they don’t have any personal assets to go after?
Your insurance company can use subrogation law to recover any financial damages they pay you. That means they can go after the personal financial assets of the other driver.
Plus, as you can guess, Texas’ law isn’t too sympathetic when someone else isn’t carrying car insurance as legally required.
So take it easy. Don’t worry about punishing the other driver. Consequences will happen.
Texas Requires Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
In Texas, if you have any car insurance at all, you have at least $2500 of personal injury protection insurance. You may have even more if you opted to purchase it.
Texas law requires all auto insurance policies to offer at least $2500 in PIP.
PIP can be used to cover all reasonable medical costs, ambulance services, physical rehab, funeral services, lost income, and replacement of household services provided by the injured party (for example, caring for your family).
And PIP extends to all injured parties in the motor vehicle collision. So if you and your spouse both get injured, and you have $2500 in PIP, you can each recover $2500 for a total of $5000.
But, honestly $2500 isn’t a lot of money. What if your injuries and damages run more than $2500?
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Umbrella Insurance
Texas law does not require you to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. However, law does require auto insurers to offer this coverage to you.
If all other options for recovering financial damages from the other drive have been exhausted, then you can go to your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
It’s actually not expensive to carry at all. It usually costs less than half of your standard liability insurance.
You’re wise to carry it, and especially so if you have substantial assets to protect.
Thankfully, you have options if the other driver doesn’t have car insurance like Texas law requires. And if you don’t have underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage, or if you haven’t reviewed it in a while, maybe now’s the time to give it another look.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years (since 1983). Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.