Even in the best of circumstances, car accidents are still stressful and hard experiences to go through. Assuming everyone was safe, there is always the matter of physical damage to your vehicle that now has to be fixed. But that’s a problem for the insurance companies, isn’t it?
Typically, it would be. But you had the misfortune of getting into an accident with an underinsured driver and so you’ve been left wondering what you should do and how you’ll pay for your repairs. Unfortunately, it can be rather difficult to get the kind of compensation you may be after in this case.
Often, the best place to start looking for answers is in your own insurance policy. We’ll start there as well before we move on to look at why it can be so difficult to get an underinsured driver to pay. Finally, we’ll look at how the Texas Department of Public Safety can help you with this whole process.
Have You Looked at Your Own Policy?
How well do you know your own insurance policy? If it’s not very well then you should give it a fresh read to see if you have uninsured motorist coverage. As the name suggests, this is a type of insurance coverage that comes into play when you get into an accident with somebody that doesn’t have proper insurance.
This type of insurance will not come into play if you are proven to be the negligent driver in the accident. However, should the uninsured driver be the negligent one then you will be covered for the damages that they should have been covering for you through their own insurance policy. Most uninsured insurance will partially cover damages should you be shown to have a portion of the blame, though how much this amounts to will depend on your specific policy.
It’s important to realize that this isn’t necessarily an easy route. It might sound nice to only have to work with your own insurance company, not yours plus somebody else’s. But your insurance company is not going to want to pay out this money, and so chances are good that they’ll do everything they can to reduce or eliminate their liability such as attempting to prove that you were the negligent party. It helps to have a good attorney on your side when fighting against an insurance company in this way.
Can I Make the Uninsured Driver Pay?
Making the other driver pay is pretty much standard stuff when it comes to car accidents. You can still get an uninsured driver to pay, but the time, effort, and money it could take often make it so you don’t actually come out on top but instead spend more money getting paid than you make from the payment.
There are a few reasons why it’s so difficult to get money out of an underinsured driver in Texas:
- The reason that the driver was lacking insurance in the first place was that they didn’t have the money to pay for it. It’s hard to get somebody to pay for the damages they owe when they don’t have money in the first place.
- Texas law makes collecting a judgment against somebody a complicated and lengthy process in the first place, so the inherent difficulty of it is only further compounded by the difficulty of getting money out of somebody that lacks it as a resource.
- Dealing with an individual with little in the way of financial resources, it isn’t uncommon for an uninsured driver to file for bankruptcy. This has the potential to discharge the judgment you spent all that time trying to get.
One way that could potentially be an easy route is to speak to a prosecutor, should the driver be convicted of driving without insurance. The prosecutor may look to pursue restitution from the driver on your behalf as part of their penalty. This route can give an incentive for them to pay you what they owe, as they won’t be able to get their license reinstated if they refuse to abide by their penalties.
How Does the Texas Department of Public Safety Help with Underinsured Accidents?
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is one option that can help you to recover damages following an accident with an underinsured driver. DPS can be a solid method for recovering damages, should your accident qualify, as they have the power to suspend the driver’s license and vehicle registration of a Texas resident. If the underinsured party was not a Texas resident then they can restrict their driving privileges in Texas.
Working with DPS isn’t as hard as working with a hostile insurance company. However, only cases which meet the following criteria are applicable to recover damages this way:
- The accident must have happened within the last 22 months, otherwise, DPS won’t get involved
- The accident must have happened on a public highway, so anything that occurred on private property isn’t able to use DPS to recover damages
- There has to be an accident report that shows that the accident was caused by the negligence of the underinsured driver
- The report, or other evidence, must show that you weren’t at fault for the accident
- The damages you incurred are more than $1,000
I Just Had an Accident, What Should I Do Next?
If you’ve taken care of your medical needs, then it’s time to reach out to a law firm of experienced professionals like Barry Deacon Law. Figuring out the best option for your situation can be tough on your own, but an attorney will be able to help assist you with this and answer any of the questions you have along the way.
In the meantime, it’s a good idea to start documenting any of the damages you’ve incurred from the accident. Take photos of the physical damage to the car, as well as photos that chart the progress of any healing injuries. Documenting the damages suffered make it a lot harder for the opposition to write them off.
Remember that your damages include repair costs, medical costs, storage expenses, car rental expenses, and a lot of other costs that you wouldn’t have had to pay if it wasn’t for the actions of the underinsured driver. Keep copies of any applicable receipts.