After a car accident, the person at fault must do what they can to place the victim in the same or similar position they were prior to the accident. Obviously, we can’t turn back time and make it so that the accident never happened. The next best remedy is to seek a monetary settlement. Asking for money is not a bad thing. An apology is not going to pay your bills. Of course, the request must be reasonable and the final amount depends on the facts. Unfortunately, most drivers do not have the financial resources to fund such a claim. Therefore, The State of Texas requires every driver to carry minimum liability insurance. In a typical case, if there is insurance coverage, the damages resulting from an accident will be fully funded by the policy. Unfortunately, not everybody follows the law, and victims are left with little to no options.
If this happens what are your options?
I always recommend buying Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist coverage (UM/UIM). You can add this to your existing liability insurance policy. The additional cost to your insurance policy will not be great and the potential benefit will be well worth it. This coverage will pay your claim when the person that hit you does not have insurance or if the damages are so high that the policy limit is not enough. You don’t want to leave it to chance and hope that everyone on the road will have insurance. Make the wise choice and add UM/UIM coverage to your existing policy.
If you don’t have UM/UIM coverage and the driver that hit you does not have valid insurance, then your options are limited. You can try to recover from the driver and/or the owner of the vehicle but often they will not be able to pay. So then what, do nothing? Please don’t! Every driver must be held accountable. It’s not fair to you or your fellow commuters. After an accident your car can be seriously damaged to the point it’s not drivable. The cost can be in the thousands. Your injuries, minor or major, will be costly. It happens often where the victim’s life is derailed and the person that hits them walks away with a citation that costs them around $300. That’s not right!
What you need to do in these circumstances is to file your claim in an appropriate court, either Justice of the Peace or County Court. Go through the process and obtain a money judgment against the person at fault. The truth is you will probably never get paid a dime on that judgment. What you will be able to do is place a judgment lien on the property that person might own. You will be able to have this person’s license suspended, which may include professional licenses. The result will be that this person will not be able to sell the property they own or hold a valid license unless they pay you.
Some think that the consequences are too harsh and should not be done. I agree that the consequences are harsh, I disagree with anyone not wanting to act. The victim’s life will be negatively impacted. So why should the person at fault get off easy? I get that accidents happen, that’s part of life. Not carrying valid insurance, that’s not an accident, that’s a choice. There are too many people in the roadway that make that choice. If they are never held accountable, then they and others will never change. The goal is to hold them accountable and make an example out of them. Others will realize the potential penalties and make the right choice. If you are a victim of these circumstances, don’t just let them get away with it. Hold them accountable, for you and the rest of the drivers out there.
BUYER BEWARE. Many times, individuals think they have insurance only to find out they don’t. Insurance policies come in all shapes and sizes. Beware of named driver policies and policies with excluded drivers. A named driver policy in simple terms is just that, only the person who purchased the policy is covered. If you own a car and you loan it to your friend your insurance will not cover any damages if that friend gets into an accident. Your friend will be subject to the penalties listed above and you as the owner of the vehicle could be sued for negligent entrustment. By the way, your named driver policy won’t cover you for that either. The same is true about policies with excluded drivers. It’s tempting to buy these policies to save a few dollars. However, the potential thousands or more dollars that you expose yourself to is not worth the tiny savings.
Anytime you are a victim of an accident you should consult with an experienced attorney that can evaluate your claim. At the Law Office of Miguel A. Salazar, PLLC we will give you a fair and reasonable assessment of your claim. The consultation is free and if we don't win you don't pay. Call today and speak directly with Attorney Miguel Salazar.