To legally drive in Texas, motorists must meet the financial responsibility requirements in the state’s Transportation Code. The purpose of this law is to ensure that motorists can pay for any property or bodily injury damages resulting from an accident for which they are at fault. Although most drivers establish financial responsibility by purchasing auto liability insurance, there are a large number of drivers who do not purchase insurance coverage or who do not have enough to cover a serious motor vehicle accident. In those cases, your uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance will cover your costs.
If you are in an accident with someone who does not have car insurance or who has insufficient insurance to cover your costs, contact our experienced Houston personal injury attorneys. We will seek compensation from every source available in order to cover your expenses.
What is Uninsured and Underinsure Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage is one type of insurance that can protect you if you are involved in an accident that is not your fault. UM/UIM insurance covers your expenses, up to your policy limits, when you are in an accident caused by a motorist without insurance, a motorist who does not have sufficient insurance to cover your expenses, or a hit-and-run driver.
There are two types of UM/UIM coverage:
Bodily Injury – This covers medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, disfigurement, and permanent or partial disability.
Property Damage – This covers auto repairs, a rental car, and damage to items in your car, such as a car seat or GPS device.
UM/UIM coverage extends to the policyholder, family members, passengers in your vehicle, and anyone driving your car with your consent. In Texas, insurance companies are obligated to offer UM/UIM coverage as part of an auto insurance policy. However, you are not required to accept it.
Texas Minimum Coverage Requirements
In order to meet the financial responsibility law in Texas, all auto insurance policies must meet the minimum coverage amounts for bodily injury and property damage. Under Texas Insurance Code Section 601.072, drivers must maintain a minimum of:
$30,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person in one accident
$60,000 for bodily injury to or death of all people in one accident
$25,000 for damage to or destruction of property of others in one accident
Most people should and do purchase more than the minimum liability coverage. It is important to be aware that you can be held personally liable for any damages that exceed your policy limits in an accident for which you are at fault. You also want to make sure that you have enough insurance if you are involved in an accident caused by another driver so that your medical bills and other losses are fully covered.
Why is UM/UIM Coverage Important?
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has estimated that 20 percent of Texas drivers do not have insurance. The uninsured rate in Texas is higher than the national average of 12 percent, despite being one of only a handful states that use an online insurance verification system. Texans pay almost $900 million a year for protecting themselves and their families from motorists without insurance.
With respect to underinsured motorists, it is impossible to know whether someone has adequate coverage until there is an accident and the amount of damages is known. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the average cost of a disabling injury as a result of a car accident is over $60,000 and the average cost of a death as a result of a car accident is over $1 million. Thus, the minimum car insurance coverages are not enough to cover many car accidents.
If you are injured in an accident caused by an underinsured or uninsured driver and you do not have UM/UIM coverage, you could be required to pay for medical costs, loss of income, and other damages out of pocket. Purchasing UM/UIM coverage is one of the best ways to protect yourself financially in the event of an accident.
How Our Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
In the aftermath of a serious motor vehicle accident, you may be facing a lengthy recovery, ongoing medical treatments, and loss of earning potential. The medical bills and expenses can quickly pile up and the last thing you should be worried about is negotiating with the insurance company. If you’ve been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident due to another driver’s negligence, contact the skilled Houston personal injury lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. to learn how we can help.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you determine what coverage exists to compensate your losses, speak with the insurance company on your behalf, and fight for the compensation you deserve. We are committed to providing sophisticated legal representation with the goal of securing the maximum compensation possible for our clients.