It is scary to be an accident, couple that with being an accident with someone who has no insurance or little coverage, you might not know what to do. That’s why it’s important to contact a Fort Worth uninsured motorist accident attorney as soon as possible.
Texas, like many states, requires drivers to carry a certain minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. Currently, the law requires motorists to carry at least $30,000 to cover each person’s personal injuries, up to a total of $60,000 per accident. In addition, the policy must provide $25,000 for property damage. Unfortunately, some drivers ignore this law and drive without any insurance coverage. Even with minimum coverage, the limits will be far too low to cover the potentially staggering amount of damages resulting from a serious accident involving multiple vehicles or serious injuries. In these situations, the injured party’s UM/UIM coverage acts to provide the missing or insufficient insurance coverage of the defendant. UM/UIM insurance is a part of the non-offending driver’s policy. Insurance companies in Texas are required to offer UM/UIM coverage and the insured party must reject it in writing before it can be removed from their policy. Therefore, Texas drivers with car insurance commonly have this type of coverage.
Consider the following examples. A driver causes an accident and does not have insurance. The second driver suffers a broken leg and property damage to his vehicle. The injured driver would make an insurance claim under his car insurance policy’s UM provision to recover his damages. In a second, more serious, accident, the driver at fault has the required minimum coverage. The injured parties have each suffered $50,000 in personal injuries. Their vehicle is a total loss valued at $50,000. Each victim would receive $30,000 for their personal injuries from the defendant’s insurance coverage, leaving a $20,000 gap for each of them. They would also receive $25,000 toward the property damage claim, leaving a $25,000 shortfall. Under the victims’ UIM coverage, they would seek the remaining $40,000 in personal injury damages and $25,000 in property damages.
UM/UIM claims are handled in the same manner as a claim against the defendant’s policy. Despite the fact that you are negotiating with your own insurance company, the goal of the adjusters will be to minimize exposure to the company and negotiate a quick settlement. For these reasons, it is imperative that you retain a law firm with experience in personal injury and car accident cases to represent your interests.
Following the accident, the victim’s insurance company will be notified and begin investigating the incident. An insurance adjuster will contact the victim to collect a statement and information about the injuries or property damages suffered. One should not assume that because a claim is being made under one’s own policy, that the process will not be adversarial. It is important to understand the adjuster’s goal is to minimize the exposure to the insurance company. When possible, we suggest that accident victims retain an attorney soon after the accident to handle the discussions and negotiations with the adjuster directly on the victim’s behalf.
The injured party’s attorney will investigate the accident and gather the information necessary to calculate potential damages. Identifying information that may be relevant to the case, such as medical bills and records, police reports, witness statements is an important part of this process. It may be necessary to engage experts to evaluate the seriousness of the victim’s injuries, the cause of the accident or potential long-term or permanent damages suffered. Depending upon the seriousness of the person’s injuries, it may take a significant period of time to ascertain the medical prognosis.The attorney will use the information to prepare a demand letter to be sent to the adjuster setting forth the damage calculation.
After the insurance company receives the demand letter, the parties will begin settlement negotiations. Depending upon the facts of the case, discussions about settlement may be lengthy. This is particularly true in complex cases or if the insurer decides to challenge the proposed damage calculation by engaging experts of its own. If a settlement can be reached, the attorney will negotiate the terms of a settlement agreement. If one cannot be reached, the case will proceed to litigation.
Some law firms advertise the ability to negotiate a “quick settlement” as a benefit to their clients. For obvious reasons, this approach may not be in the best interest of the victim on a long-term basis. We recommend hiring a law firm with adequate resources and expertise in negotiating with insurance companies for as long as necessary to reach a favorable resolution.
It is important to contact a Fort Worth uninsured motorist accident attorney immediately after an accident. An experienced attorney can analyze these matters for you early on in the process and help to ensure that your insurance company pays you the amount you deserve.
Remember that all hope is not lost if the defendant in a car collision is underinsured or uninsured. Since Texas mandates that insurance companies offer their clients coverage for these situations, any damages you may suffer should be able to be covered by your insurance. Retaining counsel can help to ensure that your own insurance company and the defendant fulfill their respective obligations. Furthermore, an experienced Fort Worth uninsured motorist accident attorney can help to ensure that your rights as a victim remain protected and that a favorable resolution can be obtained. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident in Fort Worth, Dallas, or elsewhere in Texas, and you believe that the other driver may be uninsured or not insured at all then contact a Fort Worth uninsured motorist accident attorney immediately.
Accident victims should also be cautious about hiring a law firm that limits their engagement to the settlement negotiations with the insurance company. If the parties are not able to reach a settlement and the case must proceed through the litigation process, the firm will withdraw from the representation. “Settlement-only” firms may be prompted to suggest that a victim accept a quick settlement for an amount that is lower than a possible recovery at trial. As we have discussed previously, settlement with an insurance company is never a certainty. A firm that is only interested in settling a case may not be willing to spend the time, effort or money for settlement discussions that a litigation firm would to prepare for litigation. This may result in the loss of invaluable evidence and reduce a victim’s potential damage recovery. In addition, hiring a new law firm could result in delays, inefficiencies, and higher legal fees. Given the potential negative impact on your case, we highly recommend hiring a firm that is willing to handle the case through trial should one become necessary.
We recommend selecting a firm with the financial resources and willingness to vigorously represent your interests in all phases of your case, from settlement discussions through trial. It is also important that a firm employs multiple attorneys, an on-staff investigator, and that the attorneys are board certified in personal injury law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. These suggestions apply regardless of whether you were interested in Fort Worth or any part of the area.