This is the second post in a series of articles discussing uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) claims in Fort Worth, Texas. The previous post provided an overview of the topics to be addressed throughout this series. It also stressed the importance of retaining counsel with experience and resources sufficient to adequately represent your interests if you have an UM/UIM claim. This article will review Texas’ UM/UIM laws and explain how this type of insurance coverage can protect you. If you have been in a car accident and suffered personal injuries or property damage, we suggest you contact an 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 auto accident cases to represent your interests. We recommend hiring a law firm with the resources to commit to your case for as long as necessary to obtain the best result. These recommendations apply regardless of whether the incident took place in Fort Worth, Dallas, or another Texas area.