If you're reading this article, it's probably safe to assume that you or someone you love has been in a car wreck recently. On top of the emergency room trip, the doctor appointments, the physical therapy routine, and the numerous other issues that can arise, you might be asking yourself, “Who is liable in a car wreck? Who is going to pay for all this?” Well, the goal of this article is to provide insight into the different ways liability works from a Texas car wrecks attorney.
Standard Third-Party Insurance Claims
The most typical type of claim is what is called a “third-party claim.” In a third-party insurance claim, you are the first party, the person who hit you is the second party, and their car insurance company is the third party of the third party claim. This is because that insurance company is “third party” to the claim that exists between you and the other driver, and the company is involved as the insurer.
The vast majority of car wrecks fall into this category. Something that often happens in third party insurance claims is that the at-fault driver's insurance company will contact you, the injured victim, and they will try to get you to settle your claim as quickly as possible and for as little money as they can get you to agree to. This is a process some people have termed “swoop and settle.” Here, the insurance claim adjuster will represent that they are very concerned with your health and that they are on your side. However, the reality is that they are incentivized and trained to present you with a settlement that will be just tempting enough for you to take, yet which will not cover damages for which you will continue to be at risk. As the insurer, that company will hold a certain amount of coverage, and then the driver themselves will be responsible beyond the amount of their policy.
One of the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer is that they can help you understand whether or not the insurance company's offer is legitimate, or whether they are just trying to get you to resolve the matter before it gets worse. An experienced car accident lawyer has seen a case like yours before, and they can help you compile your medical bills, your evidence of the other driver's fault, and help you through the complicated process of bringing a lawsuit.
UIM Claims – Under-Insured Motorist Claims
Sometimes, however, your damages—the costs associated with your injuries—exceed the limits of the policy the at-fault driver holds. Unfortunately, most people do not have recoverable assets beyond those limits. This is known as being “judgment proof,” and most of us are judgment proof. In these circumstances, it helps to have under-insured motorist coverage, or “UIM coverage.”
UIM coverage is a type of insurance policy that protects you in the instances where you have damages beyond what the at-fault party is able to pay. Compensation for the excess damages in these cases can be recovered from your own insurance company through your UIM policy. Of course, you need to be mindful that just like a third-party insurer, your own insurance company is motivated to get you to settle quickly and at the lowest numbers they can. Hiring a Texas injury attorney to help you navigate the added level of complexity involved in a UIM claim is generally a good idea, as you are often dealing with two insurance companies at the same time.
UM Claims – Uninsured Motorist Claims
A “UM claim” is an uninsured motorist claim. This means that the at-fault driver didn't just have insufficient insurance coverage to meet your needs—they didn't have any at all! If you don't have a UM policy in such a circumstance, then you likely will be left with no possibility of recovery. (This is why—as Texas personal injury lawyers—we always recommend that drivers purchase full coverage.) Of course, you can sue the driver still; but our most common experience is that individuals without insurance coverage at all typically do not have anything to recover that would make such a lawsuit worth your time, effort, and frustration—or, again, they're judgment proof.
PIP - Personal Injury Protection
Many drivers also have PIP, pr personal injury protection. This is a type of policy that you maintain with your ow insurance company. PIP ensures that you will be able to recover for injuries that you, yourself, sustain in an accident. Of the policies listed in this article, this is generally the easiest and most straight-forward to recover.
These are the insurance scenarios that most frequently arise in car wreck cases. If you or a loved one has recently suffered a car wreck, we would be happy to provide you with a free case analysis. A car accident attorney can assist you in understanding the implications of your situation. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we do not get paid unless you get a recovery. Feel free to call us at (817) 424-5999, or fill out our online form on this website and we will reach out to you shortly.