Driving without insurance is a risky proposition and—in Texas (including nearly every other state)—it’s also against the law. Despite this fact, many people are driving on the road without it. Using data from the Insurance Information Institute and state census data, our Carrollton car accident attorneys found that 8.3 percent of motorists, or about 2.5 million Texans are uninsured.
So, what do you do if you’re one of the many people without car insurance and someone hits you and causes bodily injuries? Can you file a claim for your injuries against the at-fault party? Do you still have a right to compensation if you’re in violation of the law?
In this article, we’ll go over immediate steps you should take, how Texas’ legal system works, and the legal options you have.
What To Do After the Accident If You're Uninsured
If you’re an uninsured driver and someone hits and injures you, you may feel the urge to flee the scene to avoid the penalties of driving without insurance. However, the most important thing to do is stop and stay at the accident scene until you’ve taken proper action. You may receive a ticket from the police —but those pale in comparison to the consequences that can result if you leave the scene of an accident. Here are the steps you should take instead:
- Call local law enforcement to the scene. This is especially important if anybody has suffered a significant injury.
- Exchange information with anyone involved in the accident.
- Be careful what you say when you’re talking to the other driver or officers. Cooperate with their questions, but don’t admit fault for the accident.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses who may have seen what happened.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, the position of the vehicles, and anything else that might help tell the story of how the accident happened.
Remember to keep things in perspective here. Yes, it’s against the law to drive without insurance in Texas. However, the fact that you’re uninsured isn’t going to come into play when it comes to figuring out who was at fault for the accident or when it comes to your right to compensation for your injuries (more on that below).
Fault and No-Fault Insurance Laws Across the United States
You might be wondering why we would state that your lack of car insurance has no bearing on your right to compensation for an auto accident in the State of Texas. Let us explain further.
When it comes to compensating accident-related injuries, all states in the United States adhere to two primary systems:
- The fault-based system allows individuals who have suffered injuries to seek compensation from parties responsible for the accident.
- The no-fault-based system, on the other hand, prioritizes personal insurance as the primary avenue for injury compensation, regardless of fault.
|No Fault States:||At Fault States:||At Fault States Cont:|
|New Jersey||Georgia||South Carolina|
|New York||Idaho||South Dakota|
Texas is an At-Fault State for Auto Accidents
The fact that you’re an uninsured driver doesn’t have any effect on a key element: who was at fault for the accident. Texas is one of the 38 states considered an “at fault” state, which means that the person responsible for the accident is also responsible (or “liable”) for your injuries. Courts and insurance companies will look at evidence of who’s at fault to determine who will have to pay damages in an accident and how much compensation you can receive.
This means that if you weren’t responsible for the accident or more than fifty percent responsible, you can still file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s insurance company—regardless of your insurance status. You can also claim the same damages that any victim is entitled to, including:
- wrongful death;
- disfigurement and/or impairments;
- pain and suffering;
- medical bills;
- lost wages; and
- property related damages.
Uninsured Drivers Can File a Claim or a Lawsuit
As an uninsured motorist, you still have the same legal options as any other victim of a car wreck in Texas. You can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or you can take them to court. However, your lack of insurance may make negotiations with the at-fault party more difficult.
The insurance company, or the at-fault party’s attorney, may try to use the fact that you do not have insurance against you as an excuse to offer you a lower settlement. Or, worse, they might try to pin the blame on you entirely if they think you won’t put up a fight. If that’s the case, you’re not only looking at fines and covering your own losses, but you’ll also be on the hook for the other party’s losses—which needless to say can cause a devastating financial blow.
Don’t assume you have to succumb to these tactics or that you are getting a good deal regarding a settlement just because you don’t have insurance. A Carrollton car accident attorney can be your advocate, helping you build a compelling case in your favor and fighting for your right to compensation.
How a Carrollton Car Accident Attorney Can Help You If You Don't Have Insurance
It’s always advisable to consult with an attorney after a car accident—even more so when you’re uninsured. As we mentioned above, the at-fault party and their insurance company may try to use your uninsured status as a way to minimize or deny your claim. They may even try to pin the blame on you thinking that you won’t hire an attorney due to cost concerns. The good news is that most car accident attorneys charge nothing up front, and only collect their fees if they secure a favorable outcome for you.
Here’s how they can help:
- Gather evidence to build your case and prove the other party is at-fault: Collecting evidence is essential even though it may be challenging if you’re suffering from injuries or don’t know where to look. Attorneys can do the legwork for you and will collect evidence in the form of witness statements, police reports, and expert analysis.
- Calculate how much the at-fault party should pay: After looking at medical bills and lost wages, and speaking with your doctors, an attorney can calculate how much compensation you may be entitled to for your short and long-term losses.
- Communicate on your behalf: Because you didn’t have insurance at the time of the accident, the other party’s insurer might try to trick you into admitting fault or ask misleading questions if you provide a recorded statement. Whenever they contact you, give them your lawyer’s information. Your attorney will handle the communications from that point.
- Negotiate for a fair offer: Because you’re uninsured, the other party may use this as a reason to offer you a lower settlement offer. Using evidence and calculations of your losses, your attorney will fight to ensure you receive the just compensation you’re entitled to.