Motor vehicle insurance is required by law in Texas. Drivers must carry a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury liability and at least $25,000 for property damage liability. Drivers who fail to meet these minimum standards could face financial penalties.
That said, what if an uninsured driver gets injured in a crash caused by an insured driver’s negligence? Can he or she still pursue compensation for damages? Our auto accident attorneys in Fort Worth discuss insurance claims, as well as the problems and penalties uninsured drivers could face in this situation.
If you were injured in an accident, call us today to schedule a free legal consultation. There is no financial risk to you.
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Was the Uninsured Driver at Fault?
Texas is an at-fault state. This means that a driver who is injured by another driver’s negligence may pursue a claim for compensation with the at-fault party’s liability insurance. By doing this, the accident victim may be able to recover fair compensation for their losses. A claim could include both economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment.
Whether the crash victim is insured or uninsured, eligibility for recovering compensation depends on who is at fault for the collision. There are a couple of points worth mentioning here:
- The crash will be investigated to determine fault and liability, just as for any other crash.
- An uninsured crash victim cannot be held liable for damages if he or she did not cause the crash.
- The uninsured victim may still have a valid insurance claim, despite being uninsured.
- If the uninsured driver is deemed the victim of the accident, he or she may be able to recover full compensation.
- If the uninsured driver is at fault for the crash, he or she will not be eligible for any compensation.
The insured victim of an accident caused by an uninsured driver may also have more difficulty recovering compensation. That is why it is important to have an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage option on your policy.
How Do I File an Injury Claim if I Was Uninsured at the Time of the Crash?
Despite being uninsured, Texas law does not prevent you from pursuing compensation for injuries caused by another’s negligence. This means, you would go about filing an injury claim in the same way as if you were insured. However, be forewarned that the insurance company will not make it easy to negotiate a fair settlement for your damages. They will likely argue that you were violating Texas law by driving without insurance and you should therefore not be eligible to recover compensation.
Does Texas Have a “No Pay, No Play” Law?
In some states, there are “no pay, no play” laws in effect. In these states, an uninsured driver is not eligible to pursue compensation for damages. This law may apply even when the uninsured driver is not at fault for the collision.
There are 10 states that have enacted these laws. Fortunately for accident victims in Texas, there is no such law in effect. This does not mean you should drive without insurance. It simply means that uninsured drivers are not barred from recovering compensation for damages if an insured driver caused the crash.
What Are the Consequences of Driving Without Insurance?
Even though Texas does not have a “no pay, no play” law, uninsured drivers may still face legal consequences if they are caught driving without insurance, including:
- Uninsured drivers may face up to $350 in fines for a first-time offense.
- Repeat offenders may have their vehicles impounded for up to 180 days and be fined up to $1,000.
- Your driver’s license could be suspended for up to two years.
Sometimes drivers may believe they are insured and are completely unaware that their policy was canceled. For instance, if the insurance company made a clerical error. More often, the driver either forgot to pay his or her bill or maybe had a tight month, financially, and opted to delay making a payment. In either situation, it is important for the uninsured driver to immediately take steps to reinstate his or her policy to avoid further penalties.
Could Drivers Face Jail Time for Not Having Insurance?
Jail time is not a direct consequence of driving without insurance. However, in addition to the penalties mentioned above, you may have to file something called an SR-22 form in the state. This step is required for two years after having your license suspended or revoked in Texas for any reason.
How the Insurance Company May Try to Deny Compensation
Insurance companies always look for valid reasons to deny or devalue a claim. Therefore, even a valid claim filed by an uninsured driver may quickly get denied by the insurance company.
The insurance company may argue that you should not be able to recover compensation because you violated state law by driving without insurance. While this may be true, that does not mean your claim can be denied. If the insurance company tries to unjustly deny compensation, we strongly recommend hiring an attorney.
We Are Ready to Help. Call Today
If you were uninsured at the time of a crash that caused you harm, we strongly recommend seeking legal help. You may have a valid claim, but the insurance company is not going to make it easy to recover full and fair compensation.
At Anderson & Cummings, we are prepared to help, even if your claim was denied. Since there is no cost for an initial case review, it is worth your time to get answers to your legal questions, especially in a complicated case involving an uninsured driver.
If you have a case and we represent you, there are no upfront fees to pay while we work on your case. We do not get paid for our services unless we are successful in recovering compensation for you.
Call (817) 920-9000 to learn if you have legal options.