Posted On July 20, 2016 In Local Car Accidents
Texas auto insurance policyholders should always make sure they have UM/UIM coverage (uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage). Although Texas insurance companies are required to offer UM/UIM coverage, policyholders can reject it in writing. UM/UIM coverage can protect you in the event an uninsured or underinsured motorist hits your vehicle and causes physical and/or property damage. However, there are some nuances to Texas UM/UIM coverage that make contacting an attorney a matter of critical importance before filing claims. As a policyholder, you may run into difficulties filing a UM/UIM claim.
In late 2006, the Texas Supreme Court held in Brainard v. Trinity Universal Insurance Company that insurance companies are under no contractual obligation to pay UM/UIM claims until policyholders obtain judgments establishing the liability of UM/UIM motorists and the amount of damages. So basically, purchasing a UM/UIM policy merely gives you the right to sue your insurance company and recover if you win in court.
We can use a hypothetical scenario to summarize Brainard v. Trinity Universal Insurance Company further.
Jill is a single mother and business owner with UM/UIM coverage on her Texas auto insurance policy. One day, Jill is driving home from her mother’s house along East Denman Avenue when a distracted driver runs through an intersection and collides with her vehicle. During the course of the accident, Jill breaks her arm and several fingers. To make matters worse, her car is totaled. Police arrive on the scene, file a report, and it is discovered the driver responsible for the wreck has no insurance coverage. Jill is brought to the hospital and undergoes treatment for her injuries.
During her brief stay at the hospital, Jill had been in contact with her insurance company. She had filed a UM claim, but upon returning home, discovered the claim had been denied. Jill’s insurance company claimed she was not owed any coverage until she proved in court that the other driver was both at fault and uninsured, and she would also have to prove that all of her damages were actually caused by the accident. Due to owning a business and recovering from serious injuries, there is no feasible way Jill has the time put the evidence together necessary to prove her case.
Given her circumstances, Jill realizes that hiring an attorney is necessary. After researching the accident, Jill’s attorney is able to prove that the driver responsible for the wreck was texting at the time of the crash. In addition, her skilled attorney also proves the driver had no insurance coverage. By working with her health care providers, Jill’s attorney secures the records and testimony needed to establishing the total amount of damages Jill has suffered as a result of this accident. Upon presentation of this evidence to Jill’s UM insurance carrier, the insurance adjuster realizes that Jill is going to prevail at trial, so the company agrees to pay her without wasting time and money on going to court.
More could be said about Jill’s story and why it is important to hire an attorney after an accident. There are many possible scenarios that can surprise people injured in accidents. Hiring an attorney is the best way to fight back against these possible scenarios before they can cause financial ruin.
The Texas personal injury attorneys at Mike Love & Associates,LLC can review your auto policy at no cost.