Under Texas law, all drivers are required to have auto insurance with a certain level of coverage. The law also requires every auto policy to include uninsured motorists coverage in the event you are injured by a driver with no insurance. Texas drivers can only refuse this coverage if they specifically confirm in writing that the insurer offered such coverage and the driver specifically refused to accept it.
It is a really bad idea to refuse such coverage. According to the latest statistical report from the Insurance Research Council (IRC), 14.1 percent of all Texas motorists have no auto insurance at all. They apparently obtain a policy so they can provide proof of insurance when registering their vehicles, but cancel it shortly after. This means there is a good chance that you could be involved in an accident with a motorist who has no insurance coverage.
If you are in such an accident, your own policy under your uninsured motorist protection will kick in and provide coverage for you. One problem you will encounter is now you are in an adversarial position with your own insurance company.
Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friend
Despite all the advertisements you may see on television, insurers are in the business of making money, not paying claims. According to a study published a few years ago by CNN, insurers are noted for employing various tactics to minimize paying claims. Although the CNN study focused on low-impact accidents, its analysis of the way in which insurers try to avoid paying claims is almost common knowledge among auto accident attorneys: Deny, Delay, Defend.
Part of the “delay settling claims” tactic is to, after an inordinate delay, finally make a lowball offer to a claimant with the hope that the claimant is so desperate for money after missing work and incurring mounting medical expenses, the claimant will be desperate to accept any offer.
If you were in an accident with an uninsured motorist, and are dealing with an insurer who is delaying a settlement, or has made you a lowball offer, you increase your chances at receiving maximum compensation entitled to you under the law if you have the assistance of a car accident attorney who knows how to put a value on your case and has experience negotiating with insurers.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
An experienced personal injury attorney knows if you accept the lowball offer, the adjuster and the insurer are both pleased. The adjuster has saved the company money, which is the reason the company is in business. In order to obtain the compensation that you deserve, the attorney will take several steps that will aid in the negotiation process or presentation of your case at trial if a trial becomes necessary. Some steps the attorney will take include:
Determining the Value of Your Claim.
The attorney will obtain the police and investigative reports including photographs. Interviewing witnesses may be necessary. It will also be necessary to review your medical records to determine your costs. Your lost wages will need to be documented. You are entitled to collect not only for your current medical expenses and lost wages, but also for those expenses and lost wages you are expected to incur in the future due to the accident.
Minimum Acceptable Settlement Amount
When you know what your claim is worth, your attorney will discuss with you a minimum settlement amount that you both view as acceptable. This number will not be shared with the adjuster. It is so the attorney can negotiate a settlement with your best outcome in mind.
Knowing When the Adjuster is Lowballing
The attorney will know the offer is lowball and not the final one the adjuster can make with the authority given to him or her by the insurance company. The adjuster will know the attorney knows this. The adjuster will also know that there is a minimum amount the attorney will accept. Then, the “game” begins. The attorney and adjuster will discuss the case and the existing evidence and hopefully come to settlement terms that are acceptable to both you and the insurer.
Get the Settlement Terms in Writing.
The settlement agreement needs to be in writing with all specific terms included.
Know When to Pursue a Trial
It is important to have an attorney on your side who is a skilled trial attorney in addition to an adept negotiator. If negotiations fail, and the insurance company is unwilling to meet your minimum acceptable amount, your attorney will be willing to end the settlement negotiation process and head to trial.
At The Cagle Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys are experienced negotiators and trial attorneys. We work diligently to obtain for you the maximum compensation possible under the law. Our office is located in Austin and we serve those throughout the entire state of Texas and the United States. Contact us for a free case evaluation.