Automobile Liability

The term “auto insurance” refers to several different insurance types that provide various forms of protection for cars and their drivers. Almost all states require drivers to carry auto insurance, and each state has required minimum values for different policies. States can also impound vehicles if the driver is uninsured. However, keep in mind that it’s not necessarily a good idea to maintain only the minimum. If you are involved in an accident that causes a personal injury, you want to have the best coverage possible.

There are many different coverages that can be purchased under a single auto policy:  liability coverage (which pays the other person if you are at fault in an accident), collision coverage (which pays to repair your own car even if you are at fault), and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  In Texas, you are only required to buy liability coverage, to protect other drivers.

What should I do if I am hit by an uninsured motorist?

What should I do if I am hit by an uninsured motorist? The issues of uninsured motorists and hit-and-run accidents often raise lots of questions. If the other person does not have insurance, or if you get injured by a hit-and-run driver, you can file a claim against your own insurance policy if you have uninsured motorist coverage. That coverage is not mandated by the state, but it's optional. And it's good to check your policy to see if you have it.

Automobile Accident FAQs

There are over five million auto accidents in the United States every year. A statistical projection by the NHTSA of traffic fatalities for 2019 shows that an estimated 36,120 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In order to protect yourself at the wheel, do your research. Insurance can be a very tricky thing when you don’t know where to begin. Know the facts about auto accidents so that if you’re ever in one, you’ll know exactly what to do. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about auto accidents.

What is the first thing to do after you’ve been in an auto accident?

Immediately after an auto accident, call the police and check the car to see if anyone needs urgent first aid. Depending on what kind of medical attention is needed, you may or may not be able to help the injured party. Let the emergency dispatcher know if you’re in need of an ambulance. If any of the cars in the accident are a dangerous threat to oncoming traffic, move them. Otherwise, leave the cars where they are until the police arrive.

What should you do while you’re waiting for help?

While you’re waiting for the police, start gathering some crucial information. Exchange names, addresses, and insurance information of all involved parties. Record VIN numbers and license plate numbers of the cars involved. Assess the damage and take pictures of the scene. Try not to talk about the accident with the other parties. Allow the authorities to be present before you discuss the accident.

What happens once law enforcement arrives?

The police will get an official statement of the accident. If you are unable to talk to the police due to injury, get the medical attention you need first.

What determines who is at fault?

In most states, the insurance companies of both parties will determine who is liable for what in the accident. Who is at fault will be determined by your state and negligence laws. Your lawyer will be able to guide you on how to present your case.

What information is needed to file a claim?

Although insurance companies may vary, you will generally need to have:

Police report number and name of police department

Your insurance policy number

Location and date of the accident

Description of how the accident happened

Information of involved parties (name, address, license plate, and insurance information)

What do you do when the other party doesn’t have car insurance?

Although everyone is required to have car insurance, you may run into someone who doesn’t have any. Your insurance may cover your injuries if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your policy. The damage to your car may be covered under the collision insurance in your policy.

What do you do if you are the victim of a hit and run?

Locate any witnesses of the accident and try to determine who caused the accident. In some cases, the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage will cover a hit and run.

Can an insurance company cancel your policy if a claim is filed?

It is a little known fact that an insurance company can cancel a policy at any time. However, this usually only occurs when a driver shows risky behavior such as DUI or filing multiple claims.

Are parents liable for their teen driver's auto accidents?

If you are the parent of a teen driver and your child is in an auto accident, you may wonder what kind of responsibility you as a parent may have to the other driver for your child’s auto accident. Under Texas law, parents can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their teen drivers under some circumstances, so carrying automobile insurance coverage on all cars and keeping it in force is essential.

Listing your teen as an additional driver for each car in your household may not be required for an auto accident involving your teen driver to be covered under your auto insurance policy, as long as the car involved in the accident is listed and covered by the policy. But even if you were not in the car at the time of the auto accident, as a parent, if your child has a history of tickets or accidents, you could be held liable for your child’s conduct under a separate legal theory called “negligent entrustment.” Under this theory, if your child has a poor driving record, and you allow them out in the family station wagon and they cause an accident, you could be held liable for additional and even punitive damages under the theory that your child’s poor driving was foreseeable, and you nevertheless allowed them to drive the vehicle.

Does it make a difference whose name the car is titled in?

If your teen has a history of poor driving, such as multiple traffic tickets or accidents, or has a history of drinking and driving, you may want to consider titling the car solely in the teen’s name. If the car is legally owned by the teen rather than the parent, then the parent cannot be held liable under a theory of negligent entrustment, because the car is the child’s own property, and the child simply chose to drive it.

If I did not add my teen as an additional driver on my auto insurance policy, is the auto accident still covered by auto insurance?

You must check the specific terms of your particular auto insurance policy, but in most cases, as long as your teen is a member of your household, the answer is “yes, you are covered.” Most insurance policies have a provision that provides that all “members” of the household who drive the vehicle are covered just as the driver’s who are listed on the policy is. So even if you did not list your teen as an additional driver for the car involved in the accident, as long as the teen had permission to drive the vehicle involved, and your child was a member of your household, their conduct is most likely covered by your auto insurance policy.

Since 2003, Jason Thomas has focused his law practice on helping personal injury victims of auto and truck accidents fight for the fair treatment and compensation they deserve. Motorists never deserve to feel out of luck when the unexpected happens to them – that’s precicely why J. Thomas Law Firm fights for you. Change the game. Contact J. Thomas Law Firm.
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