I got a call from a potential client who was injured in a car accident and looking for a personal injury attorney in Dallas.  Her car was also damaged.  She seemed very frustrated, which is understandable.

The accident was the other driver’s fault.  She filed a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.  The other insurance company advised her that the driver was excluded under the policy.  Likewise, there was no coverage.

The Conversation

Naturally, I asked if she had uninsured motorist coverage.  She said “Yes,” but became very agitated.  In all my years as a car accident attorney in Dallas, I have never had a potential client act like this.  Sure, I have had clients get frustrated, but you still have to look at the situation rationally.

She insisted that she does not want to use her insurance.  She stated that she did not want her rates to go up and she did not want the other driver to just get away with the accident.

I explained that it is unlikely that she will see any appreciable increase in her rates.  However, I also explained that every insurance company is different and all use their own underwriting guidelines.

Naturally, I could not guarantee that her rates wouldn’t go up.  But, if the accident was not her fault and she had an otherwise good claims history, everything should be okay.

Risk vs. Benefits.

I also explained that, even if she has an increase in her rates, it would so small compared to the benefits she would get from using her coverage.

For example, the cost to repair her car was about $2,000.  She was also injured in the accident.  Therefore, she would have medical bills, and be entitled to money for pain and suffering and possibly lost wages.  The injury part of her claim would easily be in the thousands.

Therefore, the few dollars in increased premiums would pale in comparison to the benefits she would get from making the claim.

The Moral Irony?

She again stated that it was unfair that she had to file the claim on her uninsured motorist coverage when the other driver was at fault and did not carry insurance.

I agreed with her.  But, why then did she even carry the coverage?  Why pay the premiums and have uninsured motorist on your policy?  The whole basis of uninsured motorist coverage is that the other driver is at fault and did not have insurance.  That’s why you bought and paid for the coverage in the first place. The reasons for the having the coverage is the very same reasons why she resented being forced to use it.

The Legal Irony?

The caller was also upset about the fact the the other driver seems to be “getting away” with the accident.

I explained that she is permitted to sue the other driver.  But she may not get anywhere because she does not know how to hold someone legally responsible.  And, because the other driver had no insurance (and you are unwilling to use your coverage) you will be unable to find an attorney to take your case.

However, there is a way to give the other driver a lot of trouble.  If an uninsured motorist claims is made, then her own insurance company will be “subrogated” to her claims against the other driver.  In other words, her insurance company will pursue legal action against the other driver for the amounts they paid on the claim.

Insurance companies do this all the time in car accident cases where the other driver was uninsured.  And, insurance companies know how to prosecute the case and enforce the judgment.  They know how to put judgments on your credit.  They also use collection agencies, and even suspend drivers licenses and vehicle registrations until the judgment is paid.

The End Result.

You can do nothing and let the the other driver get away with the accident.  If that is your choice, then you might as well call your insurance agent and drop your uninsured motorist coverage.  There is no reason to pay for it if you have such a moral objection to ever using it.

Or, the other driver can be held legally responsible if you are willing to put all the right players in motion.  The first thing that this particular person needs to do is put all her emotions aside and hire an experienced personal injury attorney to pursue the uninsured motorist claim.  Then, let your insurance company do the rest and go after the responsible party for collections.

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Robert C. Slim is only licensed to practice in the State of Texas. If your accident occurred in some other state or jurisdiction, you need to consult with an attorney in that jurisdiction.
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