The Basics: I Just Got Hit In a Car Wreck!

The following is a sumamry of some of the most frequent questions we recieve in connection with a car wreck.

1. How Much Auto Insurance Should I Get?

Many consumers do not appreciate the magnitude of the risk that they are attempting to mitigate when purchasing auto insurance.   The State of Texas requires that all drivers maintain a minimum of 30/60/25 of liability coverage. Which means that you must purchase at the minimum liability limits of $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. Unfortunately the minimum amount of auto coverage mandated by Texas law may not be enough to cover all the damage caused in an auto wreck. When purchasing auto insurance you should consider your exposure to liability in the event you are at fault, involved in a lawsuit and required to pay damages. Even if you’re not at fault, you should consider purchasing auto insurance to protect yourself from losses arising from a wreck involving uninsured or underinsured motorists.

2. What Steps Should I Take After a Car Wreck?

At the scene of the accident you should attempt to move your car from oncoming traffic to protect yourself and your property from further damage.  You should call the police in most circumstances, especially if someone is injured or killed, your car is not drivable or if you were the  victim of a hit and run.  The police will investigate the accident and create a report that will be useful in pursuing your  claim for damages, if any.  When interacting with the other driver(s) please attempt to write down their names, addresses, phone and license plate numbers and their auto insurance company and policy number.  If there are any witnesses you should get their names, addresses and phone numbers as well.  If the police are called to the scene they will obtain much of this information and include it in their report. Once you leave the scene of the accident, you should contact an attorney  so we can help gather all of the relevant information about your car wreck.  We can contact the insurance company on your behalf to report a claim and explain the claims process to you.

3. I Just Got Hit By an Uninsured Motorist!

Uninsured motorist coverage becomes an important factor  if  you’ve been in a car wreck with another motorist that doesn’t have car insurance. More often than not, car insurance policies provide for at least a minimal amount of uninsured motorist coverage.

So how do you make a claim? If you’ve been in an auto accident with an uninsured motorist, you begin the process by opening up a claim under your own car insurance policy for uninsured motorist benefits. You’ll use your own car insurance policy because uninsured drivers usually do not have  sufficient  assets to make a personal claim against them a good strategy.

Uninsured motorist coverage becomes an important factor  if  you’ve been in a car wreck with another motorist that doesn’t have car insurance.

How do you tell if the other driver has car insurance? If the police are called to the scene they will investigate whether any of the motorists involved in the car, truck or motorcycle accident  have insurance and whether anyone was hurt.123The police will ask for the insurance information, driver’s licence and vehicle registration for each individual involved in the collision.

If you find yourself in a situation where the police aren’t at the scene of the accident and the at-fault driver can’t or won’t produce their insurance information, just  try and get as much information about the driver as you can (for example, their license plate and/or driver’s license number). Your insurance company may have access to a large database that can search for the at-fault motorist’s insurance coverage based on the information you  obtain at the scene of the car wreck.

4. What is a Letter of Protection (LOP)?

If you’ve suffered an injury in an auto wreck the insurance company presumes that you’d pay for your health care expenses up-front, no matter how long you’re seeking treatment. Unfortunately, many physicians avoid treating victims of car, motorcycle or truck wrecks for any number of reasons. A Letter of Protection, or LOP, is provided to a treating physician and establishes a debtor-creditor relationship between the physician and patient pursuant to the patient’s promise to pay the costs of medical treatment out of the patient’s settlement or judgment.

The LOP is a contractual arrangement that allows a patient, who otherwise couldn’t afford medical treatment, to obtain medical care until such patient’s claim or case is resolved. Once the funds from the settlement become available, the attorney will pay the physicians any amount owed out of the settlement funds. In the event that the patient doesn’t recover any money, or doesn’t recover enough money to cover the outstanding balance of the medical bills, the patient remains liable for the medical bill and the physician can seek payment just like any other creditor would.

The LOP is a contractual arrangement that allows a patient, who otherwise couldn’t afford medical treatment, to obtain medical care until such patient’s claim or case is resolved.

In addition to personal injury claims involving car wrecks, LOPs are used in lawsuits based in negligence such as slip-and-falls. The insurance company’s attorneys frequently suggest that the treating physician that relies on the LOP has an economic interest in the injured patient’s settlement or judgment, implying that the treating physician is biased in the event a balance for medical treatment remains outstanding.

Disclaimer: This article is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide legal advice.

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