I got a call from a client on the Friday after Thanksgiving. He’d been hit on Central Expressway in Dallas after some Black Friday shopping by someone with no car insurance. The person who hit him was driving a pickup truck that rear ended him and then did some damage along the side of his car when he took off. He wanted to know what to do.
Whenever a client calls after an accident there are 4 things we discuss:
- Was anyone injured
- What happened
- What information did they obtain
- Outline possible next steps
The first order of business is always to confirm if anyone was injured. Fortunately for our client, no one was seriously injured but he confirmed his back was sore. Having been rear ended myself, I understand it can be sore and uncomfortable, but it should be checked out by a physician to determine if there’s any damage. No one has to live with back pain for the rest of their life and that’s why I stress to have it checked out. Insurance companies have a timeline when a claim closes on medical issues that is usually 1 year from the time of the accident so it’s important not to discount it even if you’re feeling better a few days later.
I then had my client walk through what happened covering such items as:
- Where did the accident occur?
- Was he able to obtain a picture of the license plate?
- Did he have any witnesses?
- Did he notify the police?
While I am not a claims adjuster, I do want to understand everything that occurred so I may provide the best possible guidance to each client. The other driver took off after striking my client’s car, so the client followed him down Central until the driver exited and stopped at a light. The driver was not very happy about my client approaching him but did confirm he had no insurance. The other driver did produce a foreign driver’s license and a business card of his employer.
The two parties parted ways after their brief discussion. While the man admitted hitting my client’s car, the opportunity to obtain witness contact information was lost when the decision was made to pursue the pickup truck driver. No call was made to the police either from the accident scene or when my client caught up with the pickup truck driver a few miles down the road. He did take pictures of the other truck and the damage his car sustained.
At this point of the conversation I felt I had the information I needed to begin to advise my client. Before doing so, however, I reviewed his policy and confirmed with him he has uninsured motorist coverage and what his deductible is. The action steps I recommended he take were:
- Talk with the driver’s employer to see if he would step up to pay for the damages. He refused to help.
- Get an estimate for the damages from the body shop of his choice.
- Determine whether he wants to pay for the repairs out of pocket or file an uninsured motorist claim.
While my client is deciding what he wants to do to repair his car, I believe his experience provides a good model for each of us. The steps I recommend to anyone hit by someone with no insurance are:
- Don’t pursue anyone who takes off after hitting you. This sets up a confrontation that could go terribly wrong. Get the tag number of the fleeing vehicle and note the vehicle type, color, and any distinguishing characteristics.
- Obtain witness contact information to help with the claims process. Not all is lost if this isn’t possible, but it can help.
- If you’re hit by someone you suspect has no insurance, call the police. The Dallas police will respond to a call for an accident involving an uninsured driver.
- Carry uninsured motorist coverage on your car insurance policy. It’s not that much to add this and I recommend it to all my clients. Dallas County has the highest concentration of uninsured drivers in Texas, so it’s wise to carry it.
- Don’t be afraid to file a claim for damages with your insurance company. That’s what they are there for and you didn’t do anything wrong.
Do you have a question, comment, or experience you’d like to share with me? Post it in the comments section of the blog or on our Facebook or Google + pages. I’d love to hear from you!