What can we do about an accident in which the at-fault driver was not covered by insurance by the owner of the car was?

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What can we do about an accident in which the at-fault driver was not covered by insurance by the owner of the car was?

My wife was in an accident 6 months ago in TX (she was not at fault). We have been living in MI for the last 3 months. Due to limited insurance coverage our policy didn’t cover any damages to our vehicle and we were denied our claim against the other car’s insurance company because the person who was driving was not covered under his brother’s policy. My wife was hurt so we are left with medical bills and towing fees. We can’t afford them. Can we sue these people for anything seeing that we are in another state? Should we contact a personal injury attorney in San Antonio, TX where the accident occurred? Who pays their fee?

Asked on August 17, 2011 Michigan

Answers:

Richard Weaver / The Weaver Law Firm

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you should call a personal injury attorney in Texas. You may have a right to sue the driver's brother for negligent entrustment of a vehicle. Attorneys can assist you on a case on a contigency basis, where you do not have to pay unless they recover something for you. Feel free to call at 210-807-8932 or visit us at www.WeaverLawyers.com

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Although the at-fault driver was not covered by insurance, the registered owner of the vehicle is also liable.  Your wife's personal injury claim and property damage claim which are separate should be filed against the registered vehicle owner's insurance carrier.  Property damage is usually resolved early in the case.

When your wife completes her medical treatment and is released by her doctor or is declared to be permanent and stationary by her doctor which means no further improvement is anticipated, she should obtain her medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of any wage loss.  Her personal injury claim will include these items.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of her injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If your wife is dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, she should reject the offers and file her lawsuit for negligence against both the registered owner of the vehicle and and the driver.  If the case is settled, no lawsuit is filed.  If the case is NOT settled, your wife will need to file her lawsuit for negligence prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or she will lose her rights forever in the matter.  The lawsuit can be filed where the plaintiff (your wife) resides or where the defendant(s) reside(s) or where the claim arose.  Therefore, the lawsuit could be filed in either MI or TX.  It would be convenient for court appearances and filing documents with the court for your wife to file in MI; however, the decision to file will depend when the lawsuit is filed because if you miss the statute of limitations in one state, you may not have missed it in the other state and could file there.

It would be advisable to speak with a personal injury attorney in MI where you now reside.  A personal injury attorney  will usually take this type of case on a contingency fee basis which means the attorney is paid a percentage of the amount recovered.  Also, the personal injury attorney could refer  your wife for medical treatment to doctors who take the case on a lien basis which means they are paid out of the settlement.


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