Attorney: Victims of uninsured motorists accidents do have options

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by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

khou.com

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 7:40 AM

AUSTIN -- A 36-year-old Austin man is recovering from his injuries after he said a hit-and-run driver left him for dead last week. 

“I can't work right now. I can't stand for long periods of time and stuff like that so it's really eating into my pocketbook,” said Joe Montgomery.
 
On Monday, September 3rd Montgomery was on his bicycle at Oltorf and I-35 heading to work when witnesses said a pickup cut him off, hit him, dragged him for a distance and kept going.
 
“I just don't understand what their thought process was like. I mean, were they intoxicated? Did they know they didn't have insurance?,” said Montgomery, who doesn’t have medical insurance.
 
He said when he called the driver’s insurance company, as directed by Austin police, an insurance employee told him the driver in question was not covered at the time of the accident.
 
“She was like "When were you hit?” and I told them September 3rd and she said well that person doesn't have, they didn't have a policy, they don't have insurance on that date,” said Montgomery who now has a broken vertebrae in his back and several broken chips out of his legs.
 
A personal injury attorney told KVUE that victims of uninsured drivers do have more options than they think.
 
Attorney Willie Schmerler said victims can take legal action against an uninsured driver’s blood relatives or spouse if they live together.
 
Schmerler also dispelled the myth that personal injury attorneys won’t take a case without money up front.
 
“Most people don't pursue uninsured motorist coverage because they think it's going to count against their insurance rates and it's not supposed to,” Schmerler said.
 
He added that an uninsured driver with a judgment against them can lose their license if they don’t pay.
 
“The DPS has a long-standing policy of not allowing that person to renew their license without having satisfied that debt,” said Schmerler.
 
Austin police confirmed that a detective has been assigned to the case. Witnesses turned in his license plate number. However, the driver has not been arrested.

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