A car accident is always shocking and overwhelming. However, when an uninsured driver hits you, it can escalate your uneasiness and frustrations. You might feel angry that the driver decided they didn’t need to follow the law, and now it’s affected you. You might wonder how you will pay for your medical bills or the damage to your vehicle.
When you find out an uninsured driver hit you, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced car accident attorney. Your attorney can explain your options and help you navigate this tricky situation to maximize your compensation. You have a much greater chance of recovering compensation in this situation with the right legal help.
Why are Drivers Uninsured?
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a motorist across the country in every state to be uninsured, despite the minimum liability insurance laws. Data indicates that more than one in eight drivers in America are uninsured. But why don’t drivers obey their state’s minimum insurance liability laws?
There are many reasons, for example:
- Financial hardship: Sadly, many drivers may struggle to afford the costs associated with car insurance. Premiums, deductibles, and coverage can cost a lot of money, particularly for individuals with limited income or those facing economic challenges. As a result, some drivers may choose to forgo insurance to alleviate some of their financial strain.
- Lack of awareness: Some drivers may be unaware of the legal requirement to have car insurance in their jurisdiction. Ignorance of insurance laws or misconceptions about coverage needs can lead to an unintentional lack of coverage. However, it is no excuse for disobeying the law. It doesn’t make a driver any less liable in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
- High-risk status: Drivers with a history of accidents, traffic violations, or other high-risk behaviors may find it challenging to secure affordable insurance coverage. In some cases, insurers may decline coverage for individuals deemed too high-risk.
- Unfavorable driving records: A record of previous insurance lapses, missed premium payments, or policy cancellations can make it challenging for drivers to obtain new coverage—especially at an affordable price.
- Misperceptions about coverage: Some drivers may believe that their health insurance or credit card benefits cover car accidents, leading them to underestimate the necessity of traditional auto insurance and go without it.
- Vehicle ownership: Drivers who have paid off their vehicles or own older cars outright may consider insurance less of a priority, particularly if they perceive their vehicle’s value as low. They might mistakenly think that the only drivers needing auto insurance are those with loans or leases on their vehicles.
- Cultural and language barriers: Language barriers or lack of familiarity with insurance practices can hinder some individuals from obtaining proper coverage.
- Temporary or seasonal use: Drivers who only use their vehicles seasonally or occasionally might be tempted to skip insurance during periods when their vehicles are not in use. This can be especially tempting for drivers who are trying to save money.
- Belief in good driving skills: Other drivers may have a lot of confidence in their driving skills and experience, assuming they won’t be involved in accidents. This causes them to underestimate the need for insurance.
- Impersonal experiences: Drivers who have never been in an accident or experienced incidents that will prompt them to file a claim might, unfortunately, perceive insurance as unnecessary.
- Geographic and demographic factors: Geographic location and demographics can influence insurance rates. Drivers in areas with high rates of accidents or vehicle theft might face higher premiums, potentially leading some to choose to go uninsured.
- Preference for risk: Some individuals have a higher tolerance for risk and are willing to accept the potential financial consequences of driving without insurance.
The prevalence of uninsured drivers can significantly affect road safety, insurance markets, and the broader community. Uninsured drivers may face legal consequences if caught driving without insurance, and their lack of coverage can lead to financial hardships for innocent individuals in the event of accidents.
Moreover, uninsured drivers can drive up insurance premiums for others and place additional burdens on healthcare systems.
Car Accident Damages
Damages are the financial representation of the expenses, losses, and inconveniences that car accident victims suffer due to the negligence of the at-fault party. Damages will vary from one case to the next, but each personal injury case typically has two categories of damages; economic and non-economic.
Sometimes called special damages, economic damages are how the accident victim suffered financially due to the accident.
The two primary examples are:
- Lost income
- Medical expenses such as emergency room expenses, doctor bills, medications, therapies, or medical equipment
- Property damages
- Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
In contrast, non-economic or general damages don’t involve money. They have no predefined monetary value.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Paying for Damages
The biggest question on your mind after being hit by an uninsured motorist is how you will pay your accident-related bills and expenses. There are several potential options that your car accident attorney can review with you.
First, if you have Medical Payments, MedPay, or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, you can file a claim on your insurance policy. Some states, like Texas, make this coverage optional.
Either way, if you have MedPay or PIP on your insurance policy, you can use it to pay for your accident-related medical bills up to your policy limits. You can also seek coverage through your health insurance.
In addition, if you elected to include optional collision coverage on your auto policy, you can use that to help pay for the damages to your vehicle. Some drivers will also or instead have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on the car insurance policies, which is ideal for situations like this.
What is UM/UIM Insurance Coverage?
When you elect UM/UIM coverage on your insurance policy, you have additional protection beyond your liability coverage and even collision and comprehensive coverages.
Suppose a motorist hits your car who doesn’t have insurance and you become the victim of a hit-and-run accident. In that case, you can file a claim with your insurance company under your UM coverage.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) insurance covers:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
The coverage applies to you and any passengers in the vehicle with you.
Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage can pay for damages to your vehicle caused by an uninsured driver. It typically also covers damage to other personal property, such as your house or fence.
Unlike MedPay coverage, UM coverage can compensate for all the losses you suffer due to an accident, including lost income, pain and suffering, and lost quality of life, as uninsured motorist coverage effectively takes the place of insurance policy the uninsured driver should have had.
If you get hit by someone who only carries the mandatory minimum coverage, you can rely on UIM. Once their coverage runs out, you can access the rest of what you need up to your policy limits if you have this coverage.
Alternatively, you do have the option to litigate your claim against the uninsured/underinsured driver personally. However, most individuals who do not carry insurance or only carry the mandatory minimum don’t have many assets that you can pursue in a civil case. However, it’s always best to consult with an experienced Miami car accident lawyer who can help you decide what to do.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
You may file a personal injury claim. However, motorists who don’t have the required auto insurance coverage often don’t have significant financial assets that they can use to pay a judgment in a car accident lawsuit. When you hire a car accident lawyer, they can determine if filing a lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident will produce enough compensation to justify the effort.
Potential Liability of Other Parties
You should also remember that other parties can be liable for your injuries and damages. If so, they are responsible for paying your damages, and it won’t necessarily matter or matter as much if the other driver didn’t have the insurance coverage they should have.
When you hire a seasoned car accident attorney, they can investigate your accident to determine all the at-fault parties, which will help maximize your injury compensation.
What About Victim’s Assistance?
Since the driver who didn’t have insurance committed a crime and potentially committed another crime when they hit you, you can be eligible for reimbursement of some of your expenses through your local jurisdiction’s victim’s assistance program.
However, you may not qualify for such coverage. If you do, victim’s assistance probably won’t cover all of your expenses.
Why You Always Need an Attorney After an Uninsured Driver Hits You?
Seeking assistance from a skilled lawyer for a car accident is crucial to protect your rights, navigate legal complexities, and secure the compensation you deserve after an uninsured driver hits you.
Here’s why you need help from an attorney after an accident with an uninsured driver:
Understanding Your Options
An attorney who specializes in personal injury law can explain your legal options in terms you can clearly understand. They will help determine whether you can pursue compensation through your insurance policy, uninsured motorist coverage, or other avenues, such as a personal injury lawsuit.
Determining fault and liability in accidents involving uninsured drivers can be challenging. A well-versed car accident lawyer will investigate the accident, collect valuable evidence, and draft a strong case to establish liability and ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
Navigating Insurance Claims
Dealing with insurance companies and adjusters can often be challenging and daunting, especially when an uninsured driver is involved. A qualified car accident lawyer can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf, negotiate settlements, and safeguard your rights throughout the claims process.
Unfortunately, uninsured drivers may not have sufficient assets to cover your damages. A lawyer can explore all possible avenues for compensation, including pursuing legal action against the at-fault motorist.
Navigating Complex Laws
Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging and daunting, especially when an uninsured driver is involved. Your car accident lawyer can handle the insurance company on your behalf, negotiate settlements, and protect your rights throughout the claims process.
A reputable motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you accurately determine the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering, and future costs related to the accident.
Protecting Your Rights
Insurance companies often attempt to decrease their payouts or dispute your claim. Having a lawyer by your side ensures someone is protecting your rights, and the insurance company cannot take advantage of you during negotiations or at any point in the claim or lawsuit process.
Proving Your Case
You’ll need to prove the other driver’s negligence or wrongdoing to receive maximum compensation. An attorney will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a solid case to demonstrate liability.
Negotiating Fair Settlements
Insurance companies might offer low settlements to victims of accidents involving uninsured drivers. An attorney can negotiate to secure a full and fair settlement covering all your damages.
Suppose your attorney cannot reach a fair settlement with insurers. In that case, a lawyer can represent you in court and advocate for your rights before a judge or jury.
Hit by an Uninsured Driver? Contact a Well-Versed Car Accident Attorney Today
In the aftermath of an accident with an uninsured driver, seeking legal assistance is essential to ensure you receive the compensation you need to recover and move forward.
An experienced lawyer will guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for your case.