When You’re involved in a Car Accident with an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
While most states require a minimum amount of liability insurance to be carried by motorists, the Insurance Research Council’s most recent report of uninsured motorists (2001) estimates that 14 percent of the motorists in the U.S. do not carry auto accident insurance. That means that if you are involved in a car accident, there is a 1 in 7 chance that the at-fault driver is uninsured. And this does not take into account the extreme disparity between states which may make your chances of being involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist much more likely in one state than another.
Even if you carry auto accident insurance, recovering the damages from a car accident can be difficult if the person who caused your injury and/or damages does not carry liability insurance, or is underinsured and, therefore, cannot cover the full cost of damages you sustained. In most cases, a driver is uninsured for economic reasons. That is, they do not carry auto accident insurance because they do not have the financial resources to do so. This being most often the case, if you seek to pursue legal action against the uninsured motorist for your damages and/or injuries, even if your case is successful, you may still be responsible for covering your accident related expenses if the uninsured motorist does not have the financial means to compensate you.
If the motorist who caused the accident you were involved in does not carry auto accident insurance, it is not impossible for you to recover damages. Many insurance carriers offer uninsured motorist coverage. In some states, this coverage is mandatory. This coverage allows you to collect damages from your insurance company in the event that you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. It is important to contact an experienced accident attorney soon after a car accident as he or she may know about some coverage that you are unaware of.
Sometimes, you may be able to pursue legal action against your own insurance company for damages caused by an uninsured motorist. Contacting an accident attorney with experience handling uninsured motorist car accident claims may help you receive fair compensation if you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist. An experienced car accident lawyer will know how to read your insurance policy and determine the right course of action to help you receive the recovery you are entitled to.
Being involved in a car accident is something you are never quite ready for; however, it is something that you can prepare for. First, check your insurance policy to see if you are covered for uninsured motorist accidents. If you are not, ask your insurance carrier for information about purchasing this coverage. Be sure to receive the terms of the insurance agreement in writing.
Another way to be prepared for a car accident with an uninsured driver is to know what steps you should take after a car accident (see What to Expect when You are in a Car Accident). Be sure to document as much information about the person you had the accident with as possible so that you can contact them later. Also, if they have an expired insurance policy, be sure to write down the insurance carrier’s information so you can contact them to be certain that the person’s insurance is indeed cancelled.
Finally, be sure to choose a car accident attorney with expertise handling your type of claim (see How to Choose a Car Accident Lawyer). An experienced car accident attorney may be able to help you recover damages if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.