A car accident can cause trauma and enormous expenses, but because of legal requirements for insurance coverage, many injury victims assume they can recover compensation for their losses. However, what happens when the other driver is uninsured? How can you request compensation without an insurance policy to pay for it?
While challenging, you can seek payment from an uninsured driver for your injuries, but you will need help.
After an accident with an uninsured driver, you must speak to a qualified car accident lawyer near you.
Injuries you can sustain in a car accident
Car accidents are chaotic, and some victims will feel pain immediately, while others will experience a delay in their symptoms. You must seek medical attention whenever you begin to feel pain or believe you have an injury. It is critical to your case that you do.
Car accidents can result in a range of minor to life-altering injuries.
Examples of car accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Spinal damage
- Head trauma
- Internal organ damage
- Lacerations and cuts
- Disc herniations
- Scars and disfigurement
- Permanent disability
When you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist, finding ways to get compensation for your injuries can seem impossible, but there is hope. Their lack of insurance can complicate the process, but it doesn’t hinder your efforts to seek compensation. Big or small, your injuries require treatment, and that means you need money to cover those costs.
Auto insurance requirements
There are various car insurance policies and coverage options drivers can choose from. Each state will have specific requirements for its drivers. The policy limits can vary by state, but there are minimums that drivers must have. State minimums will address bodily injury, property damage, and liability per class.
Many policies abide by the 10/10/20 rule, but you should check with your insurer about your minimums. You can also purchase more than the minimum if you see fit. Only 20 states require uninsured motorists coverage; the rest offer it as an add-on.
Uninsured motorist coverage
If you can prove the other driver was at fault and have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, that is a viable option for recovering compensation after a crash with an uninsured driver. This provision is a requirement or add-on depending on where you live and your insurance company.
If it is an add-on, you will need to opt out of purchasing the coverage in writing. However, choosing this coverage is always a good idea, even when it is not a requirement. You will not receive the option to opt-out in areas where it is mandatory.
UM covers medical expenses and other losses when you are in a collision with an uninsured motorist. If you are unsure of your uninsured motorist coverage, you should review your policy to determine if you have this coverage. Additionally, you will need to choose coverage limits when you purchase uninsured motorist coverage. Most of the time, the limits are equal to your personal liability limits.
Personal injury protection
This policy covers your losses regardless of fault in a car accident. So if an uninsured person hits you, your PIP provision can cover your financial losses. A requirement of tapping into this provision for your financial losses is that accident victims must receive medical care within 14 days of the accident.
The provision will work in percentages, and some examples of coverage options are:
- 60 percent of lost income
- 80 percent of medical costs
Families can also seek death benefits under a PIP claim. While this option is possible, it might not work for accidents resulting in severe injuries, as policy limits are often low.
Like PIP, MedPay coverage pays for your medical expenses after a collision with an uninsured driver. Depending on the insurer, you can opt for both provisions. MedPay and PIP are similar but have different names in different areas.
You can file PIP and MedPay claims while undergoing treatment. You can typically send in your medical bills as they come in. This provision is specific to some states and insurance policies. Review your insurance to determine if you have PIP, MedPay, or both.
Filing a lawsuit
When you have no insurance options for compensation or your policy limits will not cover your needs, filing a lawsuit against the uninsured driver is an option to consider. This is often a last resort because it is a very complex process. Not only is it a last remedy for uninsured driver claims but also for insured driver claims. In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party must prove the at-fault driver owed them a duty of care, breached the duty, caused the accident, and they suffered injuries.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit and winning does not lead to immediate compensation. Since the driver doesn’t have insurance, there is a smaller financial well to pull from unless they have assets. If the other person has substantial assets, you can recover compensation upon winning your lawsuit. Unfortunately, collecting payment is difficult if they have little or no assets. You can discuss the probability of recovering compensation through a lawsuit with your car accident lawyer.
Recovering payment after a lawsuit
When considering your option to file a lawsuit, you should determine if the other party is solvent enough to pay you. In many instances, if they did not have insurance, they likely do not have the funds to pay injury victims in a lawsuit, but there might be options. Sometimes you can negotiate a payment schedule that works for you and the other party. It benefits both parties because you are getting your compensation, and they are not inundated with additional financial hardship.
When a defendant fails to make payments in a negotiated settlement, you must take more drastic actions to get your payments, including:
- Income garnishments
- Liens on non-homestead property
- Bank account garnishment
- Personal property seizures
- Request a license suspension from the state
Insurance companies and uninsured drivers
Your insurance has the right to seek reimbursement from entities responsible for covering your losses. Essentially, the insurance company can pay the injured party for their losses and then turn around and seek reimbursement from the at-fault party. While this is possible, the probability that an insurance company will go after uninsured motorists is low. They will weigh the pros and cons and might find that going after the negligent driver will cost them more than moving on.
The driver is uninsured, but the vehicle is
Sometimes, the driver does not have insurance, but they are operating a vehicle that does have insurance coverage. This happens when they borrow a friend’s car, drive for work, etc. Depending on independent factors, insurance policies can run with the driver or the vehicle. The insurance policy that covers the vehicle can pay for your injuries with one exception. The caveat is if the driver was not permitted to operate the car. The key is whether they have explicit permission to use the vehicle.
The driver has insurance, but not enough to cover my losses
Some cases involve drivers who have insurance, but their policy cannot cover all of your medical expenses and losses. Depending on your policy, you can use your underinsured motorist’s (UIM) coverage. This add-on is usually in conjunction with uninsured motorist coverage but can also be separate depending on the insurer. Since this is part of your policy, your insurance company pays you directly. You can use it in tandem with the other driver’s policy to cover all your losses.
Accidents that uninsured motorist provisions cover
Remember that the insurance company can restrict the uninsured accidents they cover. Generally, there must be physical contact between the two vehicles and you must prove another driver was to blame.
Some examples of accidents that uninsured motorist’s insurance covers are:
- Hit-and-run accident
- An uninsured driver was at-fault for your accident
- You were a passenger in a car that an uninsured motorist struck
- You are a pedestrian hit by an uninsured motorist
These are examples, and there are other cases when your uninsured motorist coverage comes into play.
Health insurance and your car accident
Health insurance is helpful when you are in a car accident, especially if your insurance coverage does not have enough to cover all your medical expenses. You can sometimes combine your health insurance benefits and your uninsured motorist benefits to pay for your medical expenses. However, you must review your health insurance policy and its stipulations regarding auto accidents.
Medicare and Medicaid are the last resort for injured individuals, and they often require the person to exhaust all other options. You should check with your private health insurance to find out how to pay for medical expenses from a car accident. You will also need to consider health insurance and UM deductibles. If you have high deductibles for your UM insurance, a better option might be to use your health insurance.
Damages you can seek
Knowing where you can get compensation is one hurdle, but determining what compensation you can seek is another. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you can seek payment for various losses. When filing a claim, you will need a local car accident lawyer to help you calculate your losses.
You can request the same damages you might in other collisions, such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Future losses
- Pain and suffering
- Cost of personal care
- Scarring and disfigured
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
Your injuries will affect the calculation of most of your losses, but your lawyer will always consider additional factors.
A car accident lawyer can help
Insurance companies should pay their insured when a claimant can’t get money from other sources. However, that doesn’t mean insurance companies will play fair. Insurance companies are still vying to pay the least amount possible for a claim and will take advantage of the circumstances to offer you a menial settlement when the other driver is uninsured. The adjuster might tell you that is all the insurer will provide, but remember that negotiation is always possible.
A car accident lawyer has the training and knowledge to help you get a fair payment for your accident claim. They will evaluate your case and find all resources available for seeking compensation. They will also negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement and fight back against any excuse adjusters come up with.
The role of a local car accident lawyer
Lawyers are crucial in seeking compensation through legal channels. They know how to fight various accident claims and are an invaluable tool for accident victims.
Lawyers can help accident victims resolve a dispute before it even starts. Lawyers will move swiftly to gather evidence and begin negotiations with the insurance company. The lawyer can send a demand letter outlining your losses and future actions when negotiations are not going anywhere. Sometimes, that is all it takes for a settlement. Sometimes, the process is much longer.
An attorney can investigate your claim thoroughly and find evidence the insurance company does not want to hear. They can find witnesses, footage, and more when they represent you. Ultimately, your car accident attorney will protect your best interests and fight for you. While there are no guarantees that you will obtain compensation, insurance companies are more likely to negotiate and settle when they know you have legal representation.
Call an uninsured motorist accident lawyer
After an uninsured motorist accident, you will need legal representation to know your options. As an accident victim, you must pursue compensation and fight against the at-fault driver’s negligent actions. While it is an arduous process, having a personal injury lawyer backing you up can make a huge difference.
Attorneys cannot guarantee how much or if you can recover compensation, but they can estimate your case value and work towards fair payment for your losses. Schedule your initial consultation to determine if you have a viable claim and how to proceed with your uninsured motorist claim.