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You might not think about the impacts of uninsured motorists until you get into a car crash with one. However, an estimated 12.6% — or about one in eight — of all U.S. motorists do not have auto insurance. The high rate of uninsured drivers not only drives up your insurance rates but also can lead to serious challenges when you have a traffic accident and the at-fault driver does not have insurance. An uninsured car accident lawyer may be able to help you determine what options are available for recovering damages.
Understanding Insurance Laws
Every state has laws regulating car insurance coverage for its residents. Almost all states compel motorists to carry auto insurance for every car they own. These laws generally require certain coverage types with minimum limits established. In some instances, the law may allow drivers to demonstrate another means of fiscal responsibility.
Liability coverage protects motorists when they are at fault in a car crash. This coverage pays for property damage and injury expenses for the other drivers and passengers involved. However, the policies limit how much the insurance company will pay in a single accident. Generally, the insurer establishes one bodily injury limit for a single motorist and a second limit for accidents that result in more than one injured party.
The limits for multiple injured parties are generally only twice the amount for one injured person. If more than two people in the other car sustain injuries, the payout is lower for each one than if only a single person was injured. Whether you sustain serious injuries or more than one person gets hurt, the at-fault driver may not have enough coverage to pay the resulting damages. Your liability insurance will also not pay for your medical expenses or property damage when the other driver does not have sufficient coverage.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal injury protection is optional in most states. However, 12 states require their residents to have PIP insurance. PIP pays expenses related to your injuries, no matter who is at fault in the accident. Typically, it covers medical expenses, a portion of lost wages and a per diem for hiring required household help. It will also protect your passengers. However, these policies also have limits.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection
Insurance companies also offer uninsured/underinsured motorists protection. While most states do not require drivers to have this coverage, 20 do. These policies pay for the damages to your vehicle and your medical expenses if you get into a car accident with a driver who does not have sufficient coverage. If your passengers sustain injuries, uninsured motorist protection also pays their medical expenses.
Often, uninsured and underinsured motorist protections are offered concurrently, though sometimes insurance companies offer them as two separate policies. You may not get reimbursed for lost wages, and you may need to pay a deductible. These policies also have coverage limits.
Knowing Your Options
If you were involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist, you are likely feeling anxious about how to recover your losses. Your options depend on the particulars of your case. An uninsured car accident lawyer can help you determine which options are available to you and how best to proceed.
Your Insurance Options
An attorney reviews your case and calculates your damages. If you have severe injuries, your total losses may include estimates of future expenses. An experienced lawyer may consult with professionals to discover what type of medical or rehabilitation help you might need in the future. When you file a car insurance claim, these costs should be included in your expenses.
The lawyer will also review your insurance coverages to help you determine which coverages you can file under. If you have PIP or uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, your first step is often to file a claim under one of these policies. However, if you don’t have one of these, or they aren’t sufficient to cover your damages, you may be able to file a claim with one or more of the following:
- Health insurance: If you have a health insurance policy, it may pick up where your auto insurance leaves off. When you don’t have uninsured motorist or personal injury protection, you may be able to use your health insurance to pay for your medical expenses. You will still be responsible for any copays and deductibles your provider requires.
- Workers’ compensation: If you sustained injuries in a car accident while on your way to work or performing your job duties, you are likely eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim.
- Long-term disability: When you have serious injuries that prevent you from returning to work in your usual capacity, you may be able to file a claim with your long-term disability insurance coverage. This type of insurance is often offered through employers as part of an employee benefits package. It may cover long-term care and a percentage of lost wages.
In pursuing any of these options, you will likely need to provide sufficient evidence justifying your claim. An uninsured car accident lawyer can help you gather the evidence to support your claim.
Those involved in an accident with an uninsured driver often think that the best option for recovering their losses is to file a lawsuit against the driver. However, this route is often not the most effective. People usually don’t have car insurance because they can’t afford to pay for it. If they can’t afford the insurance, they are unlikely to have any assets to pay a legal settlement. Two scenarios lend themselves to legal claims.
Suing the Insurance Company
In the first case, you may need to file a lawsuit against your insurance company. Your provider should pay for the damages if you have PIP or uninsured motorist coverage. However, insurance companies frequently look for ways to undervalue or deny a claim, even if your losses do not exceed your policy limits.
You may need to file a lawsuit against your insurer to obtain a fair settlement. An attorney can help you negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. However, if the company does not agree to pay for all damages you incur up to your policy limits, your lawyer can help you pursue a legal claim against the insurer.
Filing a Third-Party Claim
In the second case, you may have a chance to file a third-party claim. An attorney can determine whether another party was at least partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries. If so, you may be able to file a claim against that party, and your attorney can help you navigate the process.
Your attorney will examine the evidence to determine which parties may have some liability in the accident. Examples of potential third-party claims include those against car or parts manufacturers for faulty vehicle parts or against a government for ill-maintained streets.
Finding an Uninsured Car Accident Lawyer
At Big Auto, we understand the frustrations of obtaining a fair settlement, especially when you sustain injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver. We are here to help you understand your options. We will also support and represent you as you pursue insurance or legal claims, handling the communications and negotiations so you can focus on recovery. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Content reviewed by managing attorney, Nic Edgson. Nic has been an Arizona-licensed lawyer for more than a decade and focuses his law practice on helping people seriously injured in car accidents and truck accidents. He has represented thousands of clients and recovered more than $50 Million Dollars fighting for their injuries and medical bills. Throughout his legal career, Nic has helped those injured through some of the most difficult times in their lives.