There is an increasing number of people being victims of car accidents by uninsured drivers. Currently around 12% of drivers causing accidents are uninsured.
You may find yourself in a situation where another driver who had no insurance caused an accident. If you do, your car insurance policy may be able to compensate you for damages.
Your car insurance company has an obligation to be on your side when situations like this occur. However, you also have to understand that they are a business and will be looking to lower costs.
You should know how to file a claim in a situation where a driver is uninsured or under-insured. The more you know, the better the compensation will be for you and any injuries or damage you sustained.
Understanding Coverage for Uninsured and Under-insured Drivers
Each state has laws requiring drivers show they are financially responsible if they are the reason there was an accident. What this means is that you have to have a certain degree of liability insurance for your car.
The problem is the amount on your insurance policy is potentially less than what your medical bills would cost.
There are certain states which do not legally require you to have car insurance if you have lots of money. However, the chances of you getting into an accident with someone in that situation is slim. You are more likely to get hit by someone without much money, which is why they are uninsured. It is a good idea to have uninsured motorist coverage to protect you in this kind of situation.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Explained
Uninsured Motorist Coverage helps you pay for any damages you sustained from an accident with an uninsured driver. Around 20 states currently require drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage. Some even require this insurance for covering personal injuries and damage to your personal property
The types of damages considered as personal injuries are the following:
- Hospital bills and medical expenses
- Money lost from not being able to work
- Physical pain
- Emotional anguish
- Burial costs
The types of damages considered as property damages are the following:
- Costs to fix your automobile
- Costs to rent a car while yours is being fixed
- Book value of your car if it becomes totaled
- Value of any possessions which were destroyed in an accident
Under-insured Motorist Coverage Explained
Under-insured Motorist Coverage will assist you in paying any damages after you were injured by a motorist. However, this motorist, while having car insurance, lacks coverage for your specific damages.
Jessica was driving on Sandhill Road when she was unexpectedly hit by an SUV driven by Chris. The accident occurred because Chris drove past a stop sign.
Jessica sustained injuries which included broken bones and a severe brain injury from blunt force trauma. Even worse, her car had been completely totaled.
Her medical expenses exceeded $70,000. The value of her totaled car was $18,000.
Chris only had the legal minimum coverage of liability insurance. His policy carries $15,000 per individual for bodily injuries, along with $5,000 for damage to personal property.
When police officers wrote their report, they stated that there was evidence Chris caused the accident. Jessica was paid through her attorney by Chris’s insurance company up to the policy limits.
Thankfully, Jessica had under-insured motorist coverage which reached the liability limit of $100,000 per individual for sustained injuries. Her coverage also included $50,000 for personal property damage. Her attorney filed an uninsured motorist claim with her insurance company.
The coverage that Jessica had took care of any remaining costs related to injuries she sustained.
Since she thankfully had under-insured motorist overage, Jessica was compensated entirely for damages she incurred.
How to Make Sense of Your Auto Insurance Policy
Every car in the United States should have automotive liability insurance. This goes for both personal and commercial automobiles and policies.
Each state requires automobile policies to include liability insurance for bodily injuries and property damage. Liability insurance provides you with payment for any injuries and property damage resulting from accidents where you are at fault.
Most states will also necessitate you having coverage against uninsured motorists. This measure is taken to ensure any damages from an accident where an uninsured driver is at-fault are paid.
A few states will also require you to have coverage to protect you against under-insured drivers. This is done in case an at-fault driver has a low threshold in their liability insurance coverage. Under-insured coverage will be taken advantage of once the at-fault driver’s liability insurance threshold has been reached.
It will depend what state your vehicle is insured in regarding uninsured and under-insured coverage being requirements or not. These can appear separately from your liability insurance coverage. However, they are sometimes combined under the umbrella of the same coverage in your policy.
Certain states demand insurance companies provide the option of getting uninsured and under-insured coverage. While a policy holder can choose to abstain from this coverage, they need to sign a form waiving the coverage.
In the states which have the waiver option, the insurance company has to provide the waiver form for you to sign. This form must be given in the event of an accident. If they do not do so, they may be required to give you the uninsured and under-insured coverage free of charge.
In some cases, an insurance company will not agree to your claim for uninsured and under-insured drivers. If this occurs, speak with an attorney at Nakase Law Firm to go over what your options for compensation are.
Additional Kinds of Coverage
There are a few additional types of car insurance coverage you should be familiar with.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Sometimes referred to as Med-pay, PIP coverage will assist in covering the costs associated with physical injuries. The great aspect of this coverage is that you are covered regardless of who the at-fault driver is. You will be covered until your limits are reached. There is an additional benefit to this coverage. Passengers who are in your vehicle during an accident can also file claims using your PIP coverage.
Some states demand you have personal injury protection coverage. Some other states do not even provide this coverage as an option.
Collision coverage will pay the bills for any type of damage to personal property, like your vehicle. This is true regardless of who the at-fault driver is. While there may be a certain deductible you will be subject to paying, it is still helpful coverage to have.
You are not required by law to buy collision coverage. However, if you hold a car loan, you may be required to have it as part of your financing agreement.
How to Safeguard Your Claim After an Automobile Accident
As soon as you can after an accident, call 911. You should do this no matter what. Provide details about where you are to the dispatcher. If you believe you have been injured, make sure to say so. If there are any hazardous conditions, let them know.
Obtain the Other Driver’s Information
After a car accident has occurred, you will have to obtain the information of the at-fault driver. This includes their name, address, phone number, and insurance. Many states mandate that drivers present their license when the other driver requests to see it.
The at-fault driver may tell you they do not have car insurance. They may ask you whether you can make a deal with them. However, avoid doing this since you may miss out on getting compensated.
Get Evaluated Medically
Always welcome medical attention when it is provided to you at the scene of an accident. Mention any issue you feel you may have gotten from the accident, regardless of how insignificant it seems. Your adrenaline may be high and will hide some of your injuries. Avoid playing down any symptoms.
Avoid declining or postponing medical treatment until after you leave the scene of the accident. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to get your injury claim approved. Insurance companies are more than happy to avoid paying your bills. They will state that you did not sustain your injuries at the accident.
Even if you do not go to the hospital right after an accident, you should get evaluated immediately. Whether you go to your usual doctor or an urgent care clinic, notify them about your accident.
Great Evidence Leads to a Great Claim
Make sure to take photos at the scene of the accident. This is a very accurate portrayal of an accident and will be treated seriously. When you are taking photos, take them from as many angles as you can. Also, get photos showing the license plate of the at-fault driver’s car. If there are any street markers and indicators of where the accident took place, take photos of those as well.
When you have a written statement from a witness of the accident, you have strong support for your claim. This is magnified if the driver was uninsured and left the scene prematurely.
The claim will have the best chance of being paid out if the witness is someone you do not know. As long as you find someone who saw the accident that fits this requirement, you should have your claim approved.
Once police arrive at the scene of the accident, they will begin their investigation. One of them will approach you and speak with you. They will also speak with the at-fault driver, along with any witnesses, if they exist. Once the investigation is concluded, there will be an official report produced on the accident.
The information on the report will have the date and time the accident took place. It will also indicate where the accident took place. All relevant driver and vehicle information, along with witness statements and the officer’s perspective, will be included.
The police report is a trustworthy source of information that holds its weight for insurance adjusters. You can obtain a copy of this report within two weeks of the accident.
Loss of Wages
You may be unable to work because of an accident you were in. If so, have your employer write a statement declaring how much money you will be losing out on. Make sure they include the opportunity cost, along with vacation and sick time you used because of the accident.
The Complexities of UI and UIM Claims
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after you were in an accident. This is true even if the at-fault driver says they are covered.
Your automobile policy will include a clause which obliges you to notify your insurance company about all accidents. It also states that you will cooperate with their look into the accident.
There are short deadlines for submitting claims for uninsured and under-insured drivers. It may be as few as 30 days in some cases.
How to Have Your Insurance Company Pay a Claim
It can take some time until you discover the driver that caused an accident was uninsured. That driver may have even presented documents to you which looked like they had insurance. However, you may later learn that it was expired or not valid.
It is important to find out as soon as possible whether the at-fault driver was uninsured or not. This is because the countdown for the filing due date does not start until this is known. Your insurance company may reject your claim it you do not adhere to the due date.
If you have the misfortune of finding yourself in a hit-and-run scenario, there will be additional hurdles. Your insurance company will be wary of any claims which speak of a mystery driver. This is a situation where a credible third-party witness is exceptionally helpful.
This witness cannot know you or anyone that was in your car. They should stand to gain nothing from you filing a claim. If the only witnesses to a hit-and-run are other passengers in your car, your claim may be rejected.
The Basics of UIM Coverage
If you are not ready to submit an under-insured motorist claim, but plan to do so, notify your insurance company. This is because every insurance company has its own due date for accepting this type of claim.
This means that you are holding onto your right to submit a UIM claim. However, this is only if the cost of damages is above the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance.
Usually, your UIM coverage takes care of any costs going beyond the liability limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance.
It can help to look at an example to understand this more clearly. Let us say you have hospital bills totaling $60,000. The driver causing an accident has $20,000 in liability insurance for bodily injuries. You also have $60,000 in under-insured motorist coverage. In this situation, you can request that your insurance company pay the difference, totaling $40,000.
Depending on what insurance policy you have, you may only see it pay for anything over the liability coverage of the at-fault driver.
It will help to look an example of this situation as well. You could find yourself having $60,000 in medical costs. The at-fault driver could have liability insurance for bodily injuries capped at $50,000. You would also have $10,000 in under-insured motorist coverage In this scenario, your insurance company can decide to forfeit paying the remainder of $10,000 of medical costs you incurred. This is a result of your under-insured motorist coverage limit being lower than that of the at-fault driver’s limit.
An Attorney Can Increase the Amount You Are Compensated
There are several situations where you can negotiate a claim for personal injury protection and collision coverage. These are usually minor injuries affecting soft tissue. It can be a strained muscle, bruise, or mild whiplash. None of these would necessitate using an attorney. There is no need in these cases to provide proof someone else is responsible for an accident.
You will be compensated for any medical costs, wages lost, and car repairs. However, you will not receive any damages for emotional anguish.
If you are a victim that has a serious injury, you will require the services of an attorney. This is especially true if the at-fault driver was uninsured or under-insured. Any severe injuries such as internal bleeding, brain injuries, and spinal cord damage will need an attorney’s help. This is because these are expensive problems to rectify and an attorney can help ensure your expenses are covered.
Since serious injuries cost lots of money, your insurance company will resort to tactics which lower the amount they pay. You will require an attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. The areas of compensation they can help you with include the following:
- Claims against uninsured drivers
- Claims against under-insured drivers
- Claims for wrongful death
- Lawsuits against an accident-causing driver
A lawsuit can become complex when an uninsured or under-insured driver is involved. However, this also means the compensation payouts for injured victims can be significant.
An insurance company will sometimes go against the state’s own insurance rules. When they act in bad faith, an attorney will help you get significantly more money in additional damages.
Given how much money is on the line in uninsured and under-insured claims, you should not go at this alone. You are going into an agreement with an attorney risk-free given the lack of obligation when inquiring with an attorney.