While every state except New Hampshire requires all drivers to carry liability insurance at a minimum, many motorists still drive without this type of car insurance. When these motorists are at fault in a collision, they leave the victims having to pay for damages and medical expenses themselves. However, working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you protect your rights and receive sufficient compensation for your injuries and damages.
What Does It Mean To Be An Uninsured Motorist?
An uninsured motorist is a driver who does not have auto insurance. The term uninsured motorist is most often used when the at-fault driver in an accident does not have enough or any liability coverage to compensate the accident victims. In fact, according to data submitted by the Insurance Research Council, an estimated one out of every eight motorists in the United States do not have auto or liability insurance. There are several reasons why someone may choose to drive without insurance coverage, with the primary reason often being that they simply can’t afford it.
Regardless of the reason to drive uninsured, being involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by an uninsured driver can be a challenging situation and leave victims having to pay out-of-pocket expenses due to their serious injuries.
At-Fault Vs. No-Fault States
Whether you live in an at-fault or no-fault state can play a role in how accidents with uninsured motorists are handled. In states that adhere to the traditional at-fault system, the insurance company of the person who caused the accident is held liable for covering the costs of damages to the victim. However, when the person is uninsured, there is no insurance company or policy to provide these funds. In this situation, the victim may cover their expenses with their uninsured motorist coverage policy if they have one. If the victim does not have uninsured motorist coverage, they can choose to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that the victim will receive any compensation even if they do choose to sue the uninsured at-fault motorist.
In no-fault states, auto insurance companies are required to pay for policyholder’s damages and injuries regardless of who was at fault in the car crash. It’s important to note that in these states, victims are unable to file a lawsuit against the at-fault uninsured driver unless minimum standards related to the severity of injuries and damages are met.
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How To Protect Yourself From Uninsured Motorists
The best way to protect yourself from uninsured motorists is to elect to carry uninsured motorist coverage and/or underinsured motorist coverage as part of your own insurance policy. While you will pay more for your monthly premium, you will ultimately be covered in the event that you’re involved in an uninsured motorist accident.
There are three primary types of uninsured motorist protection you can add to your insurance policy. These coverage options will vary depending on your insurance company and the state you live in. They include:
- Uninsured Motorist insurance (UM coverage): This type of insurance, also sometimes referred to as Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury insurance, will cover you and your passengers if you are in an accident caused by a driver who is uninsured. This type of coverage will also reimburse you and your passengers for any lost wages as a result of the accident.
- Underinsured Motorist insurance (UIM coverage): This type of insurance is good to have in the event that the at-fault driver carries liability insurance but does not cover the full extent of damage done in the accident. For example, if you need a new vehicle as a result of the accident, your own insurance company will cover what the underinsured driver’s insurance won’t.
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) insurance: This type of insurance provides coverage for any damage done to your vehicle as a result of an accident with an uninsured motorist. It will also cover any other damage to personal property such as your fence or home.
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What To Do If You’ve Been In An Accident With An Uninsured Motorist
If you are in a car accident with an uninsured motorist, there are several important steps you should take immediately following the accident. These steps include:
Call The Police
Your first course of action should be to call the police, regardless of how minor the accident or your injuries may seem. A police officer will arrive at the scene and determine liability as well as provide you with a police report, which is an important document to have when filing an insurance claim. It’s also a necessary document if you choose to sue the at-fault driver.
You should also get as much information as possible from the other driver, including their name, phone number, license number, address, and insurance information if they have any. This will make it easier to contact them later if necessary. You should also gather contact information from any witnesses if possible, as it’s often difficult or even impossible to track down witnesses once they’ve left the scene of the accident.
Take photographs of the damage to your vehicle and other vehicles or property, the scene of the accident, and any injuries you or your passengers incurred. These are valuable documents to have on hand when filing a claim or suing the other driver.
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Contact An Experienced Uninsured Motorist Attorney
Working with an experienced uninsured motorist attorney will ensure your rights are protected and you get the most compensation available to help you pay for injuries and damages. The expert accident lawyers at Florin|Roebig have helped countless people secure compensation following an accident with an uninsured motorist, and we’d be happy to do the same for you and your family members. Give us a call today for free consultation of your uninsured/underinsured motorist claim at (800) 226-6581.