The roads can be a dangerous place, with about 3,700 people losing their lives to traffic accidents every day. Yet even if you are fortunate enough to walk away with your life, you are not out of the woods yet. Especially if the other party was an uninsured driver.
Driving without insurance is highly illegal, and yet 28 million people across the US have none. This presents quite the dilemma if you get into an accident with such a person. What do you do, and what are your options?
In this guide, we’ll provide solutions after an accident with an uninsured driver.
Before All Else, Gather Evidence
If you are fresh out of an accident, your first order of business is to gather evidence. Assuming there are no severe injuries, speak to the other responsible party. Collect their information, even if they have no insurance.
Use your smartphone to take pictures of the wreckage from all angles. Capture the license plate number and snap a shot of the driver as well. If you remember well, jot down details of the event and talk to any witnesses that stop by.
If you are standing off the shoulder of the highway, get to safety first. Don’t risk your life just to find evidence in your favor.
If you have a dash cam, immediately unplug it so that it stops recording. Dash cams typically record over their internal memory, which means they could accidentally wipe footage of the crash. Good dash cam footage can often lead to an open and shut case.
Last but not least, call your car accident lawyer immediately. Accidents can be messy battles between involved parties, insurance companies, and the laws. You can ask your lawyer questions and know exactly how to proceed.
Contact Your Own Insurance Company
Your first avenue is to check with your own insurance company. Insurance companies provide all types of car insurance, including uninsured driver insurance. This protects you from an accident with a driver no matter their level of coverage.
Check your insurance policy to see if you already have this coverage. You may have included it in your plan without realizing it. If that’s the case, you can now file a claim as you would normally.
In some states, purchasing uninsured driver insurance may be a requirement. That said, even if it isn’t, we recommend that you prepare now by adding an uninsured motorist exception.
Find Out if the Other Vehicle Is Insured
Sometimes, you have an uninsured driver in an insured vehicle. The vehicle has a policy that could payout damages if the driver is responsible. Speak to the other party and ask them if they are borrowing an insured vehicle from somebody else.
If this is the case, then you make your claim like normal. Submit a claim to the offender’s insurance company. The policy owner who allowed the uninsured driver to get behind the wheel may be at fault.
There are some exceptions to this rule. One, an existing policy will not cover a driver who was not given permission to drive the insured vehicle.
Two, excluded drivers have no coverage. An excluded driver is someone that the policyholder has explicitly removed from their policy manifest. For all intents and purposes, they are the same as an uninsured driver.
Use No-Fault Coverage
You may live in a state where the default is no-fault car insurance. This means the fact that the other drivers are uninsured does not matter. You will get coverage for certain losses and medical bills.
Another option to cover medical bills is PIP (personal injury protection) and MedPay. These work well for uninsured cases. You can begin your treatment immediately and make a claim for reimbursement as bills dribble in.
Use Collision Insurance or Health Insurance
You may have a collision insurance policy which covers damages that you caused in an accident. You can use that collision insurance for one with an uninsured driver. It may not cover medical expenses, but it will at least cover damages to the vehicle.
Contact your health insurance provider. There is a chance that you have coverage that applies to this specific type of accident, too. It may not completely cover all of your injuries, but it will soften the financial blow of the event.
Find Out if There Was a Vehicle Defect
There is a slim chance that this is the case, but it’s well worth taking the effort to find out. Vehicle recalls happen all the time due to manufacturing defects. Some defects can cause accidents–or at least make the vehicle dangerous to drive.
Check what model the uninsured driver has. Then look into recall lists to see if it matches. You may be able to claim damages from the company if that is the case–far more than you might get otherwise.
In some rare cases, a mechanic who worked on your vehicle–or the other party’s–may have exacerbated the accident. It’s unlikely that this is the case, but it’s worth a shot to find out.
Take the Uninsured Driver to Court
When push comes to shove, you may need to take legal action. Since you can’t get damages through insurance, you could instead demand them directly from the responsible party.
However, do know that this is the last resort option. Pursuing legal action may take weeks or months, with no guarantee that you will win your case.
Further, there is the risk that the other driver cannot afford to pay the damages. The court cannot take milk from a dry cow. An uninsured driver with insufficient funds or liquid assets will have nothing to provide to collections.
Before you file suit, hiring a lawyer will help you to discuss your options.
Get Legal Assistance with Cook & Tolley
An uninsured driver can make a headache of a car accident into a nightmare. Fortunately, you may have some options at your disposal such as uninsured motorist coverage. If not, you may be able to file suit, resort to no-fault coverage, or make a vehicle defect claim.
Cook & Tolley are the experts you call after any accident–uninsured driver or not. Visit us and get your free consultation today.
Cook & Tolley, LLP
304 E Washington
St Athens, GA 30601