Despite the fact that most states require motorists to have insurance on their cars (in fact, this goes for all states except for New Hampshire), there are still many uninsured drivers on the road. In fact, according to a research study from the Insurance Research Council, approximately 1 in 7 drivers are driving without even so much as basic coverage. The research study also suggested that over the last few years, the uninsured motorist rate has increased because of the struggling economy. Many are trying to test the law more to avoid monthly premiums because of tough economic times. However, those who are properly insured may experience serious consequences because of this increase in uninsured and uninsured drivers.
Having to go through court
Getting into an accident with an uninsured driver may be particularly problematic. In fact, if the uninsured driver is at fault and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you will have to go through court in order to get compensation for your damages. Even if you go through court, have a lawyer represent you, and win a claim, the uninsured driver may not have the funds to cover your expenses.
Unfortunately, uninsured drivers are not the only problem for people when it comes to repairing your car after an accident. Underinsured motorists may cause issue because their minimal bodily injury limits might not be enough to cover all your medical bills.
What happens if I get into an accident with these drivers?
The consequences of being involved in an accident with a driver who is uninsured (assuming they are responsible for the accident) depends on the insurance laws of your state. As far as insurance goes, states define themselves as “tort” or “no fault.”
- Tort states – The car insurance companies are going to pay for damages depending on who is at fault of the accident. If you are involved in an accident with another driver and the accident is deemed entirely their fault, the insurance company for that driver would have to pay all damages. Your damage and their own damage.
- In no-fault states – After the accident, drivers seek payment at their own insurance company. Who is at fault for the accident (typically) does not enter into the equation.
Obviously, an accident with an uninsured driver is far easier to deal with in a no-fault state. If you have insurance, you file a claim and they will take care of your needs. However, many motorists still opt for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in a no-fault state because it provides them with some extra financial protection. For example, health insurance will pay for medical bills after a collision with an uninsured driver, but is not going to pay for pain and suffering compensation or for lost wages.
However, you may have to sue for damages if the crash happens in a tort state. This can be a stressful process for many drivers who have already gone through an accident. Even though your own insurance policy will cover you, it only does so up to your selected limits. If your limits are too low to cover all costs associated with the accident, you will have to decide between litigation or paying out of pocket.
To complicate matters, some states have “contributory negligence” laws. This means that a degree of fault is going to determine the insurance company’s payments. For example, if you are deemed to be at 25 percent fault for the accident, your insurance company is only going to pay 25 percent of the damages.
What happens when you have problems recovering damages?
As previously mentioned, many of these uninsured drivers are not uninsured because they want to disobey the law, but rather because they have little to nothing in the way of personal assets. This might make it extremely difficult to recover adequate compensation for injuries or damages. However, there might be other ways to seek payment:
- Uninsured motorist coverage – as previously mentioned, you have the opportunity to purchase uninsured motorist coverage when you first purchase car insurance. Depending on the laws of your state, law may mandate this coverage. In event that you are ever involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, this will help compensate you for your injuries and damages.
- Other auto insurance coverage – It is possible that an uninsured driver has insurance coverage on another person’s policy. This might be a dependent that lives in the household of an insured driver. Again, insurance regulation, state law, and the terms of the other driver’s insurance policy will determine the coverage. However, it remains an interesting avenue to recover damages if at all possible.
What you can do right now
Unfortunately, for those people who buy insurance, there are many underinsured and uninsured drivers out there. Even if you are a vigilant driver, you cannot always control what happens on the road. The best thing to do right now is to protect yourself from those who are not properly covered by adding to your insurance policy. Especially if you already have car insurance, adding uninsured property damage coverage and uninsured motorist bodily injury limits will not likely cost you too much money. That is something you can do right now.
However, if you have been involved in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver and did not have enough insurance to cover your expenses, it is important to seek fair compensation. You can get fair compensation for your injuries, damages, and lost wages by having someone who will fight on your behalf to get the settlement you deserve.