Getting involved in a car accident can be a stressful time. When the other driver does not have insurance, it can lead to even more headaches. Today, almost all the states require their drivers to carry liability insurance. In the case of an accident, the driver is responsible for the associated costs related to the crash.
What happens when another driver does not carry the required insurance? Unfortunately, many drivers hit the road without insurance. That can mean a prolonged legal fight for you. Here are a few things that can happen when involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Many States Require Drivers Insurance
As previously mentioned, almost all the states in the U.S. require drivers to have insurance. Not only do they need insurance, but the policy must meet a certain minimum. For example, in Texas, mandatory liability insurance coverage includes:
- $30,000 bodily injury liability for an individual’s injuries.
- $60,000 for all parties injured in the accident.
- $25,000 property damage liability for all property damages, including the vehicle.
With this coverage, the injured party can pay for their medical bills and repair their vehicle. In Texas, this is known as “30/60/25” liability coverage. Other states have similar policies in place to help those recover damages from the accident.
Driving Without Car Insurance Penalties
Despite the severe penalties for driving without insurance, some drivers take that risk when they hit the road. With a first offense, the driver usually has to pay a monetary fine. A second offense can lead to a higher penalty. After that, the motorist could lose their license and have the vehicle impounded.
If the license needs to be reinstated, it will require more fines for the driver. In most cases, driving without insurance takes time to resolve, and the driver must have proof of insurance to get back on the road. Along with that, car insurance companies will consider the driver a bigger risk on the street, charging higher rates and premiums.
If the license was revoked or suspended, the driver must fill out a unique insurance form in most states. In Texas, that form is known as the SR-22 Insurance Certificate. This certification proves that the driver has valid insurance, and it must remain in place for two years. These insurance certifications are not cheap, ranging from $800 to $3,000 per year.
Taking a Risk To Drive Without Car Insurance
With so much on the line, why do drivers get behind the wheel without the proper insurance? In many cases, some think that driver’s insurance is too expensive to purchase. With a tough economy, more people drive without the appropriate insurance.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners estimates that the average auto insurance payment is $1,099 per year. When a driver must choose between a home payment or insurance, the car insurance payment goes by the wayside.
In addition to that, many drivers don’t believe that they will be involved in an accident. Why pay for something that you may never need? However, that is a risky bet, and even the safest drivers can be involved in an accident. If they have an accident, it can be a costly lesson to learn.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When it comes time to purchase your driver’s insurance, you have the option to add uninsured motorist coverage. Since uninsured drivers are becoming a bigger problem on the road, you should carry this type of insurance. In the state of Texas, this coverage is optional, but it can financially protect you. With this insurance coverage, you can get your vehicle repaired and pay for any medical bills resulting from the accident.
There are not many states that require uninsured motorist coverage. However, all states will offer it as an option for the policy package. You cannot always predict the future. When it comes time to drive on the road, anything can happen. You will want to make a wise choice and get this insurance. With that, if an uninsured driver causes an accident, you can fix your vehicle and pay your medical bills without causing financial stress to you.
How much-uninsured motorist coverage can you purchase? For many states, you can carry the same amount of coverage as your liability coverage. There are two types of policies: uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist property damage coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury
With this coverage, the policy covers all the medical bills that are the direct cause of the accident. In many cases, the passengers of your vehicle are covered as well.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage
If your vehicle needs repairs after the accident with the uninsured driver, this policy will pick up the costs, including car rentals and other related expenses.
Under most circumstances, when a driver is the cause of an accident, they must pay for the injured parties’ medical bills and vehicle repair costs. When the driver has no insurance, you could be on the hook for all expenses. With uninsured motorist coverage, there is no need to worry about these financial responsibilities. These policies take that burden off of your shoulders.
After an Accident
Even with your uninsured motorist coverage, there are a few steps that you must take after an accident. If you don’t follow these protocols, you could lose valuable reimbursements for your damages and medical costs. These steps include the following:
Contact the Police
It doesn’t matter if it is a fender bender or a significant collision; you should always call the police. When the police come to the scene, they will document and gather all of the vital information. Plus, if the driver is uninsured, the police report will make it easier for you to collect on the insurance and get those expenses paid.
Never Accept Money
Unfortunately, when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, they could try to bribe you with money so that you don’t call the police. The driver already knows that they will be in trouble for driving without insurance. It may be tempting to take some cash for your situation, but damages are not visible in many cases. Your vehicle may look drivable, but there could be alignment issues and other problems lurking under the surface. Whatever you do, make sure to refrain from accepting money at the scene of an accident.
If you are not injured, you should take some time to gather the uninsured driver’s information. Don’t forget to get the personal information of any witnesses as well. Along with that, jot down the other driver’s vehicle details, including the license plate number and a brief description of the damage.
Details, Details, Details
The more details that you write down, the better for your claim or case. Take a few minutes to write down the make and model of the other driver’s vehicle. You also want a detailed description of the location and time of the accident. After you have talked to the police, make sure to note the officer’s name and badge number. These little details might not mean much, but it is better to write them down in case you need to remember them at a later date.
Take Pictures of the Scene
Finally, you want to take a picture of all the vehicles involved in the accident. Make sure to take a picture of the road and note the weather. Once again, you want to document all of those details to help your insurance company proceed with your claim.
Filing a Claim
When the at-fault driver is uninsured, you will have to file a claim with your insurance company. Before you start this process, you will need the following details for your claim.
Date, time, and location of the accident
Pictures to help you describe the accident
The at-fault driver’s insurance information, including license plate number and personal information
The police report number, police department name, and officer’s name and badge number
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In some cases, the driver has insurance, but they don’t have enough coverage to pay for your vehicle repairs and medical costs. With this situation, you might have to file a lawsuit against the underinsured driver. However, a lawsuit is not always guaranteed to get those mounting bills paid by the responsible party.
Many insurance companies have something called underinsured motorist coverage. Like uninsured motorist coverage, this policy is one that you should consider. When an at-fault driver hits your vehicle, the individual’s bodily injury liability might cover only a certain amount of costs. If your bills are higher than that amount, you can file a claim to collect on the underinsured motorist coverage with your insurance company.
When you travel on the road, it is essential to have both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. While you may never need these policies, they can help you avoid any potential financial burdens if involved in an accident.
Hire an Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident, you should consider hiring an attorney. Many uninsured drivers will try to find ways to get around their financial responsibilities. In some situations, they could try to hide assets from being collected to pay off your bills.
On the other hand, those at-fault drivers often will say they don’t have insurance. These individuals have driver’s insurance, but they don’t want the accident reported to their insurance company. An experienced attorney can help to wade through all of this information to get to the facts.
Do you need an attorney if you have uninsured motorist coverage? In many cases, the answer is yes. While the driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for your medical bills and vehicle repair costs, there are times when your own insurance company will try to fight you on those costs. A lawyer can make sure that you get all of your entitled payments.
Unfortunately, you will have to go to court when you are hit by an uninsured driver and don’t have uninsured motorist insurance. You will have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver. However, make sure that you file on time. Most states require you to file within two years from the accident. A lawsuit can help you hold the driver responsible for their negligent actions. Once those facts are proven in court, you would be entitled to certain damages, such as:
When you are involved in a car accident, you could experience some financial losses. These damages are known as economic damages, and they include:
- Hospital bills
- Lost wages
- Property losses
- Medical treatments
In many situations, you can easily prove these costs to the courts.
Some damages do not have a financial burden, but they still cause you emotional or physical harm. Courts will collect those damages as the result of you being inconvenienced by accident. These damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
These types of damages are not always awarded. However, if the other driver’s actions were egregious, then the victim could recover punitive damages.
Collecting the Award
While the courts could award a settlement for your financial and emotional damages, it doesn’t always mean that you will have that money. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have the finances to pay for insurance, there are chances that the person doesn’t have the assets to pay a judgment.
The court could place a lien on the individual’s home. When that person sells the property, then you would receive a part of the money. However, if the uninsured driver does not own a home or have financial assets, you may not be able to collect on your settlement.
The best way to protect yourself is to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. You should always ask your insurance company about the types of policies to protect your financial health. These insurance policies could be the only sure-fire way to protect yourself from those uninsured drivers.