The accident was traumatic enough. Now the other driver confesses that he has no insurance!
Car insurance is mandatory for vehicles operating in most states, but many drivers operate without insurance, because they cannot afford it. Of course,there are also those who think that mandatory laws are for other people.
You may wish to file a lawsuit at this juncture, but filing will depend upon whether you live in a no-fault or negligence state. A no-fault state pretty much cuts out the option of a lawsuit, because each driver in the state is expected to provide for his own damages or injuries, without consideration of fault. Suing is typically not on the table unless serious medical bills pile up over a certain amount. Uninsured Motor Insurance, or UMI, is an additional coverage that you can purchase to protect yourself against financial losses from an uninsured driver in these states.
If you reside in a traditional negligence state, you are allowed to file a lawsuit against the other driver to collect damages. A prospective lawyer for the case will need to run a credit check on the driver, to see what assets he may possess. The problem lies with the fact that the other driver had no insurance in the first place. If he cannot make an insurance payment, it is likely that, even with a judgement against him, he will not be able to pay you.
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, contact the police immediately. Driving without insurance is a crime. Unfortunately, an uninsured motorist is well-aware of this caveat, and wants no part of having his car impounded and possible jail time. Therefore, your uninsured motorist may vanish immediately. If possible, get a picture of the license plate before the person disappears. Names and addresses are necessary, but do not count on them being accurate. If possible, take a photograph of the accident scene. Most importantly, call for emergency transport if you are hurt. Remember that bodily injury symptoms may not manifest themselves for days or weeks after a vehicular accident.
It’s also important to keep a record of all expenses for evidence, just as if the person had insurance. You will need to record:
- Medical bills and records of treatment
- Receipts for all expenses
- Income lost from injury and hardship
- A calculation of pain and suffering for monetary reimbursement
If you have suffered serious or permanent injuries from the accident, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer at once. A claim may need to be made against your insurance coverage to pay for your damages. If the insurance company refuses, a demand for arbitration is the next step. Arbitrators are usually attorneys and the arbitration will occur in the attorney’s office, not in a courtroom. A note to remember is that sought-after uninsured benefits cannot exceed the coverage you carry against accident. If you carry $100,000 worth of insurance, than you can only receive that amount through arbitration.
People who have been damaged by an uninsured driver often fear that, if they bring a claim against their own insurance company, their rates will become unaffordable. Some states prohibit this action, especially when you are deemed not at fault.
Certain states, like Massachusetts, will raise rates only if you are proved 50 percent at fault, damages exceeded $2000 and personal injury was caused. Most states that do not have these stipulations, like California, require that an insurance company justify raising your rate.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will make sure that the insurance company negotiates your claim in good faith.
The Lamber Goodnow personal injury law team, together with our partner firms in Chicago are experienced in these type of matters. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers never charge a fee, unless we win your case. Get a risk free consultation today.