All traffic accidents come as a shock. In most minor to moderate accidents, however, you have a routine to follow in the aftermath of the collision. You ensure your immediate safety, contact law enforcement, and exchange personal information.
However, when you’re hit by an uninsured driver, you may feel uncertain, helpless, and anxious for what the situation means for your finances and future. Understanding the process for seeking a settlement in an uninsured motorist claim can help you make decisions confidently in this crisis.
Uninsured Motorist Claims and the Other Driver
A driver may not have insurance for many reasons — but in most cases, the reason an individual drives without the mandated coverage is an inability to afford the premium. Unfortunately, this situation means that the majority of uninsured drivers cannot cover the costs related to an accident.
If the driver is found at fault for the accident, then he or she will likely face legal consequences. Common repercussions of hitting another car while uninsured include fines, license suspension, and potential criminal charges depending on the extent of the injuries and property damage involved. You can decide to press charges against this driver.
However, many legal representatives don’t recommend bringing a lawsuit against the uninsured driver in an attempt to collect a settlement. Even if a judge awards you with a settlement, you may not have a good way to collect and the other driver may file for bankruptcy if he or she cannot pay.
In most uninsured motorist claims, your settlement will actually involve your own insurance company more than the other involved party.
Uninsured Motorist Claims and Your Insurance
Auto insurance providers offer supplemental insurance intended to cover uninsured motorist claims. You must opt into and pay for these policies in addition to your basic auto insurance policy.
When you have uninsured motorist insurance, your insurance company serves as a proxy for the uninsured driver when you submit your claim. The rest of the claim is handled in the same way as any other auto insurance claim.
In some states, you may have the option of purchasing other supplemental policies that can assist with the costs involved with uninsured motorist claims, such as underinsured motorist, collision, and personal injury protection (PIP) policies.
Unfortunately, if you don’t already have one of these policies in place, the coverage will not apply to your recent accident. Additionally, many drivers find that even uninsured motorist claims fail to cover the full cost of lost income, vehicle repairs, and medical bills incurred in an accident.
Because these factors make submitting an uninsured motorist claim complicated, many individuals do not receive a prompt or fair settlement from their insurance companies.
Uninsured Motorist Claims and Personal Injury Law
While suing an uninsured motorist is rarely recommended, you do have options for legal recourse when you’re seeking a settlement after being hit by a driver with no insurance. A car accident attorney who works in this practice area can provide you with guidance so you can receive the settlement you need.
In this situation, your attorney can:
- Determine how the legal fault of the accident may affect your claim or settlement amount
- File necessary paperwork
- Collect crucial evidentiary documents, such as medical records and images
- Determine how much your claim should be — according to the severity and longevity of your injuries, cost of property damage, and impact on your daily life
- Serve as an intermediary when communicating with your insurance company
You can choose to work with an experienced attorney as soon as you realize you need to file an uninsured motorist insurance claim. In fact, most legal experts recommend scheduling your first consultation as early in the process as possible.
An attorney can ensure that you don’t end up with the minimum settlement from your insurance company. Many drivers assume that an insurance company will always offer a fair settlement, but this approach can result in a settlement that doesn’t cover the damages of the accident.
If you have received a claim denial, then it’s not too late to seek legal help. In this situation, your attorney can represent you and your claim to help you obtain a settlement.
Uninsured motorist accidents are some of the most complex traffic incidents that can occur. If you find yourself in this situation, then you may not be able to rely on the other driver or your insurance company to help you recover.
Whether you feel sure that your claim qualifies as a personal injury case or you simply feel you need help working with your insurance company to secure a fair settlement, consult with an experienced car accident attorney.
For expert legal guidance throughout the process, trust the team at Shay & Associates. Give us a call today to set up a consultation. We look forward to working with you.