No matter how careful we are behind the wheel, we can’t control the actions of everyone around us, and accidents will inevitably happen. That’s why most drivers have car insurance. Carrying insurance protects you in the event of an accident.
But what happens when you’re involved in a car accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, or their policy doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for all of your losses? Medical bills can pile up quickly after an accident, and you may be unable to earn an income for a long time due to crash-related disabilities. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you could end up facing a significant financial loss.
Fortunately, there may be other options to get you the money you need after a crash. If your own auto policy includes uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, you may be able to seek compensation from your carrier. However, even when dealing with your insurance company, don’t expect the insurer to pay you the full amount you deserve without a fight.
The Alabama car accident lawyers at Stokes Stemle have spent many years fighting on behalf of car accident victims, and we want to bring that experience to your case. For your free case evaluation, call us today or visit our contact page. Read on to learn what you can do if you were in a car accident without insurance.
What Happens If the At-Fault Party Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?
Any car accident can be an ordeal, but when the other driver does not have insurance, a whole new set of potential problems arises. If you’re involved in an accident and the other driver does not have insurance, your options, and next steps will depend on who was at fault for the crash.
If They Were At Fault:
- While it’s always a good idea to call law enforcement after an accident- it’s especially important to do so if the other driver does not have insurance. The other driver may try to flee the scene out of fear or guilt. Even if the driver does the right thing and stays at the scene, the accident report will be an essential piece of evidence in most car accident claims. The accident report will lay out the basics of the crash, and the investigating may officer may cite a driver for their role in causing the crash.
- If the other driver offers you money for your injuries, don’t accept it. Even if your injuries don’t seem that bad at the time, they may get worse over time. Accepting any money from the other driver after the crash may jeopardize any future claim you make if your injuries turn out to be worse than you initially thought.
- Get whatever information you can from the driver. That includes their name, phone number, email address, physical address, the make and model of their car, and its license plate number. If there are any witnesses nearby who saw the crash, get their contact information as well.
- Take pictures of the crash. Be sure to include photos of the damage to any vehicles involved in the crash. You’ll also want pictures of any traffic signs or signals in the area, the general flow of traffic, any obvious hazards that might have led to the accident, and so on.
- Alabama law allows accident victims to sue the person who caused the crash for damages. If the driver does not have insurance, they are still personally liable for any injuries that they caused. While you would normally file a claim for damages after an accident with the other driver’s insurer, in this case, you will be bringing a claim against the other driver directly. Alabama allows car accident victims to claim damage for their medical bills, damaged property, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, reduced ability to earn a living, and more. If your claim against the other driver is successful, they will be responsible for paying any damages from whatever assets they have.
- If the other driver’s assets are not enough to cover your injuries – and most people are, in fact, judgment-proof because of this – you may be able to file a claim with your own insurer under your policy’s uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
If The Other Driver is Not at Fault:
- If you were at fault for an accident and the other driver is uninsured, your liability insurance should pay for any damages that you may have caused the other driver.
- The other driver may face minor penalties for not carrying insurance, but if they file a claim for damages, you and your insurer will be responsible for paying the value of their claim.
What Happens When the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance?
Sometimes the at-fault driver in a car accident has insurance, but the liability limits on their policy isn’t enough to cover the full extent of your losses.
In Alabama, drivers are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person in bodily injury coverage, $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries, and $25,000 for any property damage. That sounds like a lot of money, but a major car accident can easily cost more than that, especially if you are hospitalized, forced to undergo ongoing treatment for your injuries, and miss significant time from work.
If you’re involved in an accident with an underinsured driver, your options are similar to those when the driver has no insurance at all. Once you’ve exhausted the value of the other driver’s insurance policy, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and try to claim additional compensation from their assets. However, most motorists lack sufficient assets and are considered judgment-proof.
In most cases, the better option is to file a claim with your own insurer under your underinsured motorist coverage, if your policy includes it.
The Basics of Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
There are ways to protect yourself in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Your best option is to carry UM/UIM coverage on your own auto insurance policy.
UM/UIM coverage can pay your medical bills and any property damage you sustained if the other driver does not have sufficient insurance. This way, you’ll have certain losses covered no matter what insurance the other driver has, or even if they have no insurance at all.
Given that the most recent data show 13 percent of Americans don’t have car insurance, these policies make sense to buy.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Was Hit by a Driver Without Insurance?
If you’ve been hit by a driver and they do not have insurance or lack sufficient coverage to pay all of your losses, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Whether you intend to bring a personal injury claim against the other driver or file a claim with your own insurer under your UM/UIM policy, you have a long legal battle ahead of you.
The Alabama car accident attorneys at Stokes Stemle, LLC, know how frustrating these sorts of claims can be, and we want to help. We have extensive experience handling car accident cases, and we’ll be ready to put all of our skills and resources to work for you.
After your initial consultation, a car accident lawyer will launch an independent investigation into the true cause of the accident. We’ll help you gather the evidence you need to show the other driver was at fault, and we’ll handle all the necessary communication with the other driver. If the driver has insurance, we can handle those negotiations as well. We’ll pursue the full value of your losses, no matter what it takes.
If you decide to file a claim with your own insurance company, we can help with that as well. Insurance companies often require rigorous documentation before awarding any money after a claim is made. We can make sure they get what they need in a timely fashion. If the insurer balks at paying you what you deserve under your policy, we will be prepared to stand up for your rights and seek a full and fair payout.
The sooner you call us, the sooner we can help you. We work on a contingency-fee-basis for personal injury cases, so you don’t owe us any money until we help you collect the compensation you deserve. Get your free initial consultation today by calling us or visiting our contact page.