Though minimum car insurance is required by nearly every state in the union, some drivers still neglect to secure a policy. What happens if an uninsured motorist causes an accident, and the victim is injured?
Typically, the victim’s own insurance policy will cover some damages from an accident with an uninsured motorist. Victims also have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver, but that can be a more difficult prospect, since it may be challenging to actually recover money from such an individual, since they may have little to no asset to recover from at all, if they had assets they likely would have insured their car to avoid such a scenario.
If you were in an accident with an uninsured motorist and are not sure what to do next, contact the personal injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana for help. We understand auto insurance laws and how to recover under your uninsured motorist policy for you. Unfortunately for victims, once they have to make a claim under an underinsured motorist policy, they have to build a claim just like it was the other driver’s insurance policy. That is where we can help.
Option 1: Sue the Uninsured Driver
Should you file a lawsuit against an uninsured driver? You are within your rights to do so. Individuals without auto insurance are likely to have little money to cover damages, however. You may have a strong case against them. The police report may state that the other driver was at fault in the accident. You may even be awarded damages, but actually collecting them could be difficult.
You can always return to court should the defendant fail to pay a judgment, and the court may set up a payment plan, but the amount of funds you receive per month are likely to be unsatisfying. Check with your lawyer—you can decide together if this avenue is worth pursuing. Note that your lawyer should be checking if the driver was covered under any policy and takes some actual investigating.
Option 2: File an Uninsured Driver Claim
Your second option, and usually the most successful, is to file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. Most states require that insurance companies offer at least basic uninsured motorist coverage. This process is much like filing a regular accident insurance claim.
If you choose to pursue an uninsured motorist claim, it’s important that you move quickly. We often pursue this as a back up for our clients. Most insurance companies have a deadline of about 30 days for an uninsured motorist claim. Here, it helps to work with an attorney who is familiar with these types of claims, to make sure that all the proper documentation is submitted—including medical records, police reports, witness statements, etc.—to put your claim in the best possible standing. He or she will also be familiar with state laws that could affect your claim.
Your insurance company will typically cover the following types of losses:
- Medical bills, including hospital, dental, x-rays, ambulance, and prescriptions
- Disfigurement, pain, and suffering
- Loss of wages, earnings, and income
- Loss of future earnings and earning capacity
- Funeral expenses
The policy may not cover damage to your car, however, or to property, or for towing or car rental. For these losses, you may need to turn to collision coverage or reimbursement coverage.
Your Uninsured Motorist Lawyer Can Help
If, after processing the claim, your insurance company offers less than you required to cover medical expenses and other losses, you may need to submit your claim to “binding arbitration.” This is a court alternative process that settles disputes between consumers and businesses. You (and your attorney) will again present the facts of your case to the arbitrator(s), and their decision is, in most cases, final.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury or even death because of an accident with an uninsured motorist, the personal injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana can help you recover the damages you’re entitled to recover for which may include lost wages, past and future medical expenses and pain and suffering. We can help you file an uninsured motorist claim in a timely manner, and put together all the additional documentation you need to create a strong case. For more information, contact us today.
We represent individuals nationally and in the Ohio Valley in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.