However, there are still motorists on the road who are either under-insured and thus covered inadequately for claims made against them in case of an accident or are uninsured and not covered at all. In many states, the percentage of uninsured motorists is actually rising. A whopping 25% of drivers in California, for example, are estimated to be uninsured. In fact, local personal injury lawyers in larger cities like San Francisco have attested to the fact that an increasing rate of deaths and injuries are due to traffic collisions.
Regardless of where you live, an uninsured driver has to pay for any settlements or awards resulting from claims made against them for an accident they have caused from their personal assets, since they do not have an auto insurance company that can handle their defense or cover the costs. However, an uninsured driver usually has minimal assets and a low net worth, making recovery of any settlement or award difficult. Uninsured drivers are also more likely to flee the scene, leaving no way to make claims against the at-fault, uninsured driver.
If your policy includes an uninsured driver bodily injury rider, it provides coverage for any injuries suffered as a result of an accident caused by an uninsured motorist. It covers you as a driver, passengers, pedestrian, cyclist, and any authorized driver. Such coverage will compensate you for any loss of income/ wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, future earning capacity loss and emotional distress, though it does not provide coverage for any car damage.
What to do at the scene
As stressful as accidents can be, it’s important to think quickly. Whether the car that hit you is insured or not, the first step after an accident is to gather as much information as possible. Get the other party’s name, address, and phone number if possible. Get the information of any witnesses, police, and other emergency personnel that arrive at the scene.
If possible, take pictures of the damage. Don’t forget to document damages not only on the car, but also any visible bumps and bruises on yourself or your passengers.
Of course, you will want to contact your own insurance company right away and let them know what’s going on. You’ll also need to request a copy of the police report, as well as any medical bills such as ambulance ride and Emergency Room receipts.
Uninsured motorist claim
To make an uninsured motorist claim, the at-fault driver should either not be covered by an insurance policy or can’t be identified. Most cyclists and pedestrians involved in car accidents, especially in metropolitan areas, will usually result in uninsured motorist claims. Claims against an uninsured driver will usually be made against the policy of the person who was injured and sometimes against the policy held by a member of the household or family. This means that one is suing their own auto-insurance company for any claims that cannot be recovered from an under-insured on uninsured driver — and despite the fact that one is dealing with their own insurance provider, challenges may crop up such as your insurance provider challenging the validity of the personal injuries claim being made.
Filing for a personal injury claim is a daunting task given the conflict of interest that arises from the situation for both the person making the claim and their insurance provider. An insurance company is motivated to protect itself from fraud and reduce its expenses, making filing a personal injury claim against an entity with substantial resources and experience even more challenging for an individual. It is therefore prudent for one to get legal representation and advice when filing an uninsured driver claim against your insurance provider from a personal injury lawyer or legal firm well conversant with uninsured driver claims.
The legal counsel should be able to determine whether there is a case for under-insured or uncovered motorist claims and provide advice on the best way forward. This will usually involve collecting evidence such as medical records, witnesses’ reports, and other information that will be useful in supporting the claim. Before an uncovered insurance claim can be made, various activities and procedures must be carried out such as reporting the claim, filing of various written notices, contesting of various insurance policy issues, etc. All this can be overwhelming without legal representation to speed up the process and to handle the various matters that need to be taken care of so as to result in a successful end to the uninsured motorist claims one has made or intends to.
It’s difficult to plan ahead for an accident (that’s why they’re called “accidents”), but it’s always helpful to speak to your own insurance agent occasionally to discuss your policy coverages and ensure you have proper insurance for your needs. Understanding your policy can help you better know what to expect from your insurance company when you need them.
Gina Coleman is a freelance writer who enjoys the challenge of contributing unique content across the web. She writes on a variety of subjects from marketing to technology. When not in front of the computer doing research, you can find her curled up with a good book.