I was in a 3 car accident but the first driver has no insurance?

by Ricky

I was in a 3 car accident. I was the 3rd car. The first car slid out through a stop sign and hit the 2nd car from behind, and that person veered into my lane and hit me head on. The first person that caused the accident does not have a drivers license and has no insurance.

Do I have to go after the guy with no insurance, or the car that hit me? If the first driver was the only one at fault, and he has no insurance, does that mean I'm out of luck? Thanks for any info on how this works.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "I was in a 3 car accident but the first driver has no insurance?":

Ricky (Wisconsin):

Before moving ahead, seek medical treatment. Your health comes before any type of property damage or personal injury claim.

If you have uninsured motorist insurance you can rely on that coverage to pay for your car repairs and/or medical treatment. Otherwise, you really don't have to "go after" anyone. This should be a simple matter of identifying the negligent parties and moving on from there.

In the first instance, the driver who caused the crash had no driver’s license and no insurance. This doesn't mean you can't pursue him for compensation for your damages. The driver is personally liable for the damage he caused, whether it was the damage to your car, or for any injuries you may have sustained.

If he had no insurance it's fair to presume he likely has little or no assets. Regardless, you have every right to send him a letter asking him to pay for your car repair bills and/or your medical bills.

If he fails to compensate you for your losses, and your total repair costs, medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages amount to $5,000 or less, you can sue the driver in small claims court. You will not need an attorney to do so.

For access to the forms and information you will need, and the procedure to follow in Wisconsin Small Claims Courts go to Wisconsin Court System (Small Claims) website.

Be sure to contact the local police department or State Highway Patrol to access a copy of the police report. The report will include pertinent information for all drivers including full names and addresses, insurance company policy numbers and contact information, a diagram of the accident scene, witnesses’ names and contact information, and more.

The police report will also include a notation of any traffic citations issued by the investigating police officer.

Next, contact the second driver's insurance company. Tell the company you wish to file a property damage and/or a personal injury claim against their insured. The company will take the information and either refer you to a claims adjuster or tell you a claims adjuster will call you back.

Once you speak with the claims adjuster, let the adjuster know you have sustained property damage and/or personal injuries. If so, tell the adjuster you want to be compensated for your damages. You will be issued a Claim Number. Keep that handy as you will need it when corresponding with the insurance company.

The claims adjuster will likely tell you to turn to the first driver for compensation. You don't have to accept that. If the insurance company denies coverage, you can tell the adjuster you will be filing a small claims lawsuit. That may help to get the adjuster to settle. If not, you can go ahead with the lawsuit as long as your damages are $5,000 or less.

The driver’s insurance company may also tell you they are only accepting partial responsibility for the accident, blaming most of the crash on the first driver. Because the State of Wisconsin follows the "Modified Comparative Negligence Rule," that may be true.

Under Wisconsin’s Modified Comparative Negligence Statute, responsibility in a car accident can be apportioned according to percentage of negligence of all drivers. Under the statute, as long as the claimant (you) is determined to be less than 51% negligent, you can recover damages according to your percentage of negligence. From the facts you present, you were not negligent in any amount.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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