An accident with an uninsured driver can have catastrophic results, especially if you or your passengers have serious injuries. According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), uninsured motorist bodily injury claims are rising steadily. The IRC now estimates one out of every six drivers on the road today is uninsured.
In April 2012, the IRC published its demographics for uninsured motorists. They showed who is most likely to drive uninsured.
- 62 percent are men
- 45 percent are of high school age or younger
- 22 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24
- 35 percent are Hispanic or Black
- 48 percent rent their homes or apartments
- 32 percent have an income of less than $20,000 annually
The most frequently cited reasons for not carrying insurance were:
- The motorist’s vehicle wasn’t in operating condition
- The motorist’s vehicle was in running condition but was not being driven
- The motorist couldn’t afford the cost of insurance
- The monthly or quarterly premiums were too high
What happens when an uninsured driver causes an accident?
If an uninsured motorist injures you or you were the victim of a “hit and run,” someone will have to pay for your losses and those of your passengers. Unless you purchased uninsured motorist (UIM) bodily injury insurance, you may face a dilemma. If you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, it will normally pay for up to 80 percent of your medical bills.
PIP limits are usually low and may not cover enough of your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Uninsured motorist coverage will do that and more.
Carrying uninsured motorist coverage is an excellent way to supplement PIP. Depending on the limits you purchase, you can recover the same amount as if the uninsured driver had insurance. The insurance industry recommends motorists carry UIM coverage for a minimum amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage is similar to other liability insurance. In case of an accident with injuries, uninsured motorist coverage will pick up the bill for your:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering (and emotional distress)
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Funeral expenses
Like other liability policies, the limits may vary from state to state and policy to policy. Some state laws require motorists to purchase UIM liability insurance. Some others, which don’t require motorists to purchase uninsured coverage, instead force those who decline it to do so in writing (often with a form the insurance company provides).
What if you’re the victim of an uninsured motorist?
Call the police immediately. If someone is injured, request an ambulance. If not, ask the police to come to the scene right away. These days, police officers don’t normally go to accident scenes when no one reports injuries and there’s no delay in traffic. That’s not the case when an uninsured motorist causes an accident – driving without insurance is a crime.
The problem is many uninsured motorists don’t hang around very long after an accident. In many states, they know they’re only minutes away from having their cars impounded and the police handcuffing them and taking them to jail. Worse, if the uninsured motorist is not a citizen, he knows he may face a deportation hearing.
Here are some more tips if you’re in an uninsured motorist accident:
- If the accident was a hit and run, do all you can to get a description of the driver, passengers, the license plate number, and an accurate description of the make, model, and year of his car.
- If the motorist stops, make sure to get his name and contact information. Ask the motorist’s passengers for their names and addresses. Write down the car’s license plate number and a description of the car.
- Take photographs of the uninsured motorist’s car, the car’s make and model, and his passengers. Take photographs of the scene, weather conditions, skid marks, damaged poles or guardrails, etc.
- Collect the names and contact information of any witnesses. Ask the police officer for the “service number” for any arrest report he makes along with the separate police report about the accident.
- If you or your passengers are hurt, ask that someone take you to the local emergency room. When it comes to injury accidents, symptoms may not show up for days and sometimes weeks after the accident.
Handling Your Own Bodily Injury Claim
If an uninsured motorist injures you or the accident was a hit and run, you can file your own claim against your insurance company. Unlike personal injury protection insurance where proof of fault isn’t required, if you have uninsured motorist coverage, you have to prove to your insurance company the uninsured driver was at fault.
In UIM insurance claims, your insurance company takes the place, so to speak, of the uninsured driver’s insurance company, if he had one. It sounds a bit convoluted, but it’s really not. Basically, you’re filing your personal injury claim against your own insurance company. The process can sometimes seem adversarial since your insurance company, like all others, doesn’t want to pay any money it doesn’t have to.
It’s important to collect evidence just as if you were going to file a claim against the uninsured driver’s insurance company, if he had one. This will include evidence you gathered at the scene we talked about above. You also need:
- Your medical bills and treatment records
- Receipts for your out-of-pocket expenses
- Verification of your lost income
- An amount you believe covers your pain and suffering
Do you need an attorney?
If you’re confident in your abilities to coordinate the evidence, draft a notification letter, and formalize a demand letter, you may try to negotiate your own settlement. If you need help, you can always see a personal injury attorney. Most won’t charge any fee for an initial office visit. If you’ve suffered serious or permanent injuries, you must speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Your insurance company must negotiate your claim in good faith. If they place unrealistic or unfair barriers in front of you, they’re flirting with bad faith. The law says insurance companies must negotiate the claims of their insured and of third party claimants fairly. Their abuse of good faith insurance laws can make them pay actual damages and punitive damages.
In uninsured motorist bad faith claims, punitive damages can reach thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars more than a claim was initially worth. If you think the insurance company is dealing with you in bad faith, go to an experienced personal injury attorney.
How Much is Your Injury Claim Worth?
Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney…
Visitor Questions on Auto Insurance Explained
Reasonable settlement demand for rear end car accident? On 5/26/2017 I was driving north on Interstate 17. Suddenly the driver in front of me slowed down. As she did, I also slowed from about 60 mph to about 30 mph. Unfortunately, the driver behind me did not slow down. Instead, he crashed into the rear of my car. The force of the crash... Read More >>
Filing a late insurance claim against the person at fault? I was in a car accident where the lady backed out of her driveway and hit my car as I drove past her. She claims that I was speeding in the neighborhood street, but I was clearly not. After talking to my insurance they believed that this was not my fault and told me that... Read More >>
Can insurance deny settlement after insured has passed away? My Mother passed away on May 5, 2016 at age 85 and finally Framer’s Insurance is settling her uninsured motorist claim (she was in an accident prior to her passing). Her attorney sent me the UM/UIM Trust Agreement and Release in Full Statement to sign and send back to him. This is right after he... Read More >>
Highway speed rear end accident by uninsured driver… I was rear ended in Febuary by a reckless/uninsured driver in an old work truck (carpenter by appearance) who had first tried to cut me off, then tried to intimidate me by seeming to try and ram my 2014 Tacoma, twice. He succeeded on the second attempt, and going approximately 60 mph he smacked into... Read More >>
Found out my insurance lapsed after I was in a car accident… I was driving and my car brakes were acting funny. I tried to turn but it was not working, which was when I hit another car. My car was towed as it was severely damaged. I called my insurance to report it and they told me my insurance was cancelled on June 31st. I was... Read More >>
Ex-girlfriend of uninsured motorist getting sued for his accident? My ex-boyfriend was involved in a fatal car accident (he died) and now the other motorist is coming after me for the damages since the car he was driving was uninsured. They are suing me because we used to live in the same house and were on the same car policy at one time (though... Read More >>
At-fault drivers’ insurance limits don’t even cover my lost wages? I was in two auto accidents on 11/04/2015 and 12/09/2015. I was T-boned in the first and Rear-ended in the second. I underwent extensive injection therapy and an eventual Cervical Laminectomy of C5-6. I had lost wages of approximately $13,500/month for approximately 4 months, and after returning to work I’ve been unable to work secondary... Read More >>
How will my uninsured motorist coverage handle a hit and run? I was rear ended by a driver that pushed me into the car in front of me and then took off. My policy had $5000 in medical coverage and uninsured motorist of $25,000, with a bodily injury of $100,000 per person/ $300,000 per occurrence. My car was totaled (hit front and back) and I have... Read More >>
Is this settlement offer for pain and suffering reasonable? Another driver came into my lane without warning and hit my passenger side, which pushed my car into a truck in the oncoming lane, who was stopped to make a turn. The other driver was cited, but carried only $10K in liability (doesn’t cover my car/truck’s damages). I live in Florida, a no fault state,... Read More >>
If the other driver was at fault, do I have to provide my insurance details? I was the victim of an accident on December the 16th where the other driver turned in front of me and both vehicles were totaled. My insurance had lapsed, which the officer informed me of, however I was not issued a ticket. The other driver was found to be 100% at fault, which was verified... Read More >>
Rear ended by an uninsured driver… I was a passenger in my husband’s car and we were rear ended by a car at a red light. The police were called and the other driver was given a ticket and was found at fault. Her car was totaled and towed away. She was uninsured. I was injured with a soft tissue injury... Read More >>
My 21 year old son broke his hand and totaled my car… My 21 year old son borrowed my car yesterday and ran head-on into a concrete barrier. He broke his hand in two places and may possibly need surgery. There were no other cars involved. The guy who ran him off the road either had no clue what happened or didn’t care to stop. The car... Read More >>
Is pain and suffering included as part of UIM / PIP coverage? Me and my husband were rear ended at a red light. The other driver didn’t have insurance, so my uninsured motorist insurance and PIP covered my damages and medical bills. I just got a call from the insurance adjuster who indicated he wanted to close out the claim. My question is, In the past I... Read More >>
Girl with stolen car hit me in a parking lot and took off, but I caught her… I was driving through a parking lot when a girl backed out of a spot and hit me. When I stopped she took off, so I chased her. She finally stopped 1/4 mile down the road. I called the police the girl said she worked for a local Toyota dealer and that the car belonged... Read More >>
Hit and run with no insurance? My car was parked in a parking lot and someone backed into the front end of my car. I do not have insurance on my car and the person who hit it left the scene. Several days later I saw who I thought may have done it. I asked her if she hit my car.... Read More >>
Insurance coverage lapsed and I was in an accident, now what? I accidentally backed into someone at an intersection, because the car that was turning left in front of me hesitated, which caused me to panic and reverse slightly into the car behind me. I was unaware that I was out of insurance coverage at the time. Neither car had damage and it was such a... Read More >>
No insurance coverage for accident in a borrowed car? My friend let me take his car to a doctor appointment. I was in an accident close to the house. They said it was my fault. My friend had an insurance card that had a good date, but he had let his insurance lapse. In reality, he was not covered, nor was I as a... Read More >>
Am I getting the maximum payout from the insurance company? Was in a horrific car accident in April. I was the passenger in the car. I spent several weeks in shock trauma, and have multiple broken bones that were repaired with rods. Both my lungs collapsed, I had a mild TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), lacerations, etc. The driver was only insured for the minimum required... Read More >>
Fiancé was driving my car and got hit from behind by uninsured driver… My fiancé was driving my car with my insurance, which is just liability coverage. He’s not listed as a driver on my policy, but I let him drive because he had to work late. He was on his way home driving down the freeway, when he was struck from behind. The car spun out of... Read More >>
Coverage for uninsured driver hit by drunk driver? I was driving to work and a drunk driver hit me from behind. I was spun out of control and totaled my car. The drunk driver fled the scene, but thankfully was followed by a witness. CHP (California Highway Patrol) was called and they arrested the driver. She was also under the influence of some... Read More >>
Elbow injury from rear end collision… I was rear ended at red light by an uninsured motorist. He was charged with following too closely. He had no insurance and was driving on a suspended license. I have full insurance coverage. I jammed my left elbow in the collision. Therapy has been successful thus far since the accident happened. Now I’m on... Read More >>
Is this a fair settlement for accident with uninsured driver? I was in a car accident and suffered whiplash and headaches after the event. The at-fault driver didn’t have insurance so of course I had to pay my insurance coverage’s $500 dollar deductible just to get my car repaired. All my bills total over $2,000 and my insurance company called me with a settlement of... Read More >>
Uninsured Driver Gets Off Scot Free After Collision? I was in a car accident last week where the guy who hit me had no insurance. My job is currently only giving me roughly 8 to 12 hours a week so money is extremely tight. Prior to the accident I had been hired on at a second job, a candy kiosk at my local... Read More >>
Can I sue someone who has no auto insurance? I was driving a motorcycle and someone made an illegal turn which caused me to crash into the vehicle and get severely injured. The other driver received a ticket for their illegal maneuver. I had no insurance because it isn’t required for motorcycles. I consulted a lawyer who said they couldn’t do anything because the... Read More >>
Hit by Uninsured Driver While Driving a Company Car… I was on the job going from one location to the next, on the clock and driving a company car. I got rear-ended and the car was totaled. I went to the hospital by ambulance and my injuries are still really bad. My business had/has full coverage on all vehicles, but the negligent driver who... Read More >>
Question of Liability in Auto Accident with No Insurance… I took the car my dad just bought me to the store but I had no insurance. While I was heading to the store another driver was getting ready for his light to turn green but he passed the line he was suppose to be waiting at. He was preparing to go north and I... Read More >>
Daughter had Car Accident with My Uninsured Car… We live in North Carolina. My daughter had an accident while there was a short lapse paying my auto insurance premiums. She drove a car that is in my name but was uninsured. I was out of town when it happened. The police officer said she was guilty, even though she said it was raining... Read More >>
Question about an Uninsured Auto Accident Case… I was driving home in the back seat of my brother-in-law’s car at normal speed when two cars racing on the wrong side of the road approached. The 1st skid off the road and as we tried to move away we got hit on left, front side. My husband (aged 27) and son (aged 7)... Read More >>
Rear Ended by Drunk Driver with No Insurance… I was heading to work on the freeway, driving the speed limit and was rear ended by a drunk driver going over 100 mph. He tried to flee the scene and was caught by the police. They deemed my SUV a total loss. I was taken to the hospital at the scene and had a... Read More >>
Am I Liable for Damages if I Let Someone Else Drive My Car? My son’s friend said she had insurance so I let her drive my car. She ended up hitting a police car and totaled my car. She in fact did not have insurance when this happened. Would I be liable for the damage she caused? Is the owner of a car always liable if someone else... Read More >>
Collision with an Uninsured Dirt Bike… While driving through an intersection with a green light, I hit two teenagers on a dirt bike who ran their red light. The dirt bike was uninsured and unregistered, and the driver was not licensed. The two riders on the bike had minor injuries and were treated and released from the emergency room. The police... Read More >>
No insurance information for the at fault driver… My boyfriend’s dad got in a car accident in San Diego. The traffic was stopped while a car just hit him from behind very hard. Due to the hard hit, the dad hit the car in front of him and lost control. My boyfriend’s dad blacked out and was sent to the hospital. He also... Read More >>