When you're hit by an uninsured driver, it disrupts your entire life. Who will be responsible for paying the damage caused to your vehicle along with your medical bills? Auto insurance companies offer underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage on their policies, but you may not carry it. Even if you do, the process of filing an uninsured motorist claim is different from filing a regular claim. Being hit by an uninsured motorist is a stressful situation that often requires the aid of an experienced car accident attorney. To help you receive all of the money you're entitled to from your insurance company or the other driver, here's what you should do after you're in a car accident with an uninsured driver.
What to Do After the Accident
The very first thing you should do after the accident is to write down the other driver's license plate number. Uninsured motorists may not want to wait around for emergency services to arrive, as driving while uninsured can result in their license being suspended and monetary penalties if they're caught. In some cases, the vehicle may be insured even though the driver is not — writing down the vehicle's license plate number helps identify it later.
Exchange contact information with the other driver and call emergency services and report it — you'll need to file a police report. Explain in detail how the accident occurred, as this will help in determining fault when you file a claim or legal action.
What to Do if You Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you carry underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy, speak to a car accident attorney before you file your claim. The dynamic of filing an uninsured motorist claim is different from filing a claim in which the other driver has adequate insurance. If the other driver was insured, your insurance company would represent your interests and attempt to recover as much money as possible from the other driver's insurance company. When you file an uninsured motorist claim, this isn't the case — your insurance company will try to limit the amount of money you receive from your claim in order to protect their own finances.
Since you'll be up against your own insurance company when you file an uninsured motorist claim, it's important to contact a car accident attorney beforehand so that you don't have to navigate filing the claim on your own. An attorney will represent your interests in the claim and help you receive all of the money that you are entitled to from your uninsured motorist coverage.
What to Do if You Aren't Covered by Your Insurance Policy
If you don't carry underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy, you still have some options available to you. You can file a lawsuit against the other driver in order to receive compensation for the damage done to your vehicle and your medical bills.
However, this approach is typically rare — many uninsured drivers are not carrying insurance because they are in dire financial straits. Even if you take the other driver to court and win the case, you may be unable to recover any money from the other driver. However, it's still important to speak to a car accident attorney and discuss this option. You may be able to obtain some compensation by seizing the other driver's assets or through wage garnishment.
While being in an accident with an uninsured motorist can be stressful and leave your financial future in the air, a car accident attorney can help you navigate the process of filing a claim or filing a lawsuit against the other driver. In some cases, your city or state may have resources available for those who were injured by an uninsured motorist — your attorney can inform you if any apply to your situation.