Can I Get Compensation if I’ve Been in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver?
Despite the stress and damage after a motor vehicle accident, it’s typically a relief to find that either your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company will pay for your injuries and any damages done to your car.
So what happens when the other driver is uninsured? You may assume this means you won’t receive any financial compensation, but don’t worry–– you still have an acceptable claim with your insurance company if you have Uninsured Motorist coverage! Let’s go over some basics of what to do when the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance after a car accident.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you’re involved in an automobile accident with an uninsured driver, it will be up to your insurance company to cover the cost of damages. This is typically done through the Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) add-on protection service. Some states consider UIM coverage optional, while others, such as South Carolina, require it. In South Carolina, UIM must cover $25,000 of bodily injury per person (or $50,000 per accident) and $25,000 of property damage per accident (subject to a $200 deductible). While it is legally required for drivers of registered vehicles to carry car insurance, unfortunately, many drivers still do not. It is in your best interest to ensure you have enough UIM coverage to counteract whatever damages the uninsured party cannot pay.
It’s also worth noting that you may need to purchase separate add-on coverage for car damage (referred to as the Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage), as UIM coverage typically does not cover the costs of vehicle repairs. Furthermore, a separate policy called the Underinsured Motorist Coverage policy will cover any additional expenses that the at-fault party’s insurance cannot cover, such as medical care. Most of these policies have a limited amount of time to file an insurance claim (usually within 30 days), so it’s critical to speak with your insurance company as soon as you can.
How Collision Coverage Can Help You
Collision coverage provides an excellent method of covering the costs of car repairs due to an accident or collision. While it will not reimburse you for injuries, it will pay for the price of repairs (up to the amount of your policy’s limit) when you’ve been in a collision, even if you were at fault or the other motorist is uninsured/flees the scene.
If a Car is Insured, But the Driver Isn’t, What Happens After an Accident?
So long as a driver is operating a registered and insured vehicle, the car’s policy will apply to your accident. This rule does not apply only if the driver has been excluded from the policy or if the policyholder has not given the driver permission to operate their vehicle. If a car is insured, it typically means that the driver is also insured.
Can You Sue an Uninsured Driver?
You can file a lawsuit against an uninsured driver. However, if someone is uninsured, it’s usually because they are unable to afford the cost of insurance. So even if you do win a lawsuit against them in court, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to pay for the cost of damages, making it extremely difficult to enforce the final judgment. Because of the difficulty of enforcing judgment on uninsured drivers, most insurance companies won’t waste their time pursuing cases against them unless they have enough significant assets to go after.
What if I Get a Lawyer to Pursue a Case Against an Uninsured Driver?
While a lawyer can certainly help you to win a court case, hiring one will not solve the problem of the defendant’s inability to repay the damages. It’s the age-old paradox of a tree falling in the forest–– if you win a court case against a defendant without any assets, did you really win anything at all? Unless there are viable benefits to winning your case through other assets, such as health insurance, it may not be in your best interest to pursue a case against an uninsured party. However, seeking legal counsel is always a good idea, as an experienced lawyer can guide you diligently through the entire process.
The best financial protection in a car accident is investing in a decent insurance plan that protects you against the risks of uninsured drivers. This can be acquired by purchasing UIM coverage. UIM coverage is not required in every state. However, it is required in South Carolina. Other add-on policies, such as collision coverage, can further protect you against the costs of car repairs caused by uninsured parties. Because most people who do not have car insurance tend to have fewer financial assets, going to court over damages is typically not advantageous. Even if you win your case, it can be difficult to enforce payment collection.