Being involved in a car accident can be stressful enough as it is, but finding out that the driver that hit you is uninsured can make things exponentially worse. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what to do if they’re involved in an uninsured motorist accident because it’s not something anybody anticipates happening to them. Whether you’ve recently been in an auto accident that involved an uninsured motorist or you simply want to be prepared for such a scenario, there are some important tips worth keeping in mind.
Do Obtain a Police Report
Never, ever leave a car accident scene without exchanging information with the driver and requesting a police report from local authorities. So long as the accident occurred on public property (such as a public road), there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to obtain a police report. Even in situations where an accident occurs on private property (such as a restaurant parking lot, for example), most police departments should be willing to work with you and provide a police report.
Why does a police report matter in the case of an uninsured motorist accident? Well, in the event that you end up having to take the uninsured driver to court, a police report will provide important details that may make or break your case. Even in a no-fault state, having an official accident report is always a wise decision. In most cases, the reporting officer will write down details of the accident and then write the official report at a later date. He or she will likely provide you with a case number so that you can contact the department a few days later and obtain your copy of the report.
Do Check Your Own Coverage
So, the driver who hit you doesn’t have insurance coverage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t file a claim. Check your current auto insurance policy and look specifically for coverage pertaining to uninsured and under-insured motorists. If you have this type of coverage included in your policy, it may make more sense to file a claim with your own insurance company than it would to go through the process of suing the responsible party. Of course, this will vary from one situation to the next.
Typically, uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage is added onto a standard car insurance policy and is specifically designed to help protect drivers from damages caused by uninsured motorists. After all, these types of accidents are more common than you might think; did you know that nearly 13% of American drivers are uninsured? If you have this coverage, then the maximum amount you can claim through your own insurance company will be reflected in your coverage limits. If you don’t have this coverage, then your best bet will be to go after the uninsured driver directly in court to recover the damages.
DON’T Jump Into a Lawsuit Without a Lawyer
If you decide to sue the uninsured driver who hit you, there are some important guidelines worth keeping in mind. First of all, understand that the legal process for a car accident lawsuit can be quite long and complex. As such, it’s recommended that you consult with a lawyer early on in the process and consider hiring one to represent you in court. This way, you can have an experienced professional on your side who will assist you through every step of the process and improve your chances of success. Trying to initiate a car accident lawsuit without the help of a lawyer can be very complex and difficult. In some cases, a lawyer may even be able to help get the case settled with the driver out of court so that you can avoid the additional time and effort of a court date.
Also, keep in mind that, in the event of a judgement and settlement in your favor, it can sometimes be difficult to recover the money that’s owed to you from your accident. Unfortunately, many people who drive without insurance do so because they cannot afford insurance. As such, suing them and getting a judgement in your favor for a settlement doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive the settlement right away. Wages may need to be garnished from the driver’s paychecks or other legal steps may need to be taken in order to recover the money you deserve. Again, this is where it comes in handy to have an experienced lawyer on your side–somebody who has had specific experience and proven success with uninsured motorist claims in the past.
DON’T Forget to Get Photos
Finally, in the event that your case goes to court, you’ll want to have not only the official police report from the accident, but photos of the scene as well. A lot of times, photos can help to paint a picture of what happened better than a written report can. In any event, photos are a good supplement to have to the report and will help to covey the specific damage done. You will also want to have on-hand any estimates for auto repairs, medical bills that resulted from the accident, and other expenses for your court date.
Being hit by an uninsured driver can be a nightmare, but having the right legal team on your side can make all the difference in the ultimate outcome of your case. If you’re looking for legal representation following your auto accident, contact us today.