Being involved in a car accident can be stressful enough as it is, but finding out you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver can make things exponentially worse. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what to do if they’re involved in an uninsured motorist accident because they don’t think it’ll happen to them. But nearly 13% of American drivers are uninsured, so it’s best to be prepared. Here’s what you need to know about being hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Hit By an Uninsured Driver: Dos and Don’ts
Whether you’ve recently been in an accident with an uninsured driver or simply want to be prepared for such a scenario, keep these tips in mind:
- Do Obtain a Police Report. Never leave a car accident scene requesting a police report from local authorities. If the accident occurred on public property (i.e., a public road), there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to obtain a police report. Even when an accident occurs on private property (such as a restaurant parking lot), most police departments should work with you and provide a report.
If you have to take the uninsured driver to court, a police report will provide essential details for your case. Even in a no-fault state, having an official accident report is always wise. In most cases, the reporting officer will write down details of the accident and then write the official report later. They’ll likely provide a case number so you can contact the department a few days later and obtain your copy.
- Do Get the Information You Need. Once you’re in a safe place, always exchange information with the other driver. This includes the following:
- Insurance company name and policy #
- Vehicle license #
- Name, address, and phone number
- Driver’s license number
- Do Check Your Coverage. Just because you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver, you can still file a claim. Check your current auto insurance policy and look specifically for coverage for uninsured and under-insured motorists. If your policy includes this coverage, it may make more sense to file a claim with your insurance company than it would to go through the process of suing the responsible party.Typically, uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage is added to a standard car insurance policy to help protect drivers. If you have this coverage, the maximum amount you can claim through your insurance company will be reflected in your coverage limits. If you don’t have this coverage, your best bet is 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 guidelines to keep in mind. The legal process for a car accident lawsuit can be quite long and complex. We recommend consulting with a lawyer early on in the process. This way, you can have an experienced professional who will assist you through every step of the process and improve your chances of success.Initiating a car accident lawsuit without a lawyer can be challenging. In some cases, a lawyer can help get the case settled out of court so that you can avoid the additional time and effort of a court date.Also, remember that even if you win, recovering the money you’re owed can be difficult. Many uninsured drivers cannot afford insurance—suing them and getting a judgment in your favor doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive the settlement immediately. Wages may need to be garnished from the driver’s paychecks, or other legal steps may need to be taken to recover the money. You’ll want an experienced lawyer with proven success when dealing with uninsured motorist claims.
- DON’T Forget to Get Photos. If your case goes to court, you’ll want to have photos of the scene in addition to the official police report from the accident. Photos help paint a picture of what happened and are an excellent supplement to the report to convey specific damage done. Along with the images and report, submit paperwork showcasing estimates for auto repairs, medical bills resulting from the accident, and other expenses for your court date.
Minnesota Auto Insurance Requirements
Minnesota requires drivers to have some form of auto insurance. Even so, you’ll sometimes find drivers who don’t have insurance because they can’t afford it, let their insurance lapse due to lack of payment, or aren’t legally allowed to drive.
These days, it’s more common to find underinsured drivers. They may have auto insurance packages that offer the barest bones coverage because they cost the least. When those people get into accidents, the insurance might not fully cover the damages they caused. When this happens, it can be pretty worrying because the only obvious solution seems to be that you pay for the rest of the damage yourself.
You may learn about the other driver’s insurance information at the scene of the accident, but more often, the details come to light after you have filed the accident report with your insurer.
Is Minnesota a No-Fault State?
Yes, Minnesota is a “no-fault” auto insurance state, meaning your insurance company will pay damages up to a certain amount. This means filing for benefits with your insurance company when you have an accident. The provisions of your policy are supposed to pay for the other person’s misstep, even if they don’t have insurance. The mandatory “no-fault” liability insurance is the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for all owners of automobiles in Minnesota.
Here are the minimum insurance requirements for Minnesotans:
- $30,000 bodily injury per person ($60,000 per accident)
- $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $10,000 property damage liability
- $25,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person ($50,000 per accident)
- $25,000 underinsured motorist bodily injury per person ($50,000 per accident)
- $40,000 personal injury protection (PIP)
But accidents and injury costs can add up, and you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover additional compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Hopefully, knowing you will receive payment even when the at-fault driver is uninsured is a comfort and relief. But remember, your insurance company may try to get you to accept less than what you’re owed.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Car Accident Attorney
Often, insurance companies have the experience and power to save themselves some money. But, as it stands, the benefits of the No-Fault Act are intended to include the following:
- Reasonable charges for necessary treatment
- Palliative treatment
- Psychiatric treatment
- Prosthetic and other devices
- Transportation costs
- Disability and income loss
- Partial loss of wages
- Depletion of sick or vacation pay
- Loss of wages during treatment
Self-Employment Loss of Earnings
- Substitute Employees
- Loss of things of economic value
- Loss of other earnings from work
- Loss of a scholarship
- Primary Homemaker services
Rehabilitation Death Benefits
For many drivers, the problems and costs associated with this type of accident are not immediately apparent. You need a personal injury attorney who has often dealt with insurance companies and uninsured drivers over the last 30 years.
Can You File a Claim After a Car Accident if You’re an Uninsured Driver?
If you’re the uninsured driver in a car accident, you may still be able to file a claim for damages. However, the process may be more complex, and the outcome may not be as favorable as if you were insured.
Keep these things in mind if you’re an uninsured driver who’s been in a car accident:
- Your options for compensation: If you were not at fault for the accident, you may be able to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, if the other driver is also uninsured or underinsured, you may have limited options for compensation. In this case, you may need to consider other options (i.e., suing the other driver personally or pursuing a claim through your uninsured motorist coverage, if you have it).
- Legal consequences: If you’re found at fault for the accident and don’t have insurance, you may be held personally liable for any resulting damages or injuries. This might mean you’re responsible for paying for medical bills, property damage, and other expenses out of pocket.
- Potential penalties: Driving without insurance is illegal in most states, including Minnesota. You may face fines, license suspension, and other penalties if caught driving without insurance.
So, if you’re an uninsured driver in a car accident, you may still be able to file a claim for damages. However, the process may be more challenging, and the outcome may not be as favorable. Seek the advice of a qualified attorney who can help you understand your legal options and protect your rights.
Hire Swor & Gatto for Your Case
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 outcome of your case. Arbitration or mediation services are used the most in these cases, but sometimes full court representation will be necessary. Why risk fighting with the insurance company without full knowledge of the law, and what benefits you’re due?
At Swor & Gatto, we make it easier by offering these benefits.
- Free initial consultations
- Translation services
- Bilingual attorneys
- Contingency-based fees: a client pays nothing unless and until the case is settled or won
- Prompt return of phone calls and emails
- Quick response to clients’ questions
- Home and hospital visits
We can work to ensure you’re not suffering undue stress or economic loss because of the insurance company’s desire to save a little money. If you’re looking for legal representation following your auto accident, contact us today.