What Happens When You Get Involved in an Accident with an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?

car accident with an uninsured driver

Even though car insurance is mandatory in just about every US state, many drivers choose to break the law and avoid the expense. Unfortunately, no matter how skilled a driver you may be, you can’t eliminate the risk of a collision. 

What happens if an uninsured driver crashes into you? Will you be able to claim compensation for damages and injuries? Can you sue the uninsured or underinsured driver if the accident was their fault? 

If you collide with an uninsured driver, what you can do next depends on your insurance policy and location. In California, for example, the at-fault driver is liable to cover the cost of damages and losses, regardless of whether they’re insured—however, that rule doesn’t apply in all states.

What Is a No-Fault State?

In a no-fault car insurance state, your insurance covers any losses that you suffer because of a car accident, regardless of who is to blame. In these states, you may not be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless you incur medical bills that exceed a certain amount. You can find an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area to determine your legal rights.

No matter where you live, purchasing a comprehensive insurance plan that covers most accidents is a smart idea.

Related resources: 5 Possible Reasons Why Your Car Accident Insurance Claim Was Denied

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Explained

If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, you might have to rely on your own insurer to compensate you for any damages. This principle means that you need to choose coverage carefully. Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage means that you can claim compensation for your accident if the uninsured driver is found to be at fault.

For example, let’s say the defendant driver crashed into you and your wife as you are driving home. The defendant driver only has $15,000 worth of insurance or no insurance at all. If you and your wife are extremely hurt (for example, broken bones, you can’t work for weeks, etc.) there is little chance that you can recover any compensation from the defendant driver, or the amount will be far less than your actual damages. However, if you have healthy UM/UIM insurance coverage, you would be able to access your own insurance to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and any other damages you incurred. As our attorneys always like to say, “never trust the other driver on the road to carry enough insurance; always protect yourself!” 

Only a handful of US states require drivers to purchase UIM coverage, though insurance companies must offer it in most states. Whether it’s a legal obligation or not, getting UIM coverage is the best way to protect yourself against uninsured drivers. 

Remember to act quickly if you need to claim; most insurance companies limit the amount of time that you have to get the ball rolling.

Related resources: Six Steps You Must Take Immediately Following a Car Accident

Should I Buy Collision Coverage?

If you’re shopping for insurance on a budget, you may consider purchasing collision coverage instead of UIM coverage. However, with collision coverage, you can only claim compensation for any damages sustained to your vehicle; you are not able to recover lost wages, medical expenses, or pain and suffering. 

Can I File a Lawsuit?

If you have an accident with an uninsured driver in a no-fault state, you typically won’t be able to claim compensation from any entity beyond your own insurance company. In other states, such as California, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, even if they’re uninsured. 

You should be aware that even if you win your case, you may struggle to collect your compensation if the driver has few assets. Discuss your case with a car accident attorney to find out which action you should take.

Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer for Advice

If an uninsured driver caused your car accident, you deserve compensation for your losses. If you live in a state such as California, you have the right to demand compensation for your damages from the at-fault driver. Collecting compensation can prove challenging, which is why you should always confer with a legal expert before making any potentially expensive or futile decisions. At HHJ Trial Attorneys, we can help you win the compensation that you deserve. Over the years, we’ve collected millions of dollars from at-fault and uninsured drivers to help our clients rebuild their lives. Call us today, and we’ll discuss your options and share realistic outcomes.

Testimonial from Taryn, a car accident Victim

This firm is the best. I was injured in a serious car accident where I had a serious back injury. My friend told me that HHJ was the best personal injury law firm in California. I contacted the firm and was assigned to Michael Hernandez. Michael was extremely patient, sent me to the right doctors and put my health in front of every thing. After by back injury started healing, Michael resolved the case for a crazy high amount. Way beyond my expectations. I did not pay a dollar for their services out of pocket. I highly recommend this firm for anyone that was injured in a car accident.

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