How Do I Handle a Car Accident with an Uninsured Driver?September 15, 2022
Getting into a car accident is bad enough, but when the other driver tells you they do not have insurance, things can get taken to a whole other level. It is not a cause for panic, even though the situation can seem quite dire at the outset. Some people will admit that they do not have insurance right then and there, whereas others offer vague answers; there are also those who will flee the scene. You might be surprised to find out just how many people drive without enough or without any auto insurance at all.
Why Do People Drive without Car Insurance?
There are more than 215 million drivers in the United States, and it is estimated that 32 million of them are uninsured. This comes out to approximately one out of every eight drivers. Twenty states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia, require uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, and this costs insured drivers extra money. The two main reasons for not having auto insurance are because people cannot afford it or have vehicles that they do not use. It is also likely that many have already been in so many accidents that companies refuse to insure them.
It is important to understand the meaning of the term underinsured. Most of the time, it is when an at-fault driver does not have enough insurance in place to cover the injuries and damages they cause to another party in an auto accident. The policy’s liability limits are not high enough to pay for the other person’s bills or are less than or equal to the other person’s uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) coverage limit.
Statistics show that 14.1 percent of Maryland drivers are not insured, which puts it around the middle; Mississippi is highest at 29.4 percent, and New Jersey lowest at about three percent. Those numbers are alarming when you think about it; each time you are out driving, there is a good chance that the person in the lane right next to you is driving without coverage.
Should I Call 911 Immediately after a Car Accident?
An uninsured at-fault motorist may try to talk you out of calling for emergency services right after an accident, but it is in your best interest to do so. This is the only way to obtain a police report, which can indicate how the accident happened and who may have been responsible. The officer will most likely provide contact information so you can contact the police station to get a copy of the report after a few days. If there are serious injuries, an ambulance may arrive to transport the injured to the nearest hospital. Should there be no immediate symptoms of a personal injury, it is still best to be evaluated by a physician as soon possible; otherwise, the insurance provider may say that the injuries were as serious as you indicated on your claim.
Uninsured motorists, and ones who have insurance, may offer to pay you cash on the spot for your injuries and damages, but accepting it could put you in a bad position. People do this to avoid dealing with law enforcement and insurance companies; however, if you accept, you could be missing out on getting the damages for which you are actually entitled. There is no way to estimate the costs of an accident at a scene with complete accuracy. Some injuries present themselves after some time has passed, there can be complications, and car repairs can be much more expensive than one might initially think. You will want to get the other party’s contact information, even if they do not possess an insurance card; get photos of their driver’s license and license plate, and ask for their phone number.
This is also a good time to take photos of the accident scene. Anything that could indicate the nature of the accident will be helpful, such as an icy road, skid marks, or the damage to your vehicle. Try to take a photo of the other driver’s license plate as soon as possible because again, many at-fault drivers will flee the scene before help arrives.
Will My Insurance Cover the Costs of My Accident?
When the other driver has no auto insurance, you will probably need to have your own provider cover the losses. These benefits come from UIM, which is an add-on protection in some states; others like Maryland require it. The good news is that it covers medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Furthermore, you will also be covered if you experience a hit-and-run-accident.
The amount of coverage you receive through your UIM policy depends on the options that you chose when you purchased it. Maryland state laws dictate that auto insurance policies have a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury per person/$60,000 per accident, and $15,000 in property damage. They also mandate that when the responsible party is underinsured or uninsured, your deductible will be lowered to $250 if you have a higher one.
Many Maryland drivers opt for the minimum coverage to save money and in the best-case scenarios, never have to make UIM auto accident claims on their policies. Yet if a serious accident happens with an uninsured or underinsured motorist and you have the minimum amounts, you could be left with a stack of bills and a rocky road to navigate in the future. The time to look over your policy is before an accident happens, and if you do not have adequate UIM insurance, it might make sense to add on more coverage. Being proactive can protect you and your family from having to cover a large amount of damages out of your own pocket.
After an automobile crash, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible after the accident to explain what happened. Answer the questions with short, factual answers, and do not elaborate on what happened or offer your opinions. Saying the wrong thing can come back to haunt you later, since one never knows what might be used against them when they are speaking in the heat of the moment. You can ask questions about your policy or look it over online to see what your coverage includes. There is a deadline for making these kinds of claims, so ask your agent about that as well.
What Other Options Do I Have with an Uninsured Driver?
If you paid extra for collision coverage on your auto policy, this may be used for repairs on your vehicle but not for medical expenses. Still, if you purchased this coverage and have it in place, the funds could come in handy. Your insurance company also has the option of seeking reimbursement from an uninsured/underinsured at-fault driver who caused your accident, but this is not a common occurrence because it costs the company time and money and in many cases, that motorist might not have sufficient assets. The same thing holds true if you want to file a car accident lawsuit. Even if you win a case, there is no guarantee that you will end up getting any money. When people have few assets, attempting to enforce a legal judgment could be an exercise in futility.
If the uninsured driver was in an insured car, there may be the possibility of getting benefits from the vehicle policy. Some drivers use cars without the owners’ permission, and sometimes they end up causing accidents. To explore some of these options for reimbursement, it is best to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who can investigate the different angles and also help you deal with your insurance provider.
Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Guide Clients with an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Car Accident
Getting into a serious car accident can be traumatic, and the aftermath can turn into a complicated matter that seems impossible to deal with. Having the skilled Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can improve your chances of a good outcome. We will be your advocate to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.