There is a single truth that resonates with every single one of us: accidents happen. These accidents include motor vehicle crashes that happen before you have time to press the brake pedal. If you have been involved in a car accident, you are familiar with the frightening aftermath as well as the questions that are involved. What happens now? What do I do about the damage to my car? The one question that is asked the most frequently is this: What do I do if I am hit by an uninsured driver?
Traditional “Tort” vs. No-Fault Laws
The answer to this question depends on the state you reside in. Each state has varying laws that can impact the situation, depending on several factors. Some states have traditional “civil wrong” laws in place called tort. Tort allows a simple solution to the question, “Who is paying for the damage?”. According to the tort law, the insurance of whoever is at fault will ultimately be responsible. If you are at fault for the accident, your insurance will pay for the damages. However, if the other driver is at fault without insurance, they are still responsible, even if they must pay out of pocket.
In contrast, a state with no-fault laws gives both parties a piece of the fault pie. In this case, each driver pays for their own damages and injuries if any are sustained. If the driver has insurance, the insurance takes care of their own. If the driver does not, they are responsible for themselves. It does not matter who is at fault here. Instead, each driver takes on the responsibility of the accident.
What does this mean for an accident involving you and an uninsured motorist? If your state has tort in place, you may be able to seek out assistance from a lawyer who can help you receive some of the costs back for your injuries and/or damages. If your state has no-fault laws in place, this will restrict your ability to seek the help of a lawyer. However, these no-fault laws give you the benefit of being covered regardless of the other driver’s insurance status.
If you are actively searching for a way to reduce the chances of being held responsible for the costs after an accident with an uninsured motorist, you can add a plan to your insurance policy. These un-insured or under-insured motorist plans will cost you extra on your premiums, however you will be prepared in case an accident should happen.
Seeking Help from a Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident or your car has sustained complete total, you may have thoughts about suing the uninsured. Although this is an option, it may not be the best option. Uninsured motorists generally do not have a lot of assets to their name or cash to spend. If you were to sue and win, the uninsured may not have the money to pay you for the injuries or damages regardless.
Fortunately, there are ways to get back what you lost if you decide to go this route. A lawyer can help you open a case against the uninsured that may result in a positive outcome. A court may order that the uninsured driver make payments to you on your losses. Most of these payments will come to you weekly, depending on the judge’s ruling. Your lawyer will advocate for you and attempt to give you the best option for your needs.
The lawyer can also conduct a credit check on the uninsured motorist to make sure the driver does not have any assets that the court does not know about. If the motorist is shown to have these assets, a lien can be placed during the process. Fortunately, there are lawyers who are experienced in this type of litigation who are prepared to help you recover your losses.
Ultimately, the decision on what to do if hit by an uninsured driver depends on your state as well as your own thoughts. No matter where you are, you are always given the right to discuss your proceedings with a licensed lawyer who can guide you in your decision. Accidents can happen, but they do not have to be completely devastating.