In the United States, all states require drivers to carry liability insurance. This insurance policy is meant to pay out if the driver causes damage to another person or vehicle while on the road. If you are pulled over and do not have insurance, you will be ticketed and fined -- and you may even have your license taken away. Unfortunately, there are people for whom the threat of license revocation and fines is not threatening enough. They still drive without insurance, which can lead to some real headaches if they do happen to get in a crash.
So, what happens when you get hit by a driver who does not have the compulsory liability insurance coverage?
Your insurance may cover the damage.
One of the first things you should do after any crash (once you've received medical care and called the police, of course) is call your car insurance company. In the case that the other driver did not have insurance, you need to give this information to your insurance company. In some states, drivers are required to carry what is called uninsured motorist coverage. In other states, uninsured motorist coverage is not required -- but it is definitely recommended, so you may carry this type of policy if you let the insurance company design and recommend a plan for you. This is the exact policy that will pay for damage to your car, medical bills, and so forth in a collision found to be the fault of the other driver.
If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, then your insurance company might still pay for part of the damage under a clause in your collision or comprehensive plan. However, this is not always the case and may only arise after some pressure from an attorney.
You may have to file a lawsuit.
If your insurance company agrees to pay for the damages, then you're free and clear. But if they do not agree to pay, or if they agree to pay an amount that is less than the total cost of your medical bills, car damage, and other expenses, then you need to contact a lawyer.
A car accident attorney can take a few different approaches to try and recoup the funds to cover your bills. First, they might try suing the other driver for the damages. If this person has assets to cover the damage, this strategy works well. If the person does not have much money to their name -- which is common among people who do not pay for car insurance -- your lawyer may be able to have their wages garnished in order to cover your bills.
If the attorney is not able to recover funds from the driver, then they may recommend trying to sue your own insurance company. This strategy is often effective, but it does have one drawback -- your insurance rates are likely to climb up after the incident. If the insurance company is offering you an amount close to what you paid -- for instance, if your bills totaled $12,000 and they are offering your $10,000 -- it may not be worth pursuing a lawsuit. On the other hand, if your bills were in the neighborhood of $100,000 and they are only paying $10,000, the increase in insurance rates is a small price to pay to get the accident covered!
Getting hit by an uninsured driver is terribly frustrating. Nobody deserves to have this happen to them, but sadly, it does happen every day. If you've been involved in such a crash, meet with a lawyer that provides personal injury attorney services to learn more about your rights.