Is It Worth Suing an Uninsured Driver?
One in eight drivers operates a vehicle without insurance. Some drivers either can’t afford insurance, while others disagree with or believe they are such skilled drivers that they will never require liability coverage.
Encountering an uninsured driver in an accident can significantly complicate seeking compensation for injuries. Dealing with an uninsured liable party may render your claim more complicated, and unfortunately, in certain instances, pursuing a lawsuit against such a driver might prove futile, even if successful in court.
Hire an experienced San Bernardino car accident attorney to navigate these complexities. They can assess your situation, outline all available options, and guide you through filing and substantiating your claim. Your attorney can seek compensation for your damages in all possible ways, including suing an uninsured driver if that is a viable and potentially successful option in your case.
Common Car Accident Claim Damages
A knowledgeable car accident attorney is familiar with the various damages that may apply to your situation and their estimated corresponding values.
In a car accident case, you may receive both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to those with a monetary cost, while non-economic damages lack an assigned value and are more subjective.
Potential damages to pursue in your auto accident case include:
- Future expected medical expenses: Medical bills that your attorney and medical team reasonably anticipate you will incur in the future due to the aftermath of your car accident.
- Reduced earning capacity: In situations where your injury has impacted your ability to perform work-related duties and earn a living, whether on a short-term or long-term basis.
- Lost income: Compensating for the hours you had to be away from work while recovering from the car accident injury or undergoing necessary medical care.
- Pain and suffering: Compensation for the physical and emotional pain and suffering from the accident.
- Scarring and disfigurement: Compensation for severe scarring or the loss of a limb resulting from the accident, acknowledging the physical and emotional challenges you now face.
- Punitive damages: You can pursue punitive damages in court if your attorney can demonstrate that the other driver was engaging in reckless or malicious behavior when causing the accident.
A comprehensive understanding of these potential damages is crucial in building a robust case to secure the compensation you deserve—no matter who was at fault for your accident. Your attorney will play a key role in assessing, valuing, and presenting these damages to ensure a fair and just resolution to your car accident case.
However, there are scenarios where suing an uninsured driver can be beneficial, such as:
An Independently Wealthy, Uninsured Driver
While many uninsured drivers lack insurance due to financial constraints, some choose not to maintain insurance or let it lapse for administrative reasons. A skilled car accident attorney can investigate the driver’s financial status to determine if they have the means to compensate you directly. If they do, it may be worthwhile to file a lawsuit against them.
Other Applicable Insurance Sources May Exist
Car accidents may involve multiple parties at fault, including other drivers, municipalities responsible for roads, signs, or construction, or third parties like employers or government contractors.
If your lawyer can find additional sources of liability in your accident, filing a claim against those entities alongside the uninsured driver allows multiple parties to contribute to your compensation. This approach ensures you receive funds while also still holding the uninsured driver accountable for their actions.
When you hire a seasoned car accident lawyer, they can uncover any potential sources of compensation and pursue a claim against each liable party to maximize what you receive for your damages.
If, upon consultation with a knowledgeable car accident attorney, you determine that suing the uninsured driver responsible for your injury may not be advantageous, the good news is that there are several alternative avenues to explore.
Your attorney will thoroughly assess your claim for potential sources of liability and may recommend various insurance options to help cover your expenses.
Depending on your specific situation, other options for coverage might include:
- Comprehensive/collision policies: Often bundled as full-coverage insurance, collision policies compensate for vehicle damage caused by a car accident. Comprehensive policies cover damages from non-collision events like hail, flooding, or fire. Suppose you have collision coverage on your insurance policy. In that case, you can file a claim if an uninsured driver hits you.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance: These policies offer compensation for expenses from an accident caused by an uninsured driver. However, you must have elected this coverage on your policy before the accident. Underinsured motorist coverage applies when the at-fault driver is insured but lacks sufficient liability coverage. These policies typically cover medical bills, lost income, and property damage. Additionally, if you are a pedestrian or cyclist involved in an accident, your UM/UIM policy may extend coverage.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP is a no-fault insurance policy that allows you to recover benefits, including a portion of medical expenses or income loss, irrespective of fault. This coverage is mandatory in some states and optional in others.
- Medical payment policies (Med-Pay): Available as an optional add-on in certain states, Med-Pay covers expenses such as health insurance deductibles, copays, physician services, hospitalization, ambulance fees, and long or short-term nursing care for disabilities resulting from the accident.
- Personal or employer-provided insurance policies: Health insurance obtained independently or through an employer can contribute to covering medical expenses associated with the accident.
- Worker’s compensation (if applicable): If the accident occurred during job-related tasks, such as deliveries as a hired driver, worker’s compensation provides medical coverage and income replacement. This no-fault insurance is mandatory for most employers in many states to address workplace injuries or illnesses.
Exploring these insurance options can help alleviate the financial burden of accidents involving uninsured drivers, ensuring you have various avenues to seek compensation for your losses.
How Your Insurance Company Handles Claims Involving Uninsured Drivers
If you and your attorney establish that your personal insurance policy covers your injury, your car accident attorney can initiate a claim under that policy. Typically, this involves submitting a demand to the insurance carrier presenting the claim’s details and supporting documentation of incurred expenses.
Similar to third-party insurance claims, your insurance provider has several options.
- Approve the claim as submitted
- Deny it with a notification of the reasons
- Propose a settlement
If they choose the last option, your attorney will communicate with the insurance adjuster to negotiate a settlement offer that appropriately compensates you for your expenses.
In the case of uninsured motorist claims, your insurance provider will conduct an investigation and may independently file a lawsuit against the uninsured driver to recover the expenses paid out for your claim. This legal process is known as subrogation.
Your insurance company will handle this process, so you won’t need to worry about it. However, having an attorney representing your interests is still the best move.
Additional Areas Car Accident Liability
Liability, often synonymous with legal responsibility, is pivotal in determining compensation for car accident injuries. Your car accident attorney’s task is not only to identify the primary liable party but also to explore all potential sources of responsibility.
Uncovering multiple liable parties can enhance the chances of accessing various insurance policies that might provide comprehensive compensation.
To establish that an individual or entity shares responsibility for the accident leading to your injuries, you or your attorney on your behalf must demonstrate.
Duty of Care
- For drivers: The duty of care for drivers revolves around safe and responsible actions on the road, including adherence to traffic laws.
- For government agencies: They have a duty to maintain roadways to prevent accidents, addressing issues like obstructed views or dangerous defects.
- For car manufacturers: Ensuring that the vehicles they produce are safe when used according to labeled instructions.
- For employers: Verifying that drivers hired to represent their business have a clean driving record, free of red flags or criminal history.
Breach of the Duty of Care
Once there is a duty of care, a breach occurs if a person or entity fails to uphold the expected standard in the specific circumstances of the accident.
Causation of the Accident
The breach of care must be directly linked to the occurrence of the accident, resulting in injuries and associated expenses.
In addition to these fundamental principles, your attorney will uncover details related to the accident. This thorough investigation aims to strengthen your case.
Here are some additional considerations:
- Negligence factors: Assessing whether any negligent actions, such as distracted driving, speeding, or failure to maintain a vehicle, contributed to the accident.
- Product liability: Exploring the possibility that a defect in the vehicle or its components played a role, holding manufacturers accountable for faulty designs or manufacturing.
- Employer responsibility: If the liable party was driving for employment purposes, the employer might share responsibility for the employee’s actions.
By thoroughly examining these factors, your attorney can build a comprehensive case, ensuring they consider all potential sources of liability for maximum compensation.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help After an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
Navigating the aftermath of a car accident involving an uninsured driver can be overwhelming, and having a skilled car accident attorney by your side is invaluable during this time. The experience and knowledge of a seasoned lawyer can significantly impact your ability to secure the compensation you need and deserve during this challenging time.
Here’s how a car accident lawyer can benefit you in the aftermath of a collision with an uninsured driver:
Thorough Accident Investigation
- Conducting a thorough investigation to ascertain the details of the accident, identifying all liable parties, not just the uninsured driver.
- Analyzing factors such as negligence, traffic violations, and potential third-party liability.
- Hiring experts, such as an accident reconstructionist, if necessary
Comprehensive Damage Calculation
- Determining the full extent of damages you are entitled to, including medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and other losses.
- Ensuring they overlook no potential areas of compensation.
Clear Communication and Guidance
- Providing clear explanations of your rights, options, and the legal process in a language you can easily comprehend.
- Addressing your questions and concerns throughout the legal proceedings.
Uninsured Motorist Claim Advocacy
- Assisting in the preparation and submission of an uninsured motorist claim to your insurance provider.
- Holding the insurance company accountable for any wrongful denials or limitations of your claim.
Third-Party Lawsuit Preparation
- Filing a lawsuit against any third party deemed responsible for the accident, aiming to secure additional compensation.
- Skillfully navigating the complexities of third-party liability claims.
- Adhering to all claim and lawsuit deadlines.
- Engaging in negotiations with all relevant parties to reach favorable settlements for your injuries and losses.
- Advocating for your rights during settlement discussions.
- Pointing out the strengths of your case and minimizing the weaknesses
Legal Representation in Court
- Representing you in court hearings and trials if necessary, ensuring you present your case effectively.
- Drawing on legal experience to argue on your behalf and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Enforcement of Compensation
- Taking the necessary steps to collect the awarded compensation from settlements, judgments, or jury awards.
- Ensuring you receive the monetary relief owed to you promptly.
By undertaking these actions, a dedicated San Bernardino personal injury lawyer can significantly alleviate the stress of an accident involving an uninsured driver and enhance your chances of obtaining fair and just compensation.