What Should I Do if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If you’re in a car crash and the other driver doesn’t have insurance, your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) can help cover your damages.
According to statistics from the Insurance Journal, approximately 14% of drivers nationwide do not carry auto insurance. However, New York State has a relatively lower percentage at 5%.
If you find yourself in a situation where the at-fault driver lacks insurance to cover your damages, Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, car accident lawyers in New York are here to provide support. With over 15 years of experience handling car accidents, our dedicated team is well-equipped to assist you. Contact us or call us at 917-540-8728 for a free case review.
What Is Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)?
Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance coverage that safeguards you if you’re involved in an auto accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance or has insufficient coverage. This is also known as UM or UIM. UIM coverage is like an extra layer of protection (add-on protection) in your car insurance.
Check with your insurance company to find out if you have it. You can file an uninsured motorist claim (UM) to recover your medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, and damages for pain and suffering.
Sometimes, you can stack uninsured motorist coverage if you’ve multiple vehicles insured under the same insurance. This means you can combine coverage limits for your multiple vehicles. By doing so, you can increase the UM coverage available to you. Similarly, uninsured motorist coverage often includes protection against a hit-and-run accident, where the at-fault party leaves the scene and is unidentified.
The rules regarding uninsured motorist coverage vary by state. In no-fault states like New York, your auto insurance compensates for your injuries, regardless of fault. However, in fault states, the uninsured or underinsured driver is responsible. But your UIM coverage can still be used.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Claim Work in New York Car Accidents?
You must promptly inform your insurance company of your intention to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim. Failure to do so may result in the denial of your claim. In the state of New York, you have to initiate your UM claim quickly or within 30 days of the accident.
To facilitate this process, be prepared to actively cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation of the accident. For this, provide essential documentation, such as police reports, eyewitness accounts, and medical records. These documents will strengthen your case.
The maximum amount your insurer will pay for a UM claim is determined by the limits set in your standard liability coverage. For instance, if your total liability coverage per accident is $80,000, your insurer will similarly cover up to $80,000 in uninsured motorist claims. Thus, maintain open communication with your insurance company to clarify these limits and ensure you are well informed about the claims process.
What Are the Car Insurance Requirements in NY State?
If you’re operating a vehicle in New York, you must carry proof of insurance when requested by law enforcement officers or during the vehicle registration process. According to the guidelines set by the New York County Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), drivers are required to maintain liability insurance with specified minimum coverage limits, including:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $10,000 for property damage per accident
New York operates under a no-fault insurance system, allowing drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP provides insurance coverage for medical bills and lost wages, regardless of fault. In adherence to the no-fault system in NY, each party’s insurance company is responsible for covering its policyholder’s medical costs and other financial losses, irrespective of the determination of fault.
Additionally, in New York, motorists can include uninsured motorist coverage in their insurance policy. This coverage safeguards against damages from an accident caused by a driver lacking insurance or insufficient coverage.
Criminal Charges for Uninsured Drivers in New York
Driving without insurance in New York carries severe legal consequences. The state imposes hefty fines and penalties if you operate a vehicle without insurance or allow someone else to do so. In such cases, you may face fines of up to $1500 in state traffic court.
Furthermore, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in New York can suspend your driver’s license if you drive without insurance. This suspension can last for more than a year. In an uninsured accident, you can also be personally responsible for a civil penalty of $750 to reinstate your revoked license.
In some cases, law enforcement may also impound your vehicle if you’re driving without insurance. This means you can lose vehicle access for an extended period. Apart from facing immediate legal consequences, driving without insurance can cause your future insurance premiums to rise. Insurance companies may see you as a riskier driver, leading to higher costs when you try to get coverage later.
What Are My Other Options if the At-Fault Driver Is Uninsured?
Several other options are available to ensure you get the compensation you deserve and get back on the road safely, such as:
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD)
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) coverage is a valuable option for protecting in a car accident involving a driver without insurance. This specific coverage addresses only property damage resulting from the accident. Thus covering expenses related to repair or replacement costs. Moreover, UMPD helps cover additional costs if the at-fault driver lacks sufficient liability insurance and damages to your home or other property.
The minimum UMPD coverage available is $25,000, and insurance companies typically offer this coverage with deductible options ranging from $250 to $500 to $1000.
UMPD coverage is applicable in several states, including Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, New Jersey, New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
However, New York does not offer UMPD coverage. In New York, the absence of UMPD is compensated by the presence of no-fault insurance (PIP). This means that your insurance company will pay for your damages irrespective of fault. This unique feature makes it unnecessary to have UMPD in the state of New York. Instead, if you have collision coverage, you can utilize that in such situations.
PIP or Medpay Coverage
In states with no-fault regulations, such as New York, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medpay coverage ensures that your medical expenses are covered irrespective of who is responsible for the accident. These insurance coverages also extend their benefits to situations where the at-fault driver is uninsured. In New York, PIP provides coverage for your injuries, offering financial protection up to a maximum limit of $50,000 per accident.
This type of coverage is optional. And you can add extra coverage to your car insurance policy for an additional cost. Although it’s not required by any state, having collision coverage can be helpful. It comes in handy if your car sustains damage from an uninsured driver or ends up being in a total loss. This coverage takes care of all the property damage and repair costs, but there’s usually a $500 deductible you need to pay.
File a Lawsuit Against the Uninsured Driver
If you face higher expenses due to another driver’s lack of insurance and your insurance coverage falls short, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party may be necessary. Not all states mandate underinsured/uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage, so not everyone may have this protection.
However, you must know that suing an uninsured driver may not always be the most practical solution. In reality, drivers without insurance may lack the financial means to fulfill a court-ordered judgment, even if you successfully win your case.
In such cases, consulting with a car accident lawyer is advisable. They can guide you through the steps to initiate a lawsuit against the uninsured driver. Thus aiming to recover your damages and secure the compensation you deserve.
Contact our experienced Uptown Injury New York car accident attorney to understand your options when dealing with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
How Does a Lawsuit Process Work Against an Uninsured Driver?
- First, you’ll need to establish that the uninsured driver was at fault for your car accident. This involves collecting evidence, such as witness statements, police reports, and photographs from your auto accident scene.
- You should inform the other driver’s insurance company in writing within 90 days of the accident if you plan to file a lawsuit. However, you have up to 3 years from the accident date to actually file the lawsuit.
- If the driver is uncooperative or unwilling to take responsibility, you can file a lawsuit in civil court. This initiates a legal process to seek compensation.
- It’s advisable to consult with a car accident lawyer experienced in personal injury or automobile accidents. An auto attorney can help you deal with the legal process, build a strong case, and represent your interests in court.
- If your lawsuit progresses through various stages, including discovery (exchanging information and evidence), negotiations, and a trial. In such cases, a judge or jury can determine the outcome of your case.
- If you win a lawsuit against an uninsured driver and are granted damages, it can be challenging to receive the money. The reason is that the driver might not have the means to pay. It’s essential to consider alternative methods for getting the compensation you deserve, like mediation and arbitration.
What Evidence Do You Need to Gather to File a Car Accident Lawsuit?
When the other driver in your car accident doesn’t have insurance, you must gather information, such as:
- At-fault driver’s full name, contact details, and vehicle license number.
- Details about the other driver’s vehicle, such as the make, model, year, color of the car, and license plate number.
- Photographs of your car accident scene, including vehicle damage, road conditions, and any relevant road signs or signals. These details are also valuable when you file a UM claim with your insurance company.
- Contact details of witnesses at the car crash scene. They can provide statements about your incident, which can be helpful in your insurance claims.
- Copy of the police report about your accident. This report will contain crucial details, including any citations or tickets issued.
- Provide your insurance information to the other driver and ensure you have a record of doing so. Additionally, notify your car insurance company to report your accident involving uninsured drivers.
- Ensure you receive proper medical treatment. Moreover, you must document medical records and expenses related to any injuries sustained.
How to Protect Yourself From Uninsured Motorists?
Protecting yourself from uninsured drivers involves the following few steps:
- Seek prompt medical care to ensure a proper recovery and document your injuries thoroughly. Retain all related documents such as receipts, invoices, hospital bills, and paystubs to prove accident-related expenses.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations to facilitate a full and proper recovery.
- Gather essential details about the accident, including the other driver’s contact information, vehicle details, and license plate number, and take images of the accident scene. If possible, obtain witness statements. This information is crucial when filing a claim.
- Report the accident to your insurance company within 30 days to initiate the claims process and seek proper compensation for damages.
- Refrain from discussing the accident or injuries on social media platforms. Avoid making comments that could impact your claim negatively.
- Seek advice from a lawyer. They can assist you if the situation with the uninsured driver gets tricky or your insurance company doesn’t cover the costs.
Seek Uptown Injury NYC Car Accident Lawyers for Uninsured Driver Accident
If you are a victim of an uninsured driver accident, then dealing with the aftermath of such incidents can be overwhelming. At Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, we’re here to provide you with the legal guidance you need to navigate this challenging situation. Our experienced team of car accident lawyers specializes in handling cases involving uninsured drivers. Additionally, we understand the complexities of insurance claims and are committed to supporting you.
Why Choose Us?
- Free Consultation: We provide a free consultation to discuss your case. We’ll listen to your car accident story and provide expert advice on your legal options.
- Expert Legal Representation: Our team of car accident lawyers has a successful, proven track record of representing clients in uninsured driver auto accident cases.
- Peace of Mind: With our car accident lawyer on your side, you can focus on your recovery without any worries.
- No Upfront Fees: We work on a contingency fees system, which means you don’t pay us unless we win your case. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeking our help.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver?
After a car accident with an uninsured driver, ensure your and everyone’s safety, call emergency services (911) if needed. Furthermore, gather information about the other driver, and report your car accident to the police and your insurance company. A lawyer by your side can assist in gathering evidence and dealing with the insurance company or police on your behalf.
Is It Mandatory for Drivers to Have Auto Insurance?
Yes, in many states, drivers must have car insurance and liability insurance. Auto insurance requirements vary by location, but having at least a minimum level of coverage to drive legally is a requirement. Therefore, failure to have insurance can result in penalties, fines, and driving license suspension.
Can I Sue an Uninsured Driver for Damages?
Yes, you can claim the other driver for your damages. But collecting a settlement may be challenging if they don’t have the means to pay you. In such cases, consulting with a skilled car accident attorney is advisable to determine the best course of action in your specific situation.
Will My Insurance Cover Me if an Uninsured Driver Hits Me?
Yes, your insurance may cover you if an uninsured driver hits you, depending on your policy. Uninsured motorist coverage is an optional coverage policy in many states. If you have this coverage, it can help pay for your damages. However, you should check your policy details and consult with your insurer to understand the extent of coverage and any limitations.
How Can I Check if the Other Driver Has No Insurance?
You can confirm by exchanging information with the other driver, including their contact details. Furthermore, you can contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to verify the insurance status of the at-fault party.
What Happens if the Other Driver Has Insurance but Insufficient Coverage?
If the at-fault party insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your damages, then you can rely on your underinsured motorist coverage if you have it. This coverage can help pay for your expenses if you’re in a car accident with a driver without enough insurance or lack coverage. Contact your insurance provider and confirm if you have UIM coverage in your auto insurance.
How Can I Protect Myself From an Uninsured Driver?
To protect yourself from uninsured drivers, purchase UIM as an addition to your auto insurance policy. Also, review your coverage limits to make sure they are sufficient. Furthermore, you can practice safe driving to reduce car accident risks. Thus, consult with an experienced car accident lawyer to report your accident to the police with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
What if I Was Partially at Fault in the Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver?
If you are partially at fault, report the accident to your insurance company ASAP. Provide detailed evidence or witnesses that may support your case. The insurance company will examine the case to determine who’s responsible. Your liability is determined according to the rules in your state.
For example, NYC follows the pure comparative negligence rule. This means your compensation could be reduced based on the state’s laws. Thus, it’s a good idea to talk to your insurance company and a car accident attorney for advice.