If you are in a car accident, what happens if the person at fault in an accident has no insurance? In such a situation, to recover compensation, you will either have to make an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurer or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
After an accident, insurance companies typically handle the process for their policyholders by assessing fault and offering settlements when necessary. In 2021, there were approximately 28 million drivers in the U.S. without car insurance coverage. This amounts to roughly 1 in 8, or 12.6% of all drivers, which means the likelihood of encountering an uninsured driver is higher than you might expect.
What to Do if the At-Fault Party Doesn’t Have Insurance
What happens if someone without insurance hits you? It can be challenging to get compensation for your injuries. However, there are a few options available to you.
File an Insurance Claim Under Your Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage
First, if you have uninsured motorist coverage with your own insurance company, you can recover compensation from them if you’re involved in a collision caused by an uninsured driver. Your insurer will cover your losses up to the policy limit.
If the driver responsible for an accident has inadequate insurance coverage and is unable to pay for all the damages, your underinsured motorist coverage can provide compensation for the shortfall. It’s important not to delay in filing a claim following a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
File a Lawsuit
Alternatively, you may choose to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver directly and recover from his or her personal assets. However, he or she may not have the money to provide your compensation, and it could take a long time to get it through legal action. The court may have to put a lien on his or her property or garnish his or her wages to help you recover your money.
What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is a type of insurance coverage where your insurance company compensates you because the person liable for the accident does not have adequate coverage. To fully understand this type of coverage, you may need to be familiar with how auto insurance works.
What Is Auto Insurance?
Auto insurance is a way to protect yourself from financial loss. You make an arrangement with an insurance company where you pay a monthly fee. In return, the company will pay you if you experience specified losses, damages, or injuries.
If you get into an accident, your auto insurance will pay you. For example, if you cause an accident and the damages to your car and the other driver’s car are $8,000 each, you would be liable for the total cost of $16,000. If you don’t have insurance, you would have to pay this amount out of pocket, which could be difficult.
However, if you have auto insurance, you would pay a monthly premium. Your policy would have a specified amount of coverage, such as $20,000. If you have paid your premiums every month, your insurance will pay out the full $16,000 to repair both vehicles, since this is below the full coverage amount in your policy. Therefore, you won’t have to pay these costs out of pocket. If the damage to the vehicle exceeds your coverage amount of $20,000 then you will have to pay the extra amount.
There are two types of insurance claims: first-party and third-party claims. A first-party claim is one you make with your own insurance company. If you get into an accident, and you have insurance, you can claim the cost of repairs from your own insurance company. If another driver causes the accident, you can make a third-party claim to the driver’s insurance company.
According to Illinois law, drivers must have a minimum liability insurance of $25,000 for one person and $50,000 for two or more people injured or killed per car accident, as well as $20,000 for property damage per accident. Car owners in Illinois must provide proof of insurance at least twice a year. Failing to have insurance can result in a ticket and a fine.
If you get into an accident with a driver who is at fault but doesn’t have insurance, uninsured motorist coverage can help you. This compensates you as if the other driver had liability insurance. It’s a first-party claim, meaning you make a claim with your own insurance company.
In Illinois, uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory, and the minimum limits are the same as those required for liability insurance. You have to carry uninsured motorist coverage for at least $20,000 for one person injured per accident and $50,000 for two or more people injured per accident. You don’t have to get coverage for property damage, but your insurance company may offer it to you for a higher monthly premium.
Uninsured coverage applies when:
- The other driver is at fault, and
- The other vehicle’s owner or driver has no insurance, or the owner or at-fault driver’s identity is unknown.
If you’re involved in an accident caused by another driver who is at fault and his or her insurance coverage is not enough to cover your medical bills, underinsured motorist coverage can help. This coverage will pay the difference between the at-fault driver’s insurance limits and your medical bills, up to the maximum coverage of your own insurance policy. In Illinois, underinsured motorist coverage is mandatory, with a minimum coverage requirement of $25,000 for injury to one person and $50,000 for injury to two or more people per accident, just like uninsured motorist coverage.
For instance, let’s say you were in an accident and incurred medical expenses of $40,000. The at-fault driver has insurance coverage of $25,000, and you have underinsured motorist coverage of $40,000. In this scenario, the other driver’s insurance will pay the maximum under the policy of $25,000 to cover your medical bills. However, there is still a $15,000 shortfall, which your insurance will cover under the underinsured motorist coverage.
To be eligible for underinsured motorist coverage, two conditions must be met. First, the other vehicle’s owner or driver must be at fault. Second, his or her insurance liability limits must be lower than your underinsured motorist limits. If the at-fault driver’s liability limits are the same as your policyholder’s liability limits, you cannot make an underinsured claim.
Additionally, your injuries must be caused by the underinsured driver to make a claim.
Who Pays for an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
If you’re involved in an accident, having the right insurance policy can help cover your expenses. Your insurance company should pay you out for your uninsured motorist claim.
However, insurance companies may prioritize their profits and deny or reduce claims. In such cases, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of an uninsured motorist accident attorney, who can help you recover the compensation you’re entitled to under Illinois law.
Although legal action may not always be required, it can often push insurance companies to settle out of court. Your lawyer can also help you negotiate and protect your rights. The value of your claim will depend on various factors, but your lawyer can provide an estimate based on previous cases. As the innocent victim, you should be compensated for your accident-related expenses, and damages.
What Happens if the Other Driver Flees the Scene?
If a driver leaves the scene of an accident, it may be because he or she doesn’t want to take responsibility or doesn’t have auto insurance. This is called a hit-and-run accident, and it can be difficult to identify the at-fault driver. However, if you are involved in a hit-and-run and have been injured, or your car has been damaged, you may be able to make an uninsured motorist claim.
For the accident to qualify as a hit-and-run, there must be physical contact between the hit-and-run vehicle and the injured person or policyholder. This contact can be direct or indirect. In one court case, the hit-and-run car hit another car, which then hit the policyholder’s car. The policyholder was able to make an uninsured insurance claim because the first car was considered a hit-and-run vehicle.
Damages You Can Pursue in an Uninsured Motorist Accident Claim
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to the costs involved. However, if the accident was not your fault, you shouldn’t have to bear the financial burden alone.
In an uninsured motorist accident claim, you may be able to claim the following damages:
- medical expenses (past, present, and future)
- lost wages as well as reduced earning potential
- pain and suffering
- permanent disability
- rehabilitation expenses
- loss of consortium
However, recovering these expenses may require legal action from a car accident lawyer, especially if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured.