Will Insurance Still Cover Me if I Was Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

Will Insurance Still Cover Me if I Was Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

If you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you have an especially difficult task ahead. An uninsured driver is a driver with no insurance coverage at all; an underinsured driver is one with some coverage, but not enough to cover the damage he or she caused. (A hit-and-run driver is considered an uninsured motorist, at least until he or she can be identified.) In a no-fault state, your own PIP coverage should cover at least some of your injuries and property damage. But in an at-fault state, being hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver may mean there is no money at all available to cover your injuries. You are free to sue, of course, but most individuals are not wealthy enough to fully pay for a serious injury.

In at-fault states, and in no-fault states with low coverage limits, more and more drivers are responding to this risk by carrying uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance that supplements their basic policies. In fact, some states require it. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage compensates you for the costs of the accident, up to the limits of the uninsured/underinsured policy. Unfortunately, the actual cost of your injuries can still exceed those limits. And because uninsured/underinsured motorist claims can be difficult to document, some insurance companies make them difficult to collect.

Understanding Insurance Law Can Make the Difference

Often, a more detailed understanding of insurance law can make all the difference in whether you receive full compensation for your injuries. Take, for example, the case of a 25-year-old day laborer who was seriously injured as a passenger on his way to the beach with a few of his friends. His injuries were severe and permanent, rendering him unable to work anymore. The other driver was clearly at fault, since he rear-ended the vehicle the young man was riding in. That driver’s liability insurance carrier said there was a total of $30,000 on his policy, so the young man would not be able to recover any more compensation for his significant injuries.

The young man consulted several lawyers who declined his case, saying there was limited coverage (the $30,000) and his bills already exceeded $137,000. Then the young man spoke to a friend who referred him to an experienced personal injury lawyer. That lawyer determined that while the vehicle the young man was riding in did not have underinsured motorist coverage, the trailer it was pulling did have coverage though his friend’s father, a small business owner with a commercial insurance policy. The lawyer was convinced that there was underinsured motorist coverage through this policy, allowing his client to collect the full amount of his injuries. The lawyer negotiated and “worked” the case for over a year, finally convincing the insurance carrier that this client could collect on $1 million in additional insurance coverage.

The lawyer was able to settle the case for the limits of the trailer’s commercial policy and structure this additional settlement in a special needs trust, which allowed the young man to keep receiving Medicaid and still buy a specially equipped house and car. By fully investigating the case and understanding insurance law, the lawyer was able to fully compensate the young man and provide for his future medical and financial needs.

Insurance May Cover You, Even with an Uninsured Driver

If you were hit by a driver without insurance in an at-fault state, you may think you are out of luck — unable to collect any settlement at all. But before you give up, you should always call an experienced personal injury lawyer. The experienced personal injury lawyer is sure to look at all possibilities for insurance coverage, including insurance covering the driver, the vehicle’s owner, and any user given permission to use the vehicle, as well as a client’s own insurance coverage, before giving up.

In one case, a law firm was able to help a distraught woman who was hit by an uninsured driver in an at-fault state. This driver was clearly at fault for the accident. In fact, he said at the scene that he knew he was at fault but had no insurance to pay for the damage. The client had purchased collision coverage only, thinking she was doing the smart thing by saving money. Because neither driver had any insurance that applied to the crash, this woman thought she was out of luck. Still, she called a law firm, which agreed to take her case.

After investigating the facts, the law firm discovered that the at-fault driver was driving his girlfriend’s mother’s vehicle — with the permission of his girlfriend, to run an errand. Also, as it turned out, the mother and daughter had an agreement that the daughter could borrow her mother’s car as needed from time to time. That meant the at-fault driver was a “permissive user” under the policy — someone who has permission to drive the car — which meant that he was covered by the mother’s liability insurance. In most states, liability coverage will cover permissive users of an insured automobile. This was true even though the driver of both vehicles involved in the accident were personally uninsured.

This scenario is quite common. Although laws in almost every state require all drivers to have liability insurance, many violate the law. An experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help by searching thoroughly for an applicable insurance policy covering any party involved in the accident.