A car accident injured you, and the bills are piling up, you’ve lost time at work, and you don’t know how you’re going to pay for it all. You then find out that the at-fault party has no insurance. Is it worth pursuing a lawsuit against someone who cannot pay for the damages that their negligence caused?
Don’t feel discouraged. Contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your options and determine how you can recover compensation for your injuries.
Uninsured Motorist versus Underinsured Motorist
Uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists are insurance policy add-ons. You can pay to have this extra feature on your insurance if you have an accident with someone who does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough. Then your insurance company will pay the financial compensation instead of the at-fault party.
It benefits motorists to know how many drivers in their state do not have insurance. There are many sites online where a person can research these statistics. Government agency websites are a good place to start. If you live in a state with over a million uninsured drivers, you may want to carry uninsured motorist insurance.
The Uninsured Driver
If an accident injured you, and the negligent driver who caused the accident tells you they have no insurance, do not immediately believe them. Some people will say this so that you do not pursue legal action. Get their name, license plate, and driver’s license number, if possible. Treat the accident like any other accident until you know that they do not have insurance. Exchange information and make sure that there is a police report. Get the names of any witnesses at the scene.
If you have an experienced lawyer on your side, they will investigate to find out if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance and why. Are they low-income and couldn’t afford insurance, or did their policy lapse because they forgot to pay it on time? The at-fault party maybe even lied. Your lawyer will be able to start a personal injury case on your behalf.
The Importance of Insurance Coverage
Insurance companies work by going after other insurance companies. When one person is covered, but the other is not, the insurance company has no one against whom to file a claim.
Perhaps, the driver forgot to pay the insurance, and it lapsed. Your lawyer can find out if that is the case. If it is, you can investigate the financial standing of that party. It may turn out that they are independently wealthy. If so, it can be worth it to file a lawsuit because the party can pay you out of pocket.
Many accidents have more than one at-fault party. There could be multiple factors that caused the accident. If there is another source of liability, your lawyer can also file a claim against that person or entity. This approach ensures that you receive the compensation you deserve.
For example: Say the other party was a negligent driver who was texting and not looking at the road. When they looked up from their phone, they saw a huge pothole and swerved to avoid it, but they ended up hitting your vehicle and causing the accident. The distracted driver is one liable party. But, the roadway was also not properly maintained, and there was a hazard that contributed to the accident. Now, you have a government entity that is also liable.
Another example: Say you are traveling on a highway. The driver in front of you has a trailer that is not appropriately hitched and has uneven weight distribution. The trailer begins swaying back and forth and going over the lines in the road. As the unsteady trailer moves into another lane, a motorist swerves to avoid it and collides with your vehicle. This situation now has more than two parties involved in the accident. The person that hit you with their vehicle may be liable, but the person traveling with an unsafe trailer is another liable party.
In these cases, you will likely receive some compensation for your injuries. Both at-fault parties could be liable. So, even if the uninsured motorist has no money, you will still receive money from the other liable party.
Filing a Lawsuit
Your lawyer can determine if the at-fault party has any assets. If they have assets, your lawyer can put a lien on the properties until the at-fault party pays the debt. They can also set up a payment plan or wage garnishment so that the at-fault party can make monthly payments to you until they satisfy the judgment.
If the negligent party does not have any assets, it’s unlikely that you will get the money owed to you. Even if you get a judgment in your favor, the other party could always declare bankruptcy. Once they declare bankruptcy, they will no longer owe you that money, and the debt will disappear.
The bottom line is even if you win a lawsuit against an uninsured motorist, you may not be able to collect that money. This risk is why it is important to speak with a qualified lawyer. An experienced lawyer who can guide you, advise you, and explain your options can make a significant difference in recovering compensation. Contact a car accident lawyer near you today to learn more about your options.