Any accident is unsettling, but if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you have more to worry about than just your injuries or damages. If you were not at fault, then you may have an uphill battle collecting damages from someone who could not afford or was too irresponsible to insure their vehicle. If you were at fault, you could be looking at a significant financial outlay if you do not have the proper insurance in place already.
Learning more about what happens when an uninsured driver is involved in an accident can help you protect yourself and your financial future. There are some steps you can take now and even after an accident to mitigate risk and minimize the damage to your finances.
Protect Yourself with Insurance
The absolute best thing you can do to protect yourself against uninsured motorists is to purchase the right kind of car insurance from the start. Adding both uninsured and underinsured riders to your policy can protect you financially after an auto accident, no matter who was to blame. If you do not have this coverage, you should elect to as soon as possible to protect yourself and your finances. You should have both of these types of coverage for full protection:
Uninsured Motorist: This insurance covers you if you are in an accident with another driver who has no insurance at all. If they are to blame, your needs will be covered by your own provider. If you are to blame, your insurance will cover the accident as usual.
Underinsured Motorist: Some people comply with the law but fail to have enough insurance to cover the damage they cause. If you are hit by an underinsured motorist, this coverage will ensure you get back on the road right away and that you are compensated by your own insurer, even if the person who caused the accident does not have enough insurance to cover repairs and costs.
If you Don’t Have Coverage
About 25% of all US drivers are rolling through the streets without insurance coverage. If you encounter one of them, you still have options, even if you do not have uninsured motorist coverage. If you hit a driver who is not covered, they may work very hard to insist the accident is fully your fault. If you accept blame for the accident, your insurer will have to cover the costs (and you may be liable for some as well).
If you are in an accident with an uninsured person, no matter who is to blame, you must fully document the incident. You are legally required to file a police report if there are injuries or there is property damage; if the other party is uninsured, you should file with the California Highway Patrol or local Redlands police to document the incident. You may need this proof later.
Take photos of the accident, gather witness information and record your version of events. An uninsured driver who feels you are to blame will work hard to get your insurance company to pay their damages (they also may be facing expensive fines and consequences and hope to minimize their expenses by shifting blame to you). Never apologize or admit error and always document everything, even if the other driver has nothing to share beyond their contact information.
Be Extra Cautious
The other driver may resist reporting the accident at all, since they are breaking the law for driving without insurance; you will be breaking the law as well if you fail to report the crash. You should also be aware of common car accident scams, where an “uninsured” driver actually causes an accident and wants your insurance to pay for their car or “injuries”. They could claim to not have insurance simply to avoid the hassle of filing, to avoid police interaction or to avoid an increase in their own premiums.
No matter what has happened, calling the police for a report, documenting everything and seeking out the advice of a Redlands auto accident attorney can help protect you after an accident with an uninsured motorist. Taking extra precautions can save you time, money and hassle after this type of accident and protect your financial future as well. If you are not sure what to do after an accident, get in touch; we can help you determine your next steps and recover any losses you may be entitled to. Contact Harsh Law today for help with your auto accident claims and recovery; we’re here for you when you need us most.