I was hit by an underinsured motorist, can I sue for the damages they won’t cover?
- Monday, 12 January 2015 20:30
Involvement in an automobile accident with an uninsured driver can leave your life in shambles. This is especially the case if the accident resulted in you or your passengers sustaining serious injuries or if your automobile was totaled. According to a report published by the Insurance Research Council, one out of every six motorists on the road is uninsured. This raises the question, can a person sue for damages that an uninsured motorist refuses to cover?
Suing an Uninsured Driver
If your automobile is damaged or if you received injuries as a result of an accident with an uninsured driver, you have two options. Your first option is to sue the uninsured driver for the damages. The second option would be to file an insurance claim with your own insurance company.
There are two reasons why suing an uninsured driver may actually do you more financial harm than good. Why? First, a civil lawsuit is going to require you to pay out-of-pocket for all legal fees. Second, most uninsured drivers do not have money or assets. If they had money, they would have put insurance on the vehicle. So at the end of the day, you will go through all of the hassle and walk away with little to no money.
If the defendant refuses to pay the judgment, you can go back to court and get a court order demanding the defendant to pay you. However, the court is going to be reasonable in what they expect a person with little to no resources to pay.
The court could set up a payment plan whereby the defendant pays a small amount of money every week. But that usually will not solve your problem. Getting $25 a week is not that satisfying.
Realizing that suing an individual who is driving without insurance is often a losing battle, many attorneys will not take a case against an uninsured driver unless there is strong evidence that the driver has money that is hidden away. If that is the case, the lawyer may work to have a lean put against any assets the defendant has during the course of litigation.
Filing an Uninsured Driver Claim
In most cases, the best way to proceed after being hit by an uninsured driver is to file a claim against your own car insurance company. This would fall under uninsured motorist coverage. Many insurance companies put time limits on the amount of time that can transpire after the accident before an uninsured motorist coverage claim can be filed.
A claim of this sort is very similar to a car accident claim. The only difference is that you are claiming against your own insurance company. If you and your insurance company cannot come up with an agreed settlement figure, instead of going to court, the case would go into arbitration.
Getting hit by an uninsured motorist is an unnerving thing. When deciding whether to sue or to file a claim against your own insurance company, it would be a good idea to speak to an attorney and get their opinion of your situation.