The person who caused my car accident is uninsured. Now what?

The person who caused my car accident is uninsured. Now what?

According to a recent study, in Washington, up to 21%, or 1 in 5 drivers are uninsured![1] This can severely limit your ability to recover if you are in an accident.

However, there are two things an attorney can help you do if the person who hit you is not insured.

1.       Start a UM/UIM (uninsured motorist) Claim under your own insurance (if you have it).

2.       Look to the assets of the driver for recovery.

Underinsured / Uninsured Motorist Claim (UM/UIM)

PSA: Make sure you have UIM in your policy! UIM provides you coverage in case you were in an accident and the person who hit you was not insured and/or does not have sufficient coverage for your injuries.

To make up for the cost of accidents with uninsured motorists, many states require your policy to have it. But Washington does NOT, and to win your business, an insurer may sell you a low-cost policy that does not include it!

But if you have it, after filing a UM/UIM claim, we can negotiate with your insurance company just as we would with the third party-insurer for the driver (if they had one). This could be your only source of recovery in these situations.

Remember, although it is your own insurer paying you, you should limit the information you provide your insurance regarding their bodily injury claim. As we discussed previously [here], they are trying to pay you as little money as possible, and they will use something you said to them to justify paying you less than what your claim is worth. We handle all the communication and conflict, so you can focus on healing and getting back to your regular life.

Filing a lawsuit against the person who hit you

UM/UIM limits are usually lower than third party insurance. So the only other place to turn for recourse is the driver themselves. Is it worth it?

It depends. We first do an asset search and investigation to determine what may be available from the person who injured you. In an asset search we can find out if they have anything of value and whether it would be available for recovery. Depending on what is found, we can then decide with our clients if it is worth moving forward with a suit against the driver directly.  

Unfortunately, if someone cannot afford car insurance, their assets available for collection are likely limited, which underscores the importance of UIM insurance coverage. But there have been times when the driver has had significant assets available to our clients, so it is at least worth the search.

Suing an individual can be an uncomfortable process, but your attorney can be there to help be the buffer between you and the party who caused your accident or their attorney. Remember, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries, and you should not feel badly for asking the person who caused them to pay for them. Hopefully, if they will accept responsibility, it is a fairly straightforward process of determining what is available to help make you whole.