If you experience a car accident, the first thing you may consider (after making sure everyone is okay or medically tended-to, of course) is whether the other driver was insured. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, there are several critical considerations and steps you must take immediately. You should first make sure that you are off the road and in a safe place, and then contact the local police or highway patrol. Use your cell phone to take photos of the other vehicle, including the license plate and any damage. Request to see the other driver’s identification, then take photos or carefully write down all information provided. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable doing so, wait until a law enforcement officer arrives on the scene.
Uninsured Driver Risks
Most states have implemented strict uninsured driver laws, and for good reason. Uninsured drivers cost the car insurance industry and law-abiding, insured motorists billions of dollars each year. The Insurance Research Council estimates that almost 14% of U.S. drivers are uninsured at any given time. A tough economy increases the likelihood that drivers will let their coverage lapse when money is tight. Most insurance carriers offer uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage as an add-on to your own auto policy, and many states require this coverage. Contact your insurance company to make sure you carry ample coverage for this risk.
Who is Responsible for Damage
If you are in a public right of way, a police officer or highway patrol will determine who was at fault in the accident. If the accident takes place on private property, such as a parking lot or parking structure, officers will usually not issue citations or give a decision about fault.
Should You Involve Your Auto Insurance Carrier?
In the event you are hit by an uninsured motorist and not at fault, your auto insurance should cover the damages, provided you have purchased the extra under-insured or uninsured motorist coverage. The uninsured driver can even attempt to make a claim against your insurance, so you may want to consider speaking to an attorney. You may have to sue an uninsured driver to collect damages, and you will most likely have to pay your auto insurance deductible out of pocket.
If you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver and need repairs to your vehicle, your insurance company will also attempt to recover damages from the other party. You may have to appear in court, as a witness and the victim, to testify about the accident itself.
If your vehicle sustained damage, the safest and simplest course of action is to find a reputable auto collision shop in your area and enlist their help. They may offer towing assistance as a part of their services, and work with your insurance company to complete the necessary repairs in a quick, high quality way. Insurance companies can sometimes be uncooperative or difficult to deal with in these cases, and having a professional intermediary such as an established auto body shop can help ease the process for you, helping to reduce at least a little bit of this stressful situation.
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