It’s every driver’s worst nightmare: getting into a wreck caused by someone who doesn’t have any car insurance, even though they’re required to purchase it by state law. Since you can’t demand money for any of your losses from an insurance company representing that other driver, that’s one less option for getting paid fairly for your damages. This makes filing a lawsuit against the driver directly a much more appealing choice.
The most straightforward answer to the question, “Can I sue an uninsured driver?” is “yes.” However, it might be more helpful to say, “Yes, but with some caveats.” No matter what choice you make for your specific situation, having help from an experienced personal injury lawyer at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can make a huge difference in your odds of success.
What Does State Law Say?
If you’re a law-abiding driver who pays their insurance premiums on time, you should be covered for at least some losses stemming from a crash caused by an uninsured driver. This is because state law requires people hurt in car wrecks to seek compensation through their own personal injury protection coverage first before filing any kind of lawsuit.
Your PIP coverage should reimburse you for your medical bills. In addition, if you carry collision coverage, the repairs to your vehicle would be covered by your own insurer upon payment of your deductible. Your insurer would then attempt to recover your deductible from the at-fault driver through a process called subrogation. In addition, you may have coverage for rental car reimbursement through your own insurance policy. Once these “first-party” coverages are exhausted, you won’t be able to make up the difference with the uninsured driver’s insurance coverage, since they don’t have any. You’ll need another approach.
The Disadvantages of Suing an Uninsured Driver
Technically, you can sue an uninsured driver for the full value of various crash-related losses that aren’t covered by your own insurance, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of life’s pleasures
- Lost work wages and/or ability to work
- Future medical bills and related expenses
- Personal property damage
However, since that driver won’t have an insurance company backing them up, the maximum amount of money you could get will be limited to how much that other driver has in personal assets. If they didn’t bother to get or couldn’t afford insurance, it’s unlikely they’ll have enough money to cover the short-term and long-term effects of a severe auto accident.
Recovering Through Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Perhaps the best way to prepare for this kind of scenario in advance and save yourself significant stress is to get uninsured motorist coverage as part of your own car insurance policy. This coverage is usually offered as a fairly affordable add-on to basic policies. While it might cost a little more in the short term, it can be hugely beneficial and worthwhile if you ever need to sue an uninsured driver.
Contact a Lawyer to Discuss Claims Against Uninsured Drivers
If you’re unsure what kind of coverage you have or what legal options might be available to you outside of insurance claims, a conversation with an experienced personal injury lawyer like Managing Partner Rich Godshall can give you the answers and information you need. Call Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.