If you’ve been in a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company may cover your damages. However, what if the at-fault driver doesn’t have any car insurance to draw upon? Or, what if you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident and the driver can’t be identified?
While situations like these may be more complicated, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are out of luck. You can still seek compensation, especially if you hire an attorney to help you.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is provided by your own car insurance company. It is an optional coverage, but most drivers have it unless they specifically opted out while buying their policy. If you are unsure whether you have this coverage, contact your insurance carrier to find out.
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How much UM/UIM coverage should drivers in Georgia carry?
UM/UIM coverage helps pay for your damages if you are hit by a driver without insurance or who wasn’t carrying the minimum insurance requirements. According to Geico, all drivers in Georgia must carry at least:
- $25,000 Bodily Injury Liability coverage per person
- $50,000 Bodily Injury Liability coverage per accident
- $25,000 Property Damage Liability coverage per accident
Insurance companies must also offer at least (which can be declined):
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage for $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage for $25,000 with a $250, $500, or $1000 deductible
If you have UM/UIM insurance, your damages should be covered up to these minimums. If the at-fault driver had some insurance but not enough to pay for your damages, your UM/UIM coverage will help pay for what their policy can’t.
New Uninsured Motorist Coverage
According to the Georgia Department of Insurance, a law was passed in 2008 that now requires auto insurance carriers to offer a “New Uninsured Motorist Coverage” that provides more protection at a higher premium.
If you have this new UM coverage and the other driver causes your injuries or property damage, your carrier should pay for your damages as well as the at-fault driver’s Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Coverage limits (up to your UM coverage limit).
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim
If you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, don’t wait to take action. You will need to make a claim with your own insurance company. The time to make these claims is usually very limited, and sometimes you won’t have more than 30 days to get started.
After you make a claim, expect your insurance company to investigate the facts. They will look into the nature of your injuries, the medical treatment you receive, and more. Your insurer should approach your claim unfairly, but if you feel they are not acting in good faith, contact a car accident lawyer right away.
Can Standard Collision Coverage Cover the Accident?
You can add collision coverage to your policy and, while it costs extra, it will help you pay for repairs to your vehicle after an accident. This is true whether you or the other driver are found to have been at fault for the accident, or if you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident.
Collision coverage covers just that – collision costs. In other words, it doesn’t apply to medical costs for your injuries, only the costs involved with fixing your car. And, of course, you can only take out as much as your maximum coverage will allow, so if your car costs more than that to repair you’ll need to file a claim for the remainder.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Other Driver
If you have substantial damages that your UM/UIM insurance doesn’t come close to covering, you may consider filing a lawsuit against the uninsured or underinsured driver. This is typically an option in “fault” states like Georgia where the at-fault driver is liable for all damages.
Before proceeding to court, you should talk this over carefully with a trusted car accident lawyer. They can look at the situation and advise you on the best course of action. Most uninsured drivers don’t have insurance because they can’t afford it or have limited funds. So, if you try to sue them for your damages, and even if you obtain a judgment against them, there may not be many assets to draw on.
A lawsuit is also only an option if you know who the at-fault driver is. If you suffered a hit-and-run, suing the driver will be impossible unless you can find out their identity. Police and your lawyer may be able to help you investigate and find the hit-and-run driver.
What to Do Right After a Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver
No matter how the accident happened with the uninsured driver or what you plan to do, the first step is gathering evidence—as soon as possible. Thankfully, you can begin this process as soon as the accident happens.
Here are some things you can do to begin building your case against the at-fault party in the car accident.
Call the Police to Report the Accident
In Georgia, you should report an accident to the police if there are any injuries and/or over $500 in property damage. This encompasses most accidents. After the collision happens, call 911 and tell the police you were in an accident.
The other driver might try to discourage you from calling the police or say they just want to handle the damages between the two of you. This is common for at-fault drivers who don’t have insurance, as they know they will be in trouble after the accident is reported. But you have to consider your needs first—and you will lose any legal protections if you do not report the accident. Always report the accident.
Use your phone or a camera to photograph:
- The accident scene
- Your injuries (and injuries of any passengers)
- Vehicle damage
- Anything else you think is important for your case
If you suspect the other driver doesn’t have car insurance—or if they are acting nervous, shifty, or weird in any way—you might also take a picture or video of them, their vehicle, and their license plate. If they decide to make a run for it and leave the scene, you will at least have photographic evidence of their identity.
When the police respond to the scene they will ask for this information, but it’s also a good idea to exchange it with the other driver while you wait:
- First and last name
- Contact information
- Insurance policy information
- Driver’s license numbers
Getting this information soon after the accident will also help protect you in case the other driver tries to shirk responsibility.
Tell Your Car Insurance Company
You will need to report the accident to your own insurance company, especially if the other driver does not have sufficient insurance coverage. You’ll be able to find out what your insurance covers in this situation.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
If you have serious injuries that your UM/UIM insurance won’t cover, you should talk to an experienced car accident lawyer who can help you look at your options. You shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes of another driver—even if they don’t have insurance.
See a Doctor
Make sure a medical professional sees your injuries as soon as possible after the accident. This will create a record showing the insurance company that you sought treatment very soon. It will also ensure your injuries are treated before they have the chance to get worse (which is common with many car accident injuries, such as whiplash).
Contact a Georgia Car Accident Attorney Today for Help
If you were hit by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance, don’t give up hope. You have options, even if they are more complicated than an accident where all drivers are insured.
At John Foy & Associates, we can go over the details of your situation and help you develop a plan of action. Our number one goal is getting you the compensation you deserve. Call our personal injury attorneys today for a FREE consultation at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now.