It can be terrifying to hear that the driver who caused your car accident had no car insurance. Immediately, you may wonder who is going to pay your medical bills and help you pay your other bills while you can’t work.
Generally, there are three options when the driver who is at fault is uninsured. The parties who could end up paying include:
- The at-fault driver,
- Your insurance company,
- or YOU.
Of course, the last option is the least desirable. While it may be possible to recover from either your insurance company or the driver who was at fault, it is important to recognize that these cases may be difficult and that you will have to take legal action to make a fair recovery.
Recovering From the Other Driver After an Uninsured Motorist Accident
In both Georgia and South Carolina, you have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who is liable for your car accident and injuries. If your lawsuit is successful, the court may order that your damages be paid from the uninsured driver’s assets. Unfortunately, many drivers who do not purchase car insurance also do not have sufficient assets to pay car accident damages. Accordingly, while you may have won your court case, you may be unable to collect the damages you need to recover.
Recovering From Your Own Insurance Company After an Uninsured Motorist Accident
Some people who are hurt by another driver may be able to recover damages from their own car insurance company after an accident with an uninsured driver. In order for your own insurance company to pay the damages, however, your car insurance policy must include uninsured motorist coverage.
Georgia law does not currently require you to have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy. That means that you can be an insured driver in the state of Georgia and have no claim against your own insurance company unless you specifically added the option of uninsured motorist coverage to your policy when you purchased it prior to the accident.
South Carolina law, however, does require you to have uninsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy. Thus, if you are a South Carolina driver and you purchased car insurance, you have a legal claim against your own insurance company if the driver who was legally responsible for the accident had no car insurance. A deductible may apply, but you may be reimbursed for the deductible if the insurance company can collect it from the uninsured driver.
If you are a South Carolina driver or you are a Georgia driver who purchased uninsured motorist coverage for the insurance policy that was in effect at the time of your accident, you may recover damages, but there may be some significant obstacles. For example:
- Your insurance company is now the adverse party. Although you were the one paying the insurance company for your coverage for just this type of situation, the insurance company is now an adverse party who is fighting against your fair recovery. The insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible in an accident settlement so that it can maximize its profits.
- There may be quick deadline requirements for filing an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. The time that you have to file an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company is likely less than the time you have to file a court case. Thus, it is important to act quickly so that you do not miss any deadlines that could interfere with your ability to recover damages.
- You may not be able to recover from your own insurance company if the other party had minimal insurance, but not enough insurance to compensate you for all of your injuries and damages. Having some—but not enough—car insurance is known as being underinsured. Being underinsured is different from being completely uninsured. Uninsured motorist coverage will not cover you if the person responsible for your accident was underinsured. Currently, neither Georgia nor South Carolina requires drivers to carry underinsured motorist coverage. However, it is an option in both states and you should check your policy to see if you are covered if you’ve been hurt by an underinsured motorist.
For these reasons, it is important to be aware of your legal rights, to be cautious about dealing with your insurance company on your own, and to fight for your fair and just recovery.
How Many Uninsured Drivers Are There on the Road?
Car insurance is currently mandatory in every state except New Hampshire. No one should be operating a vehicle without the state-required auto insurance. Yet, the problem of uninsured motorists is significant. In 2014, the Insurance Research Council (IRC) reported an estimated 29.7 million uninsured drivers in the United States in 2012 (the most recent year for which data is currently available). The IRC estimates that between 9-11% of Georgia drivers are uninsured and as many as 8% of South Carolina drivers are uninsured. Additionally, the states around us, such as Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee, are all estimated to have between 15-26% of their drivers uninsured—and those drivers may be visiting Georgia or South Carolina and cause serious accidents.
How to Protect Your Car Accident Recovery After an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
With so many uninsured drivers on the road, it is important to know how to protect your car accident recovery if you are injured by such a driver. If you don’t want to be financially responsible for the harm caused by your accident, you need to be prepared to fight your own insurance company or to collect damages from the driver who hurt you. For the reasons described above, both of these options may be difficult.
Accordingly, it is important to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer. Attorney Christopher Hudson will fight hard to get you the fair recovery you deserve and to make sure that, to the extent possible, it doesn’t come from your own pocket. To find out more about how to protect your rights when an uninsured driver causes your injury in a car crash, please read our free report, Understanding Georgia Automobile Accident Claims - A Claimant’s Guide, and please contact us online or call us directly at 888-795-6261.