Can I Sue an Uninsured Driver for Damages?

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

October 7, 2022

COVERAGE FOR UNINSURED DRIVERS

While the judicial system is supposed to make you whole again by compensating you when a defendant causes an accident, this does not always happen. You may not be able to collect enough to meet your medical bills if the driver does not have adequate insurance or none at all. We’ll go through some of the additional possibilities you could have on this page.

In tort jurisdictions like Colorado and California, you would generally recoup damages from the defendant or their insurance carrier. However, if the defendant does not have insurance or does not have adequate insurance, you will have to depend on your uninsured motorist coverage to compensate your costs.

Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage is often available as an add-on to your standard policy. If an underinsured or uninsured driver strikes you, your coverage will cover your losses. However, filing a claim with your insurance isn’t your only choice.

After an car accident, you should not only file a claim with the defendant’s insurance company, but you should also tell your own insurance company. Give your contact information, the location and date of the accident, and the insurance policy numbers—both your insurance company’s policy number and the at-fault driver’s policy number and insurance company, if the at-fault driver has insurance.

You should also provide the insurance companies with your car accident lawyer’s contact information and advise them that your lawyer will be contacting them with more information regarding the accident. Do not provide either insurance company any further information or make any recorded remarks, as they may distort what you say against you—this is a frequent tactic used by insurance companies to reject claims or pay you a pittance for a settlement.

HOW DOES UNINSURED MOTORIST PROTECTION WORK?

Uninsured motorist coverage cannot, in most situations, exceed your regular liability coverage. As a result, if you have $100,000 in basic coverage, your uninsured motorist coverage will be $100,000 or less, depending on your options.

However, if your losses exceed $100,000, you are only entitled to $100,000. Even if your injuries result in long-term or permanent disability, this may not be enough to pay your

 

medical bills. However, all is not lost if the at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance and your uninsured motorist policy does not cover all of your losses.

LITIGATION

You might continuously pursue a lawsuit against an uninsured driver, particularly if your losses exceed the coverage provided by your uninsured motorist insurance. Unless the defendant just forgot to pay the insurance and let the policy expire, if the defendant does not have insurance, there’s a significant possibility they don’t have enough money to win a case. Even so, it’s always a good idea to look into the defendant’s cash via discovery in a case.

You may be able to place a lien on the defendant’s assets. If the defendant owned property, for example, they would have to pay the judgment before benefiting from it.

FOLLOWING A CAR ACCIDENT, TAKE THESE STEPS

Take images of the collision and the accident site, close-up and far away. Also, take pictures of skid marks and other road markings, as well as damage to real and personal property like fences and mailboxes, as well as the license plate of the car that impacted you. This will not only show that the defendant was in an accident with you, but it will also assist your lawyers and detectives in piecing together a tale.

MAKE A LIST.

You will most likely forget all about the accident within a few days. While the accident is still fresh in your memory, jot down a few facts, such as the other car’s make, model, and color, the nearby cross streets, the accident location’s address, and the other driver’s contact registration and insurance information. If the other motorist refuses to provide you with this information, snap a picture of them or write down identifying details such as their height, hair color, and clothing.

SPEAK WITH THE EYEWITNESSES

Witnesses may be able to supply a wealth of information on the accident. You must, however, act quickly. It’s best to acquire a statement from a witness as soon as possible since they can forget important details about the accident.

Inquire about witnesses’ contact information and what they observed. Make a note of it, or ask if you may record what they’re saying. Witnesses might be pretty helpful in confirming facts discovered during an inquiry.

POLICE SHOULD BE CONTACTED.

You should always contact the police after an accident, mainly if the other party is uninsured. If you have to sue the wrongdoer afterward, the police record might be beneficial in recovering damages.

 

It’s possible that the damage isn’t as modest as it seems. What seems to be a damaged fender might be a bent frame if struck just right. Even if the other motorist requests you not to contact the cops, go ahead and do it. Furthermore, you may have more injuries than you realize. Some injuries take hours or even days to develop due to the numbing effects of the flow of adrenaline our bodies experience after a stressful event like a car collision.

OBTAIN MEDICAL ASSISTANCE

Even if you believe your injuries are minor, let the emergency medical professionals who arrive on the scene examine you. If you have to sue to collect damages, or if you try to settle with an underinsured motorist and your own insurance company, you’ll need this information.

Visit the hospital as soon as the police release you from the scene. Inform physicians that you were in a car accident and need a thorough examination to ensure you do not have any internal or brain problems. Some injuries can not show up for hours, days, or weeks after an accident. X-rays and another testing might reveal hidden ailments that you were previously unaware of.

THE FINANCIAL SITUATION OF THE DEFENDANT

You might receive all you need, just a portion of what you need to compensate your losses, or nothing at all if you sue the at-fault driver. However, the lawsuit is always worthwhile since you never know what the at-fault driver has until you know them personally, and even then, you may believe you know what they have.

WHEN AN AT-FAULT DRIVER ISN’T AT FAULT

Never presume that the at-fault motorist is entirely devoid of assets. The motorist may have assets, such as a house, cars, jewelry, retirement funds, and other valuable items, even if they do not have enough cash to compensate your losses.

If not, and the court determines that the driver is liable for damages, the court might order the driver to pay the damages. You may place a lien on the valued item to satisfy the judgment amount — or at least a portion of it – if the driver ever acquires anything of value, such as a house.

WHEN THE AT-FAULT DRIVER IS ONLY COVERED BY PARTIALLY INSURED

You might file a claim against your underinsured motorist coverage if the driver has some insurance but not enough to cover your losses. You might sue the defendant if the sum collected from both insurance plans is insufficient. Once the court finds it in your favor, you may be able to place a lien on the defendant’s assets, just as you might with an uninsured driver.

 

BANKRUPTCY

You may not be able to collect anything if the defendant declares bankruptcy after the court issues a judgment against them. You have the option of filing a claim in bankruptcy court. A debtor must include your claim in the Chapter 13 plan if the defendant files for Chapter 13. Suppose the debtor/defendant files Chapter 7, a liquidation bankruptcy. In that case, you may not get anything unless they have a few assets, and your judgment is towards the top of the list of who is paid when the bankruptcy trustee sells the debtor’s assets.

WHAT IS THE POTENTIAL COST OF AN ACCIDENT?

The extent of your injuries determines the cost of the accident. Mild injuries may be minor and heal fast. In contrast, minor injuries may take considerably longer to recover – or not at all – if you have underlying illnesses that impact your immune system. Severe and catastrophic injuries may result in a long-term or permanent disability that needs lifelong medical care.

Bumps, bruises, scratches, cuts, and scrapes Road rash

Chemical or fire burns Burns to the face and eyes

Strains, sprains, strained muscles, torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries Simple and complicated fractures

Head, neck, and shoulder injuries Traumatic brain injuries Wrongful death

Secondary injuries, such as infections Back and spinal cord injuries

Internal injuries and organ damage Wrongful death

Amputation, either as a result of the accident or because surgeons are unable to preserve a limb, whether as a result of the accident or later injuries such as infection

 

You should also inform your attorney if you have any underlying medical issues. Some illnesses (such as diabetes and immunodeficiencies) and medications used to treat other diseases (such as chemotherapy) may make recovery more complex.

Accident injuries may worsen underlying problems in certain circumstances. Because you would not have had these problems if the accident hadn’t happened, the at-fault driver may be found liable for medical expenditures and pain and suffering in each of these circumstances.

DAMAGES THAT CAN BE RECOVERED

You may have to depend on your policy’s uninsured rider if you wish to collect damages from an uninsured or underinsured motorist. However, since the compensation is restricted, you may still be unable to cover medical expenditures, as well as additional losses such as pain and suffering and mental anguish.

If your injuries do not result in long-term or permanent disability, your uninsured motorist policy may pay some or all of your medical bills as well as some or all of your lost income.

You may seek compensatory and punitive damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance, a combination of your insurance and the at-fault driver’s insufficient insurance, or by suing the at-fault driver.

Economic and non-economic losses are included in compensatory damages.

ECONOMIC LOSSES

Economic damages, sometimes known as special damages, have a monetary value and might include:

Past medical expenditures for injuries sustained in the accident, as well as expenses for injuries suffered before a settlement or trial award.

Future medical expenditures for injuries sustained in the accident, as well as those incurred after a settlement or trial award.

Wages lost before the accident and before a settlement or trial award.

Future lost income for people who have been unable to work due to accident injuries after a settlement or trial award.

Replacing or repairing a personal property that has been destroyed or damaged. Costs of a funeral, burial, and cremation.

DAMAGES THAT AREN’T MONETARY

 

Non-economic damages, often known as general damages, are non-monetary losses that include:

Pain and suffering, including emotional anguish if you were injured in an accident.

Emotional anguish for individuals who have lost a loved one in an accident.

A reduction in quality of life if you must use ambulatory aids or take medicine for the rest of your life.

You will miss out on camaraderie if you cannot participate in activities and events with your family.

You’ll lose your consortium if you can’t have a physical connection with your husband.

Excessive scarring, such as after a burn or a car accident.

Disfigurement, such as a fractured bone that cannot be repaired or spinal cord damage.

The inability to utilize a physical member, such as a foot or hand. A biological function, such as your vision, is lost.

Additional remuneration for amputation.

Inconvenience if you have to pay someone to perform your regular activities, such as housecleaning, food shopping, home maintenance and repair, and lawn care.

A car crash attorney is a vital option if you were injured or lost a loved one in a car accident and the other motorist was underinsured or uninsured. Don’t let yourself go without the reward you deserve. Know your rights, alternatives, and how much you’re worth!

Warrior Personal Injury Lawyers
1902 W. Colorado Ave., Ste. 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
719-300-1100

Free Consultation

NO FEE UNLESS WE WIN

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