How to Deal with an Uninsured Motorist Accident
You’re driving home after a long day of work, thinking about what you’re going to do about dinner. You brake at a stop sign, look around for any oncoming drivers, then slowly keep moving. WHAM! A car speeds past its stop sign and slams into the side of your car. Minutes later, you find out the driver is uninsured.
For many drivers, this is the stuff of nightmares. Car accidents are traumatizing enough, but imagine having to worry about paying for medical bills and car repairs. Accidents involving uninsured drivers can change your life.
There’s only so much you can do to drive safely while avoiding other drivers who seem to be doing the opposite. But uninsured drivers are more prevalent than you’d think. In 2012, 12.6 percent of drivers were uninsured in the USand 16.2 percent were uninsured in Colorado.
For many, that number is high enough to consider getting uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which isn’t required in Colorado. Regardless of whether you decide to invest in that optional coverage, here are five ways to protect yourself in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Call 911. You should call the police after any type of car accident, but it’s especially important in an accident with an uninsured driver. The officer will file an accident report, which can be a huge asset if you need to take the matter to court. You should also take as many photos as you can for your personal records. Snap photos of different angles of your car, their car, the surrounding area, and any other details you think may be important.
Exchange information. You should always do this in any accident, in case you need to contact the other driver. If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their contact information as well, in case you do end up filing a claim. Never take cash at the scene—estimating damage is difficult, and you don’t want to end up with no way to pay for it.
Contact your insurer. Colorado became a tort state in 2003, meaning fault must be established before insurers will pay a claim. If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, your options may be limited at this point, but it can help to discuss options with your insurance company. Depending on your policy and the incurred damage, you may be able to work something out. Regardless, an agent can advise you on the necessary next steps.
Get yourself checked out. Your personal health is always most important, so take time to check that you’re okay. Injuries such as whiplash or back pain can become evident weeks after the accident, so visit the doctor as soon as you can. If you’ve been injured, you may accrue some medical expenses. Normally, the other driver’s liability insurance would cover your medical expenses, but with an uninsured driver, it’s not so simple. Your health insurance will most likely cover your hospital bills, but you’ll probably need to pay the deductible out-of-pocket.
Assess the damage. As with any car accident or associated damage, you should call your insurer to see what they can do to help you fix your car. Uninsured motorist insurance would cover all of these costs, but without it, your own insurance may not be able to cover everything. You may have to turn to filing a claim for compensation, which can be tricky.
It’s easy to disregard uninsured motorist protection—but when you need it, you really need it. However, if you find yourself uncovered by the umbrella of uninsured motorist insurance, you still have options.
If you were injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, contact a knowledgeable Denver auto accident lawyer who can help evaluate your individual case and ensure your legal rights are protected.
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