Being involved in a car crash is a difficult experience all on its own, but when you come to find out that the person at fault has no insurance, that difficult experience can turn into a nightmare. If you are involved in a collision with a person who either flees the scene of the accident or who you come to find out does not have car insurance, there are three main pieces of information that you should be thinking about immediately after the crash.
- Investing in Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is the Only Way to Protect Yourself in this Type of Situation:
I simply cannot stress how important it is to have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage on your personal automobile insurance policy. According to a 2017 study (the latest data available) by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), 13% of motorists, or about one in eight drivers, were driving around without insurance. The State of Indiana ranked number 8 in the highest estimated percentage of Uninsured Motorists in 2015, with an estimated total of 16.7% of drivers out on the road with no insurance. According to the State of Indiana, each newly written Indiana auto liability policy must include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage unless you reject the coverage in writing, and minimum liability limits in the state amount to:
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage: $25,000 per person with a $50,000 maximum per accident
- Property Damage Coverage: $25,000
- Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage: $50,000
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage usually adds only a few extra dollars to your monthly auto insurance bill, but it is invaluable if you end up getting into a crash with someone who does not have insurance. Too often do we deal with people who have been injured in a wreck where the driver at fault either has no insurance or carries only minimal coverage, leaving the client either with not enough insurance to cover their medical costs or a dreaded scenario where there is simply no automobile insurance coverage at all to help pay medical bills.
- This is Why You Pay Money for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, and Your Own Insurance Company Should Cover the Loss:
Assuming that you have Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage, and the other driver who was at fault does not have insurance coverage, your own insurance coverage should step in and help you pay your medical bills, expenses, as well as compensate you for pain and suffering you are forced to deal with as a result of the accident. In order to verify coverage under the Uninsured/Underinsured motorist portion of your insurance policy, your own insurance company will likely conduct an extensive investigation of the crash, ask you several questions regarding what happened, who was at fault, your injuries, as well as questions regarding the other driver to make sure that there are no other sources of coverage for your injuries.
While in rare instances your insurance company will simply pay a fair amount for your medical bills, pain, suffering, and property damage, more often than not the insurer is going to try and either find a way to get out of covering the loss and/or conduct their investigation in way so as to make your damages seem insignificant. Contacting an attorney who has experience in dealing with insurers while they conduct these types of investigations during a pending Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage claim is imperative to make sure that you are adequately compensated for your medical bills, pain, suffering, and property damage. If you are on the fence about whether to hire an attorney to help guide you through the process of a Uninsured/Underinsured motorist claim, statistics show that more than 91% of people who hired a personal injury attorney received a payout, while that proportion dropped to 51% for those who pursued their claims on their own.
- If Your Insurance Company Does Not Play by the Rules, You May Be Entitled to Punitive Damages Based on a Theory “Bad Faith”:
If your own insurance company either refuses to pay the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist claim or they are unwilling to pay a fair amount for your injuries, it will be necessary to file a lawsuit to recover damages under a breach of the insurance contract between you and the insurer. To win a breach of contract case, we will need to prove with evidence the existence of a contract, the defendant insurance company’s breach thereof, and damages.However, if your own insurance company engages in any of the below conduct while investigating or litigating against your uninsured/underinsured motorist claim, you may also have an extra-contractual claim for “Bad Faith”:
- Making an unfounded refusal to pay policy proceeds;
- Causing an unfounded delay in making payments;
- Deceiving the insured;
- And/or exercising any unfair advantage to pressure an insured into a settlement of the claim
Proving insurer “Bad Faith” at trial is difficult and requires more than showing bad judgment or negligence: “it implies the conscious doing of wrong because of dishonest purpose or moral obliquity…[I]t contemplates a state of operating with furtive design or ill will.” Luckily, the lawyers at Hurst Limontes, LLC are will versed in litigating “bad faith” cases against insurance companies, and would be more than happy to evaluate your case to determine if the insurance company has engaged in “bad faith”, which may entitle you to punitive damages against the insurer.
If you have been injured in a car crash involving an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist, call the Hurst Limontes, LLC, for a free case consultation at 317-636-0808.