What To Do If You’re Hit By An Uninsured Driver
Every state requires drivers to carry at least a minimum amount of liability insurance. However, just as with every other law, not all people abide by the rules, and many people choose to drive without insurance. How big is the problem? The Insurance Research Council estimates that 12.6% of all U.S. drivers in 2012 were uninsured. That translates to more than one in ten drivers. Being involved in a car accident is stressful enough, but that stress can be compounded when the person who hits you doesn’t have insurance. So, what should you do if you find yourself in such a predicament?
Any car accident has the potential to escalate emotions, but when an uninsured motorist is at fault, the chance of an altercation can increase. Uninsured motorists know that they will be personally liable for damages, and may react aggressively in an effort to intimidate you from contacting the police or your insurance company. Your role in that scenario is to remain calm, do not engage in the other driver and, if necessary, stay in your vehicle with the doors locked until help arrives.
Call the Police
Regardless of how little damage there appears to be to your vehicle, call the police to report the accident. The responding officer should file a report which you and your insurance company can use if the case ends up in court. Keep in mind that just because the damage appears minimal does not mean that there isn’t unseen frame or engine damage. Additionally, physical injuries, such as whiplash, don’t always manifest right away. Sometimes it can take several days before the pain sets in, and by that time, the uninsured driver will be long gone and your hope for medical compensation will have vanished along with him. A single day in the hospital can average more than $1,300, so it pays to involve the police as a legitimate, unbiased source, so the accident can be documented.
Along with trying to talk you out of reporting the accident, an uninsured driver may also be resistant to exchanging information with you. That is another reason why it’s important to involve the police. If the other driver seems hesitant or hostile, wait until the police arrive before suggesting the exchange of information. That way, emotions will remain at bay while the two of you exchange details, and the presence of the police could also ensure that the information you receive from the driver is accurate.
Make sure to collect the person’s name, current address, telephone number, driver’s license and registration details, as well as the make, model and license plate number of the car. If there were witnesses to the accident, ask them for their names and telephone numbers, as well.
Also, take pictures of the front, back and sides of the vehicle, as well as the surrounding area, including street signs and buildings. While you wait for the police, take notes about the weather, and jot down everything you remember while the incident is still fresh in your mind.
Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary information and pictures, contact your insurance company to file a claim. Your insurance agent will review your policy to determine whether or not you’re covered for injuries and damage caused by the uninsured driver. Car accidents can be a traumatic experience, and that’s especially true if the other driver is uninsured and at fault. But, by remaining calm, contacting the police, and gathering as much information as possible, you are giving yourself the best chance possible of recovering compensation.