What Do I Do If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?
Getting into a car accident is usually an insurance hassle in the best of circumstances, but when you are hit by an uninsured driver, the hurdles for getting fair compensation for your damages and losses are even higher. It could mean you end up paying the bulk of the medical expenses incurred, as well as losing the opportunity for lost wage reimbursement.
There are precautions you can take to protect yourself against an uninsured driver prior to an accident. If you did not take these precautions, or you suffer substantial losses, filing a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver is a possibility.
Pennsylvania car insurance minimums
All motorists in Pennsylvania must purchase minimum amounts of car insurance coverage.
Currently, the state minimum requirements for car insurance are:
- Medical benefits – $5,000 per accident
- Property damage liability – $5,000 per accident
- Bodily injury liability (BIL) – $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident.
Anyone carrying only the minimum mandated amount of insurance may find themselves in trouble if an accident occurs. Even a relatively minor injury can cost more than $5,000 in medical expenses, and $5,000 in property damage is not going to replace a totaled vehicle.
Bodily injury liability applies to others harmed in the crash, and $15,000 per person does not go far when severe injuries result.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
Pennsylvania actually has a good record when it comes to uninsured motorists, at approximately 7 percent. There are fewer of them than in many other states – but just because the odds of getting into an accident with an uninsured motorist are somewhat lower does not mean such crashes do not occur.
Protect yourself ahead of time by buying uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance from your insurer. Every insurance company selling auto insurance in Pennsylvania must offer these policies, and buying them can really protect you if an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist occurs.
If you choose not to buy these policies, you must reject the purchase of this coverage in writing and give it to your insurance company.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance (UM) pays for all expenses up to the limits of your policy. Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM) pays the difference between what the underinsured motorist policy pays and the damages incurred, up to the UIM policy limits.
Your UM and UIM insurance coverage is the same amount as your BIL coverage. If your insurance policy covers up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident in BIL, that is the amount of your UM and UIM limits.
Keep in mind that neither UM nor UIM pays for property damage to your vehicle. For that, you must buy collision and comprehensive coverage.
While Pennsylvania does not require drivers to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage, if your car is leased or financed, the lender will likely mandate such insurance. UM insurance will also cover you when a hit-and-run accident happens.
Personal injury lawsuit
Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver is another alternative for receiving compensation. Damages in such a lawsuit may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Keep in mind that the at-fault must possess sufficient personal assets to make filing a civil lawsuit worthwhile. Drivers with significant personal assets generally do not drive without insurance, but there are exceptions.
It may prove possible to pursue a lawsuit against a third party that may have contributed to the accident. For example, if the crash occurred because the other driver’s brakes failed or a tire blew out, the manufacturer is potentially liable because the vehicle or product was defective.
Contact a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer
If you or someone you know was hit and seriously injured by an uninsured driver, contact an experienced Car Crash Lawyer in Pittsburgh at Chaffin Luhana. Schedule a free consultation by calling 24/7 or using our online form.
We will review your case and let you know your options based on the circumstances. Our experienced attorneys have recovered more than $1 billion for their clients in settlements and verdicts.