Here's What Happens if You're Hit by an Uninsured Driver

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KEY POINTS

  • Most states require liability insurance so drivers have coverage for losses they cause.
  • Sometimes, motorists don't buy required insurance coverage.
  • Crash victims need to know what happens if they are hit by an uninsured driver. 


Drivers should read this before a crash happens. 

After a car accident, the driver who caused the crash should be responsible for covering the costs of the collision. That's why, in most states, motorists are required to have multiple types of coverage.

There's just one problem, though. Sometimes, motorists don't get the auto insurance that is required of them. While this is against the law, it can happen and that creates a big issue if an uninsured driver causes a collision that injures others or damages the property of other motorists. 

Drivers who are involved in a crash with an uninsured motorist need to know what their rights are for recovering the compensation they need after a collision happens. 

Understanding your options after a crash with an uninsured driver

For motorists who are hurt or whose property is damaged by an uninsured driver, the best option -- if it is available -- is generally to get compensation from their own insurance company.

When buying coverage, typically drivers have the chance to buy an uninsured motorist policy. This provides protection in case a collision is caused by someone who doesn't have the required coverage. With an uninsured motorist policy, the policyholder's insurer will pay for damages that should have been covered by the at-fault driver.

Uninsured motorist coverage is required in some states. But even when it's not, it's a good idea to get it because it's impossible to know if every driver who might cause a crash will be obeying the law and have proper liability insurance. This type of protection must be in place before an accident occurs in order to get compensation from it.

To make sure that uninsured motorist coverage will pay the bills, drivers should report the crash to their insurer right away. They should also obtain as many details as possible at the crash scene, including getting the contact info of the at-fault driver and of any witnesses to the collision. 

What can drivers do without uninsured motorist coverage?

A driver who gets into a collision with an uninsured driver who doesn't have uninsured motorist coverage does not have many great options.

The best-case scenario is that the person who caused the collision will have enough assets to pay for losses. Crash victims can pursue a claim against them directly and the court can order the party responsible for the crash to pay damages. 

The problem is, many people who are uninsured don't have tens of thousands of dollars -- or hundreds of thousands -- to pay for the replacement or repair of a damaged vehicle or to cover the costs of injuries. So even if the court orders the driver who caused the crash to pay damages, there's no guarantee the victims can collect. 

Without uninsured motorist coverage, if a crash victim can't get compensation from the person who hurt them, they may be out of luck and not be able to recover any money to pay for the damages from the collision. The risk of these out-of-pocket losses is the biggest reason to make sure to have full insurance coverage -- including an uninsured motorist policy.

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