According to research, 13% of drivers regularly drive without auto insurance. This may be due to the insurance’s expense, drivers allowing their policies to lapse, or illegal driving. Whatever the case, accidents do happen, and when you are involved in one with an uninsured driver or hit-and-run driver, things can get complicated.
Can I Get Compensation?
If you are involved in a car accident, you may suffer injuries and incur medical bills for treatment of those injuries. You may be unable from work for a period of time and suffer income losses. And you may be restricted in your ability to engage in ordinary activities like exercise, hobbies, and household services. Logically, if you suffer injuries through no fault of your own, you should be compensated. When injuries are caused by an uninsured motorist, however, there are unique obstacles that may affect compensation so it’s important that you follow the appropriate steps to protect your right of recovery.
Consider taking the following steps if you get into an accident with an uninsured driver:
More often than not, the uninsured driver will try to plead with you not to file a police report. If you are compelled to agree, you risk not getting any form of compensation. You can also face legal penalties because Wisconsin law imposes a duty to report accidents before leaving the scene except in limited circumstances such as facing a dangerous situation or requiring immediate medical attention.
Reporting an accident will help you prove that it happened and how it happened. After calling the police:
- Do not take any money from the other driver
- Note the time and location of the accident
- Swap contact information with the other driver, and be sure to record their vehicle’s details (make, model, color, license plate)
- If there are any eyewitnesses, record their contact information
- Take pictures of the vehicles, the scene of the accident, and anything else that might help recreate the scene
- Get back into your vehicle if you can do so safely, and remain at the scene
- Give the responding officer your, the other driver, and any eyewitnesses’ contact information
- Make sure that the police observe and/or collect any relevant evidence from the scene
- Record the responding officer’s name and badge number
- Record the accident report number
If You Are Not at Fault, Do Not Admit Liability
Accepting liability for the accident may, of course, cause you and your insurance company to pay a part of the damages, not only for yourself but also for the other victims who may be involved. Answer the police’s questions honestly, but refrain from taking liability for anything.
Seek Medical Care if You Are Injured
If you suffered any physical injuries as a result of the accident, it is important that you seek medical attention promptly. Medical providers will document and diagnose your injuries and help get you on the road to recovery. Whether you seek care at the Emergency Room, Urgent Care, or with your primary care physician, it is important that you identify all the injuries you are suffering so that they are documented. After your appointment, be sure to follow your doctors’ instructions for home care, restrictions, referrals and/or follow up appointments.
Contact Your Auto Insurance Company
After your immediate medical needs are met, you should make a claim with your auto insurance provider. Ensure that you inform your insurance company that you got into an accident with an uninsured driver.
Before calling your insurance company, try to locate a copy of your auto insurance policy to confirm how much uninsured motorist coverage your policy provides. Wisconsin law requires all auto insurance policies to provide uninsured motorist coverage – this coverage applies to both uninsured and hit-and-run drivers.
When you call your insurance company, have your insurance card and the information you collected at the scene at hand:
- Time, date, and location of the accident
- Contact information of the other driver and any eyewitnesses
- Name of the responding officer and their organization (i.e. City of Waukesha Police or Waukesha County Sheriff)
- The accident report number
Give a detailed report of the accident, and share any photos you have with your insurance company to help them process your claim. If you were unable to locate a copy of your insurance policy, ask about your policy’s uninsured motorist coverage and ask them to send you a copy of your policy and declarations page.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
Making an insurance claim is much easier with a trusted car accident attorney. Your attorney can help you navigate the claims and litigation process so you can focus on your medical treatment and recovery.
Pursue the Right Mechanism for Recovery
There are various approaches that may be used to get your medical bills paid and get you fair compensation for your injuries. An attorney will help you evaluate which avenue is best for your unique situation. They include:
- Med-pay: You may be able to forward out-of-pocket medical expenses to your auto insurer for payment under medical expense provisions of your auto policy.
- Uninsured Motorist claim: You can file a first party claim with your own auto insurer to pursue compensation.
- Bad Faith: If your auto insurer unreasonably denies all or a portion of your claim, you may be able to pursue a claim against them for bad faith.
- Negligence: You can file a lawsuit to secure compensation from the other driver and any other person contributing to the accident.
- Vicarious Liability: The owner of the vehicle may be liable for compensation depending on the particular circumstances of the uninsured driver’s use of the vehicle.
Settle With the Insurance Companies
An attorney will negotiate with the insurance companies and fight for your right to full and fair compensation. He/she will also represent you in court, conduct an investigation, assemble evidence, and build your case for success at trial if required. An attorney will work diligently to make the claims process less painful and more convenient for your. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident and need help filing your claim, the attorneys at Walden, Neitzke & Kuhary, S.C. are here to help. For more information, contact us.