You were injured in a car accident and want to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, the at-fault party does not have auto insurance.
Is there anything you can do to help receive compensation for things like medical bills?
You usually have about six options when an at-fault driver does not have liability coverage. These include relying on:
- uninsured motorist coverage,
- underinsured motorist coverage,
- your own insurance company if you live in a “no-fault” state,
- Med Pay and PIP coverage,
- collision coverage, and
- a lawsuit.
1. Can you use uninsured motorist insurance coverage if no car insurance?
Perhaps, yes. Uninsured drivers have no insurance policy in place. In these cases, you might be able to look towards your own driver’s insurance for help.
It might be the case that you have uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This coverage kicks in when you are involved in an auto accident and the at-fault party has no liability insurance at all.
To use it, you simply file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurer.
Note that most states say that insurance providers have to offer UIM coverage. But only some states require the coverage.1
Note as well that UIM coverage typically only helps recover money for any bodily injury in an accident. It normally does not help with:
- property damage, or
- vehicle damage.
To help with the latter, you might be able to use “uninsured motorist property damage coverage” if you have it in place.
2. What about underinsured motorist coverage?
An underinsured driver is a motorist who has an insurance policy in place. However, the coverage limits on the policy are not enough insurance to fully compensate someone that the driver hurts in an accident.
If this is true, your own insurance policy may include underinsured motorist coverage.
To take advantage of it, you would file an insurance claim with your own insurer. The company would then help pay the difference between the at-fault party’s limits and your final medical expenses and other damages.
Note that the insurance laws of most states say that an insurer has to offer this type of insurance. However, most states do not require that you have underinsured coverage.2
3. What if you live in a no-fault state?
Some states are “no-fault” car insurance states. These states say that injured drivers file an insurance claim with their own insurance company following an accident.3
This is true regardless of who is to blame for causing the accident.
A few examples of “no-fault” states include:
- Hawaii, and
If you reside in a “no-fault” state, you are typically required to have no-fault coverage in place.5
4. What about Med Pay and PIP coverage?
You might be able to look to Med Pay and PIP coverage for help if injured by an uninsured driver.
Medical Payment (Med Pay) coverage is a type of optional coverage that you may have in place. It is usually not required.
If you have it, the coverage helps pay for essential medical treatment regardless of who caused an accident. It usually does not help cover losses for such things as:
- property damage, and/or
- lost wages.
You are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance if you live in a “no-fault” state. It is an optional form of coverage in other states.
If injured by an uninsured driver, you file a PIP claim with your own insurer. The insurance company will then help pay for such things as medical expenses, lost wages, and some out-of-pocket expenses.
PIP coverage usually does not compensate you for pain and suffering.
5. Can collision coverage help?
Like most of the above insurance coverage, collision insurance coverage is an optional form of insurance that you may have purchased.
The insurance will help you pay for any car repairs that are needed because of:
- an accident you caused,
- an accident caused by someone else, or
- a hit-and-run driver.
Note that collision coverage is generally limited to helping with damage to your car. It does not cover accident injuries.
6. Can you file a lawsuit against an uninsured driver?
Most often, yes. You can consult with a car accident lawyer or law firm and sue an uninsured driver that caused an accident.
But please keep in mind that suing someone might not produce the best results.
If a person does not have an auto insurance policy in place, there is a chance that he/she does not have many assets.
If not, then you likely would not collect on any judgment obtained from a successful suit.
If you are thinking about filing a civil lawsuit, you might want to first seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer.
- See “Auto Liability Insurance Requirements in other States,” prepared by the Connecticut General Assembly (2013).
- See same.
- See Insurance Information Institute website, “Background on: No-fault auto insurance.”
- See same.
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