If you have just gotten into an accident, it can be a scary time in your life. Are you or anyone involved hurt and needing medical attention? Also, what is the extent of the damage to your vehicle and what is your insurance saying about the claim?
What if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver? Do you know what your options are when the driver responsible for the accident doesn’t have coverage to support your injuries or personal damage?
Steps to take following an accident
• The first thing you should do after leaving the accident scene is seek medical attention. Following a car accident, your body may be flooded with adrenaline and you may not feel any injuries that you may have suffered. Going to an ER will help to get any injuries that you acquired documented.
• Talk to your insurance carrier. Your insurance agent/carrier should be notified of your accident and should be given any evidence as far as vehicle damage and medical injuries.
• Keep a record of everything. A lot of people will be talking to you following an accident and you want to keep all of that information in a folder, notebook or even a voice memo on your phone.
• Talk to a lawyer. If you have suffered serious damage to your car and had serious injuries than talking to a lawyer can help you to know what your next steps should be. Talking to a lawyer doesn’t mean you plan on taking legal actions, but it definitely a way of protecting yourself legally.
What is an uninsured motorist?
An uninsured motorist or driver is a person that doesn’t have car insurance. This could be because their insurance has lapsed and they lost it from non-payment. It could also mean that they chose not to have car insurance for other reasons including there were denied insurance.
What does it mean to be underinsured?
An underinsured motorist is a driver who has just enough insurance to cover basic auto insurance needs. Each state defines underinsured differently, but in all situations, the auto liability either won’t be enough to cover the other driver’s bills after an accident or the liability limits are less than or equal to what your policy covers for underinsuranced drivers.
What if the uninsured or underinsured was driving the car of someone else?
When someone has been given the right to drive a rental, loaner, a friend or a loved one’s car that person is covered under the liability insurance of the car owner. In the case of someone driving a rental, they have to provide or get covered for insurance under the rental company’s insurance provider. Getting a loaner from a car dealership is very similar to the situation when someone rents from a rental company.
When someone drives the car of a friend or loved one they are usually given verbal consent to drive that car. This consent means they are aware that a person is driving their car and that their car is covered via their insurance.
What if the uninsured is driving a stolen car?
In the case that anyone is driving a stolen car they are 100% at fault. If they were driving recklessly or not they take the fault in the accident because they already committed the crime of stealing a vehicle. They are also at fault for any injuries that you may suffer in this case. The owner of the stolen car does not accept fault when their property was stolen.
What are your legal options in an accident with an uninsured motorist?
You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured motorist. If someone died in the accident, then you can file a wrongful death suit. If you are mainly seeking damages to your car, then you can file a claim for property damages.
Can you sue an uninsured driver?
The ability to sue an uninsured motorist is only possible in states that aren’t no-fault. In a no-fault state, you can only sue an uninsured driver if you have received serious injuries or are dealing with significant medical bills.
Maryland happens to be an “at-fault” state. In at-fault states, the police are able to determine who is at fault and that person is held legally responsible for the accident. In Maryland, you are able to sue an uninsured driver.
How do you go about filing a personal injury lawsuit?
Once you have hired a personal injury lawyer, they will file the lawsuit for you.
• First, they will file a complaint or petition. This legal document will explain the facts of your lawsuit.
• Next, a summons may need to be filed. This document will identify who the parties in the suit are and explain why the defendant is being sued.
• At this point, the documents will be in the court and a copy of both will be served to the defendant. This action should take place within the 30 days following the filing of the legal documents.
When and will your case go to trial?
This all depends on a couple of things. Have you completed your doctor recommended physical/medical treatment? Are the lawyers still in the discovery process? Have you tried mediation?
When it comes to lawsuits, most times a lawyer will wait until their client has finished receiving the max amount of medical treatment that has been advised by their doctor. If the client is physically and mentally fit to go to trial, then the discovery process starts. In the discovery process, both the plaintiff and the defendant’s lawyers will interview witnesses and find evidence to support their side of the case.
The discovery process is said to take anywhere from 6 months to a year. The next part in the case is going to mediation. In mediation, the possibility of a settlement will be brought up and the lawyers will determine if it’s necessary to go to trial.
Mediation is also the time when the plaintiff and the defendant will see each other, possibly for the first time since the accident. In most personal injury cases mediation is the last step in the case because a settlement is usually reached.
With a settlement being reached in most cases a lot of personal injury cases don’t go to trial. From the time of your accident to the time of mediation is all determined by the extent of your injuries and the cost of damages. Your medical costs, lost wages and property damage will be taken into account when it comes to a settlement or how much you are suing the defendant for.