car accident with no insurance

In a Car Accident With No Insurance? This Could Impact Your Claim

Tarun Sridharan Legal Editor & Attorney Contributor Read Time: 10 minutes

In a Car Accident With No Insurance? This Could Impact Your Claim

If you’ve been involved in an accident without insurance, either as the uninsured party or the victim of one, the situation can quickly become complex and daunting. You’re not only attempting to recover from your injuries but also facing a car accident without insurance, which complicates your pursuit of compensation to cover your losses — and rightfully so. However, an uninsured or underinsured driver may not have the liability coverage necessary to pay out the compensation you need. In many states that require car insurance, driving without it can lead to severe legal and financial consequences, emphasizing the importance of being insured to avoid potential liabilities and penalties.

A lack of car insurance can have many impacts on your claim. Given the complexity, we do encourage you to get in touch with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help navigate these car insurance laws and related challenges. That being said, if you’d like to learn more about the issues and opportunities in an uninsured/underinsured accident dispute, then read on!

Getting into an accident without uninsured motorist coverage: the issue

So, what’s the problem with getting into a car accident with no insurance (i.e., the driver who hit you has no insurance coverage)?  It boils down to one thing: the “capacity” to compensate you for your losses. The defendant’s driver’s insurance or lack of car insurance demonstrates an inability to compensate you. Additionally, driving without insurance can lead to severe legal penalties, including a suspended driver’s license, highlighting the importance of maintaining proper insurance coverage.

Let’s break it down.

If you’re injured in a serious auto accident, then you may suffer many different losses — some minor, some debilitating and life-changing — as a result:

  • Wage loss
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Medical expenses
  • Property loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • And more

For example, if you’re forced to take six months off from work due to debilitating back injuries after a car collision, then you would likely have a substantial wage loss claim.  You might also have a substantial claim for loss of earning capacity damages if the injuries are likely to impact your ability to work in the future.  These losses can add up very quickly.  It’s not uncommon for an injury dispute centered around an auto accident to give rise to $100,000 (or even more in damages).

The problem with uninsured and underinsured drivers is that they don’t have the financial resources to cover your losses.  Their insurance coverage is inadequate (or nonexistent).  If you suffered $100,000 or more in losses, how could they possibly compensate you?  They have no financial responsibility and no insurance!

Fortunately, you’re not without options in a “no car insurance” dispute.  The driver is not necessarily the only one responsible for your accident.  There may be other defendants, some of whom have substantial coverage with which to pay out.

Finding a deep-pocket defendant

If the defendant is an uninsured driver or underinsured driver, you won’t necessarily be able to secure the compensation you need from them.  That leaves you with a few other strategic options for obtaining compensation — chief among them, identifying and suing other defendants who “do” have adequate insurance coverage.

This strategy is known to many litigators as “finding the deep-pockets defendant.”  In other words, if you can identify and sue a defendant with substantial liability insurance and coverage (who is liable for your injuries), then you can be assured that they have enough financial resources to pay out fully.

Beyond the at-fault driver, potential defendants in your accident dispute may include:

  • The driver’s employer
  • The auto manufacturer
  • The auto repair shop
  • The City
  • Private property owners
  • And more

For example, suppose that you’re injured in a car collision at an intersection in the middle of the day.  It turns out that the driver doesn’t have any insurance coverage.  With the aid of an attorney, you investigate the case further and discover that the driver was working at the time of the accident — in fact, they were conducting door-to-door sales visits for their employer.

Under these circumstances, you’d likely be able to sue their employer (pursuant to a legal principle called vicarious liability).  As a business, the employer would not only be more likely to have sufficient insurance coverage, and legal penalties but would also have an incentive to avoid the negative publicity of a lawsuit — they might therefore be more willing to offer an early and favorable settlement.

Submitting a claim with your own insurer

If your auto insurance policy has UM or UIM coverage (uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage), then you can potentially submit a claim with your own insurance company to get paid out through your policy.  Uninsured motorist coverage is a solid option if it’s available to you through your auto insurance coverage or provider.  That being said, the insurer will not necessarily be willing to pay out the maximum, so you’ll want to “prove” your claims to them with the aid of a qualified attorney.

Car insurance companies are NOT your ally

The general public has often been taught that insurance companies are their allies.  It’s not surprising — insurers spend a lot of money on advertising meant to bolster this image of them as a friendly, allied entity (for example, State Farm’s “Like a Good Neighbor” branding).  In fact, this perception is so ingrained in American society, that many people don’t realize that insurers are actually working in opposition to getting you paid!

Here’s how it all works.

Auto insurance companies make more profit when they can underpay (or even outright reject) claims.  Even if those claims are reasonable or legitimate, insurers are incentivized to do everything possible to weaken the claimant’s argument and thereby avoid paying out.  When you’re talking to an insurance adjuster after your accident, they’re not trying to get you paid the maximum possible amount — their job is to identify any information that they can use to avoid paying too much.

That’s why it’s so dangerous to communicate with insurers until you’ve consulted an experienced car accident attorney.  Your attorney will be able to speak to them on your behalf and help you avoid the many hassles and issues associated with car insurance company disclosures.

Have an attorney engage all communications with insurers

Attorney litigators play a number of different roles — they’re not just meant to play the role that you might see on television (i.e., arguing before a judge in court).  They are also key communicators and advocates outside of court and will speak to insurers on your behalf to advocate for your interests.

Insurers know that they cannot force sensitive, potentially-undermining disclosures out of an attorney.  This means that they will usually be more serious in considering your injury claims and in making a settlement offer.

Given the potential for damaging your case by disclosing sensitive information to an insurance company, it’s critical that you consult with an attorney first before having any detailed discussions about the accident with an insurer.

What do insurance companies use to underpay or reject your claims?

If you’ve been in an accident with an uninsured driver, or whether the driver involved actually has insurance coverage (but it’s insufficient), you may find that your own insurer is all too willing to underpay or reject your attempts to recover compensation. Now, it would be illegal for insurance to outright deny or pay less than what you’re reasonably entitled to under your policy. So they come up with various justifications for taking actions that have negative financial and legal consequences for you.

What are these justifications? Here are a few:

  • Policy exception applies to the claim
  • Insufficient documentation/proof for the claim
  • The claimant was at fault
  • The policy simply doesn’t cover the injury at issue
  • And more

This can be a bit difficult to understand, so let’s go through a quick example.

Suppose that you’re involved in an accident and the other driver (the driver responsible for your injuries and vehicle damage) has no insurance. You decide not to take legal action against the driver at fault for the accident, since there is no reasonable compensation to obtain from engaging the legal process in that regard. Instead, you submit a claim through your own insurance to seek compensation.

Your insurer denies your claim, surprising you. They argue that you are not entitled to benefits as per your policy, since the contract language prohibits you from getting a payout if you were even partially at fault for the accident. They are attempting to paint the car accident as your fault, pointing to the fact that you were distracted at the time of the accident by your phone.

This is where an attorney is helpful. Your attorney would be able to argue that — while you were using a phone — you had it on speakerphone and placed in a holder. Thus, it was no different than if you were speaking to a passenger in your own vehicle. These back-and-forth arguments are part of the insurance claim process, too, so don’t just rush to submit your benefits claim. Car accidents can be complex. Work with a qualified attorney.

Using an attorney for your car accident dispute doesn’t have to cost anything

Most plaintiffs’-side accident attorneys don’t just offer free consultations — they also work on contingency.  Contingency fee arrangements make legal representation easy and accessible for everyone.  How does it work?

When an attorney represents you on contingency, you don’t have to pay them anything upfront or out-of-pocket.  That’s right — it costs you nothing to get started with your case.  Instead, you agree to pay the attorney a “percentage cut” of the compensation they secure on your behalf.  You only pay this percentage cut if they’re able to successfully obtain compensation for you.  If not, then you don’t pay anything.

This creates a powerful incentive for attorneys to work effectively and efficiently to maximize your compensation.  The more you get paid, the more they get paid.  Note: percentage fees for contingency arrangements vary from attorney to attorney.  They can go as low as 25 percent, and up to 40 percent or more.  Before you hire an attorney, you should make sure to discuss the details of this percentage cut.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident with no insurance (i.e., the other driver is uninsured or underinsured), then you may be feeling lost and confused about what options you have for recovery.  That’s entirely reasonable.  Accidents involving uninsured drivers lead to serious medical bills and significant strategic challenges — but there may still be legal opportunities for you to secure compensation.  That’s why it’s so important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney for guidance.

Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 to get connected to a qualified attorney in your area in just 10 minutes or less.  Our network attorney will be able to provide a free legal consultation.  During this initial consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your case in detail and learn about the next steps.  If you decide against moving forward, that’s okay — there’s no obligation for you to continue.  So call in and have your case evaluated!

We look forward to assisting you.

Our offices are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we can assist you no matter when your accident occurs.

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