Accidents are unpredictable, and sometimes, the unexpected can be doubly problematic when the person responsible for the accident doesn’t carry auto insurance. In a state like North Carolina, while drivers are legally required to have liability insurance, some still operate their vehicles without it. So, what happens when you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver? Let’s delve into the details.
Understanding North Carolina’s Insurance Requirements
In North Carolina, drivers are required by law to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover injuries and damages they may cause in an accident. Specifically, the limits are:
- $30,000 for bodily injury to one person,
- $60,000 for bodily injury to multiple people, and
- $25,000 for property damage.
However, despite these requirements, some drivers either choose to avoid purchasing insurance or allow their policies to lapse. In such cases, if they cause an accident, the victims might find it challenging to recover the compensation they deserve.
Your Options if Hit by an Uninsured Driver
- Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage: One of the primary safety nets in this situation is your own uninsured motorist coverage, a component of most auto insurance policies. This coverage can compensate you for injuries and damages up to your policy limits if an uninsured driver hits you. In North Carolina, insurance companies are required to offer this coverage; unless you decline it in writing, it should be a part of your policy.
- Collision Coverage: This optional coverage can help pay for repairs to your vehicle if damaged by an uninsured driver. While it doesn’t cover medical expenses, getting your vehicle fixed or replaced is beneficial.
- Health Insurance: If you’ve sustained injuries, your health insurance can help cover your medical costs. However, you may still be responsible for co-pays, deductibles, and any treatments not covered by your plan.
- Pursue Legal Action: You can sue the uninsured driver. However, remember that they might not have assets to cover your damages if they can't afford insurance. In some cases, legal action may be a viable option, especially if you believe the other party has resources or assets that can be pursued in a judgment.
Protecting Yourself Ahead of Time
While no one plans on being in an accident, particularly with an uninsured driver, it’s wise to prepare for the unexpected:
- Maintain Adequate UM Coverage: Always have uninsured motorist coverage, and consider increasing your limits beyond the minimum required.
- Document Everything: Gather as much evidence as possible after any accident. Take photos, collect witness statements, and obtain police reports. This documentation can be crucial when dealing with insurance claims or potential legal actions.
- Consult with an Attorney: It's beneficial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your options and navigate the complexities of the legal system.
What To Do After Being Hit By an Uninsured Driver
Being hit by an uninsured driver can be a stressful and daunting experience. Understanding your rights and the steps you should take is crucial to protect you. Here's a detailed guide on what to do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation:
Ensure Safety First
- Before thinking about insurance, prioritize the safety of all involved. Check if anyone is injured. If injuries are present, call for medical help immediately.
- Move to a safe location, if possible, to avoid blocking traffic or risking additional collisions.
Contact Law Enforcement
- Report the accident to the police, regardless of the severity. Having an official accident report can be valuable for insurance claims and potential legal actions.
- Make sure to inform the police that the other driver is uninsured.
- Obtain as much information as possible from the uninsured driver, including:
- Name, address, and contact details.
- Driver’s license number.
- Vehicle details: make, model, license plate number, etc.
- Collect contact details of any witnesses.
- Take photos of the accident scene, damage to vehicles, and any injuries sustained.
Contact Your Insurance Company
- Report the accident to your insurance provider as soon as possible.
- Provide them with all the details and information you’ve collected, including the fact that the other driver is uninsured.
Consult with an Attorney
- Given the complexities of accidents involving uninsured drivers, it's beneficial to consult with a personal injury attorney. They can guide you on potential avenues for compensation.
Understand Your Coverage
- Check if you have Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage. This insurance can help compensate for damages when the at-fault driver lacks insurance.
- If you have Collision Coverage, it might cover the damages to your vehicle.
- Even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, it's essential to see a doctor. Some injuries might not manifest symptoms right away.
- Keep all medical records and bills as they can be vital evidence if you decide to pursue a claim.
- Document every detail related to the accident, including communications, medical expenses, repair costs, and any other out-of-pocket costs. This will help if you need to prove your expenses or losses later.
Consider Legal Action
- If your damages exceed what your insurance will cover or if the uninsured driver was particularly reckless, you might consider filing a lawsuit. But remember, collecting damages from an individual can be more challenging than from an insurance company.
Review Your Insurance Policy
- After dealing with the aftermath, consider reviewing and possibly adjusting your insurance policy. Ensure you have adequate Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage to protect against future incidents.
Contact The Law Offices of John M. McCabe
While we hope you never find yourself in an accident with an uninsured driver, taking the right steps can help safeguard your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Always prioritize safety, gather ample evidence, and consult with professionals to guide you through the process. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of John M. McCabe in Raleigh for expert legal guidance.
Call us at (866) 907-1145
24/7 to arrange to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case, or contact us
through the website today.