With literally tens of thousands of car accidents in the United States every year, it can be safely said that our roadway safety records are less than perfect. Finding yourself in a collision is a matter of if it will happen, not when. And, of course, we all cross our fingers and hope that no damage will occur and that everyone leaves without a bruise, but we know this is also not the case. The best you can hope for is that each party involved has current insurance to cover the costs of repairs and recovery. But what if you find yourself in the all-too-common scenario of being struck by someone who – illegally – does not have insurance?
What Am I Supposed to Do?
First off, there is a common misconception that it doesn’t make sense or is fruitless to try to sue an uninsured driver. There are so many bits of information required in an auto collision case that it is impossible to jump to that conclusion. The smartest choice is to leave that decision to a professional attorney who has made a living pursuing justice in personal injury cases.
If there really is no way to collect from the uninsured driver – if you’re in a hit-and-run and the perpetrator can’t be identified, for example – there are still avenues you need to explore. Mainly, you’ll have to file an uninsured motorist claim against your insurance provider. If they’re anything like the majority of insurance companies, they won’t be exactly happy about this and will probably try to reward you with the smallest amount of money possible, a sum that might only cover the actual damages.
What are considered actual damages?
In nearly all uninsured driver claims, the insurance company is going to toss you just enough to cover actual damages, or what can be measured, empirically, in dollars and dimes. A crater on the bumper or a cut on your collar bone are observable, real damages that will be included in the collection, up to what your policy allows, of course. What they aren’t going to cover could devastate you, such as:
- Punitive damages: Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages are charged to punish the offender for wrongdoing, such as reckless driving.
- Nominal damages: If you feel you have suffered beyond physical injury in a car accident, you will want to collect on nominal damages – something insurance companies will try not to cover.
- Full payment: An uninsured driver policy – something for which you need to pay a monthly premium – will hit a cap that the insurance company will pay, typically $15,000 for one individual’s injuries and $30,000 for total injuries.
Take Action – Get All the Compensation You Deserve
The best advice is to seek legal aid immediately. The longer you wait, the less likely you will be able to file a claim against your insurance company at all. In some cases, the window is as small as 30 days. There could be financial compensation owed to you that your insurance company doesn’t want to be held accountable for. Our dedicated team of personal injury lawyers at the Fetto Law Group will do their best to get you every last cent.
If you have been hit by an uninsured driver – or if you were the victim of a hit and run – in the greater Walnut Creek area, call us at (925) 239-4655 at your earliest convenience.