Everyone driving on the road is susceptible to have a car accident. Some people are lucky to never experience an accident in their lives while millions of other motorists do not. Even when being the safest driver, you cannot control how others around you drive. While car insurance exists to ease our minds in the event of an accident, it sometimes may not be enough to cover all damages. Though 49 of 50 states (the lone exception being New Hampshire) now require all drivers to have up-to-date car insurance, millions of people still do not. If you, unfortunately, are involved in a wreck with another driver at fault, there are some options available to you legally in the event you need to contact an personal injury lawyer.
Before the Accident
If you are reading this and have not been in an accident or have dealt with uninsured drivers in the past, you can protect yourself with uninsured motorist coverage (UMC). UMC is extra coverage on your policy in the event of not being able to identify the other motorist or they do not have insurance to cover any extra property damage costs, health bills, and possible legal costs. Unfortunately, if you do not have UMC at the time of your accident, you cannot add it after the fact.
At the Scene
Should you face the situation of being involved in a crash with another uninsured driver, especially if it is their fault, you need to call the police. Even if the driver at fault begs and pleads you not to, it is important to do so. Notifying law enforcement is your protection in the event of an angry or fleeing driver.
After you have notified the authorities, exchange whatever information you can with the other driver. Try to get their full, legal name, address, license plate number and multiple phone numbers if possible. If they do not want to exchange information with you or appear like they are about to leave, try to do the following three things.
First, take as many pictures as possible. Try to include as many pictures of every angle of both cars. If you cannot get every angle, as long as it is safe to do so, take a picture of the damaged spots on both cars. Include in your pictures the other car’s license plates, any bumper stickers or other identifying tags on the car, and of the drivers themselves, only if possible.
Second, write down as much information as you can remember. Write down the exact time and location of the accident, the color, model, make, and license plate of the other car, and finally any personal information you are able to get from the other driver. All of this information can help you when dealing with your insurance company and any possible legal challenges in the future.
Finally, see if there are any witnesses and share any contact information with them. If the other driver is truly at fault, any eyewitness to the accident can be incredibly important to make sure you have a solid case in court. In the event of any crash, big or small, call the police and make sure you do the above only when it is safe to do so.
After the Accident
If you have any injuries and did not need an ambulance at the scene, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. After an accident, you might not feel the full extent of your injuries immediately. Seek a doctor’s care as soon as possible. After that, you need to call your insurance company and report your crash.
Most major insurance companies have 24-hour lines so you can report your accident soon after. Give them all the information that you were able to write down or photograph at the scene. Depending on your coverage, your insurance should pay for any liabilities you have, but with any insurance, things might not always go so smoothly. Many insurance companies want the driver at fault to pay before they contribute any money.
If you did have any injuries or costs not covered by your insurance, it might be time to contact an attorney. Contact your most trusted personal injury attorney and they can discuss all of your options, including filing a lawsuit against the other driver. While the judge can order the driver at fault to pay, there is never a guarantee that they will. What they can do is put liens and judgments on their property instead.