What happens if I’m in an accident with an uninsured motorist?
Car accident injuries and property damage are distressing enough on their own, but the situation becomes 10 times more intimidating if the negligent driver is an underinsured or uninsured motorist. Most victims are left wondering if they will be stuck paying the bills of someone else’s wrongdoing.
But there’s good news. The auto insurance laws of Kansas require all auto insurance policies to provide uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverage. This is the component of your own vehicle insurance coverage that will come to your rescue if you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist.
How does uninsured motorist coverage help?
Annually, you pay less than $100 for the UM/UIM benefits on your auto insurance policy. More precisely, the cost averages out to $30 to $80 per year, deepening on the policy. But these benefits can protect you from the proverbial Pandora’s Box of trouble if:
- A negligent motorist crashes into your car and does not have auto insurance to cover your injuries.
- You are in an accident involving a hit and run motorist, who leaves you with significant physical injuries.
- Your accident involved a miss and run (phantom vehicle) motorist, who caused an accident without actually making impact with your vehicle and then drove away without a glance backward.
Essentially, the UM/UIM coverage will compensate you and /or your passengers for bodily injuries sustained in the car crash scenarios discussed above. Notice, this does not cover property damage.
In some situations, you can claim UM/UIM compensation even if you have no information about the negligent motorist. However, you will need independent evidence confirming the collision and its facts.
What is the coverage limit of UM/UIM insurance in Kansas?
By law, you are required to carry a minimum UM/UIM coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. In other words, this component of your auto insurance will cover you for medical bills that go above your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) Benefits.
The no-fault or PIP component of your auto insurance will pay medical bills of a minimum of up to $4,500 per person along with wage loss compensation of $900/month and homecare at $25/day.
This is the first form of coverage to kick in after the accident and the only one in which, fault is not a factor for receiving the compensation. Normally, once you exhaust the limit of your PIP benefits, you would seek restitution from the insurer of the at-fault motorist.
However, if you are dealing with an uninsured motorist, there is no insurer to approach. This is when you get in touch with your own insurer and ask for the uninsured motorist compensation.
In Kansas, UM insurance does not protect you against loss from property damage, unless you have brought such coverage additionally. If you have the minimum legal auto insurance required, UM insurance can be sought to cover:
- Medical bills
- Cost of medication and medical devices
- Hospital expenses
- Doctor’s fees
- Diagnostic tests
- Cost of rehabilitation
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Lost wages
In other words, this component offers the same level of protection that you would get from the BI (Bodily Injury) coverage of the at-fault driver if that driver would’ve had the required insurance.
The $25,000/person and $50,000/accident cap only applies to the minimum auto insurance requirement in Kansas. If you have purchased additional UM/UIM coverage, you can claim more, up to your own insurance limits.
What other options are available for compensation if the at-fault driver is uninsured?
Making the other driver pay: You could go after the at-fault driver directly if he has failed to carry insurance that would otherwise offer you the relief you deserve. But realistically, a person who does not have coverage, which costs an average of $700, generally will not have enough assets for you be able to actually collect from that driver, even if the court issues a judgment against him. That said, this is always an option and the judge can order the at-fault driver to make regular payments until you recoup your losses.
It’s not that simple: However, this process would make financial sense only if the cost of litigation is not more than the highest possible compensation you can get from this person. Only an experienced lawyer can tell you if the benefits of such a case would supersede the costs and if it makes sense to go after the at-fault motorist personally.
Where is the other driver: Of course, this will not be an option if the other motorist simply makes a dash for it and you cannot trace him in any way after the accident. Unfortunately, the majority of motorists who do not carry the legally required coverage will not wait around after an accident because this will have both civil and criminal implications for them.
If none of the above options are viable, you will be back at square one with your own insurer. While some people are nervous going to their own insurance company, rest assured this is a benefit and protection that you are entitled to and one for which you actually pay every time you pay your insurance premiums. However, even when dealing with your own insurance company, you need help.
With an insurance claim, things are never simple and easy!
Your insurance carrier is your friend when you are buying a policy and they are collecting money from you, but the tables are turned when a claim exists and they are paying you now! Don’t get caught in the misconception that they will automatically give you the same compensation you should’ve gotten from the at-fault driver’s insurance.
In fact, they will be quick to point out that you shared some of the fault with the other driver for the mishap. They may even try to pin the majority of the fault on you, something that has happened many times.
This is why you need an experienced and skilled lawyer working on your side! DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers knows just how crucial documentation and eye witness testimony is when it comes to proving the fault of the other motorist. Our lawyers meticulously investigate the accident to gather the evidence needed to prove your side of the story.
Because we have years of experience in handling uninsured motorist insurance claims, our attorneys know how to work with insurance companies that are either not willing to pay at all or are trying to convince you to settle for less. It’s essential to get in touch with DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. We will ensure that you get a fair settlement. Contact us right away so that we can start handling the claim for you while you focus on your recovery.