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I was waiting for the light to turn red at a traffic light and some guy in a pickup comes speeding up from behind and slams into my car!
What do I do???? Is there any hope for me?
This is a tough situation. Unfortunately, it’s a very common situation across the United States. Countrywide, approximately 1 in 8 drivers has no insurance whatsoever. That means when you collide with another vehicle, there’s a decent chance the other driver has no insurance coverage.
This is the same reason why some states require drivers to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. In most states, this coverage is optional, but 14 states require you to have it.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event of a collision with another driver when the other driver has too little insurance – or no insurance whatsoever.
Now, let’s take a look at your situation. The other driver is 18 years old, uninsured, and unlicensed.
You didn’t mention whether he was a lawful permanent resident (i.e. a Green Card holder), a legal tourist, or an illegal immigrant. However, it doesn’t really matter: the individual is liable to pay for any and all damages to your vehicle.
Because the other person collided with your vehicle from behind, it’s likely the other person is 100% at-fault. That means they are legally required to pay 100% of your vehicle repair costs, medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages from the accident.
Typically, the other driver’s car insurance company would pay for all of these items, and you would be able to move on with your life.
First, check to verify if you already have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. If you live in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, or Wisconsin, then this coverage may already be bundled into your liability insurance. Even if you’re not from one of these states, you might still have uninsured motorist coverage within your existing plan.
If the other driver has no insurance, and you have no uninsured motorist coverage, however, there’s only one real course of action: you need to file a lawsuit against the other driver. We recommend speaking with a lawyer. Or, call your own insurance company. Your insurance company has teams of lawyers specifically for situations like this.
The Other Driver May Have Limited Assets to Seize in a Lawsuit
There’s one more problem with your situation: typically, the type of drivers who recklessly drive with no insurance and no license do not have a lot of assets. They might have avoided buying insurance because they couldn’t afford it, for example.
Let’s say you have $100,000 of medical bills and a $20,000 vehicle that was totaled. The other driver is legally required to pay you $120,000.
Most 18-year-olds do not have $120,000 in cash lying around – especially 18-year-old drivers who drive recklessly and illegally.
You might sue the 18-year-old driver for everything he has. He could liquidate every dollar he owns and declare bankruptcy. Unless the 18-year-old driver was rich, however, it’s unlikely you will receive the full $120,000 the other driver legally owes you.
Talk to Your Insurance Company, Then Talk to a Lawyer
Here’s what we recommend doing:
Talk to your insurance company. You may already have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage bundled into your car insurance policy. Some states actually require you to have this. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, then your own insurance will cover this accident up to the limits of your policy.
Your insurance company will also have teams of lawyers who may go after the other driver. Your own insurance company doesn’t want to foot the bill for your damages, which is why they’ll try to seize assets from the other driver.
If you call your insurance company and find they’re unwilling or unable to help, then we recommend scheduling a consultation with a personal injury lawyer specializing in car accident injuries. Personal injury lawyers typically offer free consultations, and they often work on a contingency basis, which means you won’t pay anything upfront. The personal injury lawyer might sue the other 18-year old driver or his family in an attempt to recover your assets.
Ultimately, uninsured motorist coverage is a good idea to have anywhere in the United States. Talk to your insurance company or a lawyer immediately to get this tough issue resolved.
Good luck to you… you better hope the guy isn’t deported soon.
Call your insurance company and see what they say (if you haven’t already). They might be able to sue the kid and get something out of it for you.
By the way, this is why they sell un-insured motorist coverage and under-insured motorist coverage. I know this is a freak accident, but you might consider buying this in the future.