Being in a car accident can be quite a shock to the system. Unfortunately, the crash itself is sometimes followed by another unpleasant surprise: You discover that the other driver doesn’t have any car insurance. Who’s going to pay for the damage? That question comes up more often than you might think. Although most states require motorists to have liability insurance in order to operate any vehicle, the Insurance Research Council estimates that one in eight drivers on the road is driving without insurance. Depending on the situation, your ability to recover financially from an encounter with an uninsured driver may come down to the choices you’ve made about your own insurance coverage.
What if the uninsured driver is at fault in the accident?
Can you sue an uninsured driver?
Colorado operates under a tort system and has a comparative negligence law, which means whoever is at fault is supposed to pay. However, if the driver at fault doesn’t have any insurance, chances are there won't be enough coverage for the damages that occurred. Many drivers who don’t carry insurance (or are underinsured) are in financial difficulty to begin with, so any judgment you obtain against them may be all but impossible to collect. Being able to prove that the other driver was responsible for the accident can be difficult, too. In those cases, an injury attorney can help, but depending on the situation, there may be limited assets to recover your damage unless you have uninsured motorist coverage (UMC).
How does UMC help?
Because of the astonishing number of drivers out there who don’t carry even minimal insurance, your best option to protect yourself is to add uninsured motorist coverage to your own insurance. Such a provision covers your losses from being hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance. In Colorado, insurance companies are required to offer uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injury as part of any standard auto policy, unless you waive that coverage in writing. You can also take out uninsured motorist coverage for property damage, too, but that damage may already be covered by your liability and collision coverage.
What if the uninsured driver is NOT at fault in the accident?
If the at-fault driver has insurance, then that insurance policy would likely cover losses resulting from the accident, up to specified limits. Note: in states with “no fault” insurance laws, the drivers involved in a car accident would each seek compensation for injuries and medical bills through their own insurance company, regardless of who was responsible for the accident. But there are different versions and thresholds for no-fault coverage that vary from state to state. Colorado had a no-fault law until 2013, and since then has operated under traditional tort insurance laws.
Penalty for Driving without Insurance
There are fines and penalties for driving without car insurance in Colorado. If you cannot provide proof of insurance when being charged not to have one, you may face the following penalties: - Losing four points on your driver’s license - Up to 40 hours of community service - Minimum $500 fine for the first time being caught driving without car insurance – your driver’s license will be suspended until you can provide proof of insurance - Minimum $1000 fine for the second time being caught driving without car insurance – your driver’s license will be suspended for four months. - Minimum $1000 fine for the third time being caught driving without car insurance – your driver’s license will be suspended for eight months.
An uninsured motorist lawyer can help.
Uninsured motorist claims usually take longer to develop than a typical accident claim. Insurance companies will request your medical records, conduct pretrial investigation, and witness depositions. It is crucial that you and your insurance company agree on a settlement amount because the claim is against your insurer and you cannot file a lawsuit against your insurer. The entire process can be confusing and complicated. Be sure to consult an uninsured motorist lawyer who will help you understand the value of your car accident. They can help promptly get the information needed to file an uninsured motorist claim, and assist you in negotiation and every other step along the way.
Contact an Uninsured Motorist Lawyer at Franklin D. Azar & Associates
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Greenwood Village, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the uninsured motorist lawyer at FDAzar day or night at (855) 637-1268 or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.