About one in eight motorists don’t have any automobile insurance, a daunting figure if you’ve been in an accident. Depending on where you live, the number of uninsured can be even higher. This can make the submission of a claim difficult or time consuming if you were the recipient of personal injury as a result of the collision. Luckily, you’re not without options, and many of the steps you should take following your accident remain the same whether or not insurance is in play.
What you need to do immediately following your accident:
- Call the police. Even if you don’t think the accident was “bad” enough to involve the police, assume it is. Sometimes damage isn’t apparent until days later, and sometimes you won’t feel the pain from an injury right away.
- Say nothing. The police are there as your witnesses, but be careful if you choose to provide any information about the events that led to the accident. In most cases, it would be smarter to say nothing at all. Even if you’re not at fault, you may not be thinking clearly. Consequently, you may say the wrong thing or leave out critical details. If the investigating officer (wrongly) concludes you were at fault, it can complicate the subsequent investigation by your insurance company and prolong a payout. Instead, let the officer know that you’d like to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.
- Ask to see proof of insurance. You do need to know for sure if the other party is covered, and this is how you’ll find out. Otherwise, ask the police if the other driver is insured (it’s okay to let the police know that you are).
- Photograph the scene. Take pictures of everything! Photograph your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle in order to make it easier for your own insurance company and attorney to gather all the necessary information. Be sure to take note of the make and model of the other driver’s automobile, and write down the license plate number for reference. Document any obvious damage.
What you need to know when you’ve been struck by an uninsured motorist:
Your own insurance should still cover the costs of your accident, even when the other driver is not insured. There are two types of insurance depending on the circumstances of the accident.
The one you’ll be dealing with is called uninsured motorist coverage, and is usually available to cover your costs when the at-fault party is not insured. In the case that the other party is insured, but doesn’t have enough coverage for a bad accident, you’ll be dealing with underinsured motorist coverage.
Most importantly, when you suffer personal injury in an automobile accident, make sure to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately and especially before you contact your insurance handlers. Sign nothing without proper representation. This is the case whether or not the other driver is insured.
Your insurance handlers will attempt to procure all the necessary information regarding your accident themselves. A personal injury lawyer can help you wade through jargon-filled legal documents you may not fully understand, and prevent you from signing or giving away information that could prevent you from achieving the best possible outcome.
At the end of the day, what you should do after you’ve been hit by an uninsured motorist is much the same as if you’d been hit by an insured motorist. Remain calm, gather information, and provide no information to any party that might not have your best interests at heart. First and foremost, get yourself medical attention and find a personal injury lawyer. The hard part’s over.
Randall F. Rogers is a personal injury lawyer that practices in the small suburb of Marietta, outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Originally working at a large firm, he left to work on his own, so he could work closing with individuals and help them seek justice. When not walking to and from the court house, he can be seen discussing gardening with the community or reading a book from his favorite author Henry David Thoreau.