Car accidents and their aftermath can be scary and confusing. After a wreck, you may not know how best to proceed. Getting the compensation you need and understanding your legal options can become even more complicated if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. On this page, we will tell you what you need to know about how to protect your rights when involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist and break down step-by-step guidelines to help you make the right choices for you and your loved ones.
Step by Step: What to Do After an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
According to the Ohio Department of Insurance, 15% of Ohio drivers are uninsured, and there are even more drivers who are underinsured. Although Ohio requires proof of insurance or financial responsibility to legally drive on the road, that does not mean that everyone is able to cover damages if an accident results in serious injury. Since having an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver is a real possibility, it is important to know what steps to take to protect your rights in these situations.
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Step One—Seek Medical Assistance
Your health and safety should always come first. If you or your loved ones are injured in an accident your first priority should be to seek medical care. Only once you are safe should you proceed with the next steps.
Step Two—Report the Accident to the Police
Once you and your loved ones are safe, your next step should be to officially report the accident to the police. By contacting the police, you are beginning the investigation into the circumstances of the wreck. They will take photos and record information that may be helpful to you or your lawyer further down the line. This will all be available as an official crash report from the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), which you can request on their website.
Some drivers are under the mistaken impression that calling the police after an accident with an uninsured driver will raise their insurance premiums; however, under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) §3937.23, your insurance company cannot raise your rates in situations where you are not at fault in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Step 3—Gather Information
Be sure to collect information about the other driver the same way you would with an insured driver. Take pictures of the scene, your vehicle, and your injuries. Get the make and model of the uninsured driver’s car, their contact information, and any other pertinent information that may help you as you file a claim or a lawsuit.
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Step 4—Pursue Compensation
Once you have contacted the police, the next step is to begin pursuing compensation for any medical bills, car repairs, lost wages, and other expenses incurred from the accident.
Since the other driver will not be able to pay damages from their own liability insurance, this process can become complicated. Choosing to contact a personal injury lawyer at this time can help guide you through your legal options while safeguarding your rights, before your insurance company becomes involved.
If you choose to contact your insurance company to file a claim, be aware that they often try to pay less than the amount to which you are entitled. Contacting a lawyer beforehand can help you avoid taking an inadequate settlement.
Step 5—File Your Claim or Lawsuit
If you have Uninsured Motorist (UM), Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD), or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, then your insurance company may be able to issue compensation to you. This is supplemental insurance that is not automatically included in all policies, but if you have it, then you can file a claim to pay for your bills despite the other driver’s insurance status.
If you only have standard liability insurance, then the at-fault driver is still financially responsible for any injuries you or a loved one may have suffered due to the accident. Just because they do not have insurance, that does not mean that you are left without options. Filing a lawsuit against the uninsured driver can result in rulings that still get you the compensation you need after an accident.
Contacting a Personal Injury Lawyer
An Ohio personal injury lawyer can still guide you through how to protect your rights when involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist. Call Bressman Law today to learn more information about how we can help during a free case evaluation at (877) 538-1116.