Each state mandates its drivers to carry a certain amount of liability auto insurance. This coverage pays for the injuries and damages that the policyholder caused accident victims to suffer.
What happens if the at-fault party doesn’t have car insurance depends on whether you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This type of insurance policy will pay out to you if the negligent driver does not have the required liability coverage.
What Is UM Coverage, and How Can I Use It?
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, often sold with underinsured motorist (UIM) policies, helps the policyholder recover damages when the at-fault driver leaves the scene, does not have adequate coverage, or does not have insurance at all. Often, drivers have these policies and are not aware of them. While most states do not require them, many ask that you opt out of them instead of opting in to purchase them.
Generally, if an uninsured driver causes your crash, you can file a claim with your own insurer, and they will provide monetary damages for your approved losses up to the policy limits. This usually equals the amount of liability coverage you chose.
Some States Require UM Coverage
About 20 states mandate that all drivers carry uninsured motorist coverage. This is perhaps the best option for recovering compensation if an uninsured driver caused your accident. Outside of these areas, laws differ from state to state.
- In Louisiana, La. R.S. § 22:680 requires that all drivers pay for this add-on policy when purchasing auto liability coverage unless they specifically request to opt out in writing.
- Under Ala. Code § 32-7-23, Alabama has very similar laws.
- Arkansas requires insurance companies to offer these policies and that drivers opt out if they do not want the coverage, per Ark. Code Ann. § 23-89-209.
In Mississippi, UM/UIM coverage is not a mandatory policy, and there is no opt-out rule. However, many people choose to carry these policies because of the rate of uninsured drivers in the state. Mississippi has one of the highest rates in the nation at almost 30 percent, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
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What Will My Uninsured Motorist Coverage Pay After a Crash?
The damages you recover through an uninsured motorist claim are similar to those you could request if you filed a liability claim based on the at-fault driver’s insurance in a typical crash case. You will need evidence to document your damages and show the value of your claim. Your policy limits will likely apply.
Recoverable damages could include:
- Current and future treatment for accident injuries
- Ongoing care and support costs
- Lost income and diminished earning capacity
- Repairs to your vehicle
- Pain and suffering damages
If you choose to work with a personal injury attorney, they will be able to gather proof of your expenses and losses and assign a value to your case. Then, they will negotiate to reach a settlement based on this value.
Suing the at-Fault Driver After an Uninsured Auto Accident
If you do not have UM coverage or there are other reasons why your personal injury law firm believes you need to sue the uninsured driver who caused your crash, a civil lawsuit may be possible. You will likely want to let an attorney handle this process.
If you partner with a law firm on your case, its legal team will:
- Investigate the crash to determine what happened
- Identify the liable party and whether they have applicable insurance
- Research the at-fault driver’s financial means for covering your damages
- Document your accident-related expenses and losses
- Prepare and file the necessary paperwork
- Manage all pretrial actions and conduct discovery
- Represent your best interests at trial
Recovering compensation from an individual who does not have insurance may be challenging. There should be proof that they have the money or assets to cover your costs.
Each state also has a deadline for suing the motorist who caused your crash. This could be as short as one year in some areas, including Louisiana. If you miss this deadline, the court could bar you from recovery. There are also many steps you need to take before suing. We recommend speaking with an attorney as early as possible after a crash.
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Talk to a Team Member from Morris Bart, LLC, Today
You can talk to the legal team from the Morris Bart law office near you for free today. We have 15 locations across Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and provide free case consultations and evaluations for accident victims. We may be able to help you understand your options and weigh your next steps, as well as handle your claim or lawsuit.
You can reach our contingency fee firm today by dialing (800) 537-8185. We are here to help Gulf South accident victims.
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