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What to Do in Case of a Car Accident with an Uninsured Driver

Know your options if you get hit by an uninsured motorist

Car accidents happen. People are not perfect and mistakes are made while driving all the time. Collisions are not usually intentional—that's why it's called an "accident"—but they can be very dangerous and an inconvenience that sucks away both your time and money.

Unfortunately, with so many drivers on the roads, in many ways having a collision at one point in your life is inevitable, but it doesn't have to be inconvenient if properly insured.

To protect themselves and their assets drivers are obligated by law to carry insurance. In the state of Tennessee drivers are required to have liability insurance in the amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident at the least. Unfortunately, there are many drivers out there that disobey the law and are uninsured, leaving both themselves and others unprotected in the event of an auto accident.

Recent data found that 24% of drivers in Tennessee do not have any liability insurance whatsoever. That's nearly ¼ of drivers in the entire state.

With such an alarming number of uninsured drivers in Tennessee, motorists need to be prepared in case of an accident. Whether you or the uninsured driver is responsible, there are certain steps that should be followed to protect your rights and ensure that you will be properly compensated for losses and damages.

Contact the Police

It should go without saying, but drivers involved in the collision should always contact the police immediately following the accident. This is not only crucial to make sure the victims of the accident get quick, proper treatment for any bodily injuries that may have occurred, but it also begins the documentation process that will be used for insurance claims later on.

Do not move any vehicles involved in the accident, even in the case of a hit and run, but leave the scene alone so the police can properly assess the accident and fill out a written report. The report will be used by the insurance companies to evaluate total damages to be compensated.

Contacting the police is also important for uninsured drivers because the written report protects them from being sued for damages that they didn't cause. Without a report uninsured drivers could end up paying more money—if there's no proof as to what damages of the accident actually are, then nothing could stop the other driver from claiming false damages.

Get Contact Info from the Other Driver

After the police have done a written report, it is crucial that you obtain contact information from the other driver involved. This includes any insurance information that they have.

Even if the other driver does not have any insurance, knowing their contact information is important because some insurance companies require a signed statement from the uninsured driver stating that they don't have car insurance before they will release Uninsured Motorist compensation to you.

Appropriate contact information includes:

  • Names
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses

This information should be taken from all the parties involved. Your insurance company will need it.

Contact your Insurance Company

Now that you have the written report and driver's contact information, immediately call your insurance company and follow the necessary steps to inform them of the accident and begin the compensation process.

Notifying your insurance company will not increase your rates if the other driver is at fault, and is essential if the other driver is uninsured. Your insurance company will be able to see if your policy covers uninsured drivers, direct you on what to do next, and help you pick an attorney specializing in uninsured drivers if required.

One option concerned drivers have when it comes to protecting themselves against motorists without insurance is to include Under-Insured or Uninsured Motorist coverage (UIM or UM) on their auto insurance policy, which steps in and compensates drivers who are left without recompense from uninsured motorists. (Currently, the state of Tennessee requires that every automobile insurance policy include UM coverage with limits equal to the liability limits on the rest of the policy. The state also mandates that insurance companies automatically include UM coverage on every policy unless the policyholder signs a written note declining the coverage.)

The problem is that many people decline coverage to save costs on their premium, and those that pay for UM coverage don't have adequate liability coverage. If your liability coverage is low, then UM coverage will be too.

Contact your insurance company to see what your UIM/UM coverage actually includes.

Contact a Lawyer

Finally, consult a qualified lawyer who specializes in uninsured motorists to see what your options are in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver.

UIM and UM claims are not as easy as one might think. Even though filing a compensation claim on an uninsured driver involves only your insurance company—without the hassle of dealing with another driver's insurance company—the process can get ugly. Some insurance companies try to minimize the damages of the accident, and even hire a lawyer to defend the uninsured driver, so that they don't have to compensate you as much.

Since insurance companies are a business, their interest lies in making money and not necessarily the well-being of their clients. Drivers dealing with these kinds of issues need to have proper representation to ensure they receive full compensation for damages.

Although having UM or UIM coverage protects you from uninsured drivers, sometimes you also need protection from your insurance company. If you've had an auto accident with an uninsured driver, Tennessee uninsured car accident attorneys at Gilreath Law can help you make sure you get the proper compensation for your injuries and damages.

Contact our Knoxville, Nashville or Memphis office today for a free consultation.

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