If you have ever been in a car accident, you know the expenses and hassles that are involved. Insurance deductibles, medical bills, auto body repair shop estimates, rental car costs, playing phone tag with the insurance company…the list of expenses and aggravation goes on and on. However, the situation is significantly worse if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver. When a driver who hits you doesn’t have car insurance, what can you do to recoup your damages?
Uninsured Drivers in Pennsylvania
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 13% of motorists nationally and 7.6% of motorists in Pennsylvania were driving without insurance in 2015. While Pennsylvania is below average on that statistic, that doesn’t help when you’re involved in an accident with one of the minority uninsured drivers.
When you add those who are driving with Pennsylvania’s minimum required insurance coverage, that percentage will increase. Getting into an accident with a driver who has either no insurance or too little insurance can cause serious problems, even for drivers have met the minimum insurance requirements themselves.
Why You Need Underinsured/Uninsured Coverage on Your Own Policy
There is something you can do to minimize the financial impact of being hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. The safest route for a responsible vehicle owner is to purchase coverage against uninsured drivers. If you are in an accident with a driver who has too little insurance, no insurance, or who fled from the scene of the accident (a hit-and-run driver), you can still receive compensation for your injuries if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your policy.
Keep in mind that even if the driver who hit you has the minimum insurance, there is a strong chance it will not be enough for you to pay for your losses – the minimum insurance requirements for Pennsylvania haven’t been updated since 1974! That means that if you do not have the additional coverage and you are hit by someone who has the minimum insurance, you probably won’t even receive enough compensation to cover your medical expenses, which can run into the tens of thousands after just a few tests.
The high cost of automobile insurance is the reason why so many people are driving around without it. It may seem hard to justify investing even more of your hard-earned money into car insurance, but if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver, it will be worth the extra cost.
Penalties for Driving Without Proper Insurance in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the minimum insurance requirements are as follows:
- $5,000 in medical benefits coverage
- Bodily injury liability coverage of $15,000 per person per crash (or $30,000 per collision)
- $5000 in coverage for property damage.
Again, with the costs of medical treatment and auto body repairs today, that amount of money will not go very far if you are in an accident with an underinsured driver.
If the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) determines that someone has been operating their vehicle without the necessary insurance, here’s what can happen:
- They are at risk for losing their driving privileges and a three-month suspension of their vehicle registration unless they opt to pay a one-time civil penalty of $500 (which can only be done once in a 12-month period)
- They are subject to a $300 fine plus $176 in restoration fees to get their license ($88) and registration ($88) back
However, none of that really helps you if you were involved in a car accident where an uninsured driver was at fault.
Why Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer Is Important
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver who was at fault, you will need a personal injury attorney to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. This is true even if you do not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
There are several different options that may be available to you when you enlist a personal injury attorney to represent you and fight for your rights. In some cases, you may still have a claim if you were not provided with the forms to reject that additional coverage in writing. Another option is to attempt to collect damages from the other driver personally.
There are additional avenues available if the driver at fault was driving under the influence, such as a request for Victim Restitution that can be filed as part of their sentence. If they had been drinking at a bar or left from a bar and a DUI was involved, there might be grounds for a case against the bar if they continued serving the person drinks while they were obviously intoxicated.
Personal Injury Lawyer that Will Fight for You
If you or a loved one has been hit by an uninsured driver, it is important to choose the right personal injury attorney. Donaghue & Labrum attorneys have vast experience with car accident litigation, going to trial, and a successful track record with personal injury suits overall. You can see the proof on our Settlements & Verdicts page. We have decades of experience litigating car accidents and will not stop fighting until you are made whole. Contact us today for a free consultation.