A GUIDE TO ACCIDENTS INVOLVING UNINSURED DRIVERS
A GUIDE TO KEEPING UNINSURED DRIVERS FROM WRECKING YOU
It can happen to anyone: You’re proceeding through an intersection when suddenly your car is hit by another vehicle, causing damage and injury to you and your vehicle. And if that’s not bad enough, the driver of the other vehicle is uninsured. What should you do in such a situation? How will you receive compensation for the damage to your vehicle and the injury to your person if you are hit by uninsured drivers?
UNINSURED DRIVERS: THE NUMBERS ARE RISING
If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, you are not alone. In the United States, if someone is injured in an automobile accident, odds are about one in seven that the at-fault driver is uninsured. The Insurance Research Council reports that the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists has risen dramatically over the past decade. According to the report, in 1999 12.7 percent of motorists were uninsured. This number jumped to 14.6 percent in 2004. A more recent study by the Insurance Research Council expects the figure of uninsured drivers to jump to a shocking 16 percent in 2010.
WHAT IS AN UNINSURED VEHICLE?
An uninsured vehicle is typically considered one of the following:
- Vehicles that are not covered in a state that requires automobile insurance
- Vehicles used in hit-and-run incidents, where the identity of the driver is unknown
- Stolen vehicles
Who are the drivers of these uninsured vehicles? According to reports, the majority of uninsured drivers tend to be males between the ages of 18 and 29. Many of these uninsured motorists possess only a high school education, and they tend to drive cars over ten years old. But anyone can drive while uninsured. That’s why it’s prudent to familiarize yourself with state laws governing uninsured motorists.
UNINSURED DRIVERS: AN ARIZONA PROBLEM
The number of uninsured drivers in Arizona is estimated to be well over 20 percent and rising. The penalty for failing to carry insurance or proof of financial responsibility in Arizona is tough. Recently the governor of Arizona has enforced a bill that focuses on reducing the number of uninsured motorists on Arizona’s roads. The new bill, HB 2224, decrees that proof of financial responsibility must be carried in the vehicle at all times. This mandatory insurance law in Arizona states that the minimum liability insurance is $15,000 for bodily injury per person, $30,000 to cover bodily injury for more than one person and $10,000 for property damage. Failure to carry proof of insurance can result in a penalty to the driver, which can range from $500 to $1000. The amount fined will be determined by whether the offense is the driver’s first, second, or third. The driver’s license and the vehicle’s registration plates can also be suspended for three months for an initial offense and, for a third offense, up to twelve months. Additionally, a driver who possesses three or more violations for not providing proof of insurance within a three year period must submit proof of financial responsibility before the state can restore the person’s driver’s license and registration plates.
While uninsured motorist insurance is not required by law in Arizona, given the number of uninsured drivers on the road, it’s a good idea to carry such insurance. Most drivers carry $15,000 per person or $30,000 per car.
INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING AN UNINSURED MOTORIST?
Seeking compensation from an uninsured Arizona motorist can be difficult. It’s hard to make a claim against a person with no insurance because typically they don’t possess enough assets to warrant litigation. You can, however, make a claim against your insurance company to recover damages in the case of serious injury. Your insurance company will usually compensate you for the following expenses:
- Loss of wages
- Physical and emotional pain, suffering and permanent injury
- Medical expenses
- Loss of future earning power
Of course, the damages you recover depend on your policy, but generally, you are legally entitled to recover damages if you can prove that the uninsured motorist was at fault in causing your damages or injuries and that the damages can be measured and a certain amount of money will cover their expense. Depending on your policy, you may even be able to acquire compensation for the property damage to your vehicle. If your uninsured motorist coverage does not include property damage, and you do not carry collision coverage, then you’ll probably have to pay out of your own pocket for the damage done to your vehicle by an uninsured motorist.
You can improve your case significantly by being able to provide as many details as possible about your accident. Because it is often hard to retain accurate memories of an accident, keep a running log of details related to your accident. Write down such details as the time of day and week the accident occurred, the name and badge number of the attending police officer, the purpose of your trip and features of the accident location. These details will come in helpful when settling an uninsured motorist’s claim with your insurance company and will ensure that you receive adequate compensation for injuries and damage sustained in the accident.
CONTACT AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
Sometimes insurance companies can give you the runaround, making it harder to receive compensation to cover expensive medical and car repair costs. That’s why you should consult an attorney trained in the rules and regulations governing automobile accidents involving uninsured Arizona motorists. Only an automobile accident attorney will be able to determine if your insurance company is liable for the expenses caused by an automobile accident with an uninsured motorist. A lawyer trained in automobile accidents will help get you the compensation you deserve for the injuries and suffering sustained in an automobile accident caused by an uninsured driver. ASK DAVE & MIKE at Wattel & York for a Free No-Obligation Consultation.
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