If one is involved in a car accident and suffers injuries but the person causing the accident either runs away or does not have insurance you may not know what to do. Many people have asked whether or not they can get compensation for the car repairs, medical treatment and pain and suffering in this type of situation. They also want to know who is responsible to pay for these damages.
The Short Answer
In this type of situation you may be entitled to get compensation through your own insurance carrier or through uninsured insurance funds , which are established by government. It is always best to have an experienced attorney to help you every step of the way to get you through this process as Uninsured Motorist and Uninsured Motorist claims can be complicated. An experienced attorney will work with you and obtain the police reports, witness statements and photographs of the scene as necessary to try to track down the person who caused the accident if they run away from the scene of the accident or find some alternative source of insurance coverage if the at fault driver cannot be found. The bottom line is, even if the at fault driver is unknown; you may still be entitled to compensation. Call a lawyer today to discuss your rights.
The Long Answer
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is a type of coverage that is separate from collision, liability and comprehensive coverage and is carried on most policies. This coverage is also separate from Medical Payments coverage which provides benefits for medical treatment. This coverage is required by law in most states and part of your premium that you pay gives you that coverage. The coverage exists to protect drivers in scenarios like the one above, where the at-fault driver has no insurance or no ability to pay for damages he has caused.
Each state provides different remedies for victims of an uninsured driver and defines an uninsured driver in a different way. Additionally, each state provides different remedies for victims of this type of accident. For example, Maryland has set up a MAIF Insurance Fund which victims can assert a claim against, if their case meets certain criteria. Whereas, in Virginia, a victim is permitted to sue the uninsured driver even if he cannot find him, by naming him as a John Doe in the lawsuit. In this John Doe situation, the victim, must then serve their own insurance company with a lawsuit that is filed against John Doe and give them the chance to defend the case. The reason their own carrier needs to be served and would even want to defend a case for a John Doe that can't be found, is because if a Jury finds the John Doe to have caused the accident and the injuries, then the victims' insurance carrier would be responsible to pay those damages. So in Virginia, making a claim against the John Doe has the same effect, that suing the insurance company directly for breach of contract, would have in Maryland.
The bottom line here is UM/UIM claims can be complex especially if they need to be litigated. One should not attempt to navigate these tricky waters without experienced counsel at one's side.
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