All states require drivers to buy automobile insurance, but the reality is that, whether out of ignorance, inability, or unwillingness, many drivers ignore this requirement. If you get into an accident with such a driver and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you may find yourself needing to take the uninsured driver to court in order to recover damages. Seeing as how that driver could not afford insurance in the first place, it seems unlikely that you will recover anything from them. For this reason, it is prudent to purchase uninsured motorist coverage where you have the option to do so. In a handful of states, it is required.
How it Works
Most uninsured motorist laws give coverage for all sums the owner would be legally entitled to recover if the uninsured motorist was insured, but the specifics involving just what the motorist would have been entitled to recover differ state by state.
Definition of Uninsured Vehicle
Definitions of an uninsured vehicle change slightly from state to state, but most define it as a driver who did not have any insurance, had insurance that did not meet state-mandated minimum liability requirements, or whose insurance company denied their claim or was not financially able to pay it. Most laws also specify that uninsured vehicles include:
Coverage of Persons
It is very important that the person claiming benefits under an uninsured motorist policy fall within the policy’s definition of an “insured.” Those covered differ from policy to policy and it is vital that you understand who is covered before making a purchase. People commonly covered include:
Underinsured Motorist Insurance
You can also purchase insurance that protects you from underinsured drivers in addition to uninsured ones. An underinsured driver is someone who met minimum legal financial responsibility requirements but did not have payment limits high enough to cover the damage they caused. Underinsured motorist protection pays you for damages that exceed the payment limits carried by a driver who is considered underinsured.
By Elspeth Crawford
If you’re involved in a car accident, there’s a chance that you might file a personal injury lawsuit or that one could be filed against you. In order to win a personal injury lawsuit involving a vehicular accident, the plaintiff must show three things. First, the plaintiff must show that he or she suffered actual harm. Usually, this will not be difficult. The plaintiff must simply identify their injuries. Second, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty of care but that the defendant breached this duty. Third, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care was the cause of the plaintiff’s harm.
Duties of Care
Drivers are required to use that degree of care as would a reasonably prudent driver acting in similar circumstances. The details of the duty of care change slightly depending on what kind of vehicle is being driven, who is driving it, and whether or not the vehicle is commercial. However, many basic rules remain the same. Drivers have the duty to:
In cases where an injury is clearly caused by a driver’s negligence, showing causation is easy. In cases where the origin of injuries is not so clear, it can be more difficult. There are a number of tests courts used to determine injury. They vary depending on the state and the situation.
Contributory and Comparative Negligence
In order for a plaintiff to recover from a defendant in an automobile accident, the defendant must have acted negligently, that is, in violation of some duty of care. However, it is possible that the plaintiff also acted negligently and that the defendant is only partially, but not entirely, to blame for the accident. The doctrines of contributory and comparative negligence determine how to spread the blame when this occurs.