The most common means to recover compensation in an uninsured motorist accident is through your own insurance company or by suing the driver directly. If you have been injured in a car accident, you likely have medical bills, lost wages, and other accident costs.
Typically, the party who is liable will have an insurance company that is responsible for compensating you for your accident-associated losses. When you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, however, things can become much more complicated. Although carrying vehicle insurance is required by Nevada law, about 4% of Nevada drivers are uninsured. If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you may need to seek compensation in other ways.
Can You Sue Uninsured Drivers?
The short answer is yes, you can sue uninsured drivers. In many cases, however, a driver without insurance does not have insurance because they cannot afford it. It is often the case that an uninsured motorist also does not have enough money or assets that make a lawsuit worth pursuing.
Prior to filing a lawsuit against an uninsured driver, you might want to seek legal help from an uninsured motorist accident lawyer, who can run a credit and asset check on the uninsured driver to determine if they have any assets. If it is discovered that the uninsured driver does have assets or money available, the attorney may place a lien on the assets to prevent the other party from disposing of them during the proceedings. If you do decide to file a lawsuit against an uninsured motorist, you or your lawyer will need to file a complaint and go to court to prove that the other driver was at-fault.
How to Prove an Uninsured Motorist Is At Fault
Just like with any car accident, you will need to prove the other driver is at-fault in order to be successful in court and obtain compensation. To prove the other party is at fault, you will need to show that they were negligent. To prove that the other party is at fault, you will need to establish the four elements of negligence. These elements include that the other party had a duty of care, the other party breached this duty, the breach caused your injury, and you suffered damages or losses.
A duty of care means an obligation to exercise reasonable care in a given situation. For example, while driving a car, you have a duty to follow the rules of the road and not drive when drunk or distracted. You will also need to show that the other party breached that duty by failing to behave in the way a reasonable person would. The third element is often referred to as causation. Causation means that the action of the other party caused your injury. Finally, you must prove that you suffered damages. Before going to court, you will want to gather evidence to help you show that the other party is at-fault. Evidence may include such things as police reports, photos or video of the accident scene, medical records, auto repair bills, and witness contact information
How to File a Claim for Compensation in an Uninsured Motorist Accident
The first step to filing a lawsuit against an uninsured motorist is to file a complaint with the court that has jurisdiction. The state that has jurisdiction is generally the state where the accident occurred. The complaint should list out your reasons and justifications for the lawsuit. Once you have filed the complaint with the court, the other party will be given time to answer the complaint.
At this point, you should be prepared for pre-trial motions. Pre-trial motions might include motions that can delay the proceeding, such as a motion for a change of venue. Pre-trial motions could also include a motion to dismiss the case all together.
Before the case goes to trial, the judge may order mediation so that the parties can try to negotiate a settlement with the guidance of a neutral mediator. If you are unable to reach a settlement through mediation, the parties will engage in the process of discovery. Discovery is a process by which both sides provide the information they have to the other side and interview witnesses.
Finally, your case will go to trial. At trial, a jury will listen to arguments and evidence presented by both sides and decide your case.
Getting Compensation Through Your Insurance Company
One way to protect yourself from an uninsured driver is by having uninsured driver coverage. If you find that the uninsured driver does not have money or assets, you may have better luck filing a claim with your own insurance company under an uninsured driver policy. Uninsured driver coverage provides coverage for your expenses if you are hit by an uninsured driver. Uninsured driver insurance can help you receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and injury-related expenses for yourself and any passengers. It may also cover your injuries if you are hit as a pedestrian.
When you seek compensation through uninsured driver coverage, your insurance company becomes your adversary and may try to fight you on the claim. You should gather as much documentation as you can to provide evidence to your insurer. You may be able to get photos or video of the accident from security cameras. Witnesses can also be great evidence to help you to get your claim approved. Often times, the compensation available with uninsured driver insurance is not enough to cover all the costs associated with a car accident. You may still need to file a lawsuit against the uninsured driver in order to cover all of your car accident related costs.
Another option for paying your car accident-related medical bills is through Med-pay. Nevada law requires that every company that sells car insurance offers at least $1,000 in med-pay coverage. Most companies, however, will offer higher limits in med-pay coverage. With med-pay, your medical will be covered regardless of who was at-fault.
What to do if the Other Driver Flees the Scene?
Leaving the scene of an accident in Nevada is illegal, but many drivers still do flee the scene. A driver who is convicted of leaving the scene of an accident could face fines of $2,000 to $5,000 and possibly imprisonment. There are many reasons why a driver might flee the scene of an accident. One possible reason is that they are uninsured, or they lack the ability to compensate the other driver. Some other common reasons that a driver may flee the scene include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving with a suspended license
- Driving a stolen vehicle
- Driver is transporting illegal goods
- Driver is an illegal immigrant
No matter what the reason behind fleeing the scene of an accident, it can leave the victim with substantial losses that may be difficult to recover. In some cases, you may be able to identify the fleeing driver. Security cameras in nearby buildings may have caught the vehicle on video. In addition, eyewitnesses may be able to identify the vehicle or may have gotten photos or video of the vehicle on their smartphone. If, however, the fleeing driver is not caught, Nevada drivers may still seek compensation from their own insurance companies uninsured driver coverage.
What Types of Compensation Can I Recover in an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
If you are injured in an accident, you may be left with substantial medical bills. Pedestrian accidents, in particular, are extremely dangerous due to a lack of protection. You deserve compensation for these injuries and for other losses related to the car accident. There are different types of compensation you might seek after being involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. Most damages fall into the categories of economic compensation, non-economic compensation, and punitive damages.
Economic damages refers to compensation for losses that have a monetary value attached to them. Some common types of economic damages include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and rehabilitation. Economic damages can be easier to prove and calculate than other types of damages because you usually have a bill or receipt showing the amount of damages you suffered.
Non-economic damages can be harder to prove because there is no exact monetary amount attached to them. Non-economic damages are often referred to as pain and suffering. This might include physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
Punitive damages are awarded as a way to punish the defendant for wrongdoing and to deter future reckless behavior. To be awarded punitive damages, you must prove that the defendant’s actions were willful and reckless and that they knowingly caused you to suffer an injury with their wanton disregard for other’s safety.
To help ensure you have the support you need and deserve through your recovery, it helps if you understand how to recover compensation in an uninsured motorist accident.