After a person has been in an accident with another driver, one of the first things that person does is exchange insurance information with the other person. However, sometimes the other driver doesn't have any insurance coverage or doesn't have very much insurance coverage. This page will give a quick overview of accidents with uninsured or underinsured motorists.
What Are Colorado's Insurance Requirements?
Every state requires that the people who operate motor vehicles on its roads and highways have a minimum level of insurance coverage. The amount of coverage required varies from state to state but typically includes some amount of monetary coverage for injuries as well as property damage. Some states have additional insurance requirements. For example, some states, such as Michigan, require their residents to buy Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Other states require uninsured motorist coverage. Only one state in the country, New Hampshire, does not require its drivers to have insurance. Rather drivers in that state must show they are "able to provide sufficient funds to meet New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Requirements in the event of an “at-fault” accident."
Colorado does require its drivers to have insurance coverage. The minimum insurance requirements for the state are as follows:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $15,000 per accident for property damage
Although Colorado does not require that you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, the insurer must offer it and the insured must decline it in writing. If no such writing is obtained then the uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage will automatically be written into the policy.
What Is Uninsured And Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance that you get from your insurance company to cover your medical bills and property damage in case you are in an accident with a motorist who does not have any insurance. A surprising number of people drive around without insurance, though it is required most states. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 12.6% of motorists were driving without insurance in 2012.
Underinsured motorist coverage is a little different. This kind of insurance can also be obtained from your insurance company to cover your medical bills and property damage in case you are in an accident. But in the case of underinsured motorist coverage, the insurance you have is to cover expenses in case the motorist who hit you does not have insurance coverage that is sufficient to cover all the costs that arose from the accident.
Why Do I Need This Type of Coverage?
As there are a number of drivers on the road with no insurance coverage or minimal insurance coverage, having uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can protect you from having to pay medical expenses or property damage from an accident you did not cause.
If you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist, then you may not be able to recover any monetary compensation from the driver who hit you. Though the reasons that a driver may not have insurance coverage varies, if the driver does not have insurance because they cannot afford it, it is unlikely they would be able to pay for the damages from an accident out of pocket. If, for some reason, that driver does have assets and you can seek compensation from them, you may have to file a lawsuit in order to recover that compensation. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, instead of seeking compensation from the responsible party, you look to your own insurance company to pay for the medical bills and property damage that you incurred in the accident. In addition, you may be able to use uninsured motorist coverage if you have been the victim of a hit and run accident.
If you are in an accident with a motorist who is underinsured, having underinsured motorist insurance can help to fill the gap between the policy limits of the driver who hit you and the actual amount of damages. Drivers are only required to carry the minimum limits that are dictated by state law. However, while this coverage may be sufficient to cover the damages in a minor fender bender accident, it may not be sufficient in a more serious accident. You can seek additional compensation from the driver, but only if the drive has some assets to go after. If you do not have underinsured motorist coverage, then you may be responsible for any expenses above and beyond the responsible party's policy limits. If you do have such coverage, your own insurance can help pay for the additional expenses.
Can I Still File A Lawsuit Against The Driver Who Hit Me If They Don't Have Insurance?
The short answer is yes, you can file a civil lawsuit in order to recover compensation from a driver who hit you if that driver does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to cover the expenses that arose from the accident. The issue you may have will be whether or not filing such a lawsuit is worth the time and resources. As previously mentioned, drivers who are carrying the minimal level of insurance or who are carrying no insurance may not have any assets or resources that you can look to in order to recover compensation. Thus, filing a lawsuit against a driver in that financial position would be a fruitless endeavor and you would likely be better served by filing an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company.
If the driver does have some assets then you can proceed against that driver in order to attempt to collect any compensation you are owed. One of the ways you can do this is to negotiate with the other party and try to reach a settlement outside of court. You may also choose to go to mediation and have a mediator assist you and the other party to come to an agreement. Or, if an agreement can't be reached on your own, then you may have to file a civil lawsuit and have a court decide if you are owed any compensation.
Contact An Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal today. Jeremy has been helping personal injury clients recover just compensation for over a decade. Let his experience and knowledge work for you. Call the office today at (303) 825-2223 or click here to fill out the online form.