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.
If you or a loved one has been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Denver car accident lawyer to help you navigate your claim.
Colorado Uninsured/Underinsured Accident Resources:
- What are Colorado’s insurance requirements?
- What is underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage?
- Why do I need uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
- Who is covered with uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
- Can I sue an uninsured or underinsured driver?
- What should I do after being involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver?
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 require their residents to buy Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Other states require uninsured motorist coverage.
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. Since Colorado is an at-fault state, it will be the at-fault party’s responsibility to pay for your damages. Most drivers fulfill this financial obligation through their auto insurance policies. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if the at-fault driver in an accident does not carry any auto insurance.
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. If the at-fault driver’s coverage level is too low to reimburse your damages, your underinsured motorist coverage will fill the gaps.
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.
Who Is Covered With This Insurance Coverage?
Purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance can protect you and other covered drivers under your policy from financial losses if you get into an accident with a negligent driver. The people your insurance covers depends on your policy. Most policies in Colorado cover you, the main driver or owner of the vehicle, and other people who drive your car. Your uninsured/underinsured insurance will most likely cover people you let borrow your car, such as friends and family members.
If an underinsured or uninsured driver crashes into your vehicle while someone else is driving, your related insurance policy will most likely cover the losses. The same is true even if your friend is at fault for causing the crash. In an at-fault accident, your insurance will kick in to cover your damages, whether the other driver has adequate insurance or not. It is only in a not-at-fault collision that your uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance would need to cover your losses.
Speak to your insurance agent to find out exactly who your policy covers. Some insurance companies do not automatically cover other drivers living in your home. Your insurance policy may or may not apply to your friends, roommates, or family members. Review the terms of your policy or contact your company to learn more.
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.
What Should I Do After an Accident With an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist?
The steps you take after your car accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist can determine the outcome of your insurance claim. First, remain calm and do not admit fault for the wreck. Check yourself and others for injuries. Call 911 and report the crash if it caused injuries, deaths, or property damage that disabled any vehicles. You should also call the police if your accident involves a drunk driver or hit-and-run. Then, start thinking about your case.
- Get the other driver’s information. Take down the other driver’s name, insurance information (if any), license plate numbers, and driver’s license information.
- Gather evidence. Take photographs of the scene of the accident and of any personal injuries. Photos can serve as proof of the other driver’s fault for the accident, such as a picture of food wrappers in the other driver’s passenger seat proving driver distraction.
- Give police your side of the story. Give the responding officer your version of events. Otherwise, the only story that will go on record is the other driver’s idea of what happened.
- Go to the hospital. Get immediate medical attention for any accident-related injuries. Delaying medical care could worsen your prognosis and hurt your odds of an insurance settlement.
- Call your insurance company. Once you discover the other driver does not have enough insurance to cover your damages, contact your own insurance company to discuss your case. Your agent can let you know if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance and how much it will cover.
Your insurance claims adjuster will work with you to apply your insurance coverage to your case. If you cannot negotiate a fair settlement value, or if you believe someone else could be liable (such as an auto part manufacturer or the city of Denver), hire an attorney to help you with your case. A Denver personal injury lawyer from the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal can take care of your uninsured/underinsured motorist claim at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
Contact An Uninsured/Underinsured Accident 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.