I Was Hit by an Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist. What Now?
You hop in your car on a Saturday morning to go out to visit friends or do some shopping and suddenly someone crashes into your vehicle. You feel pain in your head, neck and back. You pull over to the side of the road with the other driver and begin to share contact information. As it turns out, the other driver has no auto insurance. What do you do?
For starters, if there is more than $500 in property damage, you can report the incident to the police, who may come out to investigate. You also may want to seek medical attention for your pain and potential injuries.
As for the other driver and collecting compensation for your injuries, a lot depends on which type of insurance you purchased for your own vehicle. Kentucky is a “choice” no-fault insurance state. Your actions going forward to recover for your injuries will depend on which type of insurance you purchase — no-fault or fault.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident by an uninsured motorist in or around Louisville, Kentucky, contact the personal injury attorneys at the Slechter Law Firm, PLLC. The firm’s husband-wife team can help you navigate the claims system and take any other legal action necessary, such as a personal injury lawsuit, if it is warranted. Your first consultation is free, and the firm also serves clients in Lexington and throughout the state.
Kentucky Auto Insurance Requirements
As mentioned above, Kentucky is a choice no-fault auto insurance state. If you go to buy a policy, the default coverage is no-fault,. No-fault insurance includes a provision called Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. If you’re injured by uninsured motorist, you can still recover compensation for your medical expenses and any lost wages through your PIP. PIP caps at $10,000 in a basic policy, and it only covers injuries and medical expenses that are at least $1,000. If your expenses exceed $1,000, or if you suffered a serious injury, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
When you purchase car insurance in Kentucky, the company is obligated to offer you $25,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) to the tune of $25,000.You can also purchase an additional — but optional — $25,000 in coverage, bringing the total to $50,000 for reimbursement. Alternatively, you can also purchase more than $10,000 in PIP coverage. Kentucky law requires basic PIP coverage on all motor vehicles except motorcycles. However, if you don’t want this coverage, you can opt out.
Opting Out of No-Fault Coverage
If you do not wish to participate in the state’s mandated no-fault coverage, you can opt out, but you need to do so in writing. You must fill out the Department of Insurance’s No-Fault Rejection Form.
When you opt out of no-fault insurance coverage, however, you lose your PIP provision. Thereafter, you will be held personally liable for any medical expenses you incur no matter who is at fault for the accident you’re in. If the other driver is at fault, you’re free to sue from the git-go. Your at-fault coverage will likewise be offered with optional UM/UIM protection.
For instances such as the one described in our opening – an accident with an uninsured driver – UM coverage can be the added protection you need to cover your expenses and lost wages resulting from an injury.
What to Do if You Were Hit by an Uninsured Motorist
Though auto insurance is required to drive in Kentucky, about one in every eight drivers lacks coverage, presumably to save money. If your Saturday shopping spree ends up with you in an emergency room seeking treatment, and the other driver does not have insurance, your options will hinge on whether you have fault or at-fault coverage and whether you retained the uninsured motorist insurance offered you at the time of purchase.
As stated previously, PIP has caps of $10,000 to start with, but you can purchase additional coverage. Note that PIP covers only medical expenses at 100% and lost wages at 85%. It also covers some related costs, but it does not cover pain and suffering.
If you have PIP coverage, you must first turn to that option before you can take any legal action. You can sue the at-fault driver only if your costs exceed $1,000 or if you suffered fractures, permanent disfigurement, a loss of a bodily function, or death.
Even if you pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you cannot recover the first $10,000 paid out under PIP. Your lawsuit would have to cover expenses beyond that, but in addition, it could include compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. If you rejected PIP from the outset, you are free to sue at any time without limitations, but you have to keep in mind whether the other driver has sufficient assets to cover your claim if you win.
Uninsured motorist insurance will, if not rejected, be available to cover $25,000 or $50,000 (depending on the amount you paid for) in bodily injury protection, which may be a safer route to take than pursuing a lawsuit.
If you are making a claim with your insurance company, you must do so promptly. You can’t take your time deciding on a course of action and are debating whether to sue. Insurance policies invariably have prompt-reporting clauses built into their policy language. If you wait too long to file a claim, you may be challenged or rejected.
Take Legal Action Today
As you can see, your approach to recovering compensation for your injuries will vary upon your own choices made when purchasing auto insurance. Even if you have PIP and UM/UIM, or even just UM/UIM, your claim is going to be investigated, and you will likely be grilled by your insurance company’s claims adjuster.
The claims adjuster’s role is to limit the parent company’s liability, so you can expect that the adjuster will try to get you to say something that can be used to reduce the insurer’s liability. It’s safe to assume that your first settlement offer will be on the lower end.
Your best bet is to work with experienced accident and personal injury attorneys who can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and fight for an optimal settlement. Your attorney can also explore the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit.
If you’ were in hit by an uninsured or under-insured driver in Louisville or Lexington, Kentucky, or anywhere else in the state, contact the Slechter Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a free consultation. The firm’s attorneys can assess your situation and advise you on your options going forward. They’re prepared to represent you through every step of your claim.