A car accident is stressful and traumatic. When you realize that the other driver is uninsured, the stress and uncertainty increases as you navigate how and who will pay for your medical bills, property losses, and lost income. Many people in this situation seek legal advice on suing an uninsured driver for damages.
If you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver in New Jersey, you may be able to still recover compensation for your losses, potentially by suing an uninsured driver for damages. An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to help you navigate your options and approach to the claim. If you’re injured in the crash with an uninsured driver in New Jersey, your compensation will depend on your own coverage, the personal finances of the at-fault driver, the vehicle’s owner, and whether any third-parties were at-fault.
What Is an Uninsured Driver?
New Jersey’s uninsured motorist coverage pays for property damage or bodily injury if you are in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist (a driver who does not have the minimum level of insurance required by law) or a driver who is insured, but who has less coverage than you.
If you have a Standard Policy, your auto insurance should pay for damage sustained by your vehicle caused by any of the following:
- Someone who did not have liability insurance at the time of the accident.
- A business that did not have liability insurance at the time of the crash.
- Someone who did have liability insurance at the time of the crash, but for some reason their auto insurance company refuses to cover the loss.
- Someone who had inadequate insurance coverage to pay for all of your damages.
- A business that had inadequate insurance coverage to pay for all of your damages.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works in New Jersey
New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state. That means your own insurance policies will be the first or primary insurer for the accident. Assuming you have at least a Standard Policy for car insurance, you will have at least a minimum level of coverage for uninsured motorists who are at-fault for the accident. The minimum levels cover:
- $15,000 for bodily injuries suffered by one person
- $30,000 for harm sustained by all those injured in the accident
- $5,000 for property damage resulting from the accident
If you’ve been seriously injured, even a Standard Policy may not come close to covering the full extent of your losses. And just because you are going through your own insurance company does not mean they cannot deny or devalue your claim. Your best option may be to first discuss your case with an experienced car accident lawyer.
If you have the Basic Policy for New Jersey car insurance, there is no coverage for uninsured drivers. You will be responsible for the damages caused in the accident.
Suing an Uninsured Driver for Damages
This option is often what car accident victims immediately think of, and certainly if you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence or careless conduct, you always have the option of suing that driver personally. However, pursuing a lawsuit against an uninsured driver is often challenging. A negligent driver lacking adequate personal assets may make any lawsuit a wash – or even a loss. In other words, if an uninsured driver cannot pay for the damages, the lawsuit will only end up costing you more money.
In some exceptions, it’s possible a negotiated payment schedule could be enforced by the court. Other options for collecting a personal injury debt may include:
- Garnishing the defendant’s wages or bank accounts.
- Imposing a lien on property.
- Seizing personal property.
- His/her driver’s license could also be suspended until the debt is paid.
Uninsured Driver in an Insured Car
If suing the uninsured driver for damages isn’t an option, another avenue to investigate is the ownership of the vehicle. Despite what many people believe, car insurance follows the car, not the driver. If the vehicle owner has insurance, that insurance will cover any driver of that car -- so long as that driver was not specifically excluded from the policy. If the owner allowed the negligent driver to operate and drive the vehicle, the vehicle’s owner could bear some liability for the crash.
Third Party Liability
Other drivers, vehicle parts manufacturers and others may be liable for the accident if they were in any way negligent in causing the crash or compounded the extent of your injuries. For instance, companies that make auto parts are responsible for their safety. If the parts fail due to problems in the manufacturing process, these companies can be held liable. In some cases, a part that was not properly installed in the vehicle can cause a crash. When that happens, the dealership or mechanic who improperly serviced your car can be held accountable.
Protecting Yourself from Uninsured Drivers
If you live in New Jersey, the best way to protect yourself is by making sure you have a Standard Policy and adding Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) to your own auto policy. While your premiums may be higher, this supplementary coverage can protect your assets and well-being down the line.
Help with an Uninsured Driver Claim in New Jersey
You deserve to get the maximum amount of compensation for your losses after a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior. Working with an experienced car accident lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a personal injury lawyer from Brandon J. Broderick, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.