Being in a car crash is difficult enough to work through when you’re worried about recovering from your injuries and keeping your finances healthy while you’re not able to work. What if you discover that the other driver does not have insurance? This occurrence is more common that you may think as an estimated one in eight drivers in the US doesn’t carry car insurance. When you’re hit by an uninsured driver, the anxiety and uncertainty increases as you navigate how and who will pay for the damages to your vehicle and your bills.
Even if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver, you can still often recover damages -- though you may need help. An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to help you navigate your options and approach the claim from all angles to build your case. If you’re injured in a crash with an uninsured driver, 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.
Hit by an uninsured vehicle in New Jersey?
If you live in New Jersey, assuming you have at least a Standard Policy for car insurance, you will have at least a minimum level of coverage for uninsured motorists. 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
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 your underinsured motorist coverage.
If you’ve been seriously injured, even a Standard Policy may not come close to covering the full extent of your losses. And, if you have the Basic Policy, there is no coverage for uninsured drivers. In both scenarios, it's possible you may have other options.
Suing an Uninsured Driver
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. It’s wise to talk to a personal injury lawyer first to determine whether this is a measure worth pursuing. A negligent driver lacking adequate personal assets may make any lawsuit a wash – or even a loss. But we can look into a negotiated payment schedule that 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.
New Jersey also has very strict laws and fines for drivers found to be without car insurance.
Uninsured Driver in an Insured Car
Another avenue to investigate after you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver 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 under a product liability theory. 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 Motorist Claim in New Jersey
As the victim of an auto accident, you deserve to get the maximum amount of compensation for the expenses involved. Working with experienced car accident lawyers 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.