In Indiana all drivers are required to either carry auto insurance with specific minimums for liability coverage or show financial responsibility by reporting their assets and income to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The minimum insurance requirements are $25,000 for bodily injury or death per person, $50,000 for bodily injury or death per accident, and $10,000 for property damage per accident. This coverage is intended to provide compensation for any kind of damages that may be caused by the covered driver’s negligence in an auto accident. Even so, many drivers do not adhere to these legal requirements, and you need to know what happens when uninsured drivers cause an auto accident in Indiana, whether that driver is yourself or someone else.
What Happens if You Are Uninsured and Another Driver Causes Your Auto Accident?
Prior to 2015, if you were in an auto accident that was caused by someone else, you could have your damages covered by the other driver’s auto insurance policy, even if you did not carry insurance. In July of 2015, however, new statutes were put in place, known as No Pay, No Play statutes. This means that if you don’t have auto insurance, if you do have a history of violating the financial responsibility laws of the state, and if you get into an auto accident, then you cannot have your non-economic damages covered by someone else’s auto insurance policy, even if it was their fault.
Your non-economic damages include anything that is not an actual financial expense or loss. For example, pain and suffering, physical impairment, psychological trauma, emotional stress, lost enjoyment of life, and even loss of a loved one or loss of companionship are non-economic damages. These may not be covered by the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy if you are uninsured, and also have a prior violation within the last 5 years. If this is your first time being caught without auto insurance, you can recover non-economic damages if you are in an accident if the other driver is at fault and has liability insurance.
There are some exceptions to the No Pay, No Play statute. If any exceptions apply, then it may be possible for you to get coverage for your non-economic damages, even if you do not have auto insurance. Some examples include being under 18 years old at the time of the auto accident, being in an auto accident in which the at-fault driver intentionally caused injury or damage or the other driver is convicted of a crime in connection with the accident.
The primary reason that such statutes have been put in place in Indiana is because it has been deemed unfair for those who don’t pay into the auto insurance system to benefit from the coverage of those who do. If you choose to operate a vehicle without auto insurance protection, then it is only logical that you should not benefit from the system you don’t contribute to. There is still some leeway, though. You are allowed one violation within five years before you are unable to recover compensation for non-economic damages from another driver’s auto insurance policy.
What Happens if You Are in an Auto Accident Caused by an Uninsured Driver?
Getting into an auto accident with another driver who is not insured can be extremely stressful if you don’t have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM coverage). You are not legally required to carry this kind of coverage, but your auto insurance provider is required to offer it. If you choose not to purchase it, you must opt out with a signature. If you do choose to purchase UIM coverage, then this can provide compensation for damages that exceed the liability coverage of the at-fault driver and the damages associated with accidents in which the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance at all.
When you do have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy, you can then file a claim with your own insurance company whenever you get into an auto accident with an uninsured driver. You can also turn to this coverage when you are in the even more likely scenario in which the at-fault driver has the bare minimum of liability coverage, and it isn’t enough to cover all of your economic and non-economic damages. UIM coverage can take care of your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, psychological trauma, etc. If you don’t have UIM coverage, then you may have no other option than to sue the at-fault driver. So many drivers on Indiana roads have no or little insurance coverage. One day in the hospital can cost thousands of dollars, and this is why it is so important to not only have uninsured/underinsured coverages on your automobile, but to have the highest coverages you can afford. You will be surprised that it does not cost as much as you think per year to significantly raise your coverages. Also have medical expense coverage that covers your medical expenses if you are injured in an accident. Maximize this coverage also.
Contact the Indiana Auto Accident Lawyers at Rowe & Hamilton
When you have been in an uninsured driver auto accident, you might be reluctant to file a claim with your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Many people don’t want to do this because they are afraid of seeing their insurance rates rise. Yet, the whole point of making your monthly payments on such coverage is to have it available when you require it. You can learn more about your options and how to get fair compensation from the insurance company by contacting the Indiana auto accident lawyers at Rowe & Hamilton. We will provide a free consultation, to begin with, and will then work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you can afford a lawyer. We don’t get paid unless we succeed in pursuing compensation for your damages. We recommend that you seek legal advice before speaking to the insurance company about the auto accident. You must notify your own insurance company that an accident has occurred, but you do not have to immediately provide a recorded statement or discuss fault or settlement. It is best to have an attorney in your corner before discussing these issues with an insurance claims adjuster.
The reason it is so important to get legal advice before talking to the insurance company, and especially before accepting any kind of settlement agreement, is because you don’t want to give them room to deny a valid claim or minimize the value of your claim. You may not expect your own insurance company to do such a thing, because you think they are on your side. Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that the auto insurance claims adjusters are on the side of minimizing costs for the insurance company. Call Rowe & Hamilton and don’t face the insurance company alone. Our skilled auto accident attorneys in Indianapolis can help you with your claim!