Hit by An Uninsured Driver
Getting into a car accident in New Jersey is always a scary and unpleasant experience. However, since New Jersey law states that all drivers must carry a minimum amount of car insurance liability coverage, we tend to assume that the at-fault driver’s insurance will at least be able to pay for the damage done to our property, as well as the medical expenses we incur for any injuries to ourselves or our passengers. This assumption is thrown out the window when we get into an accident with an uninsured driver.
New Jersey uninsured motorist accident basics
When you get in an accident with a driver who doesn’t carry car insurance there are two main paths to receiving compensation:
If you hold standard insurance coverage, then you should have at least as much coverage for an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist as you do in coverage for another driver’s injuries when you’re at fault. However, recovering full compensation from your uninsured motorist coverage may not be easy.
First of all, you’ll have to prove you were less responsible for the accident than the other person. This will involve thorough evidentiary investigation and the ability to rebut the legal and factual arguments that the insurance company will try to make to reduce the amount they have to pay you. Second, the insurance company may make a meager settlement offer, threatening to force you to go to trial if you refuse it. Third of all, the coverage you carry may still not be enough to make you whole after a serious accident. This will require that you go after the driver individually through a lawsuit to recover your damages. Having an attorney will make you far more likely to succeed in getting everything you’re owed when seeking coverage from an insurer.
- If you hold basic insurance coverage, then you do not carry the form of coverage that will pay you for your injuries when another driver caused them. In order to get compensation for your medical bills, lost work, and property damage, you’ll need to go after the driver personally. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will make your case for compensation successfully before a judge, and be able to investigate the at-fault driver to determine the presence of any high-value property or other assets that could go toward paying you for what you’re owed.
A third option is to file a claim against the Unsatisfied Claim & Judgment Fund (UCJF) managed by NJ PLIGA. This state fund helps people injured in an accident involving an uninsured vehicle. There are many specific rules, procedures and timelines that must be followed in order to collect from the UCJF, and only certain people are eligible to apply. An experienced New Jersey car accident attorney should be well-versed in all the options available to you, and should be able to advise and guide you appropriately.
Don’t forget about underinsured motorist coverage
New Jersey is one of the better states when it comes to rates of uninsured drivers; only about one in ten drivers on New Jersey roads is without insurance. However, New Jersey does have very low minimum requirements – as low as $5,000 for property damage and $15,000 for bodily injury. You are actually more likely to be hit by a driver carrying the lowest allowable liability insurance than by a driver who is completely uninsured. When your damages exceed the other driver’s policy limits, your Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage can kick in to make up the difference. New Jersey law allows you to purchase UIM coverage up to the same amount of your liability coverage, which can be as high as $250,000 under current law.
Ensure that your rights are represented in your claim for damages against an uninsured driver
When you get in an accident with the sort of person who fails to follow even the most fundamental rules governing who is and isn’t allowed behind the wheel of a car, you need experienced and determined legal help if you want to obtain full compensation for your injuries. These sorts of cases can involve drawn-out wrangling with your own insurer, as well as investigations into the whereabouts of the uninsured driver, and any assets they may own against which you can recover what you’re owed for their negligence or recklessness. Don’t risk having to pay out of pocket when you’re the victim of an uninsured New Jersey driver. Contact dedicated car accident lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs for a free consultation on your uninsured driver accident claim. Call today to initiate your claim for money damages, at 973-532-9681.