October 21, 2022
Any vehicle accident is traumatic, but if the other driver has no insurance, you may be left wondering what to do after an uninsured driver hits you. Your car may be severely damaged, and you or your passengers may be injured. The fact that the other driver has no insurance, and probably not nearly enough money to pay for the harm done, can only worsen your anxiety.
These situations are why you buy insurance, specifically uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. Doug Terry Law represents those who have been mistreated and abused by insurance companies. But the reality is that, as aggravating as insurance companies can be, if you drive, you legally must have insurance. You should also pay for as much UM coverage as you can budget.
UM coverage is not required by Oklahoma law, but insurance companies are required to offer it. You must decide whether to buy it and, if so, how much. Most insurance companies won’t sell you more UM coverage than you carry for your liability. Usually, UM coverage is fairly inexpensive. It covers losses for injuries and deaths, but not property damage.
It’s a nightmare vehicle accident we all dread: being hit by an uninsured driver (or if the other driver leaves the scene in a hit and run). UM coverage addresses this situation, so you’re not left financially high and dry. Will my insurance cover an uninsured driver? Yes, it should, if you have UM coverage.
How Could an Accident with an Uninsured Driver Result in a Bad Faith Claim?
Unfortunately, this is another occasion where an insurance company could handle your claim in bad faith. If you find yourself in this situation, Doug Terry can help. His focus is on making insurance companies accountable for improperly denying what policy holders pay for – honest, good-faith claims payment.
Bad faith is a description of legal claims against an insurance company for breaking what’s known under the law as “the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing.” Your insurance company must act in good faith and work fairly with you. It needs to be honest and take reasonable actions. Your claim must be fully investigated and fairly evaluated. Your carrier cannot go out of their way to find reasons to deny payment or pay less than it is worth.
Your insurance company need not pay for everything you claim, but it must pay for what’s covered and within your policy limits. Bad faith also doesn’t cover genuine mistakes or legal decisions based on the law which the company honestly but mistakenly interpreted.
How Does Oklahoma’s Vehicle Insurance Work?
Oklahoma has a fault-based system of financial responsibility for losses caused by vehicle accidents. Usually, the person at fault is responsible for any harm caused by a crash. In almost all accidents, both parties have insurance, which Oklahoma law requires drivers to carry. Usually, it’s the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier that compensates you for what you have suffered, not the driver himself.
The state’s required minimum amounts of liability vehicle insurance are:
- $25,000 for injury or death if the policyholder causes an accident
- $50,000 for the injuries and or deaths in an accident caused by the insured
- $25,000 to cover property damage, per accident, caused by the insured.
Will My Insurance Cover an Uninsured Driver?
For relatively minor accidents without much vehicle damage and with only minor injuries, your insurance may be enough to cover the harm you may cause to others if you’re to blame. But this coverage does nothing to help you. If the other driver caused the accident, injuring you and damaging your vehicle, you must rely on their insurance to cover you.
Can You Sue an Uninsured Driver?
This will be a problem if the person has no insurance, or their coverage isn’t high enough to cover all the harm you suffered. You may ask, “what happens if someone uninsured hits me?” If you’re injured in an Oklahoma car accident, you can seek compensation for the harm caused by another driver in different ways:
- File a claim with your insurance carrier, which should work if the loss is covered. If the other driver has insurance, your carrier will make a claim against it. If they don’t have insurance, and you don’t have UM coverage, you will get nothing.
- File a third-party claim against the other party’s insurance company, if the person is insured. If so, this should work — if the accident is covered. If the other driver is uninsured, this isn’t an option.
- File a lawsuit against the other driver. If that person has insurance to cover it, they should contact their carrier and make a claim. If the person has no insurance of any kind that could cover the accident, a lawsuit may not be worth the bother. Anyone with resources (and any knowledge) will buy enough insurance to protect themselves. If the person lacks insurance, there’s a good chance they can’t afford it. They lack money, have few assets, and may have little or no equity in it if they live in a home. Can you sue an uninsured driver? As a practical matter, suing a person in this situation is usually a waste of time. Even if you win, you’ll probably get little or no money.
What Happens if Someone Uninsured Hits Me?
If you have UM coverage and learn that the other driver is uninsured, or if you believe they have little insurance, inform your insurer as soon as possible. Tell them you’ll file a UM claim. You may have a deadline to do this; if you miss it, this may result in a denial of your claim. Warning signs include:
- The other driver refuses to give you insurance information.
- You cannot get it from the accident’s investigating officer.
- You learn of the limit, but it appears that your medical bills will be more than that amount.
Your claim should progress like any other claim, except it’s against your own policy:
- You’ll disclose information and release your medical records.
- There may be depositions (questions by attorneys and answers of witnesses under oath, all recorded or transcribed).
- The company will investigate.
What Happens If My Insurance Won’t Pay Enough When I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?
If the other driver was insured and you couldn’t agree on a settlement amount, you could file a lawsuit. If your own company is involved, you cannot. “What happens if my insurance won’t pay enough when I’m hit by an uninsured driver?” The answer is that the dispute would go to binding arbitration.
- A judge presides at a trial and a jury makes decisions of fact. An arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) does both.
- An arbitration hearing is essentially a simplified, private trial.
- Arbitrators are usually attorneys or retired judges.
- A decision is much harder to bring to court to try to overturn compared to appealing a court decision.
- You may have an arbitration hearing and a decision much sooner than if you went through the court system.
If Your Carrier Denies Your UM Claim, We Can Help
Doug Terry has been practicing law since 1993. He helps those harmed by bad faith insurance claims, strongly advocating for policyholders against insurance companies. Doug Terry will fight to pursue every last penny you’re owed.
If you’re treated unfairly by your vehicle insurance company, there is no reason to accept it. Talk to our auto insurance claim denial lawyer.
Schedule a consultation with Doug Terry to discuss your situation, how your insurance carrier reacted, and what your next steps should be. We can represent your interests and defend your legal rights. Call our office at 405-458-5978 to schedule your free consultation. We charge no fees unless we win your case.