Frequently Asked Questions - Can You Sue Someone For Not Having Insurance?
Auto accidents are traumatic and stressful enough. Then, you find out the defendant is uninsured. This adds another layer of complexity.
There are countless individuals driving around today without any automobile insurance at all. There are also a multitude of drivers that have inadequate insurance coverage. In certain states, such as Florida, liability insurance is not even a requirement to have on an automobile insurance policy. So, even if an individual is insured, they still may not have the proper coverage, i.e. liability coverage, which would compensate you if you were injured in the accident.
That being so, it is most prudent for you to do your research regarding your state’s insurance laws, review your own insurance policy to make sure you are protecting yourself from uninsured drivers and update your policy immediately if need be.
Nevertheless, if you were hit by an uninsured driver, you still have a few options. Although it may be a long and arduous undertaking, yes, you can sue someone who did not carry any automobile insurance.
To do so, you would have to file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court against the uninsured individual. Be aware, for civil cases, there are Statute of Limitations – a set number of years wherein you must either settle your claim or file a lawsuit. The Statute of Limitations can vary 1-6 years dependent on your state. Once the Statute of Limitations expire, you will then be forever prohibited from pursuing a claim against that individual for that specific date of loss. So, it is imperative to first research the Statute of Limitations or seek the advice of a civil attorney immediately. Please also understand that in Small Claims Court, there will be a maximum jurisdictional limit, or, in layman’s terms, highest amount, for which you can sue. So, if your vehicle’s repairs or your medical bills, whatever “damages” you are suing for, exceed the maximum jurisdictional limit for your specific area, then Small Claims Court may not be the best fitted solution. You will likely have to include other avenues of recovery in order to make yourself whole from this loss. You could also spend an exorbitant amount of your time and expenses suing the defendant with no guarantee of a settlement. Even if you are successful in receiving a judgment from Small Claims Court, collecting can be very challenging. Oftentimes, when someone decides to drive around without auto insurance or with inadequate insurance coverage, it typically hints to the fact that they do not have any assets worth protecting, or that they simply do not have enough money to pay for auto insurance. Although the point of suing the defendant may be to punish them, litigation may end up punishing you as well. In the long run, suing a defendant personally that is not wealthy can often be a fruitless and costly endeavor for the plaintiff.
Unbeknownst to you, although you were struck by someone who was uninsured, you still may have a myriad of insurance coverages and benefits available to you that you are unaware of. If you were injured as a result of the accident, I highly recommend you seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Locating other sources of potential recovery can be complicated for the average individual, whereas a personal injury attorney specializes in this regard. A personal injury attorney can educate you on the various ways to recover other insurance benefits even if the individual who hit you was uninsured. A personal injury attorney will run an asset search on the uninsured individual to investigate any collectable assets. Your attorney will also perform an exhaustive search for any other applicable insurance policies, such as an employer’s insurance policy, a secondary commercial policy, an excess or umbrella insurance policy, an additional household or resident relative’s insurance policy, and there are many more. Your attorney will also assist in the facilitation and collection of other insurance benefits for which you may qualify, such as reimbursement of your prescriptions, mileage, lost wages and more.
Not all auto accidents are straightforward or exactly what they seem. So, whether you just need to be reimbursed for $1,000.00 worth of vehicle repairs and, thus, believe you should simply pursue the defendant in Small Claims Court, or whether you were severely injured and have accrued an enormous amount of medical debt related to the auto accident and need further legal advice and options of recovery, I highly recommend you first seek the counsel of an attorney to investigate all potential insurance benefits and coverages as soon as possible. Especially due to the Statute of Limitations on civil cases, no time should be wasted. Most personal injury law firms offer free consultations and run on a contingency basis (meaning they only get paid if they win a settlement for you). So, speaking to an attorney about the facts of your case or even signing up with their firm and allowing them to investigate further, comes at no hard cost to you.
The statistics pertaining to motor vehicle accidents involving uninsured drivers are wildly high and cause for great concern. Consequently, it is imperative to make sure you are being proactive and have the appropriate insurance coverage on your personal automobile insurance policy in order to protect yourself from uninsured drivers, hit and run accidents, etc. Specifically, you need to verify that you have “Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist” coverage on your insurance policy. If you do not have this “UM/ UIM” coverage on your current auto policy, then you need to add this coverage to your policy immediately. Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist insurance coverage will help pay for your medical expenses when you are injured from a motor vehicle crash due to the negligence of another motorist who does not have liability insurance or does not have enough liability insurance to cover all of your expenses. In most states, UM coverage is not a requirement on an auto insurance policy, but rather considered an extra coverage. However, the best way to protect yourself from an uninsured driver, is to have as much UM coverage as you can afford on your insurance policy. With Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist coverage as your safety net, you will be able to drive in peace knowing that you are properly insured and protected from reckless uninsured drivers.
Without UM/ UIM coverage on your auto policy, you could be stuck paying for all of your expenses out of your own pocket even though the accident was not your fault. As mentioned earlier, you have the option to sue the defendant for those expenses. However, there is no guarantee that you will be able to “make that person pay”. It is not fair, but it is the harsh reality that too many people on our roads today are driving without insurance either because they cannot afford to pay for insurance or out of sheer gross negligence. Regardless of such, you need to proactively protect yourself by adding UM/ UIM coverage to your policy as soon as possible.