What can I do if I’m in a car accident but the person at fault has no insurance for their vehicle?

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What can I do if I’m in a car accident but the person at fault has no insurance for their vehicle?

I also don’t have complete coverage on my vehicle, so I can’t make a claim through my insurance company. Also, I went to a lawyer’s office to see what I could do, but they said they can’t help me unless I have UM (uninsured motorist) coverage on my insurance, which I also don’t have. This doesn’t seem right. What can I do?

Asked on May 1, 2012 under Accident Law, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, without uninsured motorist coverage, all you can do is sue the at-fault party for negligence.  Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be the cost of repairs to your car.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting an auto body repair shop whose charges are comparable to what other auto body repair shops in the area are charging.  If you were to select the most expensive auto body repair shop you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  If you need a rental car while your car is being repaired, in order to mitigate damages, you will need to select a rental car with a reasonable rate.  If you were to select the most expensive rental car you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  You can recover the rental car expense in your lawsuit.  When you obtain a court judgment against the at-fault party, it would be advisable to subsequently get a wage garnishment because someone who does not have insurance probably has limited financial resources.

If you were injured in the accident, your damages would include your medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If you were injured in the accident, don't file the lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party until you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor or are declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary which means having reached a point where no further improvement is anticipated.  Compensation for your medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for  pain and suffering.

If you had any wage loss due to the accident, compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  You will need to file your lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party/registered owner of the vehicle if other than the at-fault party, prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

If you had uninsured motorist coverage, you could have filed a claim through your insurance carrier.


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